The concept of science within the concept of social science

Many theories about science are put forward, limitations are made, and it is discussed whether various fields can be evaluated within science. Under this heading, how the concept of science is explained in social sciences will be examined by referring to various fields (such as sociology-anthropology-law-nature-political science-economics-history).

As a general acceptance, in theory, social sciences are the general name of the sciences in which facts and events are examined within the scope of social reality (like people, the relationship between people and society…etc).

Classical science (Newtonian and cartesian dualism) was the sole authority in the field of science before the modern state needed a kind of knowledge on which it wanted to base its decisions.

A new science was being formed, but there was no consensus yet on this new category of “science” or knowledge (although social philosophers call it social physics). In fact, the social sciences were considered a third culture between the natural sciences and the humanities in these centuries. Because social sciences still could not complete their academic background and could not clarify on what method to establish.

The rise of modern social science began in France after the French revolution. In order to achieve social change, its causes and origin had to be investigated, and this research could only be done with social sciences. In this sense, social sciences were founded on rational foundations in Europa. This rationally based approach represented the Newtonian model in social sciences.

In the nineteenth century, various disciplines of social sciences emerged as a result of systematic research and studies. In the same period, the main purpose was also determined: the main purpose of the social sciences within the logic of science was to learn, not to invent the truth or to find it through intuition. The disciplines of social sciences began to become clear after the first world war. And each of them formed integrity in itself over time.

In the period until 1945, various fields were formed like politics, history, economics, sociology, anthropology. Each later became a university discipline. By 1945 most of these areas were institutionalized.

History was the first social science to attain this institutional structure. History has created a new axis that includes new national historiographies. This axis intersected with science at many points.

Sociology, on the other hand, has been taken into consideration and studied by universities in order to seek solutions to the changes caused by processes such as the industrial revolution and urbanization. In this context, sociology also took on the responsibility of revealing social reality such as political science, history, and economics. Because there were testable realities.

Now let’s make a definition, evaluation, and formulation of science in terms of the law. Science is the activity of defining all events and phenomena that exist in the universe, trying to find the relationships between these events and phenomena and consequently creating a theory. Law, on the other hand, is a set of rules that regulate the relationships between individuals in this universe and impose certain positive or negative obligations. As we can see, while science deals with the whole universe, the law deals with only a part of it in this universe. Law is considered within the types of social science. Application parts of the law such as legislative activities are examples of the explanation of science in terms of the law. Because the processes of determining social problems and creating norms are scientific.

Consequently, all these social sciences aimed to reconstruct society on a rational basis with enlightened influences. In addition to this, people need social “sciences” in order to make sense of and systematize things about people and society.

Comparison of Natural Sciences and Social Sciences in terms of main approaches

Before all explanations, the term of science should be clarified. Science is defined as the search for universal laws of nature that are always true. It is a systematic, consistent, well-founded, and methodical search effort.

Science was used primarily in the sense of natural science. This situation showed that science is in the monopoly of natural sciences. Since art, philosophy, literature, human science seems to lack internal consistency. So, these fields could not gain much authority over the overwhelming influence of natural sciences on science. Actually, this was not a big problem for some social scientists (philosophers such as Hans Georg Gadamer and Karl-Otto Apel) because they thought that social sciences should give up their claim to science.

There are similarities as well as differences between social sciences and natural sciences. Social sciences as a field of study are different from natural sciences such as physics, chemistry, and biology. Because while social sciences examine the individual, society, and the relationships between the individual and society, natural science study the physical world. Moreover, the variables that natural sciences can use for research are limited and the result is more or less predictable. But social science is more open and liberal. This means that the result is unpredictable. The other difference is while natural sciences work with empirical data, whereas social sciences are fed by surveys and real-life data.

After these general evaluations about social sciences and natural sciences, let’s talk about the problem of method separation between these two fields. There are three main approaches to method debate: naturalism, interpretation, and critical thought.

Naturalist approach: The naturalistic approach is the positivist approach in social sciences. The naturalist approach argues that the methods of social sciences and natural sciences are the same. According to the naturalist approach, there is causality and explanation effort on the basis of social sciences (this is seriously criticized). İn this sense, they claim that the social sciences should adopt the method of work of the natural sciences. This method of study is based on observation and experimentation independent of causal explanations and value judgments.

Interpretation approach: The followers of this approach argue that social sciences cannot be evaluated according to the naturalistic approach on various sides. Because, as mentioned above, social sciences differ from natural sciences in many aspects such as subject, content, and method. An example; social sciences never remain fixed and cannot be considered fixed. Because there are some factors that shape social sciences. According to this approach, the task of social sciences is not to introduce some objective laws. The purpose and scope of social sciences are to make sense of human behavior within the tradition they belong to.

