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Giulia Gentile and Luigi Lonardo

A method is a way to achieve a result, and it is neutral to that result. If the method is sound, it should not influence the outcome. It does not matter whether you use differential calculus or a proof by induction to prove a mathematical proposition: the result should be always the same. One might provocatively say that this is not true for all disciplines. In some cases, the methodology of research dictates or influences the result. This trivial finding is one of the main contributions of approaches such as postmodern epistemologies, critical legal studies or constructivism. A researcher might dismiss these disciplines in which the result depends on the methodology as sloppy, non-rigorous and/or unscientific. Indeed, the insight of critical studies in social sciences is precisely the unmasking of the ultimate lack of truth inherent in disciplines, such as international law, where results are never objective but always relative to the observation method. Interestingly, the same seems to hold also for more ‘scientific’ domains, such as theoretical physics, where it is the very presence of an observation that constitutes or modifies the phenomenon to be observed. Yet, the value of methodologies should not be a priori dismissed due to a suspicion of subjectivity. Methodologies contribute towards shedding light on a given phenomenon under specific types of lenses. By doing so, they enable observers to uncover less explored facets of their research subject, be it purely scientific or not.