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The Art of Social Theory$
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Richard Swedberg

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691155227

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691155227.001.0001

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(p.127) Chapter 6 Heuristics
The Art of Social Theory

Richard Swedberg

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the importance of heuristics in theorizing. The most common interpretation of the word heuristics is that it means “discovery.” When one theorizes, it has been argued, one should not only use the individual steps to move forward but also to try to discover something new about the phenomenon one studies. The heuristic stance, or the attitude that theorizing is about discovery, is to some extent inherent in the decision to theorize in the first place. While some of the literature on heuristics is about making important discoveries along the lines of Archimedes, there also exists another and more recent branch that has a much more modest aim. This type of heuristics essentially tries to teach the average student to develop an independent approach to solving problems.

Keywords:   heuristics, theorizing, discovery, heuristic stance, Archimedes

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