What’s in a theory?

Crazy smart people win prestigious prizes for coming up with amazing theories… so what’s in a theory? What is it about theories that gets so many people worked up, frenzied and excited?

“A Theory is a coherent set of propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena, assumed to hold throughout a broad range of specific instances”

What does that mean? I dunno, sounds more like the definition of a paradigm to me! Read Kuhns “The structure of scientific revolutions”. Its actually interesting. Explains how irrational scientists really are!

Anyway, my guess is the purpose of a theory is to provide a foundation from which it is possible to predict when phenomena will occur, understand why phenomena occur and what they are.

Apparently we all use theories everyday. If you look out the window, and its cloudy, what do you think? Hmm, maybe its going to be cold. I guess thats a theory of kinds, but iof you put it like this; its an argument right?

(Argument 1)
Its cloudy today.
Its cold when its cloudy.
Therefore today will be cold.

2 propositions and a conclusion. Looks like an argument, smells like an argument, it is an argument. So are arguments and theories the same? I doubt it. Maybe theories don’t have conclusions? Maybe when you actually make the prediction, it becomes an argument. That would make sense, because we know from my posts last year that their is a difference between arguments and explanations, and that difference is?

An argument makes a claim, an explanation does not make a claim. Ok, so a theory is just the propositions behind an explanation, with alternative conclusions depending on the phenomena that is observed?

(Explanation 1)
Its Sunny today
Its cold when its cloudy
that’s why it is warm today.

Notice the subtle difference. Good. Yes I’m schitzophrenic. Hi me! Your sexy! No – you are! oh shush, your making me blush! Your girlfriends hot. Why thankyou!

Same premises, different observation, but we used the same theory (albeit the first example was an argument) in the background to determine the conclusion. So despite my best efforts, the theory remains an implicit thing within these examples… The theory is essentially the background method, framework or thinking used to arrive at the conclusion given an observation(phenomena) and set of premises.

3 thoughts on “What’s in a theory?

  1. Okay, I’m assuming anonymous is you Damian, or possibly some other distraught family member.And my oh my, aren’t we a little tetchy? Need some bex and a good lie down? Blood pressure runnin’ a little high there?No wonder your stats are shit! Everyone’s scared of gettin’ shot down!Luckily, as a part of the Fuller dynasty we learn to take it all in our stride (is that superior enuf for ya?)Happy Friday night.

  2. yeah – it does all come back to the one thing, the meaning of life. However there is this thing called structure. Gosh. Freaking idiot. Every time you talk about the meaning of life and offer an opinion, your using a theory on which to base that opinion…Where’s your superiority complex gone now? Huh? HUH!????

  3. Wah??!?? Lost me, as usual. But that could be the two scotches I pretty much skulled straight after work.Oh, and just a post it note – schizophrenic’s don’t neccessarily have split personalities – or talk to themselves! Way off topic, I know, but it’s my way of avoiding the discussion. 🙂Theories, arguments, explanations – whatever! It’s all talk, and it all comes back to that one thing – ze ever elusive ‘meanin’ of life’.I got nada.Out.

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