Naturalistic Observation

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Naturalistic Observation



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PSY 150 Descriptive Research: Naturalistic Observation

For example, the provocative claims that there were no homosexuals before the concept homosexual came to be expressed in Western culture in the nineteenth century e. Foucault , Halperin or that race is a modern invention e. But Searle is right that there is something remarkable here, at least in the case of social facts: somehow our conceptual scheme or practice are necessary to make it true that some event instantiates cocktail party or war. What is wanted is, at a minimum, a model of this production—a model of exactly how the conceptual practice constitutes the fact.

Perhaps the most obvious model to explain such constitutive claims is to hold that the relevant necessity is analytic , it holds in virtue of the meaning of the relevant term or concept. Instead, we should ask whether such model of constitutivity as analyticity is plausible for objects of social construction. On the other hand, this does not seem plausible for the objects of many social constructionist claims. Remember, it is a mainstay of constructionist research to claim that social influence is exercised in surprising and provocative ways, especially on objects that we take to be produced naturally. But just this feature suggests that it cannot be part of our ordinary concepts of covertly constructed kinds that instances require our social-conceptual imprimatur to be members of these kinds Machery , Mallon If this is right, constructionists who view construction as a constitutive relation need another account of the necessity of our conceptual practice: it is implausible and inconsistent to claim that the necessity arises out of concept or word meanings in cases of covert construction.

There is a different model of necessity for the constructionist, however, which is to hold that the necessity in question is revealed a posteriori by our investigations of the phenomenon in question. Saul Kripke , Hilary Putnam and others defended a causal theory of reference on which some terms notably natural kind terms referred to some sort of stuff or essence underlying the central uses of the term see Reference: Causal Theories. Crucially, however, because the reference relation is external, competent users of a term can be radically mistaken about what the term refers to and still successfully refer.

H 2 O , and this was true even when we did not know what sort of stuff that was i. While the causal theory of reference and its correct interpretation remains controversial, in many quarters of philosophy it has become accepted wisdom. Ideally, for such an approach to work, the constitutive constructionist would like an independent characterization of the sorts of social objects that investigation reveals to be identical with the kinds in question e.

Thomasson as well as more general critiques of employing theories of reference as premises in arguments with philosophically significant conclusions Mallon et al. For this reason, this strategy has been suggested in the case of race, gender, and other human kinds Haslanger , ; Mallon , , and more generally for scientific facts Boyd Of course, there may well be other models of necessity available.

For example, it is sometimes suggested that a neo-Kantian interpretation of social constructionism is possible, an interpretation on which our socio-linguistic activities could provide a transcendental basis for any knowledge of the world. Such an interpretation might allow certain apparently radical constitutive claims, but the challenge would remain to reconcile the view with a naturalistic conception of ourselves, something such a proposal may fail to do e.

Boyd , Rosen Still, the prospect seems provocative, in part, because social construction has come to be associated with a critical anti-realist attitude towards science. Above, we identified naturalism with a certain attitude towards science, and for present purposes, we develop this idea by identifying three naturalistic attitudes toward science that have been picked up by naturalists addressing social constructionist themes. These features characterize substantial threads of contemporary naturalist thought—threads that arise repeatedly in discussions of constructionism. Still, it is worth noting that something may be naturalistic in one sense but not another, and that the various threads we have characterized may sometimes be at odds. For example, rational choice explanations in economics might count as naturalist in that they attempt to reduce complex macro-level phenomena to simple, micro-level phenomena at the level of individuals exhibiting some variety of metaphysical fundamentalism , and in the sense that they employ idealized causal modeling to do so as in 1c.

But they seem nonnaturalist insofar as they offer a highly idealized account of human behavior, one that seems frequently contradicted by the psychological facts about human reasoning see, e. We now review various naturalistic approaches to social construction, considering different sorts of entities in turn. As we noted above, the production of facts by social agents poses no special problem for the naturalist where that production is understood causally, though naturalists of many stripes may want to produce causal models to show how the macro-level social phenomena of interest to many social theorists and social scientists are causally realized given what we know about, e.

In contrast, constitutive claims of construction seem difficult to make sense of except on an account of construction on which social activity involving a representation comes to produce and causally sustain an object that is referred to by that representation. In recognition of this state of affairs, many naturalist approaches to constructed phenomena have involved attempts to causally model matters of interest to constructionists in ways that engage more or less completely with existing scientific knowledge.

