Doctoral student Frederiksen Jon

135600 €

The Philosophy of Anthropological Research

Tieteellinen tutkimus / siihen pohjautuva työ | Nelivuotinen

This Ph.D. project in Philosophy sets out to understand the fascinating philosophical problem of how researchers in the qualitative social sciences make use of how inferences about cause–effect, causal explanations, and how they could do so in a more systematically sound way. In particular, I will study how the problem of causal explanation is tackled by researchers in the qualitative subfield of Social Anthropology. My project is a cross-disciplinary project in Philosophy of the Social Sciences, where I study this quintessentially qualitative paradigm of social science with theory from the causal paradigm. The aim is to develop systematic methods for causal explanation that any qualitative social scientist can add to their explanatory toolbox. The topic of such possibilities and limits of causal explanation in the (qualitative) social sciences has made a comeback in recent years, partly due to new schools of causal theory, e.g. the mechanism approach, that might provide a solution to the problem. This new theory could become a tool for social anthropology to deal systematically with causal inferences, and once such systematic solutions are turned into methods, they could be widely applicable to all qualitative researchers. The societal importance of qualitative research methods should not be underestimated. It is increasingly being employed in European public sectors, especially in the Nordic welfare states, Finland included: Interviews, participant observation, in-depth surveys, people’s own experience and understandings, etc., are commonplace parts of public and private policy reports. They are used as a basis for designing new policy, addressing specific population segments, especially in social policy. This modern research practice is a particular audience for my philosophical findings that aspire to become useful in practice.