An exploration of H.G. Stoker's (1899-1993) contributions to methodology
Van der Walt, Marthienus Frederik (Tinus)
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Stoker's early exposure to a milieu characterised by a preoccupation with methodology should serve as a backdrop for an appreciation of his theoretical work on methods. It is argued that his work resulted in a methodological perspective that underscores the limited role of method as merely a means to an end. It is a perspective that acknowledges the multiplicity and complementarity of methods, undermines the myth that the method of inductive verification is the scientific method, and rejects methodological monism and scientism. However, the influence of natural scientific and metaphysical rationalism on Stoker manifests itself in his definition of science and of scientific method. Although his intention to disclose the normative dimension of method is welcomed, it is questioned whether the introduction of a family of deontological sciences, including a deontology of methods, would really promote this cause. Finally, a modal analysis of methods as historically qualified artefacts is proposed as an alternative to Stoker's analysis, which is more inclined towards objectivism. In this way, it is hoped that modal norms for methods can be more accurately identified, and that sufficient emphasis can be placed on norms holding also for the design of methods.
- Faculty of Humanities