In talking about the construction of representations, we address the range of mental states, group beliefs, scientific theories, and other representations that express concepts or propositions. Such representations are, among other things, the vehicles of our thought as well as the means by which we store, organize, and further our knowledge of the world, and we do this in virtue of their role as bearers of meaning. A number of commentators have noted that many provocative constructionist claims are, in the first instance, claims that some sort of representation is constructed e.

Andreasen , Hacking , Haslanger , Mallon Where we limit the objects of constructionist claims to representations such as theories , the claims cease to be particularly metaphysically provocative though detailed constructionist accounts of how certain representations came to be selected may still teach us much about science e. Latour and Woolgar l Collins and Pinch In light of this, philosophers may be wont to diagnose some constructionist talk as a careless or even an intentionally provocative error of talking about the object of construction using a representation when one should be mentioning it thereby expressing a view about the referent of the representation rather than the representation itself. When Claudius Ptolemy offered a geo-centric theory of the universe in the second century CE, he thereby contributed to the social construction of something: namely, a geocentric theory of the universe.

We can talk about how and when that theory arose, and how it changed over time, but in doing so we are simply talking about a representation or perhaps a lineage of related representations. It would be a mistake simply to slip from those claims into saying that in constructing this theory he thereby constructed a geocentric universe. Hence, charity in interpretation alone may suggest attributing only the weaker claim to a constructionist author. Still some constructionists endorse a stronger claim as well—that in constructing the theories, the facts described by those theories are thereby made to be.

But if we leave at least the global versions of these additional claims aside as impossible to reconcile with naturalism, the distinctive feature of social constructionist explanations of representations is that they explain how we came to have those representations not by reference to the facts in the world they represent as in realism , nor by reference to associations among our sensations as in some forms of empiricism , nor by reference to innate knowledge or concepts as in rationalism , nor by reference to the conditions of our thought or experience as in transcendental arguments but rather by reference to social and cultural background facts.

Naturalist work on constructionist approaches to representations can be grouped according to the debate the naturalist is addressing. Naturalists addressing the challenge posed by social construction to the authority of science have attempted to respond to this challenge in a variety of ways that pit various versions of realism and empiricism against constructionism e. Boyd ; see Social Dimensions of Scientific Knowledge. Because naturalists are typically committed to science as a central, if fallible, avenue of knowledge about the world i. Fodor illustrates this effect by pointing to cases of optical illusions like the Muller-Lyer illusion Fodor And while some philosophers e. Churchland , cf. Fodor have resisted this conclusion, some social scientists of knowledge have attempted to restate a constructionist view in ways that allow that Fodor may be correct.

Barry Barnes, David Bloor and John Henry, for example, shift from emphasis on the determination of perceptual experience by culture to an emphasis on the underdetermination of belief by perceptual experience a view which leaves room for cultural determination of belief , Ch. More generally, epistemologists and philosophers of science have taken up the project of accommodating social influence in the production of knowledge, and this project is well underway in contemporary social epistemology and philosophy of science e. Boyd ; Kitcher , These issues are taken up elsewhere Social Epistemology so we address them no further here. Instead, I focus on attempts by naturalists to accommodate the cultural and personal processes at the heart of constructionist phenomena in naturalistic terms.

In contrast to naturalistic responses to the threat of scientific anti-realism, naturalistic responses to constructionist claims about representations including beliefs understood as human traits have been far more sympathetic to constructionist approaches. In contemporary naturalistic philosophy of science and psychology, the naturalistic explanation of culturally produced cognition is picked up by at least three distinct strands of work taking up constructionist themes of culture. The first is centered on the idea that culture can be understood by analogy with population genetics, and that cultural items might be understood to be more or less successful based upon their success in spreading in a population. Various versions of this sentiment find expression in such diverse thinkers as Robert Boyd and Peter Richerson , a, b , D.

While only some of these thinkers link the project to the understanding of constructionist research themes, the project in every case is to formally model cultural processes, understanding these complex processes as depending on simpler ones See also Cultural Evolution. Carruthers , and it is most firmly represented among cognitive anthropologists and psychologists like Scott Atran , Pascal Boyer , , Laurence Hirschfeld , and Daniel Sperber Such an approach represents naturalism in most or perhaps all of the above senses, and it is finding its way into the work of naturalist philosophers of science and psychology Machery and Faucher , Mallon , Nichols , Prinz , Sripada , Sterelny A third, philosophically underdeveloped strand naturalizes crucial elements of critical constructionist approaches by suggesting the influence of sometimes implicit evaluations on judgments and theoretical activities.

