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Chapter Three.docx

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John Holmes

[ CHAPTER THREE ] – OPERATIONISM AND ESSENTIALISM: “BUT, DOCTOR, WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN?”  Essentialism = idea tht only good sci theories are those tht give ultimate explanations of phenomena in terms of their underlying essences or their essential purposes  Sci dN answer essentialist q’ns - instead, advances by dvlp’g operational definitions of concepts Why Scientists Are Not Essentialists  b/c free and open pursuit of knowledge is prereq’ for sci activity, scientists always sceptical of claims tht ultimate answer found Essentialists Like to Argue About the Meaning of Words  before word can be used as concept in theory, must have complete & unambiguous understanding of all underlying lang problems involved in its usage - sci, instead, dN - meaning of concept in sci dtrmn’d after extensive investigation of phenomena term refers to  key to progress in sci: abandon essentialism and adopt operationism Operationists Link Concepts to Observable Events  operationism = idea tht concepts in sci theories must in some way be grounded in or linked to obsv’able events tht can be measured - linking makes concept public (TF) testable by anyone  concept in sci defined by set of op’ns Reliability and Validity  both must be displayed for operational definition of concept to be useful  reliability = consistency of measuring instrument—whether same measurement arrived at if same concept assess multiple times  construct validity = whether measuring instrument (operational definition) measure what it’s supposed to Direct and Indirect Operational Definitions  few direct (obsv’able op’ns in real world)  most concepts defined indirectly i.e. dtrmn’d by both set of op’ns & particular concept’s rel’nshp to other the
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