The Logic and Methodological Rules of Reconstruction

  • Oddbjørn Bukve


What rules and approaches do we use when trying to understand and explain observations by help of theory, or when changing the theories as a result of new observations and ideas? The positivist tradition emphasises the alternation between on the one hand observations and the formulation of general theories, also called laws, and on the other hand testing of theories through new observations. The logic of such hypothetical-deductive reasoning, however, is mainly directed at testing theories to find out whether they are valid. It has less to say on the development of new ideas and theories. Other research logics are more focused on how to proceed in order to eliminate rivalling ideas and theories as far as possible. They build on a more pluralistic basis: that there usually are several possible explanations for and interpretations of social patterns and events.

In abductive thinking we go backwards from an observed conclusion and form premises and causal mechanisms of a kind that if they were true, the conclusion would be reasonable. Through abductive thinking we can develop different possible explanations of one and the same phenomenon. Thus, such thinking also opens up for different forms of testing of ideas through practical testing or production of data that are relevant for the testing of connections and relations.

The focus of analysis in hermeneutics is either an utterance in light of a given situation or an utterance in light of the actor who makes the utterance and wants to achieve something. In discourse analysis, we study how a given discourse order produces specific discursive practices and thus the actors’ interpretation of the world, or how subjects are constructing their identity in a given discursive context. These logics also focus on the mutual interaction between phenomenon and context. Strategic actors can change a given situation, and discursive practices can produce new frames of understanding and orders of discourse. We can say that hermeneutics and discourse analysis are concerned with the production of contextualised and situational explanations rather than with abstract generalisations that ignore time and space.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Oddbjørn Bukve
    • 1
  1. 1.Western Norway University of Applied SciencesSogndalNorway

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