Synthese 200 (2):1-23 (2022)

Rosa W. Runhardt
Leiden University
Evidential pluralists, like Federica Russo and Jon Williamson, argue that causal claims should be corroborated by establishing both the existence of a suitable correlation and a suitable mechanism complex. At first glance, this fits well with mixed method research in the social sciences, which often involves a pluralist combination of statistical and mechanistic evidence. However, statistical evidence concerns a population of cases, while mechanistic evidence is found in individual case studies. How should researchers combine such general statistical evidence and specific mechanistic evidence? This article discusses a very recent answer to this question, ‘multi-method large-N qualitative analysis’ or multi-method LNQA, popular in political science and international relations studies of rare events like democratic transitions and cease-fire agreements. Multi-method LNQA combines a comprehensive study of all relevant event cases with statistical analysis, in an attempt to solve the issues of generalization faced by other types of qualitative research, such as selection bias and lack of representativeness. I will argue that the kind of general causal claim that multi-method LNQA is after, however, is crucially different from the average treatment effect found in statistical analysis and can in fact only be supported with mechanistic evidence. I conclude from this that mixed method research, and thereby evidential pluralism, may be inappropriate in this context.
Keywords evidential pluralism  causal mechanism  case study research  mixed methods research  multi-method research  large-N qualitative research
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-022-03650-w
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,163
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Interpreting Causality in the Health Sciences.Federica Russo & Jon Williamson - 2007 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (2):157 – 170.
Probabilistic Causality.Ellery Eells - 1991 - Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

View all 27 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Applying Evidential Pluralism to the Social Sciences.Yafeng Shan & Jon Williamson - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (4):1-27.
Qualitative Research Methods and Evidential Reasoning.Corrado Matta - 2019 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 49 (5):385-412.
Causal Models and Evidential Pluralism in Econometrics.Alessio Moneta & Federica Russo - 2014 - Journal of Economic Methodology 21 (1):54-76.
Philosophical Reflections on Research Methodology for Social Sciences.Hafiz Syed Husain - 2019 - Beytulhikme An International Journal of Philosophy 9 (9:3):585-596.
Cultural Pluralism and its Effects on Educational Systems.Tayyebeh Tavassoli - 2019 - Journal of Philosophical Theological Research 20 (78):166-189.
Reinforced Reasoning in Medicine.Daniel Auker-Howlett & Michael Wilde - 2020 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 26 (2):458-464.
Making Evidential Claims in Epidemiology: Three Strategies for the Study of the Exposome.Stefano Canali - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 82:101248.


Added to PP index

Total views
4 ( #1,278,214 of 2,506,844 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #170,106 of 2,506,844 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes