Social scientists are often vexed because their work does not satisfy the criteria of "scientific" methodology developed by philosophers of science and logicians who use the natural sciences as their model. In this study, Paul Diesing defines science not by reference to these arbitrary norms delineated by those outside the field but in terms of norms implicit in what social scientists actually do in their everyday work.
Patterns of Discovery in the Social Sciences is a detailed and systematic report on the full range of methods and procedures as they are actually practiced. Neither a how-to-do-it handbook nor a lofty philosophical treatise, this is a truly interdisciplinary study of the basic modes of procedure in scientific inquiry, with a special emphasis on normative politics. Diesing treats scientific methods as inductive logics of discovery in continuous evolution. He emphasizes the variety of methods available, discusses the advantages and disadvantages of specific methods, and, in particular, provides an account of mathematical modeling and of participant observation.
The book will be of immense interest to all working social scientists, graduate students in any of the social science disciplines, and philosophers of science. It can also be employed as a text or supplement in courses in sociological methods and philosophy of science. This book is also a noteworthy companion to Diesing's major work on Science and Ideology in the Policy Sciences.