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Vindicating Methodological Triangulation

Heesen, Remco and Bright, Liam Kofi and Zucker, Andrew (2016) Vindicating Methodological Triangulation. Synthese. ISSN 1573-0964

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Abstract

Social scientists use many different methods, and there are often substantial disagreements about which method is appropriate for a given research question. In response to this uncertainty about the relative merits of different methods, W. E. B. Du Bois advocated for and applied "methodological triangulation". This is to use multiple methods simultaneously in the belief that, where one is uncertain about the reliability of any given method, if multiple methods yield the same answer that answer is confirmed more strongly than it could have been by any single method. Against this, methodological purists believe that one should choose a single appropriate method and stick with it. Using tools from voting theory, we show Du Boisian methodological triangulation to be more likely to yield the correct answer than purism, assuming the scientist is subject to some degree of diffidence about the relative merits of the various methods. This holds even when in fact only one of the methods is appropriate for the given research question.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Heesen, Remcordh51@cam.ac.uk0000-0003-3823-944X
Bright, Liam Kofilbright@andrew.cmu.edu
Zucker, Andrewandrewz@andrew.cmu.edu
Additional Information: This paper is published in Synthese under open access. Please cite from the official published version rather than the attached PDF.
Keywords: Philosophy of social science; Methodological triangulation; Formal epistemology; Voting theory; W. E. B. Du Bois
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Anthropology and Archaeology
General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Decision Theory
Specific Sciences > Economics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Sociology
Depositing User: Remco Heesen
Date Deposited: 31 Dec 2016 16:46
Last Modified: 31 Dec 2016 16:46
Item ID: 12723
Journal or Publication Title: Synthese
Publisher: Springer (Springer Science+Business Media B.V.)
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11229-016-1294-7
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1007/s11229-016-1294-7
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Anthropology and Archaeology
General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Decision Theory
Specific Sciences > Economics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Sociology
Date: 30 December 2016
ISSN: 1573-0964
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/12723

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