hypothetico-deductive explanation and method
hypothetico-deductive explanation and methodan alternative to INDUCTION based on the idea that HYPOTHESES are essential in science, as both the basis of proposed generalizations, and their test. In this approach or method, hypotheses and theories are advanced, and generalizations and predictions made, on the basis of deductions from these, with:
- successful prediction being taken as a test of the adequacy of the hypothesis and theory;
- explanation being seen as achieved once successful predictions have been made.
In its fullest (sometimes also logically formalized) form, hypothetico-deductive explanation and method results in a network of deductively interrelated propositions and theories. The emphasis on the importance of the advancing and the testing of hypotheses, or ‘conjectures’, has also meant that the hypothetico-deductive method is often allied with FALSIFICATION and FALSIFICATIONISM, although not always so. See also COVERING-LAW MODEL AND DEDUCTIVE NOMOLOGICAL EXPLANATION, and EXPLANATION. Objections to suggestions that the hypothetico-deductive method is the method of science should also be noted (see REALISM).
While a hypothetico-deductive approach to testing and theory, and the construction of formal theories, has been advocated in sociology (see FORMAL THEORY AND FORMALIZATION OF THEORY), it has also been sharply opposed (see GROUNDED THEORY, but compare ANALYTICAL INDUCTION).