The Logic of Theory and the Logic of Practice
Keywords:case-study, phronesis, clinical knowledge
AbstractStiles (2009) has articulated a powerful argument for the surprising logical parallels between the way a case study and experimental data test a scientific theory in the field of psychotherapy. Though this contradicts the orthodox account of research methods in psychology, Stiles shows that careful attention to the tenets of logical positivist and neo-positivist philosophy of science requires such a conclusion. While this is no doubt a sound argument, it rests on Stiles assumption that theories of psychotherapy are essentially scientific theories. It is clear that Stiles thinks of theories of psychotherapy as different from theories in the physical sciences, but exactly how these theories are different is not clearly articulated. I would argue that psychotherapy theories are fundamentally moral theories, a form of what Aristotle referred to as phronesis, and as such are radically different than scientific theories. Nevertheless, Stiles’ conclusion is a sound one: case studies are the best way to test phronesis in psychotherapy because as Aristotle observed, practical wisdom is highly context dependent and action oriented.
Copyright for articles published in this journal is retained by the authors, with first publication rights granted to the journal. By virtue of their appearance in this open access journal, articles are free to use, with proper attribution, in educational and other non-commercial settings. The author has agreed to the journal's author's agreement.
All articles in this journal are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.