Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


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core definition

Deductivism is the process of asserting the validity of a conclusion from a set of premises which have been allotted a truth value.

explanatory context

Deductivism isintegrally entwined with the concept of logical argument.


While essential for the presentation of a logical argument it in no way provides for the empirical testing of the truth value of the premises.


As a discoursive system it entails no necessary grounding in empirical data and is an abstract scheme. 'Proof' for classical deductivists therefore resides in extralogical elements. Intellect, through one process or another, provides the grounds for the assertion of truth value of premises. Revelation, intuition or experience provides the basis for the asserertion of such truths which are subsequently backed up by logical argument.


Such synthetic a priori principles have only tenuous links with a materialistic knowledge. Consequently, science sought an empirically grounded knowledge and inductive principles came to dominate theories of science.

analytical review

Hoyningen-Huene (2006) wrote:

Deductivism is an attempt to develop a position that avoids the difficulties that beset inductivism. It is accepted that theoretical elements enter science at all stages and that inductive generalizations lack proper justification. The basic idea of deductivism is that theories are not built bottom-up from theory-free data, but that they are deductively tested against data. Inductivism and deductivism share the view of scientific explanation and prediction.

Hughes (undated) wrote:

Deductivism emphasises that theories come first, then observations. According to deductivists, inductivism is invalid, because scientific theories cannot be proved from any particular observations. They can only be disproved. Experiments can be done to test the theories, but the theories are only approximations.


associated issues


related areas

See also


Researching the Real World Section


Hoyningen-Huene. P., 2006, Theories and Methods of Research, winter term 2006–0, p. 4, available at, accessed 21 January 2013, still available 3 June 2019.

Hughes, J., undated, What is Science? available at, accessed 21 January 2013, still available 3 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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