- Introduction: Doing Philosophy of Social Science
- Micro, Macro, and Mechanisms
- Mechanisms, Causal Modeling, and the Limitations of Traditional Multiple Regression
- Process Tracing and Causal Mechanisms
- Descriptive-Causal Generalizations: “Empirical Laws” in the Social Sciences?
- Useful Complex Causality
- Partial Explanations in Social Science
- Mechanistic Social Probability: How Individual Choices and Varying Circumstances Produce Stable Social Patterns
- The Impact of Duhemian Principles on Social Science Testing and Progress
- Philosophy and the Practice of Bayesian Statistics in the Social Sciences
- Sciences of Historical Tokens and Theoretical Types: History and the Social Sciences
- RCTs, Evidence, and Predicting Policy Effectiveness
- Bringing Context and Variability Back into Causal Analysis
- The Potential Value of Computational Models in Social Science Research
- Models of Culture
- The Evolutionary Program in Social Philosophy
- Cultural Evolution: Integration and Skepticism
- Coordination and the Foundations of Social Intelligence
- Making Race Out of Nothing: Psychologically Constrained Social Roles
- A Feminist Empirical and Integrative Approach in Political Science: Breaking Down the Glass Wall?
- Social Constructions of Mental Illness
- Cooperation and Reciprocity: Empirical Evidence and Normative Implications
- Evaluating Social Policy
- Values and the Science of Well-Being: A Recipe for Mixing
Abstract and Keywords
This article assesses the utility and validity of a qualitative method called process tracing, and then reports the logic of inference called concatenation. It also investigates the concept of causal mechanisms and its relationship to process tracing. Process tracing, which can assist both causal inference and causal explanation, is defined as a mode of causal inference based on concatenation, not covariation. Its explanatory value depends on the case for mechanism-based explanations. In addition, process tracing tries to understand the importance of the distinction between causal inference and causal explanation. It is noted that process tracing is an extremely valuable tool of both inference and explanation. Claims about its accomplishments and value should be commensurately tempered.
David Waldner is Associate Professor of Politics in the Department of Politics and Director of the Middle East Studies Program, both at The Woodrow Wilson University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA.
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