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What are the goals of theory?. To understand To predict To influence To control. To build a theory…. Categorization What information is relevant? What information can you ignore? Description is never just description. Correlation is not causality . Statistics explain nothing

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what are the goals of theory
What are the goals of theory?
  • To understand
  • To predict
  • To influence
  • To control
to build a theory
To build a theory…...
  • Categorization
  • What information is relevant?
  • What information can you ignore?
  • Description is never just description
correlation is not causality

Correlation is not causality

Statistics explain nothing

If we understand the process, we can understand the conditions under which it will happen.

theories do
Theories do:
  • Explanation
  • Prediction
  • Prescription
the classical physics model
The Classical Physics Model
  • Fundamental determinants of phenomenon
  • Small number of variables
  • Clearly defined relationships between them
  • Measurable!
  • Parsimony is a good thing
the social science challenge
The Social Science Challenge
  • Equifinality and Multifinality
  • Hard to measure variables
  • Sets of theories or contingent generalizations require boundary conditions: when do they apply and when don’t they?
          • Progress is about moving from probabilistic statements to contingent statements
so what s a good theory
So what’s a ‘good’ theory?
  • Accuracy
  • Parsimony
  • Causality
  • Heuristic Value
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