The Implications of Differential Theory Appraisal and the Context of Discovery for Advancing Theory in Psychology
The bulk of theory appraised by philosophers of science has been based on strong theory - theory capable of offering valid explanations. This means that weaker forms of theory, such as descriptive and programmatic theory, have been neglected. However, recently the philosophers have begun to analyze the context of discovery (Nickles, 1980). They have found, for example, that there are three phases in scientific discovery: the generation of ideas, the pursuit of these ideas, and preliminary evaluation. It is also necessary to develop a method of differential theory appraisal so that the relative strength of the theory can be ascertained. This involves identifying the many dimensions common to all forms of theory, and determining the weight to be assigned to each variable as the predictor for the successful development of programmatic, descriptive, or explanatory theory. It is anticipated that these developments will be more relevant to less advanced disciplines such as psychology, but that it will require several decades before they have an observable impact on development as theory in psychology.
KeywordsScientific Discovery Conceptual Alternative Programmatic Theory Advanced Theory Explanatory Theory
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