Theory Construction and Model Building Skills Summary

Topics: Causality, Scientific method, Theory Pages: 23 (6448 words) Published: November 4, 2012
Modeling nature

Task 1

Theory construction and Model-building skills (chapter 1-3)
Scientific research is a process that is designed to extend our understandings and to determine if they are correct or useful. Science strives to operate according to a more rigorous set of rules.

Realism: reality exists independent of any human presence, there is an external world comprised of objects that follow a myriad of natural facts and laws. --> mirror world. It is possible to make claims regarding ultimate truths. Social constructionist: reality is a construction of the human mind, which is tied to a particular time and social context, reality changes as the social context changes.

There is no reality and there are no facts until these are conceptualized and shared by some number of people Critical realism/ Blumer: reality is seen through human conceptions of it, but the empirical world also talks back to our conceptions in the sense of challenging, resisting, and failing to bend to them. This inflexible character of the world justifies empirical science. Hypothetical realism: even if it cannot be proven that reality exists, it is useful to assume that is does. It is a heuristic device: helps to organize our thoughts and accomplish goals and objectives.

The way in which reality is interpreted can vary within the individual over time, across individuals, and can be heavily influenced by context.

Reality appears: --> refers to the external and internal environment complex
dynamic; things never stay the same
unique; because of the dynamic nature the universe is never the same obscure; the vast majority of nature remains hidden from direct view

Concepts are the fundamental building blocks of everyday life as well as from scientific thinking. Concept
refers to something that is conceived of in the mind, a generic idea or thought, usually developed from experiencing one or more particular instances. basic level of understanding is identification

generalized abstractions, general idea that can be applied across a number of specific instances encompass universes of possibilities, each concept consists of a universe of content hypothetical, not reality just ideas regarding reality , but the things they refer to are observable entities as well as non-tangible phenomena. are mostly learned, but some ay be hardwired (genetically determined) socially shared, in order to communicate

reality orientated (or functional), used as a guide for interpreting and reacting to the world selective constructions, concepts are applied to describe reality depending upon the needs and objectives of the individual conceptualizing

Variables make up concepts
Constructs: higher order of concepts, referring to instances that are constructed form concepts at lower levels of abstraction. Powerful means by which we are able to handle greater portions of reality. Variable: composed of different levels or values, focus of social science. Important because people and social entities are thought to differ depending on the variable category.

Process-oriented theories: rely more on process- oriented characterizations of phenomena and/or on narratives.

It is only when concepts are placed into relationship with each other that they move us toward achieving a deeper understanding of our reality. Different forms of relationships are: spatial, temporal, deterministic, legal. --> two concepts are linked we have conceptual system, which enables us to arrive at deeper levels of understanding.

Selection mechanisms: the nature of the conceptual system that is invoked depends upon the needs of the individual at that moment. Scientific theories are essentially conceptual systems designed to be useful in identifying, organizing, and explaining or predicting some delimited portion of the experienced world. Features of understanding:

Explanation: core facet of a conceptual system derived to provide insights into a phenomenon. predicting...
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