Critical thought approach: This is a new approach involving the third assessment. The critical thinking approach brings criticism to the naturalistic and interpretation approaches. It should be known that this approach is closer to the interpretation approach rather than the naturalistic approach. Followers of critical thought schools think that ideological and political factors drive the social sciences.

Under this heading, together with the general evaluation of the differences between social sciences and natural sciences, we examined three basic approaches to these differences.

The differences between Sociology and Philosophy within the framework of the concepts of norm, positivism, society, individual, and objectivity

We live in a world where change is the only constant. In this changing world, sociology differs from other social sciences by the desire to see human actions as components of large-scale formations. Sociology is a science that investigates the reality of people, society, and the relationship between two both through various methods and forms. It also examines the regularity of social interaction patterns across society.

The nineteenth century is a century of change and transition, and a turning point for the world. This change caused serious changes in all areas of human life, including social, economic, political, and law, with the transition in production forms. Sociology is a product of the French revolution and the industrial revolution. These two major developments are the reasons for the emergence of the modern state, societies, and sociology as a science. The replacement of villages by large cities has created a new model of society. However, this society had many problems. Likewise, the perception of time and space has changed, and the fact that people start living in big cities has created many social problems that have not been encountered before. Sociology emerged as a science with the claim of understanding and explaining the problems and changes that occurred in this century.

Before moving on to the evaluation of the differences between sociology and philosophy from various angles, let’s talk about the purpose of sociology and what kind of science it is. Sociology includes the individual, society, and sociality, in short, all the outcomes of human interaction. Therefore, its scope is much wider than it seems. It is the scientific study of the interactions of individuals in society (we can call it social behavior). The main objective of sociology is to explain everything within the scope of sociology (social realities, structures, phenomena… etc) and the links between them. As a result, sociological theory is formed and makes social life understandable and explained.

Sociology and philosophy differ on some issues. According to Emile Durkheim, these differences arise from the problematic of normativity. Emile Durkheim thought the normative way of thinking was specific to philosophy. He argued that the primary goal of sociology was to eliminate all normative tendencies in itself. Because neutrality of sociology in normativity was set it apart from philosophy. Based on all this, it can be said that Durkheim predicts a realistic attitude in his study of society (I mean sociology). In summary, in terms of normativity, philosophy examines what should be, while sociology explains what is.

Another difference between sociology and philosophy is that while philosophy has a universal perspective, sociology deals only with society (this should not mean that sociology does not draw on different fields). In this sense, the issue of objectivity should also be discussed along with universality. An objective study can be done independent of values in natural sciences, but it is not possible to make an objective study in social sciences, especially in sociology.

Sociology has adopted a positivist method in the process of being a science independent of philosophy. This is one of the major differences between sociology and psychology. Because the method of positivism approaches people and society just as it approaches objects and nature. Hence, in the positivist method, there is no place for feelings and values while doing research.

The relationship between Economics and Psychology according to the concepts of human beings, individual behavior, and choice.

First of all, the definition of economics must be done. In general mean, the economy is concerned with the production, exchange, quantity, and price of goods. However, this definition cannot be considered independent of human and human behavior. In this context, economics is a science-based on the individual to examine the economic preferences of individuals. Therefore, the main actor in the economy is the individual. I mean, the production, exchange, quantity, and price of goods are issues that concern the individual.

As mentioned above, the main factors in the economy are individuals. In this sense, it should be said that the behaviors, attitudes, expectations, choices, and preferences of individuals are crucial for economics. An interdisciplinary study is necessary to try to explain the reasons behind these (behaviors, attitudes, expectations, preferences, and choices…). Considering the concepts of human, individual behavior, and choice, it is necessary to understand the link between psychology and economics in order to explain these reasons.

When economics and psychology sciences are examined, it is seen that both are human-oriented. In this context, the science of economics is concerned with the preferences and choices of people, while psychology studies the reasons for these choices and behaviors. Because people’s economic preferences or other behaviors and choices depend not only on the maximum profit but also on various psychological factors. These psychological factors are also shaped by external factors. Let us examine this in detail.

Human behavior is too complex to be expressed in mathematical data. Since economics is a science consisting of human behavior, it is not possible to explain it with mathematical models. Therefore, in order to make sense of economics, it should use different tools other than mathematics (like psychology, sociology political science…).  There is also the science of psychology in every subject that human beings are. Since people are not always rational in terms of their choices and choices, psychology must enter this science. The external factors shape psychology and people make their choice with this infrastructure. These external factors (mental, emotional, and physical activities) that affect the selection, purchase and use of individuals also meet their wants and needs.

As we can see, psychology and economics are closely related at many points. We see the impact of psychology at every stage of economic activities. In this context, behavioral economics should also be mentioned. Behavioral economics has argued that human economic behavior should be examined with psychological elements. Behavioral economists evaluate and examine the investment, price setting, saving, and spending processes, including people’s motivations (motivation = muharrik mefhumu), attitudes, and expectations.

