RES 701, Week 2, Ontology & Epistemology

Research Philosophy

It is essential to have some philosophy while we are doing research on a topic or field. Everyone will have their own philosophy towards the research analysis. Hence Research Philosophy can be defined as dealing with the source, nature and development of knowledge on which we focus to research. It can be simply abbreviated as the way of which data should be collected, analyzed and used. In-order to answer the research question you need to collect the available primary and secondary data and should analyze it so that the question will be answered. This analysis and result will result to the makeup of new knowledge in the desired field. You should be aware and should be able to come with your beliefs and assumptions which helps the research work. Assumptions which we have, and the nature of research questions is the base of each stages in the research process. Hence it is very important that the assumptions we have should be very related to the question which we need to answer.

Ontology

Ontology can be defined as the study of ‘being’ and is concerned with ‘what is’. Simply it focuses on several inter-related questions such as

  1. What is existence?
  2. What is the nature of existence?
  3. What categories they belong?
  4. Does objective reality exist?
  5. What does the verb ‘to be’ mean?

Some of these are not relevant, abstract and not very useful but, very important to philosophers who believes that to solve a question it is necessary to discuss/start with the most fundamental issues. Derived from the Greek word ‘ontos’ which means being and ‘logos’ which means study, Ontology tries to describe the nature of being existence and their difference and similarities.

In Information Technology (IT), Ontology refers to the working model of entities and interactions in some domain of knowledge. Example: ‘the activity of planning’. At same time in Artificial Intelligence (AI) it can be defined as ‘the specification of conceptualizations, used to help programs and humans share knowledge’ (Tom Gruber, AI scientist, Stanford university).

Since Ontology helps to understand and work on all these questions, for a research it is quite relevant. As it is said above, in IT ontology helps to find out what are all the entities needed to connect and how their interactions can be made in-order to achieve a working system. Hence it is necessary to have all these types of questions to understand what we going to do? or on what research questions we are working on?

Epistemology

We should realize among different ways of learning research, Epistemology is the prominent one. The branch of philosophy which deals ‘knowing’ is called Epistemology. Simply Epistemology can be defined as the study of knowledge. It is very important since it influences how researches formulate their research in accordance with their ways to discover knowledge. It concerns with all the aspects of validity, scope and methods of acquiring knowledge. It may include

  1. What constitutes a knowledge claim?
  2. How the knowledge can be acquired?
  3. How much extent its transferability can be accessed?

Epistemology in business is concerned with the possibilities, source, limitations and nature of knowledge which depends on the area where the research involves. Epistemologists are those who deal this and at least four different sources of knowledge can be recognized by them. Research often tries to use of all four.

  1. Intuitive – coming up with an initial idea for research
  2. Authoritative – reviewing professional literature
  3. Logical – reasoning from findings to conclusions
  4. Empirical – engaging certain procedure which lead to findings

The above all 4 are used carefully and most importantly in research and thus the need of epistemology in the research is much important than any other. Like in research we must initiate a topic/idea for the research. Then only remaining 3 steps can be successfully completed. It is must in order to determine whether the idea we need to research is true or can be applied and if not, what are all the limitations or critical points which makes it non applicable. Hence while research the role of epistemology is inevitable.

Since Ontology helps to understand and work on all these questions, for a research it is quite relevant. As it is said above, in IT ontology helps to find out what are all the entities needed to connect and how their interactions can be made in-order to achieve a working system. Hence it is necessary to have all these types of questions to understand what we going to do? or on what research questions we are working on?

What is the connection between ontology and epistemology in a research context?

Ontology and Epistemology play very significant parts in philosophy since both terms are relevant to the discussion of theoretical issues. In-order to explain the connection between Ontology and Epistemology I would like to use the term reality.

Ontology refers to What is reality? and Epistemology refers what and how can I know reality? From this itself the connection between these two are cleared. First, we should have the idea of what is reality? then only we could think of what to know in-order to achieve that reality or how to know that reality?

References :-

  1. Bajpai, N. (2011) “Business Research Methods” Pearson Education India
  2. Demystifying Ontology and Epistemology in research methods, Hashil Al-Saadi, PhD Research Student, School of Education University of Sheffield
  3. https://philosophyterms.com/ontology/
  4. http://salmapatel.co.uk/academia/the-research-paradigm-methodology-epistemology-and-ontology-explained-in-simple-language/#sidr-main
  5. https://i2insights.org/2017/05/02/philosophy-for-interdisciplinarity/
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RES 701, Week 2, Scenario 1, Dealing with TRUTH.

Today’s class is going to discuss about the topic What is Truth? As a group work we discussed the below questions and shared each persons thoughts. After acquiring the data inside group Lars discussed each question in the class and let us to share our opinions. It was a nice discussion, it helps a lot to get idea regarding the truth, facts etc.

I am sharing my opinions below regarding the questions discussed in the class.

