It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
LIB 151 Week 7 Module: Ways of Knowing (Spring 2021)
Created by Carolyn Caffrey Gardner and adapted by Tessa Withorn with permission at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Do you think knowledge should only be what we can directly measure and observe?
Academic Values & Empiricism
Academic disciplines can also hold particular world views and cultural values. Ask yourself, what does this discipline value?
One of the values you will see throughout most Western academic disciplines is empiricism and positivism as ways of knowing.
Empiricism is an approach to research that starts from the premise that knowledge is derived from sense experience, and usually relies heavily on observation or experience (SAGE Research Methods).
Positivism is the broad view that it is possible and desirable to apply to the study of social life the methods, concepts, and procedures of the natural sciences (SAGE Research Methods).
You can learn a bunch more about these philosophies in a philosophy course, but for the purposes of LIB 151 it's helpful to know that empiricism and its more specific philosophy of positivism says that knowledge should be based on observation and experiment.
For example, the scientific method is a great example of how this influences our understanding of how we conduct research. Positivism is often an unstated assumption in the values of research within academic disciplines.
This week you'll also read a piece by Dr. Linda Tuhiwai Smith, who argues that positivism is not the only way to conduct research. The theory described in her book can be difficult to digest, but I hope your main takeaway is that there are alternatives to positivist approaches to research, there are multiple ways of knowing and constructing knowledge!