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A FALLIBILISTIC RESPONSE TO THYER'S THEORY OF THEORY-FREE EMPIRICAL RESEARCH IN SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE

Tomi Gomory
Journal of Social Work Education
Vol. 37, No. 1 (Winter 2001), pp. 26-50
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23043846
Page Count: 25
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A FALLIBILISTIC RESPONSE TO THYER'S THEORY OF THEORY-FREE EMPIRICAL RESEARCH IN SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE
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Abstract

Empirical clinical social work practice (one of the current scientific paradigms of the profession) has too narrow an understanding of how science is done. That perspective maintains that science is an inductive, positivist, often atheoretical process, which can lead to credible, justified knowledge. By reviewing Bruce Thyer's article, "The Role of Theory in Research on Social Work Practice," through a Popperian falsificationist lens the difficulties of that approach are highlighted. An alternate approach, "Critical Rationalism," a fallibilistic noninductive trial-and-error testing of conjectured theories and methods, is described. It is contentded that this approach better advances professional knowledge and resolves the problems unresolved by the current methodology.

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