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Anonymous

What is a "theory"?
    #2242649 - 01/14/04 10:04 PM (13 years, 2 months ago)

This has come up time and time again. In order to really understand the deeper levels of a subject it is necessary to know how the terms are defined.

One of my college biology texts defines a theory as, "Science rests on the philosophical assumption that virtually all events of the universe can be described as physical theories and laws, and that we get the data with which to formulate those theories and laws through our senses."

As long as we don't let the word 'assumption' throw us I think that is a very good definition.

The Internet definition says: a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena; "theories can incorporate facts and laws and tested hypotheses"; "true in fact and theory"

I don't like this one because it fails to address, even remotely, that there is a philosophical position tucked behind it. And it makes it sound as if scientific theories are all there are.

But philosophical doctrines or principles are also proper theories. Among them are included empiricism, existentialism, materialism, rationalism, realism, relativism, solipsism, and teleology.

Another book I have called, "Understanding Scientific Reasoning" says:

"A SCIENTIFIC THEORY is a GENERAL THEORETICAL HYPOTHESIS asserting that some designated classes of natural systems are (approximately) systems of a specified type"

And of course the 'type' has to be specified by some explicitly defined theoretical model.

The Heritage Dictionary says:

Systematically organized knowledge applicable in a relatively wide variety of circumstances, especially a system of assumptions, accepted principles, and rules of procedure devised to analyze, predict, or otherwise explain the nature or behavior of a specified set of phenomena.

That one is probably the best for clarity and inclusiveness.

The one thing we dare not do is to favor a definition because it seems to back up a philosophical position. In that case not only do we run the risk of being unable to understand certain concepts but we also run the risk of error in our thinking, both substantially and methodologically.

Can I get an AMEN!?


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InvisibletrendalM
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Re: What is a "theory"? [Re: ]
    #2242657 - 01/14/04 10:10 PM (13 years, 2 months ago)

AMEN brotha! :smile:

Theories are all I've got. Theoretically speaking, of course :wink:


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Anonymous

Re: What is a "theory"? [Re: trendal]
    #2242714 - 01/14/04 10:30 PM (13 years, 2 months ago)

Thank you Brother Trendal! :wink:

I have read a lot of your posts, and well, all I can say is I have a theory about that.

:lol:

I am looking forward to June more than you can believe. :heart:


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InvisibleSclorch
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Re: What is a "theory"? [Re: ]
    #2243048 - 01/15/04 02:12 AM (13 years, 2 months ago)

Yeah, I'm all about bootstrapping, too.
Change changes... as do definitions... as does everything else...


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InvisibletrendalM
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Re: What is a "theory"? [Re: ]
    #2243349 - 01/15/04 07:07 AM (13 years, 2 months ago)

You and me both! :smile: :heart:


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Offlineanarchyhollow
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Re: What is a "theory"? [Re: ]
    #2243457 - 01/15/04 09:22 AM (13 years, 2 months ago)

AMEN! Nice points made trendal :laugh:


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