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Psychology 2800E

Stanovich Ch 3:  Essentialism: the idea that the only good scientific theories are those that give ultimate explanations of phenomena in terms of their underlying essences or their essential properties. People who hold this view usually also believe that any theory that gives less than the ultimate explanation of phenomena is useless.  Science does not answer essentialist questions, instead, science advances by developing operational definitions  Scientists are not essentialists because scientists consider questions about the "ultimate" (who are we? Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? Etc.) to be unanswerable. Furthermore, claims of perfect or absolute knowledge tend to choke off inquiry. Because a free and open pursuit of knowledge is a prerequisite for scientific activity, scientists are always skeptical of claims that the ultimate answer has been found  "But we must first define our terms" is a frequent essentialist comment- defining terms is an obsessive concern before the search for knowledge about them actually begins - this is the opposite way scientists work. The meaning of a concept in science is determined after extensive investigation of the phenomena the term relates to.  Operationism is an idea that is crucial to the construction of theory in science and one that is especially important for evaluating theoretical claims in psychology.  Operationism: the idea that concepts in scientific theories must in some way
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