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Epistemological reflections on the connection between ideas and data in empirical research into religion

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Chapter Summary

The logic of science coincides, according to Popper, with a logical account of the method of empirical science. This thesis is disputed by other philosophers of science, such as Norwood Russell Hanson. The discovery of theories in science is characterised by the logic of abduction or retroduction. This logic of abduction is integrated by Charles Ragin in a unitary model of empirical science. Ragin gives abductive reasoning a place next to deductive and inductive reasoning in the process of connecting ideas to reality. Quantitative, qualitative and comparative research are the three types of empirical research in theology Two fundamental objections to this unitary model are raised: does truth not disappear in a model which puts abductive reasoning at the heart of the connection between ideas and reality? Is the kernel of religion, namely the existence and activity of God, not reduced to human processes?.

Keywords: comparative research; empirical research; God; human processes; qualitative research; quantitative research; religion; unitary model



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