The human sciences corresponds to humanities and social sciences, but also includes aspects of psychology and even mathematics, as one of the key things we are concerned with is how we gather information in our study of human behaviour. Here is a selection of some of the subjects that fall under the human sciences umbrella:
Human biology (dealing with our behavioural traits, and aspects such as the ecology of populations)
Clearly, trying to deal with all of these is going to take several lifetimes, so we need to narrow down what we can focus on. Many of them are sub-branches of others, so the list isn’t as scary as it first seems. We will mostly consider sociology, then, with one or two references to anthropology, psychology, and economics. We can do this because many of the other fields share a similar methodology with these four, especially sociology.
The second part of its name is problematic, as many people do not consider it a ‘true’ science. The reason for this is that it relies on empirical observation to arrive at its findings, as opposed to the natural sciences, which are much ‘stricter’ in their use of observation backed up by rational theorizing.
This leads us to ask the most obvious question: are the human sciences really sciences? Beyond this, we need to consider the methodology involved in the human sciences (quantitative and qualitative data gathering) and the potential flaws inherent to it, the role of human sciences in improved society, and how the human sciences have evolved over time.
What are the human sciences?
Dr Marianna Koli and Dr David Mitchell, of the New College of the Humanities in London, discuss human sciences. They focus on, amongst other things, the differences and similarities between them and the natural sciences, whether human scientists should have any prescriptive role, and the extent to which different human sciences compliment or compete with each other.