An Abductive Theory of Scientific Method

  • Brian D. HaigEmail author
Part of the Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics book series (SAPERE, volume 45)


In this chapter, a broad abductive theory of scientific method is described that has particular relevance for the behavioural sciences. This theory of method assembles a complex of specific strategies and methods that are used in the detection of empirical phenomena and the subsequent construction of explanatory theories. A characterization of the nature of phenomena is given, and the process of their detection is briefly described in terms of a multistage model of data analysis. The construction of explanatory theories is shown to involve their generation through abductive, or explanatory, reasoning, their development through analogical modelling, and their fuller appraisal in terms of judgments of the best of competing explanations. The nature and limits of this theory of method are discussed in the light of relevant developments in scientific methodology.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

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