Currently, the natural and social sciences, which are distinguished mainly by their object of study, are integrated into different disciplines, such as psychology or environmental sciences. This is mainly due to the primacy of study methods from the natural sciences, adopted by the social ones. In this article, we will provide you with the difference between natural science and social science.
However, these two aspects of science are distinguished by several very significant aspects, or at least that was how it was in the beginning. In this article, we will describe the 7 main differences between natural and social sciences; Anyway, it should be taken into account that it is not possible to generalize these statements to all scientific manifestations.
Science and its ramifications
Science is defined as the set of systematic activities aimed at obtaining and organizing knowledge about different types of phenomena in order to explain and predict aspects of reality. We talk about natural sciences when the object of study is natural phenomena and social sciences when human activity is analyzed.
Physics considered basic natural science, relies heavily on mathematics; However, the latter is a formal science. Other particularly important natural sciences are chemistry, geology, oceanography, astronomy, meteorology, and biology, which in turn includes medicine, zoology and botany.
On the other hand, among the social sciences, we find disciplines such as history, economics, anthropology, archaeology, sociology, geography, education, law, demography, linguistics, political sciences, or communication.
The boundary between the social and natural sciences is too often blurred in many disciplines; A good example of this is psychology, in which a philosophical-humanistic tradition coexists with another one closer to biology. After all, the scientific method is the same, regardless of whether it applies to one or another type of phenomenon.
Difference between natural science and social science
Below, we will describe 7 of the most important differences between the social and natural sciences , at least from their classical definition; In recent decades, scientific progress has favored the integration of different disciplines, prioritizing the choice of different fields of knowledge, based on the objectives of each research.
1. Object of study
While the natural sciences deal with physical and natural phenomena, the social sciences are concerned with human acts. Thus, economics, politics, or social psychology refer to products of the activity of social groups; Instead, chemistry, astronomy and neurosciences analyze more tangible aspects of reality.
2. History and development
The birth of the social sciences is generally identified with the Enlightenment , which occurred in the 17th and 18th centuries, but its consolidation did not occur until the 19th and 20th centuries. On the other hand, the natural sciences are much older: human beings have studied the forces of nature since the beginning of our collective history.
3. Theoretical basis
The natural sciences rely more than the social sciences on the formal sciences, particularly mathematics, to rigorously structure reality. In the social sciences, positivism reflects a similar tendency , although the interpretivist tendency is also relevant, which tries to give a concrete meaning to the studied phenomena.
4. Research methods
Many of the most popular research methods in science today come from the natural sciences; In this sense, mathematics and the experimental method are very important. Although the social sciences have adopted these tools, they also prioritize observation, research or case studies due to the complexity of the social fact.
5. Degree of subjectivity
The social sciences have been criticized for an alleged lack of rigor associated with the use of the scientific method to analyze abstract facts. In the case of the natural sciences, the degree of apparent objectivity is usually higher because they study observable and physical phenomena; However, every scientific task reduces reality a little .
6. Ability to generalize
As the natural sciences seek to limit the role of subjectivity, the ability to generalize their research results is greater than in the case of the social sciences, in which it is generally inevitable to resort to hypothetical constructions that cannot be tested. objectively and unrepeatable phenomena are analyzed.
7. Scientist’s perspective
Social scientists can never be completely alien to the phenomenon they study, since they actively participate in social reality. On the other hand, from the natural sciences it is more feasible to adopt an external perspective ; Thus, the specialist in neurophysiology who studies the nervous system does so from the outside, although his beliefs influence the research.