Kunda suggests mechanisms for and some empirical validation of the critical social constructionist tradition of explaining the content of accepted theories in part by appeal to the interests of the theorists. Any sort of human trait could be an object of social construction, but many of the most interesting and contested cases are ones in which clusters of traits—traits that comprise human kinds—are purported to co-occur and to correlate with mental states, including dispositions to think and behave in particular ways.

Because discussion of kinds of persons with dispositions to think and behave quickly gives rise to other questions about freedom of the will and social regulation, debates over constructionism about kinds are central to social and political debates regarding human categorization, including debates over sex and gender, race, emotions, hetero- and homo-sexuality, mental illness, and disability.

Since the constructionist strategy explains a trait by appeal to highly contingent factors including culture , partisans of these debates often come inquire whether a trait or cluster of traits is culturally specific, or can be found across cultures. These issues can quickly come to generate more heat than light, and so one role that philosophers in general, and naturalists in particular, have played is to carefully analyze constructionist positions and their alternatives. For example, in reflecting on debates over cultural specificity or universality, a number of commentators have noted that constructionist claims of cultural specificity often hinge not on genuine empirical disagreement about what is or is not found through history and across cultures, but also on a strategy of individuating the phenomena in question in ways that do or do not involve contextual features that vary across cultures Mallon and Stich ; Boghossian , 28; Pinker , This conceptual project is a philosophical project par excellence , and it has contributed a great deal to clarifying just what conceptual and empirical issues are at stake in constructionist work.

Naturalist interpretations of constructionism have also taken up the distinct, open-ended, empirical project of defending substantive claims regarding the development and distribution of human traits via the suggestions that human socio-linguistic behaviors shape human traits including behavior via different avenues, both developmental and situational. The idea is that the conception of a certain kind of person shapes both a widespread social response e.

Cooper , Laimann forthcoming and of their mechanisms in human groups e. Anthony Appiah on racial identities, and Paul Griffiths on performed emotional syndromes. Such a causal model of the way in which social roles might shape behavior is at least arguably naturalistic in all of the above senses. For example, constructionist ideas find diverse manifestations in the theory of emotions e. Griffiths and Prinz for discussion. Because social constructionism offers a general set of explanatory approaches, constructionist approaches can be expected to reemerge in a variety of ways in the attempt to explain a wide range of human phenomena.

Still a different way of developing naturalistic constructionist accounts of kinds involves using various formal methods to model such kinds. The former attempts to understand social structure as emerging from the collective adoption of rules, while the latter sees it as emerging along with various solutions to coordination and cooperation problems. As an example of the former, Searle influentially argues that we can understand social institutions as brought into being by collective endorsement of rules of the form:. For instance, it might specify that tokens of a certain type produced by the U.

Such statuses obtain in virtue of collective acceptance of one or more status functions. See the entry on social ontology. In contrast, the latter family of approaches attempts to understand social structure by using the tools of economic and evolutionary game theory to understand culture e. Here, norms, behaviors, and social regularities are seen as produced and stabilized by the preferences of individual actors making decisions in a social context of other actors. While rules-based approaches have been much discussed across a range of philosophical fields including metaphysics, social philosophy, empirically-informed philosophy of mind , equilibrium-based approaches have so far received comparatively little philosophical attention.

Many constructionist projects concerning human kinds are, or are pursued as part of, normative projects. Thinkers interested in gender, race, mental illness and disability, are often motivated not only by concern with the metaphysics of these categories, but with questions of social morality and justice that connect with them. This connection, in turn, raises a number of further questions about why they are connected, and how we ought to understand their relationship. One answer to these questions is simply that, once we understand the constructed nature of some category or phenomena, different normative conclusions will follow. For instance, some have emphasized that because constructionist explanations highlight the role of agents in the production or the sustenance of phenomena, they make those agents subject to moral evaluation Kukla ; Mallon , forthcoming.

A different approach might be that normative considerations ought to drive us towards certain metaphysical explanations. For instance, Esa Diaz-Leon has argued that constitutive constructionist explanations are politically better than causal constructionist ones, on the grounds that constitutive constructions are more tightly connected to our socio-conceptual practices:. In contrast, Theresa Marques has argued that a focus on causal social construction is more relevant to projects of social justice.

