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(philosophy) The concept (associated with scientific methodology) that there is an external world which is independent of our modes of apprehending it, and that it is possible to eliminate bias and to describe it accurately in terms of verifiable facts. A form of epistemological realism. Philosophers such as Nietzsche and Foucault reject the possibility of value-free facts. Even if it were possible in relation to the investigation of physical reality, sociologists argue that the social world cannot be independent of our mode of apprehending it; indeed, constructionism is built upon the notion of the social reality as constructed. Cognitive, cultural, and linguistic frameworks mediate human experience and reality (see also Sapir-Whorf hypothesis). This raises the question of whether social research can ever be ‘scientific’; for its critics, this condemns such research to epistemological relativism.

Subjects: Media Studies.

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