Om det som är - ontologins metodologiska relevans inom positivism, relativism och kritisk realism Concerning Being. Ontology and its methodological relevance within Positivism, Relativism and Critical Realism

Detta är en avhandling från Göteborg : Göteborg University

Sammanfattning: The main puq)ose of this thesis is to argue for the methodolo~.,'ical rclevance of a critical realist, stratified ontology for the process of scientific knowledge production. The case of anorexia nervosa is ch osen to illustrate thc argumcnt. The articulated yuestion is as follows: What is the comparative advantage and relcvance of a C1;tical realist ontology compared to alternative ontologies, in particular those, which in form positivist and relativist methodologies? In order to answer this yuestion an immanent critical approach to both positivism and rclati,'ism is applicd from a critical realist point of ,'icw. The characteristic feature of critical realist ontology is that it views reality as (a) stmctured (b) stratified, (c) differentiated and (d) continua11y changing. In tlus \Vay critical realism acknowledges the existence of st1l.lctured c~ltities with generative powers acting in different strata of reahty, both natural and social. This implies that the propertics of these c~)tities (what they are) and their ways of acring (what they do) must be studied from a pluralist and relation al point of view. Positivism is criticised on the grounds that its methodology is informed by an empirical realist on to!.)!,')' that uplifts human experience, onc contingent aspect of reahty, as the explanatory factor for rc",lity as a who!c. Radical rclati,'ism, in its tum, is criticised on the grounds that its mcthodology is infOlIDed by an ontology that uplifts lan!,'llage, one contingcnt aspcct of reality, as the explanatory factor for realil)' as a who!c. That is to say, both positivism and radical rclati,'ism are limited to flat anthropoce1lt1;c ontologies that !cad to reductionist conclusions. An example of this, in the case of positi,'ism is ils conception of human bein!,'" as passive receptors of !,>1'Ul facts. I n the case of radical relativism, it is its cOllception of human beings as socially constructed through and through, that is, as lacking personal emergent properties. In summary, the abscnce of a stratified ontology in both positivist and radical rclati,'ist methodologies lead to the problem of reductionism, blocking, among other things, the study of a complex and stratified reality, natural, social and human. In the light of these methodological shortcomings, I claim that C1;tical realism prm'ides better conceptual tools necessary for scientific research on complex areas of study, including anorexia nervosa and other biopsychosocial phenomena.

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