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  \'The thesis that there is (or can be) an essential unity of method between the natural and the social sciences\' (Bhaskar, 1979). Put like that, one might expect naturalism to have played an important part in the history of geography in making possible a conversation between physical geography and human geography. Certainly, those geographers who worked with philosophies of science like critical rationalism, (logical) positivism or realism accepted a (sometimes modified) version of naturalism. But the situation is more complicated than this implies, for two reasons which work in different directions. On the one side are those human geographers who are suspicious of social science, not least because of the shadows which naturalism casts over them, and who prefer to think of themselves as working within the humanities. Their central concern is with questions of intention, interpretation and values as these emerge within a world that is intrinsically meaningful to the beings who inhabit it, and this situation (so they suppose) has no direct counterpart in the natural sciences. This was one of the central planks of an avowedly humanistic geography, but the rise of post-structuralism and its critique of epistemology has produced a more robustly critical view of the cultural construction of nominally scientific inquiries. On the other side, therefore, are those who would insist that all \'sciences\' involve questions of intention, interpretation and value; that their texts and traces are always vulnerable to critical deconstruction; that their findings are always the product of situated practices that are carried out in specific archival, field, library and laboratory settings; and that the dissemination and generalization of their constitutively \'local knowledges\' means that they simply cannot avoid issues of hermeneutics, power and rhetoric (Rouse, 1987, 1996; Woolgar, 1988). There is no doubt that in recent years the \'cultural turn\' in both the humanities and social sciences, and the related development of cultural studies of science (\'science studies\'), have had a considerable impact on human geography and its understandings of (the cultural construction of) nature and natural science (Demeritt, 1994; Barnes, 1996; see science, geography and). It remains to be seen how successful these interventions will be in radically revising the \'essential unity\' between the natural sciences and social sciences originally posited by the proponents and critics of naturalism: but they do seem to suggest that many of the most powerful commonalities between the two rest not on the once unquestionable \'objectivity\' of the natural sciences but on the myriad relations between \'power\' and \'knowledge\' that capture the human and social sciences. (DG)

References Barnes, T. 1996: Probable writing: Derrida, deconstruction and the Quantitative Revolution in economic geography. In his Logics of dislocation: models, metaphors and meanings of economic space. New York: Guilford, 161-84. Bhaskar, R. 1979: The possibility of naturalism: a philosophical critique of the contemporary human sciences. Brighton: Harvester. Demeritt, D. 1994: Ecology, objectivity and critique in writings on nature and human societies. Journal of Historical Geography 20: 22-37. Rouse, J. 1987: Knowledge and power: toward a political philosophy of science. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Rouse, J. 1996: Engaging science. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Wooolgar, S. 1988: Science: the very idea. London: Tavistock.

Suggested Reading Bhaskar (1989). Demeritt (1994). Woolgar (1988).



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