Educational research is widely construed as the scientific investigation of the causes of ‘effective’ teaching. Discussion of values and philosophical problems is condemned as descent into ‘ideology’. Opposing this is a conception of teaching as phronesis where educational research and philosophy may be desirable, but have no direct relationship to practice. It is contended in this article that both of these views are misconceived. In educational research, empirical questions are secondary, values are central, and philosophical investigation is central to the determination of these. Philosophy, not social science, directly governs policy and practice; virtue governed by logic, not causation under natural law, is the principal explanatory concept. Educational research, then, is logically tied to practice. This sanctions not the authoritarian ‘methods that work’ project, but a pluralistic conception of research anchored in the autonomy of teachers and pupils.
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