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Human Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 429–454 | Cite as

Meaning and Method in the Social Sciences1

  • WILLIAM P. FISHERJr.Email author
Article

Abstract

Academia’s mathematical metaphysics are briefly explored en route to an elaboration of the qualitatively rigorous requirements underpinning the calibration and unambiguous interpretation of quantitative instrumentation in any science. Of particular interest are Gadamer’s emphases on number as the paradigm of the noetic, on the role of play in interpretation, and on Hegel’s sense of method as the activity of the thing itself that thought experiences. These point toward and overlap with (1) Latour’s study of the metrological social networks through which technological phenomena are brought into language as modes of being that can be understood, and (2) the way that Rasch’s models for measurement comprise a potential beginning for metaphysically astute, qualitatively and quantitatively integrated, mathematical methods in the social sciences. The paper closes with observations on the general problem that is philosophy, the need to remain open to multiplicities of meaning even as clear understandings are sought and obtained.

Gadamer Hans-Georg metaphysics metrology Rasch models quantitative methodologies 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MetaMetrics, Inc.DurhamU.S.A.

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