Methods for Research in Philosophy

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Research methodology provides tools to get to a research problem and to deal with the problem. Usually, the research methods help in collecting and analyzing data more accurately in social science research. Whereas, in philosophy, there is no such data. Research in Philosophy is purely theoretical. It deals with concepts or abstract notions so the researchers are always puzzled about what methods they require for research in philosophy. What methods one uses depends upon what area one is working on. There is more than one method involved.

As a researcher, it is crucial to know the methods and techniques as they show the logic behind why you pursuing one way and not the other. Philosophy is purely qualitative. As it deals with concepts that are abstract and builds theories upon them, the methodology it uses must be helpful in deriving the theories.

  1. Analytical method: this method is used to analyze different concepts or phenomena. In an analysis, one goes through every component of the particular phenomenon and derives its nature or meaning of it. It is ahistorical and apolitical in nature. Clarity, rigor, and logic are important parts of the analytical method.
  2. Hermeneutics: It is a method that discusses how to interpret a text. There are four kinds of hermeneutics: a) Conservative Hermeneutics holds that the interpretation of text must correspond to the author’s intention. b) Moderate Hermeneutics holds that no interpretation is final. So it allows varieties of interpretations but they should be closer to the truth. c) Critical Hermeneutics or critical theory holds that language is interlinked with power so interpretation must be liberating. d) Radical Hermeneutics shows that the text or the phenomena are conditioned by outer factors. There are no universal principles that govern human actions.
  3. Feminist Method: It aims to overcome biases in research by acknowledging imperialist, racist, and patriarchal assumptions. It questions normal scientific reasoning as it questions the subject-object relationship. The feminist method also includes the concept of intersectionality which means taking all the silenced voices into the consideration. It takes into account the oppressive lives. It asserts that too many abstractions and universalization are not appropriate; there is no absolute truth; lived experience plays important role in theorizing.

Using methods sharpens your ability to understand and articulate. Research in philosophy is purely conceptual. Methods help in assessing, evaluating, constructing, reconstructing, and articulating various concepts. It provides structure to your writing. The above list is not complete; the researcher should try to find more methods suitable for his or her work.

Writing a Philosophical Essay – Akhiri Panna

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