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In this chapter, I will explain how I combine philosophical theorizing with first-hand empirical insights that I have gained through the use of qualitative empirical methods. When I decided to make extensive use of these methods, I decided to move out of philosophy’s comfort zone. Understandably, for philosophers this move raises a number of questions. How can empirical observations be related to philosophy’s conceptual considerations? Can they be related at all? How can philosophical theorizing be combined with qualitative methods? What do I mean when I speak about qualitative methods, and what is the investigator’s role in the process of inquiry that such methods entail?

This chapter answers these questions regarding the study that underlies this book. In Sect. 3.1, I provide meta-methodological considerations about the manner in which I combine philosophical theorizing and empirical insights. Thereafter, I describe the details of my empirical case study (Sect. 3.2), my methods of data collection (Sect. 3.3) and my data analysis (Sect. 3.4). At the end of this chapter, I reflect upon the challenge of presenting a qualitative empirical case study within an analytic philosophical discourse (Sect. 3.5).

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016 S. Wagenknecht, A Social Epistemology of Research Groups, New Directions in the Philosophy of Science,

DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-52410-2_3

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