The Search for Unity Amid Diversity: A Criteria Framework

author: Michael Keating, Department of Political and Social Sciences, European University Institute
published: March 14, 2010,   recorded: February 2009,   views: 2538

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John Gerring begins by reviewing the methodological fragmentation currently characterizing the fields of social science (anthropology, economics, political science, sociology, and various off-shoots). Next, I explore arguments for greater methodological unity, as well as a variety of approaches to achieving unity, including 1) theoretical paradigms, 2) philosophy of science, 3) mathematics, and 4) method texts. Finally, I suggest a new approach dubbed the “criterial framework,” which attempts to divide the work of social science into a series of tasks and attendant criteria. This framework, it is argued, offers an optimal level of methodological unity, allowing arguments to meet and discoveries to cumulate without unduly constricting the work of social science.

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