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Truth and method in empirical theology

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Chapter Summary

The chapter takes Jaco Dreyers discussion as a starting point for the inquiry: can hermeneutics indeed solve methodological issues pertaining to quantitative and qualitative research? It elaborates on this by distinguishing between meaning and knowledge, and call for valid criteria to demarcate scientific and non-scientific claims. The chapter proceeds to cast some doubt on methodological efforts to arrive at truth itself, be it from an empirical or a hermeneutic perspective. Knowledge claims can be raised and criticised scientifically if they are based on clear methodological procedures that permit us to target meaning as a concept open to empirical research. The chapter explains with some proposals for methodological innovation in empirical theology that link a hermeneutic approach to priorities in empirical research. Dreyer relates participation and distancing to qualitative and quantitative research respectively. Surprisingly, he omits the favoured epistemological priorities of these research types, namely inductive and deductive techniques.

Keywords: deductive techniques; empirical theology; hermeneutic approach; inductive techniques; Jaco Dreyer; methodological issues; qualitative research; quantitative research; truth



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