Under this title, I tried to explain that human behavior cannot be evaluated under the monopoly of rationality, how psychological factors can be associated with the economy in various ways, and the position of humans, individual behavior, and choices in this relationship.

The relationship between Political Science and Law in terms of society, state, social order, and “rule of law”.

Before evaluating politics, law, and their relations from various aspects, let’s make a definition of their meanings and content.

Many definitions are made about law and each one is based on sturdy sources. According to Plato, the law is “An expression of a social process related to the resolution of disputes and the establishment of order in society.” This definition is appropriate because the relationship between politics and law, discussed in the later stages, can be well explained through this definition.

Considering the relationship between law and order, it can be seen that it provides social order through peace, security, equality, and freedom.

Political science is also defined in various ways. It is sometimes defined as the distribution of power and resources, sometimes as the art of government. But in general, a definition of political science that everyone can accept can be made. Political science is a decision-making process in which different actors participate in the way of organizing social life. Philosophically, there is not as much diversity as its definition in terms of the emergence of political science as a result of a need.

The relationship between law and political science in terms of political power and society takes place in two ways. The first is making laws, and the second is the enforcement of laws. The process of making laws means organizing and the institutionalization of political power. In this sense, political power gains legitimacy. Implementation of laws fulfills the function of protecting society against political power.

A relationship can be established between political science and law in the context of the rule of law.  The rule of law can only be achieved if the judiciary is independent of the legislature and the executive. Therefore, the judiciary should be able to intervene in the legislature and the executive when necessary. Moreover, it can be said that the rule of law can be accomplished to the extent that political science can be limited by law.

Another relation between law and state is the doctrine of the state mind (the state mind = Hikmet-i Hükûmet). In this context, the law is only a tool in the hands of the state or the prince. According to this doctrine, the state or prince shapes the law as he/it wishes and knows how to legitimize it in the best way when necessary. (For more information about the state mind – Hikmet-i Hükûmet please check the books called The Prince/Nicolo Machiavelli, Talks on Politics/Nicolo Machiavelli, Machiavelli, Machiavelism, and Modernity/Cemal Bâki Akal, and check the study of examination called Machiavelli and Politics/Enes Koşar).

Finally, it should be said that political science and law have a common goal in establishing social order. Law and political science constantly interacting and act together seriously in order to establish the social order. In this sense, it should not be forgotten that law is influenced by political science in making and implementing general laws. Because the only thing that the government, which emerges from the society and dominates the society, needs to do to maintain this position is to legitimize itself legally.


  • Under Debate-Mario Bunge
  • Open Social Science-Gulbenkian Comission
  • Social Science: An Introduction To the Study of Society, Sixteenth Edition
  • The Prince-Machiavelli
  • Machiavelli, Machiavelism, and modernity-Cemal Bali Akal
  • Uluslararası Türk Dünyası Ekonomi Forumu Bildiriler Kitabı
  • Aydın Aybay-Rona Aybay Hukuka Giriş
  • Andrew Heywood-Siyaset
  • İktisatta Psikolojik İnsan Faktörü: Davranışsal İktisat -Yeşim CAN-Kırklareli Üniversitesi
  • Alim Yilmaz Sosyal Bilimler Felsefesinde Temel Sorunlar ve Yaklaşımlar
  • İktisat ve Sosyal Psikoloji-Prof. Alexandre VEXUARD -Ankara – Tarih Fakültesi Sosyal Psikoloji Profesörü
  • Sosyoloji Dergisi, 3. Dizi, 21. Sayı, 2010, 187-198
  • Hukukun Fonksiyonları Bakımından bkz. Vecdi Aral, Hukuk ve Hukuk Bilimi Üzerine, İÜHF Yayınları, İstanbul
  • https://drive.google.com/file/d/1T361VjVCe2kZ3hSxcR8yv2oPr6mIckWW/view?usp=sharing (Machiavelli and Politics/Enes Koşar)
  • https://acikders.ankara.edu.tr/pluginfile.php/50298/mod_resource/content/0/SK1.pdf
  • http://auzefkitap.istanbul.edu.tr/kitap/kok/siyaset_bilimine_giris_au285.pdf
  • https://evrimagaci.org/sosyal-bilimler-gercekten-bilim-midir-7553
  • https://dergipark.org.tr/en/download/article-file/276466
  • https://dergipark.org.tr/tr/download/article-file/787596
  • https://cdn.istanbul.edu.tr/file/1CD58DF90A/FCF2CB4021C94808B242F0F257634832?doi=
  • https://www.ataaof.edu.tr/Dosyalar/SosyolojiyeGiris.pdf
  • https://dergipark.org.tr/en/download/article-file/151717
  • https://dergipark.org.tr/en/download/article-file/397562

Enes Bera Koşar


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Enes Bera Koşar

Istanbul Medeniyet Univ. Political Sciences Balkan Studies eneskosar00[at]gmail.com


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