Relationship between epistemology, theoretical research and empirical research
Epistemology is a branch of philosophy which tries to find answers on questions like “What can one be sure of?” and “How do a researcher get beyond simple opinion to actual knowledge?”. Social research is one of the important aspects of any academic work that helps researchers find answers for epistemological objectives. Social research is an approach that is based on empirical observations and logic. Social research could be done by applying either of the two approaches by name theoretical research and empirical research. This essay describes the relationship between epistemology, theoretical research and empirical research in conducting an empirical research.
Epistemology evolved as one of the two science branches of Metaphysics. The word metaphysics is also from the Greek word and means beyond or after the physics. The term metaphysics was used to name the work which Aristotle did after he had finished his physics study and for that reasons was given the name metaphysics. It was the work which he did after the physics. Aristotle’s subject matter of metaphysics consisted of two varied subjects. Epistemology was one of them. Fox and Fox (1999, pp 1) has described in the book “Foundations: A manual for the beginning student of epistemology” that “the word epistemology is from the Greek and means the study of knowledge. The college courses are names by the knowledge theory which is also referred to as epistemology.
According to Gratton and Jones (2010, pp 8) theoretical research uses the findings from occurring works to develop new ideas through analyzing appearing explanations and theory. These new ideas are not tested through gathering evidence in the form of primary data. A researcher who develops a theory through viewing a library and developing their own description through reading existing work will be undertaken by theoretical research. Theoretical research is reliably referred by the type of research method used by the investigator. Experiments, surveys, in depth interviews, content analyses can all serve theoretical research”.
Rubin and Babbie (2010, pp 60) described in the book “Research methods for social work” that in theoretical research the researcher initiates with a theory and then drives more than one hypothesis from it for testing. Next the researcher refers the variables in each hypothesis and the operations to be used to measure them in observable and specific terms. In the final step the researcher implements particular measurements thus observing the way things really are and viewing if those observations fail or confirm the hypotheses. Sometimes this final step involves interviewing people or conducting experiments or watching and visiting the subject of interest. The theoretical assumptions result in a hypotheses or an expectation about the way things ought to be in the world of the theoretical considerations are appropriate.