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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 l.jpg
What are the goals of theory?

  • To understand

  • To predict

  • To influence

  • To control


To build a theory l.jpg
To build a theory…...

  • Categorization

  • What information is relevant?

  • What information can you ignore?

  • Description is never just description


Correlation is not causality l.jpg

Correlation is not causality

Statistics explain nothing

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


Theories do l.jpg
Theories do:

  • Explanation

  • Prediction

  • Prescription


How do you know if a theory is valid l.jpg
How do you know if a theory is ‘valid’?

Testing

Evaluation

Faith = BAD


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The Classical Physics Model

  • Fundamental determinants of phenomenon

  • Small number of variables

  • Clearly defined relationships between them

  • Measurable!

  • Parsimony is a good thing


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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


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So what’s a ‘good’ theory?

  • Accuracy

  • Parsimony

  • Causality

  • Heuristic Value