The Explanatory Power of Models

Bridging the Gap between Empirical and Theoretical Research in the Social Sciences

  • Robert Franck

Part of the Methodos Series book series (METH, volume 1)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages I-IX
  2. General Introduction

    1. Robert Franck
      Pages 1-8
  3. Statistical Modelling and the Need for Theory

  4. Computer Simulation and the Reverse Engineering Method

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 101-104
    2. Armand de Callataÿ
      Pages 105-126
  5. Models and Theory

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 147-150
    2. Dominique Peeters
      Pages 151-164
    3. Marc Termote
      Pages 165-179
    4. Christine Mironesco
      Pages 181-195
  6. Epistemological Landmarks

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 241-244
  7. General Conclusion

    1. Robert Franck
      Pages 295-299
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 301-309

About this book


Empirical research often lacks theory. This book progressively works out a method of constructing models which can bridge the gap between empirical and theoretical research in the social sciences. This might improve the explanatory power of models. The issue is quite novel, and it benefited from a thorough examination of statistical and mathematical models, conceptual models, diagrams and maps, machines, computer simulations, and artificial neural networks. These modelling practices have been approached through different disciplines.

The proposed method is partly inspired by reverse engineering. The standard covering law approach is abandoned, and classical induction restored to its rightful place. It helps to solve several difficulties which impact upon the social sciences today, for example how to extend an explanatory model to new phenomena, how to establish laws, and how to guide the choice of a conceptual structure.

The book can be used for advanced courses in research methods in the social sciences and in philosophy of science.


Empirical Research Infant Mortality Simulation philosophy of science science

Editors and affiliations

  • Robert Franck
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre of Philosophy of ScienceUniversité Catholique de LouvainBelgium

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2002
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Springer Book Archive
  • Print ISBN 978-90-481-6122-5
  • Online ISBN 978-1-4020-4676-6
  • Buy this book on publisher's site