Understanding and Prediction: Essays in the Methodology of Social and Behavioural Theories (Synthese Library) (Volume 94)

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9789027711991: Understanding and Prediction: Essays in the Methodology of Social and Behavioural Theories (Synthese Library) (Volume 94)

One of the more characteristic features of contemporary sociology is an increasing interest in theories. More and more theories are being developed in various areas of social investigation; we observe also an increasing number of verificational studies aimed primarily toward the verification of various theories. The essays presented in this volume deal with theories too, but they approach this problem from a methodological perspective. There­ fore it seems worthwhile in the preface to this volume to make a kind of general declaration about the author's aims and his approach to the subject of his interest, and about his view of the role of methodological reflection in the development of sciences. First let me say what methodology cannot do. It cannot be a substitute for the formulation of substantive theories, nor can it substitute for the empirical studies which confirm or reject such theories. Therefore its impact upon the development of any science, including the social sciences, is only indirect, by its undertaking the analysis of research tools and rules of scientific procedures. It can also propose certain standards for scientific procedures, but the application of these standards is the domain of substan­ tive researchers, and it is the substantive researchers who ultimately develop any science. Nevertheless the potential impact-of methodological reflection, even if only indirect, should not be underestimated.

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