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Description versus Interpretation: Competing Alternative Strategies for Qualitative Research

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In the contemporary scene, psychological researchers seeking alternative (qualitative) research strategies are turning increasingly toward interpretation theory. However, other strategies are also available, and one of these is descriptive science. Descriptive practices as the basis for the clarification of meanings have received less emphasis because of several epistemological assumptions about meaning that have appeared in the literature of interpretive science. Based upon the work of contemporary transcendental philosophers, especially J. N. Mohanty, this article argues that a descriptive scientific perspective can respond to some of the hermeneutic arguments about meaning and that solid findings can be established descriptively. It is argued that both description and interpretation are legitimate but that they are tied to different conditions and interests.

Affiliations: 1: Université du Québec à Montréal

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