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Response 1: Scientific Method in Social Policy Research Is Not a Lost Cause

  • STEPHEN McKAY (a1)
Abstract

In ‘Generalisation and phronesis’, Paul Spicker argues that the methodology of empirical research in social policy would be improved by drawing on Aristotle's concept of phronesis (φρόνησις) – which is generally translated as practical wisdom or prudence. He argues against versions of generalisation that rely on cause-and-effect, whether through deductive or inductive means. He maintains, however, that social policy research must still aim at making generalisations, for which he recommends the application of phronesis.

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C. Beatty , S. Fothergill and R. MacMillan (2000), ‘A theory of employment, unemployment and sickness’, Regional Studies, 34: 7, 617–30.

R. Gilbert , G. Salanti , M. Harden and S. See (2005), ‘Infant sleeping position and the sudden infant death syndrome: systematic review of observational studies and historical review of recommendations from 1940 to 2002’, International Journal of Epidemiology [doi:10.1093/ije/dyi088]

P. Humphreys (1989), The Chances of Explanation: Causal Explanations in the Social, Medical, and Physical Sciences, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

D. Lewis (1973), ‘Causation’, Journal of Philosophy, 70: 556–67.

M. Shaw (2003), ‘Flyvbjerg, 2001, Making social science matter’ [book review], Progress in Human Geography, 27: 2, 244.

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Journal of Social Policy
  • ISSN: 0047-2794
  • EISSN: 1469-7823
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-social-policy
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