But if we see constructionism as a kind of explanation, then this debate can seem to put the cart before the horse. The correctness of an explanation is given by some facts in the world. Deciding what we would like those facts to be, given our aims, seems to fail to appreciate the reality of our socio-conceptual practices and their consequences.

More generally, while normative constructionist projects can be deeply engaged with our best scientific understanding, many naturalists will be tempted to attempt to distinguish descriptive and normative elements in order to engage them separately. At the same time, ongoing naturalist work on human cooperation and coordination suggests the future possibility of more thoroughgoing naturalist approaches to construction that integrate naturalistic approaches to norms and normativity e. While most philosophical effort has gone towards the interpretation and refutation of provocative accounts of social construction arising especially out of studies in the history and sociology of science, social constructionist themes emerge across a host of other contexts, offering philosophical naturalists a range of alternate ways of engaging constructionist themes.

Philosophical naturalists as well as working scientists have begun to take up this opportunity in ways that use the methods of philosophy and science to both state and evaluate social constructionist hypotheses though not always under that label. Because of the powerful and central role culture plays in shaping human social environments, behaviors, identities and development, there is ample room for continuing and even expanding the pursuit of social constructionist themes within a naturalistic framework. What is Social Construction? Naturalism and Social Construction 3.

Naturalizing Social Construction 3. The first, and more straightforward idea is causal construction : X causally constructs Y if and only if X causes Y to exist or to persist or X controls the kind-typical properties of Y. This is a remarkable feature of social facts; it has no analogue among physical facts. Take electrons, for example. Is it not part of the very purpose of having such a concept that it is to designate things that are independent of us? Epistemological Fundamentalism Accommodating Science: Most contemporary naturalists take science to be an enormously successful enterprise, and so other knowledge claims must either cohere with the findings of our best science or explain those findings away. Empiricism: Knowledge comes from careful study of the world, not a priori theorizing.

Causal Modeling: The world is a set of entities related by natural laws. In attempting to understand it, we produce causal models that idealize these relationships to varying degrees. Metaphysical Fundamentalism Supervenience: There are more and less fundamental entities, and the less fundamental depend on the more fundamental. Naturalists understand at least these fundamental entities to be natural as opposed to supernatural. Naturalists typically hold these fundamental entities to be physical entities. Reduction: The regularities in which less fundamental entities participate are explained by natural laws governing the more fundamental entities upon which they supervene.

Human Naturalism: Nonanomalism: Human beings and their products e. They are not metaphysically anomalous. Methodological Naturalism: In studying human nature, human culture, and social life, the methods of the natural sciences are to be employed. Naturalizing Social Construction As we noted above, the production of facts by social agents poses no special problem for the naturalist where that production is understood causally, though naturalists of many stripes may want to produce causal models to show how the macro-level social phenomena of interest to many social theorists and social scientists are causally realized given what we know about, e.

As an example of the former, Searle influentially argues that we can understand social institutions as brought into being by collective endorsement of rules of the form: X counts as Y in C. For instance, Esa Diaz-Leon has argued that constitutive constructionist explanations are politically better than causal constructionist ones, on the grounds that constitutive constructions are more tightly connected to our socio-conceptual practices: revealing the constitutive connections between instantiating a certain category and standing in a certain relation to certain social practices, opens a clear path for social change: just change those social practices, and social change will automatically follow.

Bibliography Andreasen, R. Appiah, K. Appiah and A. Guttmann eds. Armon-Jones, C. Atran, S. Averill, J. Plutchik and H. Kellerman eds. Rorty ed. Bach, T. Barnes, B. Bloor, et al. Scientific knowledge: a sociological analysis , London: Athlone. Barnes, E. Barrett, L. Bicchieri, C. Norms in the wild : how to diagnose, measure, and change social norms , New York: Oxford University Press. Boghossian, P. Boyd, R. Earman ed.

Richerson, Samuel Makoanyane was born in Johannesburg but lived most of his life in Lesotho practicing his art from until his early death in He sculpted tiny figurines from clay, exquisitely modeled works that showed fine detail and huge powers of observation. His subject matter spanned 2 polarized topics.. Makoanyane, a pioneer of ceramic sculpturing treated each piece to the same observational consideration and careful execution. They have produced work that has been embraced by Western and African art worlds alike and their work, often displayed publicly, has made an invaluable contribution to the development of 3-dimensional art on the continent.

