Facts, Theories, & Concepts

Facts, Theories, & Concepts

1 Comment 🕔13:12, 20.Sep 2009

Propositions are statements concerned with the relationships among concepts. They explain the logical linkage between specific concepts by asserting a global connection between concepts, whereas hypotheses are an unproven or untested proposition that explains certain facts or phenomena: essentially a proposition that is empirically testable. To put it more simply, a proposition is no more than a proposal or suggestion offered up for additional research or discourse whereas a hypothesis is an untested or unproven theory, thus leaving only the slightest of differences between the two concepts.

Concepts are nothing more than observations categorized in a way we see fit. A concept or construct is a generalized idea about a group of objects, attributes, occurrences, or processes that have been given a name or designation. Variables, for lack of a better word, are concepts that can be measured. In the ladder of abstraction, moving up the ladder, basic concepts become increasingly more abstract and less able to be measured. Moving down the ladder we approach what researchers refer to as the empirical level or reality where variables exist and can be measured.

A good theory should be so commonsensical that it be used to solve everyday or relevant issues. Abstract theories are impractical and contrary to the world of physical discovery. This is not to say that there is not a place for abstract theories, but a “good” theory is one that is not conceptual or speculative, rather one that is tangible. A theory based on practicality can be easily measured and thus is applicable to the lowest ladder of abreaction, which is reality.

The 17th-century Dutch philosopher Benedict Spinoza said, “If the facts conflict with a theory, either the theory must be changed or the facts.” The practical meaning of this statement can be simply put as, Facts are facts. Meaning, facts are reliable, sound, and consistent whereas theories are observations based on previous events or occurrences. Theories are open ended, able to change, and flexible, but facts are constrained and solid. For instance, a simple fact is the sun comes up every morning and sets every night. While some day the sun will cease to rise and cease to set, the overlying decree is considered fact. However, theories can easily be manipulated and changed, and therefore the theory is what needs to be changed, and not the fact. It is much easier to change a theory about the sun than it is the fact that it rises and sets each day.

Theories are a coherent set of general propositions, used as principles of explanation of the apparent relationships of certain observed phenomena. According to AskOxford, a theory is a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained. They are similar in the fact that both definitions reference a system or set of ideas to explain a particular observation. In essence, both are looking to find reason. The utilization of the words propositions, relationships, and phenomena are all key components to the scientific method.

1 Comments

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