A Phantom Menace: Why Researchers Should Stop Worrying About Logical Remainders in Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA)
25 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2022
Date Written: August 19, 2022
A considerable part of the literature on Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) demands to pay attention to logical remainders and to manipulate them through various procedures. Worries about the use of so-called don’t cares in the classical Quine-McCluskey algorithm (QMC) have been responsible. In this article, we demonstrate that the manipulation of logical remainders in QCA is a mere artifact of a missing connection to logic design and electrical engineering - the home discipline of the algorithmic machinery imported by QCA’s early developers. Ever since, distortions in data and results have been the immediate consequence for applied QCA research. In particular, our article reinforces the methodological argument that only the parsimonious solution type of QCA faithfully reflects the empirical evidence for the existence of configurational cause-effect relations. More generally, our results imply that all procedures in QCA requiring the manipulation of logical remainders have no basis other than a phantom menace.
Keywords: electrical engineering, logic design, qualitative comparative analysis, Quine- McCluskey algorithm, switching circuit analysis
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