The Philosophy of Science

The Philosophy of Science

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The Philosophy of Science

Studying economics or international business one naturally spends very
much time learning many different economic theories. The attempt is
made most of the time at providing examples used to illustrate various
aspects of the theory by conducting case studies. Case studies are
based on cases which are nothing but the description of the real life
scenario of an organization. Studying these cases one rarely thinks
about the truthfulness of the content provided. But true content is
essential to accurate scientific work. How can it be expected of a
student to be introduced into a new subject matter with the question
of the truth being a secondary one in a subject considered scientific?
This text will examine various pseudo truths and scientific
discrepancies found in the Philips case used in the Organization &
Marketing course at Maastricht University.

The Philips case provides the reader with a general introduction to
the Philips organization encompassing the firm’s history, its
structure its various strategies over time and how it has evolved over
the years. Questioning the content of the cases given to you as a
student is certainly not the first thing done with a new text. But if
one is really dealing with science seems essential to truly
understanding the subject, a view also backed by Klamer , “Science has
to be value free” (Klamer, 2003). According to general methodology the
two philosophies of rationalism and empiricism give us the tools
necessary to determine the truthfulness of knowledge in scientific
work. Descartes being a rationalist stated reason was the key as using
reason knowledge can be concluded from definitive truths making these
true themselves. A good example of this is mathematics. Empiricists
state truths come from facts that can be observed. If claims are not
falsified by way of observation they can be seen as being true.
(Klamer, 2003).

One of the first impressions gained after reading the case is the very
narrative way in which the section about the history of Philips is
written almost making the reader think he is reading a story, surely

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this cannot be considered proper scientific rhetoric? Throughout the
case but especially in the paragraph concerning Philip’s strategy the
text gives the impression of being almost like a textbook on
organization. Sentences like: “Marketing interests fuelled new types
of structural arrangements…” (Philips case, block book Maastricht
University) simply state a fact that would probably have been
difficult to determine in such a definitive way. Also Philips managers
are quoted in a sense that it seems as though what they say is the
definite truth especially when assumptions are made they are not
presented as such. “A process of change has been set in motion”
(Philips case, block book Maastricht University) how can the judgement
of one person in a company really be taken as a fact, this is a clear
indication for unscientific work. And if estimates and assumptions are
used in this way how can it be determined whether the science
conducted is free of value? It can not which is precisely the problem.
An extensive use of statistical information can also be observed which
seems to serve the function of trying to make the reader think actual
induction took place which is not an impression I had after studying
the text in detail. This data seems to have been presented to satisfy
the ,as Klamer would call them, “hard-nosed scientists” (Klamer,
2003).

On the other hand it must be stated that the case is indeed intended
for first year economics or international business students. It seems
obvious the author of the case had this in mind as this would explain
the textbook style in which some parts of the case are written. First
year students are not immediately taught to question the truthfulness
of the content of texts provided ,otherwise how can any knowledge at
all even basic one be seen as true? Still the fact that management in
the case actually had a choice and alternatives is hardly mentioned at
all and creates the impression that this is the only way in which the
firm could have been managed. This is clearly no accurate
representation of true facts.

Concluding I must say that the case disappoints when analysed under
the criteria of truthful content and whether or not it can be
considered scientific. The text is clearly not scientific and appears
to have been written by a very “lazy-dazy scientist” (Klamer, 2003) as
the truth seems to have been slightly manipulated or not researched in
great detail in various parts of the text. To illustrate one can use a
metaphor “Science is the highest floor of a skyscraper. You can look
down at the street and observe what is going on down there from a
whole different (analysing) perspective. This might include that in
practice you don’t know how to cross the street even if theoretically
you had a theory about it” (Klamer, 2004). The Philips case
unscientific and not very truthful as it is would certainly be an
observer with a ground floor perspective as there is little real
analysis and only clear straightforward solutions to problems are
presented.

List of references:

- “The Phillips case”, 2003, University of Maastricht, Block Book 1.1
Organization and Marketing

- Arjo Kramer, 2003, “Speaking of economics: How to be in the
conversation of

economists”, Chapter 5
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