SAGE Journal Articles

Meadwell, H. (2010) ‘Explanations without causes and causes without reasons’, Social Science Information, 49 (4): 539–62.

This article argues that while it is commonplace to assume that the social world has a causal structure, standard ways of approaching causal analysis lack explanatory force when the focus is on intentional human behaviour. Meadwell argues that a teleological approach focusing on means–ends relationships and reasons offers a more fruitful approach.

Mearsheimer, J and Walt, S. (2013) ‘Leaving theory behind: why simplistic hypothesis testing is bad for international relations’, European Journal of International Relations, 19 (3): 427–57.

This article reminds us that discovering empirical regularities is of little value unless there is a theory that makes sense of them. What the authors call ‘simplistic’ hypothesis testing relies on establishing covariations between measured variables; they suggest that there has been too much focus on this process and a neglect of theory. There is a good discussion of what theory is and why it is useful.