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About this book

This lively and accessible textbook on methodology in social and political science focuses centrally on the debate between positivist and constructivist approaches. Introducing a range of key topics and issues which show how methodological pluralism can be combined with intellectual rigour, it guides students through how they can exploit the manifold ways of knowing as they begin to embark on their own research.

The textbook is ideal for undergraduate and master degree students who are taking icourses on philosophy of social science, social and political analysis and research methods.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
For as long as can be recalled, there have been arguments over ways of knowing. Gods, giants and even reasonable people cannot seem to agree about the nature of reality and how we can understand it. There are — quite simply — different ways of knowing.
Jonathon W. Moses, Torbjørn L. Knutsen

Chapter 3. The Experimental Method

Abstract
In closing the previous chapter we introduced a hierarchy of methods associated with the naturalist approach, an approach that assumes the world is inherently characterized by regularities or patterns. These patterns are made accessible to the naturalist by the systematic use of particular methods or techniques. The most important of these are control and comparison. Control is used to isolate the cause-effect relationship from other potential explanatory variables, while comparison is used to map regularities with the aim of discovering general laws or patterns. By means of control and comparison, the scientist is able to identify, isolate and explore regularities in the world. This is done — as Hume and Mill insisted — by the systematic observation of that world.
Jonathon W. Moses, Torbjørn L. Knutsen

Chapter 5. The Comparative Method

Abstract
Let us return to the basic philosophical components of the naturalist approach: that there is a Real World out there, independent of the observer; that this World is uniform and orderly; that observations and observation statements allow us to access this World; and that a careful process of induction and deduction can be used to identify the ordering principles of the World, so as to determine its component parts and their causal relations. This chapter describes how the comparative method is employed from this methodological perspective.
Jonathon W. Moses, Torbjørn L. Knutsen

Chapter 8. A Constructivist Philosophy of Science

Abstract
Behind us, in Chapters 1–6, we have left the empirical quest for certain knowledge; ahead of us lie doubt, difference and dissent. Chapter 7 planted the seeds of doubt, and here we seek to identify some of the wild methodological vines that have grown from those seeds. Our intention is to harvest a constructivist alternative to the naturalist philosophy of science described in Chapter 2.
Jonathon W. Moses, Torbjørn L. Knutsen

Chapter 11. Contextualizing Statistics

Abstract
It is not easy to find constructivist authors of statistical studies. This, in itself, should not surprise us. After all, the traditional objective of the statistical method is to remove the subject matter from its constitutive context in order to probe its nature in terms of correlational patterns. For the constructivist, where meaning and context are prioritized above all else, this method can do more harm than good; it contributes to a twofold distancing: between the data and their context, and between these and the analyst.
Jonathon W. Moses, Torbjørn L. Knutsen
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