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Indeed, if science were solely a method, then it would not be all that valuable, a point that is sometimes lost on empiricists enamored with the scientific method.Thus, it is crucial to keep in mind that the scientific method is not an end unto itself, but rather is a means to an end.If one is a psychologist or even has a passing interest in the field, one has likely encountered the question about whether psychology is truly a science or not.
To get a handle on why this is the right answer, let’s start with the construct of science, because if we are going to talk about the ways in which psychology is or is not a science, we had better have an idea of what we mean by both of these confusing terms.
Defining Science and Its Key Elements For clarity of communication, it is often a good idea to start with some basic definitions, so let’s start with some generally agreed upon definitions of science from reputable organizations.
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Ideally, the body of knowledge will have a center that is consensually agreed upon (e.g., the Periodic Table in chemistry) and peripheral domains that represent the edges of scientific inquiry and where one will find much debate, innovation, and differences of the opinion.
A final element that is particularly relevant in this context is that the term science has much rhetorical value in our culture.
These are the methods that students learn about when they are introduced to “doing science”, and include elements such as systematic observation, measurement and quantification, data gathering, hypothesis testing, controlled experimentation (where possible), and theory construction.
Although the scientific method is often touted as the sin qua non of science, it is not.
The ultimate desired product of the method is a cumulative body of knowledge that offers an approximate description of how the world works.
In concrete terms, this refers to the body of peer reviewed journals, textbooks, and academic courses and domains of inquiry.