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Explanation and Understanding in the Human Sciences$
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Gurpreet Mahajan

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780198076971

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198076971.001.0001

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Some Considerations on Method

Some Considerations on Method

(p.94) V Some Considerations on Method
Explanation and Understanding in the Human Sciences

Gurpreet Mahajan

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents two conclusions that follow from the preceding discussions of the nature and structure of causal explanations, reason-action explanations, hermeneutic understanding, and the narrative mode. First, each of these four modes of inquiry represents an independent and autonomous form of explanation. Second, the ‘why’ interrogative can be answered in different ways and causal explanations present one way of answering that question. Reason-action explanations and the narrative provide alternatives to the causal mode of inquiry: indeed, they constitute non-causal forms of explanation. Recognition of alternative modes of explanation is a necessary prerequisite for a critical appraisal of the beliefs that inform our thinking on scientific investigation and knowledge.

Keywords:   causal explanations, reason-action explanations, hermeneutic understanding, narrative mode, modes of inquiry

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