Is there a difference between ‘knowing’ something and ‘having knowledge’ of something?

In my perspective the final outcome of ‘knowing’ something and ‘having knowledge’ of something is same but, the way we approach these are different. ‘Knowing’ is a way of learning something from our experience. Suppose I am researching on a topic and you came to a conclusion follows certain facts and concepts, this is knowing something regarding the selected topic from my own experience which lead me to the conclusion. At the same time ‘having knowledge’ of something is like we are referring to the works or information did by some other person and I am learning certain topic using those information. At the end the outcome is same but the way we approach towards that particular topic differs.

What is Truth?

Truth can be defined as the facts or beliefs that supports something is true or accepted as true. Considering facts, almost for everyone the truth is same but in accordance with the beliefs it may vary on how we think? or what we think?. Hence the truth that exists in accordance with the beliefs may vary with people but, the truth that exists in accordance with the facts will be same for almost everyone. It can also be told as the inner feeling of a human being on how he/she approaches the truth.

What do we really mean when we say something is ‘true’?

According to the human behavior saying something is true can be of two things. First one, it is already known that it is true based on what learned or read second one, it came to known through the experience. So basically something is true if lot of persons considered it as true in accordance with facts or beliefs or in accordance with the personal experience. For my if I am saying something is true it truly depends on the facts which I got as conclusion over my experience. Some times those things which is depended on religious or culture I may consider my elder one’s facts which considered as a beliefs.

Is there a difference between knowing something is ‘true’ and believing that something is ‘true’?

Knowing and believing something is different. Knowing something is true is based on facts which acquired from information which happened to be made by some other persons. Believing that something is true is also based as above but, it differs in the confidence of us on how much we trust on it. Sometimes we may trust the conclusion did by some other person, only because they are succeeded to produce enough facts and points which made you to believe or trust them. At the same time if I did research on something and in the conclusion I will certainly believe my conclusion is true if and only if I am enough confident that I did the research precisely.

What is the difference between subjective and objective ‘truth’?

Objective truth can be defined as something which appears to true to the whole universe, even if someone says it is not true it can’t be proved. For an example Living organisms need Air and Water to live. Even if some one tries to argue that it is wrong it won’t be. At the same time subjective truths are those which may vary in accordance with the situation or people which depends on it. Some time it is true for those who made the judgment which may not be true for others. Taking an example, I am happy, this is one subjective truth which only depends on me. It can’t be same for the listeners. In the end I believe that Truth is Objective but its perception is Subjective.

What is a ‘fact’ and can ‘facts’ change ?

Fact can be defined as a thing which is known or proved to be true also, piece of information which makes certain things true and it is consistent. A fact becomes true when it has enough evidence to prove that is true. “The sun is a star” is a cosmological fact. Facts may change when considering history. To a certain extent history is an assumption even if we have evidences. For an example, with current available technology I am telling that certain creature was lived 10 million years ago but, it may change if much technological advancement. So sometimes some factors which supports the facts may change mostly, which came into a fact in depended with certain other factors.

How do we discover if something is ‘true’ or not?

Discovering something is true, is entirely depended on what the situation is? or what the truth is about? In some cases we will convince only when, we have facts and reasons to support the truth. On other case if we trust the source we will trust the truth also. Hence it is depended.

“We do not see things as they are but as we are” Anais Nin. What does this mean?

We see the world through our own visions and expectations. We have no single idea on how others think or see. The basic human behavior is that it always tends to visualize a concept or theory in their own way. But it differs according to people. The way we grew, the surroundings, the situations, everything is depended on this visualization. Hence people won’t get what I mean through my statements. They will visualize in their own way. The simplest example is poems. The poet writes a poem in his own words which implies certain inner meanings and feelings but, it is not appropriate to think that who ever reads that has to get the same meanings or feelings what poet tried to visualize through it. Hence complex poems need to have explanation to know what does it actually mean?

“Reality is an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”Einstein. What does this mean?

Reality is an illusion, yes sometimes we will feel like ‘Oh God is this happening?’ but it is. Even if we think it is an illusion it represents the sum of all of your previous decisions, actions and inaction. So whatever happens it is the outcome of our own. As it is said Reality is very persistent. Something will happen in the long go. It won’t miss you. There will be a reality and it depends on our actions. It may happen suddenly or it may take it’s own time but, in the end it will happen.

Is there a difference between ‘true’ and ‘valid’? Explain!

In a single statement it can be states as ‘true’ and ‘valid’ are synonyms but, with different basis. True is always true with inbuilt facts and reasons. At the same time some thing is valid is independent with whether it is true or not. In group participation like debates there is no such thing as true. Even if we support a matter which is logically false, we are intended to make it as valid and opposite tries to make their part valid. Hence validity depends on where we stands? or on what we supports?

True Valid
Concerned with What is the case? Concerned with whether conclusions follows from premises
  The validity of an argument is independent of the truth or falsity of the premises it contains