THEORY ? (What is a) 2)3)
P. BAK writes: "According to one of the most fundamental principles of science, a theory is a statement about some phenomenon in nature that in principle can be confronted with reality and possibly falsified" (1996, p. 162)
The presence of the word "reality" in this sentence puts us on shaky ground (See: "Ontological Skepticism or Agnosticism").
BAK pursues, however: "The description can be either verbal or mathematical. In physics, we use the language of mathematics to express our theories. To confront the theory with reality, we solve equations and compare with experiments" (Ibid). One problem with this is that experiments are constructed by the experimenter, i.e. "reality" is "doctored" (The famous condition: "et ceteris paribus", which defines which context is to be neglected as – hypothetically – not relevant). Moreover, theory may subtly influence the goal, forms and interpretations of the experience.
Anyhow, let us accept BAK's view: "If there is disagreement, we return to the drawing board"
He immediately adds: ""When theories are expressed verbally in terms of much less precise languages, the confrontation with facts is much more cumbersome and leaves space for endless discussions among experts as to what constitutes the better description. Sometimes the experimental observation itself, without any condensation in more general principles, is viewed as a theory" (Ibid)
Finally, there is no unequivocal way to unload the? out of our inquiry.
- 1) General information
- 2) Methodology or model
- 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
- 4) Human sciences
- 5) Discipline oriented
To cite this page, please use the following information:
Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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