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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.

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.

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!