The Logic of Case-Study Methodology


  • Barbara S. Held



descriptive theory, explanatory theory, causal explanation, theory justification, objectivist epistemology, perspectival epistemology, relativism, theoretical generalization


The question of how we deploy logic in developing and justifying scientific theories of any sort is an important one.  In this commentary, I consider William Stiles’ (2009) arguments about the logical operations that are deployed especially in theory-building case-study research in psychotherapy.  My commentary contains three sections, defined by three sets of distinctions:  (a) the distinction between description and explanation in theory building, (b) the distinction between theory building and theory justification, and (c) the distinction between nomothetic and idiographic approaches to theory building in case-study methodology.

Author Biography

Barbara S. Held

Dan Fishman, Ph.D. Editor-in-Chief, Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy Professor of Clinical and Organizational Psychology Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology Rutgers University Mailing address: 57 Jaffray Court Irvington, NY 10533 914-693-8549 fax: 603-917-2567 email:




How to Cite

Held, B. S. (2009). The Logic of Case-Study Methodology. Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy, 5(3), 90–100.