Method Matters in Psychology: Essays in Applied Philosophy of Science

Cham: Springer Verlag (2018)
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Abstract

This book applies a range of ideas about scientific discovery found in contemporary philosophy of science to psychology and related behavioral sciences. In doing so, it aims to advance our understanding of a host of important methodological ideas as they apply to those sciences. A philosophy of local scientific realism is adopted in favor of traditional accounts that are thought to apply to all sciences. As part of this philosophy, the implications of a commitment to philosophical naturalism are spelt out, and a correspondence theory of truth is defended by showing how it helps explain various features of scientific practice. The central chapter of the book presents a broad theory of scientific method that comprises the detection of empirical phenomena and their subsequent understanding by constructing explanatory theories through the use of abductive methods. This theory of scientific method is then used as a framework to reconstruct the well-known qualitative method of grounded theory, and to present a systematic perspective on clinical reasoning and case formulation. Relatedly, an abductive or explanationist understanding of methods is employed to evaluate the knowledge credentials of evolutionary psychology. In addition, the conceptual and methodological foundations of a variety of quantitative methods are examined. Exploratory factor analysis and tests of statistical significance are given special attention.

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Chapters

Grounded Theory Method

This chapter examines the well-known, and widely used, approach to qualitative research known as grounded theory. In their initial formulation of the methodology, Glaser and Strauss adopted an empiricist outlook on inquiry, although one leavened more by pragmatism than positivism. This chapter prese... see more

The Philosophy of Quantitative Methods

This chapter undertakes a philosophical examination of four prominent quantitative research methods that are employed in the behavioural sciences. It begins by outlining a scientific realist methodology that can help illuminate the conceptual foundations of behavioural research methods. Typically, t... see more

Tests of Statistical Significance Made Sound

This chapter considers the nature and place of tests of statistical significance in science, with particular reference to psychology. Despite the enormous amount of attention given to this topic, psychology’s understanding of ToSS remains deficient. The major problem stems from a widespread and uncr... see more

An Abductive Theory of Scientific Method

In this chapter, a broad abductive theory of scientific method is described that has particular relevance for the behavioural sciences. This theory of method assembles a complex of specific strategies and methods that are used in the detection of empirical phenomena and the subsequent construction o... see more

Truth, Science, and Psychology

This Chapter adopts the correspondence theory as a plausible theory of truth and discusses it in relation to science. The correspondence theory is presented in a form that enables one to show that it uniquely fulfils a crucial function in psychological research, because the interpretation of truth c... see more

Exploratory Factor Analysis, Theory Generation, and Scientific Method

This Chapter examines the methodological foundations of exploratory factor analysis and suggests that it is properly construed as a method for generating explanatory theories. In the first half of the chapter, it is argued that EFA should be understood as an abductive method of theory generation tha... see more

Philosophical Naturalism and Scientific Method

This chapter discusses of the nature of philosophical naturalism and its relation to scientific method. The discussion takes its cue from an interdisciplinary examination of the naturalization of the philosophy of mind by Kievit et al. , who employ statistical methods to construct psychometric model... see more

How to Pursue the Adaptationist Program in Psychology

This chapter is concerned with the methodological foundations of evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychologists have offered adaptation explanations for a wide range of human psychological characteristics. Critics, however, have argued that such endeavours are problematic because the appropriat... see more

An Abductive Perspective on Clinical Reasoning and Case Formulation

This chapter presents a framework for clinical reasoning and case formulation that is largely based on the abductive theory of scientific method presented in chapter three. Clinical reasoning has traditionally been understood in terms of the hypothetico-deductive method. Occasionally, Bayesian metho... see more

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