Theory Building in Qualitative Research: Reconsidering the Problem of Induction
Keywords:induction, deduction, qualitative analysis, theory in qualitative research
The problem of induction refers to the difficulties involved in the process of justifying experience-based scientific conclusions. More specifically, inductive reasoning assumes a leap from singular observational statements to general theoretical statements. It calls into question the role of empirical evidence in the theory-building process. In the philosophy of science, the validity of inductive reasoning has been severely questioned since at least the writings of David HUME. At the same time, induction has been lauded as one of the main pillars of qualitative research methods, and its identity as such has consolidated to the detriment of hypothetical-deductive methods. This article proposes reviving discussion on the problem of induction in qualitative research. It is argued that qualitative methods inherit many of the tensions intrinsic to inductive reasoning, such as those between the demands of empiricism and of formal scientific explanation, suggesting the need to reconsider the role of theory in qualitative research.
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Copyright (c) 2013 Pedro F. Bendassolli
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