The Logic of Progress in Nomological,
Design, and Explicative Research

Theo A.F. Kuipers

Faculty of Philosophy
Aweg 30
9718 CW Groningen
The Netherlands


Nomological, design and explicative research seem rather different at first sight. However, there is a strong partial analogy between the three types of research since they can formally be represented in terms of either a target set of desired possibilities or a target set of desired properties. This implies that their respective definitions of formal progress essentially coincide. The differences between the three types of research are due to the fact that determining actual progress requires specific definitions: empirical progress for nomological research and conceptual progress for explicative research. Only in the case of design research actual progress coincides with formal progress, as long as the target sets of desired and undesired properties are determined beforehand.

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