At present 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 the study methods typical of the natural sciences, which have been adopted by the social sciences. Social sciences vs natural sciences
However, these two aspects of science are distinguished by several very significant aspects, or at least that was the case at the beginning. In this article we will describe the 7 main differences between natural and social sciences ; In any case, it must be taken into account that it is not possible to generalize these statements to all scientific statements.
Science and its ramifications
Science is defined as the set of systematic activities that have the objective of obtaining and organizing knowledge about different types of phenomena in order to explain and predict aspects of reality. We speak of natural sciences when the object of study is natural phenomena and of social sciences if human activity is analyzed.
Physics, which is considered the basic natural science, relies heavily on mathematics; however, the latter is a formal science. Other particularly prominent natural sciences are chemistry, geology, oceanography, astronomy, meteorology, and biology, which in turn include medicine, zoology, or botany.
On the other hand, among the social sciences we find disciplines such as history, economics, anthropology, archeology, sociology, geography, education, law, demography, linguistics, political science or communication.
The boundary between the social and natural sciences is blurred with great frequency in many disciplines; a good example of this is psychology, in which a philosophical-humanist tradition and another one closer to biology coexist. After all, the scientific method is the same regardless of whether it is applied to one type of phenomenon or another.
Differences between the social and natural sciences
Next 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, thus 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 deal 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 usually identified with the Enlightenment , which took place in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but its consolidation did not take place until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In contrast, 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, mainly mathematics, in order to structure reality in a rigorous way. In the social sciences, positivism reflects a similar trend , although the interpretive trend is also relevant, which tries to give a concrete meaning to the phenomena studied.
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, surveys or case studies because of 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 for the analysis of abstract facts. In the case of natural sciences, the degree of apparent objectivity is usually greater because they study observable and physical phenomena; however, any scientific task reduces reality in a certain way .
Given that the natural sciences try to limit the role of subjectivity, the generalizability of the results of their research is greater than in the case of the social sciences, in which it is often unavoidable to resort to hypothetical constructs that cannot be proven. objectively and unrepeatable phenomena are analyzed. Social sciences vs natural sciences
7. Scientist’s perspective
Social scientists can never be completely oblivious 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 expert in neurophysiology who studies the nervous system does so from the outside, although his beliefs influence the research.