The Distinction and Relationship between Ontology and Epistemology
Does It Matter?
In the social sciences, a distinction is generally drawn between ontology and epistemology, usually accompanied by the assumption that some relationship exists between ontology and epistemology. In this regard several issues arise. Whereas there seems to be general agreement on the meaning of the concepts ‘ontology’ and ‘epistemology’, there seems to be no agreement on what can be classified as ontological or epistemological. The distinction and particularly the relationship between ontology and epistemology is furthermore regarded by some scholars as problematic and contested. The aim is to examine the distinction and the presumed nature of this relationship in order to establish why it is contested. It is extremely important to take cognisance of the possibility of fallacious reasoning concerning the distinction and the relationship between ontology and epistemology, as the failure to do so may have serious consequences for the integrity and validity of research projects in the social sciences. Lastly, it is also relevant to determine whether the distinction and the presumed relationship between ontology and epistemology are important for the scientific enterprise.
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