Some of them are still practicing today and some have had long and illustrious careers producing work right up until their deaths in recent times. Ben Enwonwu was a painter and sculptor, one of the first true African modernists who by was exhibiting in a group show alongside Picasso in Paris. He grew up in the cosmopolitan market town of Onitsha in Nigeria, a centre of Igbo culture and colonial rule. His work is a consummate mix of local and foreign culture influences that was enhanced by his intellectual pursuits for independence and the freedom of his birth country.

In he was commissioned to sculpt a statue of Queen Elizabeth II, the first African artist to be asked to do so. The bronze sculpture was completed in and in , he presented an elegant bronze sculpture called 'Anwanwu' to the United Nations in New York, where it remains on display today. Ben Osawe was born to sculpt, the son of a royal carver he grew up molding clay on the edges of the Niger River. In he left for England where he schooled alongside the likes of Henry Moore.

He spent another 10 years in Lagos from to after which he relocated to Benin and finally the UK where he remained until his death. His works featured natural subjects as well as abstract forms and figurative work. His stylized portraits often featured elongated necks giving his pieces an air of graceful stature, aspiring to the same qualities of beauty that his ascendants had sought to create in their sculptures.

He is recognized as a truly contemporary artist who personally engaged with his subject matter, skillfully constructing his figurative sculptures in a craft-like, immediate way but with innovative techniques and gracing them with a monumentality that can only pay allegiance to traditional African sculpture. The 'Nouba' series were constructed during and These sculptures carry the essence of Nuba warriors, the same innate hidden beauty, strength and feeling of endurance. His process involves neither sketches nor form studies. He builds his subject from the inside out so that they take form from the wire frame. He describes his work as such; 'Art is spiritual in conception: conceiving the sculpture and placing it in space.

Also when it is finished. But between the two I think it's a physical effort You need spirituality to guide things towards the desired objective'. He also chooses other people's battles as subject matter like in 'Little Big Horn' which is concerning Native American history and is about standing up for oneself. This series he worked on for 5 years from to ; using sculpture as a narrative it included 23 people and 8 horses in scenes of battle. On December the 11th, Ousmane Sow became the first black man to become a member of the Beaux Arts Academy in Paris, a fitting tribute to an inspiring man and an inspired artist.

Percy Konqobe , born in Gauteng, SA is a largely self taught artist who only started his artistic practice in the s. He works primarily in clay as well as bronze capturing both animal and human form in his highly personal, abstracted style. Primarily an artist working in ink and charcoal, Dumile Feni sometimes turned to sculpture especially after moving abroad during the apartheid years in South Africa. This abstracted bronze head was cast between and by the Fiorini Foundry in London Francis Nnaggenda is arguably Uganda's greatest sculptor.

In the 's during Idi Amin's regime he fled the country of his birth but returned to Kampala in after a stint abroad and in Nairobi. You can do so right here and now by building a web page of your own within this web site. Click here and you'll be 'live' in minutes. Do you want to publish your gallery and exhibit your work globally? African sculpture takes many forms and offers us huge insights into the cultures and tribal communities from whence it came. In my art practice I construct Skins that grow and change. The Object is often the residue left behind from any form of transference.

In this transition. Contemporary African pottery is characterized by an eloquence of form and a finesse of finish that one does not generally expect in a vessel of utility. Adedeji Akinkunmi is a digital artist, born and bred in Nigeria, where he lived all his life before moving to the Uk to gain his masters degree. All rights reserved. Pendant mask, ivory, Iyoba, Nigeria. Igbo figures, wood, Nigeria. Nok terracotta Kimbell. Ife head, Kimbell Coll. Seated figure, Mali, Djenne, 13th C, Metropolitan museum. Kingdom of Ife, Bronze head, British Museum. Fon panel. Artist: Master of Kasadi Workshop. Shona stone heads. Moses Kotler, 'Mapula', bronze.

Makoanyane, King Moshesh or Moshoeshoe, ceramic sculpture. Samuel Makoanyane "Moropa', woman playing drum, ceramic figurine. Enwonwu working on a bronze sculpture of Queen Elizabeth II. Bronze sculpture Nouba warrior. His work is included in many local and international public and private collections.

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