Theory slides

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Theory slides

  1. 1. What are the goals of theory? <ul><li>To understand </li></ul><ul><li>To predict </li></ul><ul><li>To influence </li></ul><ul><li>To control </li></ul>
  2. 2. To build a theory…... <ul><li>Categorization </li></ul><ul><li>What information is relevant? </li></ul><ul><li>What information can you ignore? </li></ul><ul><li>Description is never just description </li></ul>
  3. 3. Correlation is not causality Statistics explain nothing If we understand the process, we can understand the conditions under which it will happen.
  4. 4. Theories do: <ul><li>Explanation </li></ul><ul><li>Prediction </li></ul><ul><li>Prescription </li></ul>
  5. 5. How do you know if a theory is ‘valid’? Testing Evaluation Faith = BAD
  6. 6. The Classical Physics Model <ul><li>Fundamental determinants of phenomenon </li></ul><ul><li>Small number of variables </li></ul><ul><li>Clearly defined relationships between them </li></ul><ul><li>Measurable! </li></ul><ul><li>Parsimony is a good thing </li></ul>
  7. 7. The Social Science Challenge <ul><li>Equifinality and Multifinality </li></ul><ul><li>Hard to measure variables </li></ul><ul><li>Sets of theories or contingent generalizations require boundary conditions: when do they apply and when don’t they? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Progress is about moving from probabilistic statements to contingent statements </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  8. 8. So what’s a ‘good’ theory? <ul><li>Accuracy </li></ul><ul><li>Parsimony </li></ul><ul><li>Causality </li></ul><ul><li>Heuristic Value </li></ul>

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