Politics > Political Life in Society > Commissioning Inquiry: CG4 > Inquiry Methods

Method in Policy Inquiries

Framework for Inquiry

The method of inquiry chosen for developing public policy can have a major effect on the recommendations that emerge. However, deliberate bias or sabotage is always possible. See below.

THEE identifies distinctive approaches to inquiry based on sharply differing views on how certainty can be assured when testing knowledge. This field, called epistemology by philosophers, has been extensively studied but …Closed usually with a tendency to view one approach as superior. Academic disciplines vary greatly in the methods used to develop confidence in their knowledge (i.e. in their preferred epistemology); and this is one cause of discord and feelings of superiority amongst disciplines.

Inquiry (RHL2-PH2) is a large and complex THEE-Topic, and will require its own Satellite in the TOP Web Cluster. Key aspects of inquiry are summarized in this graphic:

Core testing processes in the framework of inquiry and the inquiry systems that are derived from them.

Application to Sources of Policy

Public Inquiries (CG-44)

These are concerned to be open and comprehensive, so they accept input of many sorts, and unselfconsciously seek to generate a holistic-L'5 account of the situation.

Think-Tank Reports (CG-43)

Most tend to organize facts as evidence (empirical-L'2), often applying reasoning and mathematical techniques (formal-L'1). Very few use a system modelling-L'5 approach, and the complex requirements of hypothesis-testing-L'3 (controls, randomization, blindness &c.) are difficult if not impossible to implement in the societal sphere. Some policy analysts seek to resolve dilemmas or reconcile opposing positions (dialectic-L'4).

Departmental Papers (CG-42) &
Vested Interest Proposals (CG-41)

These usually draw on empirical-L'2 data and use formal-L'1 and analytic-L'6 techniques.Holistic-L'5 methods are usually viewed as too complicated. Dialectic-L'4 methods may be used to reconcile opposing positions of industry and advocacy groups.

Consider the effect of mind-set on policy-generating inquiry.

Originally posted: August-2009; Last updated: 12-Jul-2012

All posted material is part of a scientific project and should be regarded as provisional. Visitors are encouraged to think through the topics and propositions for themselves. Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016.
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