On Becker’s studies of marijuana use as an example of analytic induction.
Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 41(4) pp. 535–566.
Analytic induction (AI) is an interpretation of scientific method that emerged in early twentieth-century sociology and still has some influence today. Among the studies often cited as examples are Becker’s articles on marijuana use. While these have been given less attention than the work of Lindesmith on opiate addiction and Cressey on financial trust violation, Becker’s work has distinctive features. Furthermore, it raises some important and interesting issues that relate not only to AI but to social scientific explanation more generally. These concern, for example, the presence and nature of causal systems in the social world, the relationship between historical and generalizing approaches, the character and role of social scientific theories, and how they are generated. In this article Becker’s research is examined in detail, and these issues explored through comparisons with the work of Lindesmith and Cressey.
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