Epistemology as ethics in research and policy: The use of case studies

Journal of Philosophy of Education 42 (s1):87-119 (2008)
Abstract
This article examines the ethnographic case study in education in the context of policy making with particular emphasis on the practice of research and policy making. The central claim of the article is that it is impossible to establish a transcendental epistemology of the case study on instrumental rationality. Instead it argues for the notion of situated judgement that needs to be made by practitioners in context, practitioners being both researchers and policy makers. In other words, questions about the level of confidence or warrant that can be placed in different sorts of research evidence and findings cannot be answered independently of forming a view about the appropriateness of the policy culture that shapes political decision-making. The article draws a distinction between the general, which is internal to the data as construed by a particular discipline, and the universal, which is the result of embedded human deliberation. This applies to all research findings and not only to case study, although since case study has long had to defend itself against accusations of the lack of generality, it can be a useful starting point for the discussion. This article is not meant to be yet another defence of the case study research genre, although a summary of other defences is offered. Rather it focuses on how use of the case study points to the limits of epistemology as rationality and offers a view of epistemology as ethics.
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Andrés Mejía (2010). The General in the Particular. Journal of Philosophy of Education 44 (1):93-107.
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