What is Theory? – from Chafetz

LOGO FINALQuality IS…a recipe for connecting patterns.

Why seek criteria that will lead to a coherent quality theory with explanatory power?

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But, what is theory?  I can assure the reader that a definitive prescription does not exist and there is a vast warehouse of scholarly opinions. Let us foretaste scholarly thoughts about theory in the following description by citation.

“Like maps, theories, are conceptual systems (Jaccard & Jacoby, 2010:15) that bring order to the experienced world (Dubin, 1978:6:) through the use of assumptions, definitions of concepts and a series of propositions (Chafetz, 1978:81) that attempt to describe an idea ( Reynolds, 1971:43).”

Let us expand the thoughts of each author in the citation.

What is Theory? –  Janet Saltzman Chaftez, author of A Primer on the Construction and Testing of Theories in Sociology.

  • Theories are systems of explanation; they help to answer the question “why?”
  • A typical theory is comprised of assumptions, definitions of concepts, several propositions which collectively purport to explain some aspect of reality.
  • Assumptions are statements accepted as known and not subject to direct verification.
  • Theories consist of concepts whose definitions are often built upon one another and thus comprise a system of interrelated concepts.
  • Probably the best means available to avoid a major problem often encountered in definitions is to employ the age old form develop by Aristotle.  An Aristotelian definition consists of two parts. The first part, called the genius proximum tells what the phenomenon in question shares with a larger class of phenomena.  The second part, genus specifica, tells what is peculiar to phenomena in question.
  • Concepts provide the content and building blocks of theory that consist of words that are relatively high in level of abstractness.
  • Concepts play a critical role in theories and careful attention must be paid to their development and precise definition; solid edifice cannot arise from weak, faulty or carelessly put together building blocks.
  • Explanation, the reason for all theories, is conveyed through a series of statements called propositions.
  • Propositions are the substance of theories.
  • A proposition is a statement that links two or more concepts by stating relationships.

My next post will explore – What is Theory? –  from the perspective of Robert Dubin, author of Theory Building, revised edition.

What is Theory? – from Dubin

LOGO FINALQuality IS…a recipe for connecting patterns.

Why seek criteria that will lead to a coherent quality theory with explanatory power?

 ______________________________________

 

What is Theory? – Robert Dubin is author of Theory Building, revised edition.

  •  A typical theory addresses two distinct goals of science one prediction and one understanding.
  • A proposition is not necessarily a true statement about the real world the model represents but they are true logical statements about the theoretical system..
  • Propositions are truth statements that can be used for a theory that has its concepts, laws of interaction among the concepts, boundaries, and system states specified.
  • The criterion of the system of logic by which the theorist thinks makes all the propositions about the theory he or she builds true.
  • Understanding is knowledge about the interaction of concepts in a system.
  • To achieve understanding of a system we need to know the interaction processes in it and the outcome that was generated by those processes.
  • Theories help us find order in our world by explaining the booming bustling confusion that is in the realm of experience.
  • A theoretical model is the scientific model if and only if its creator is willing to subject it to an empirical test otherwise it falls in the realm of philosophy or theology.
  • Truth insofar as a theoretical model is “true” rests exactly on that slender base of expert consensus.

My next post will explore the thoughts of  James Jaccard and Jacob Jacoby, authors of Theory Construction and Model-Building Skills.