Picture by Lois Lord
December 13, 1902|
Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S.
|Died||May 8, 1979
Munich, West Germany
|Alma mater||Amherst College
London School of Economics
University of Heidelberg
|Notable students||Robert Merton|
|Influences||Ã‰mile Durkheim, Max Weber|
But the scientific importance of a change in knowledge of fact consists precisely in j its having consequences for a system of theory.
In so far as such a theory is empirically correct it will also tell us what empirical facts it should be possible to observe in a given set of circumstances.
That is, a system starts with a group of interrelated propositions which involve reference to empirical observations within the logical framework of the propositions in question.
It is that of increasing knowledge of empirical fact, intimately combined with changing interpretations of this body of fact – hence changing general statements about it – and, not least, a changing a structure of the theoretical system.
Thus, in general, in the first instance, the direction of interest in empirical fact will be canalised by the logical structure of the theoretical system.
The implications of these considerations justify the statement that all empirically verifiable knowledge even the commonsense knowledge of everyday life – involves implicitly, if not explicitly, systematic theory in this sense.
The part an actor played on stage was once written on a separate roll of paper.
A theoretical system does not merely state facts which have been observed and that logically deducible relations to other facts which have also been observed.
The conception that, instead of this, contemporary society is at or near a turning point is very prominent in the views of a school of social scientists who, though they are still comparatively few, are getting more and more of a hearing.
The functions of the family in a highly differentiated society are not to be interpreted as functions directly on behalf of the society, but on behalf of personality.
Among those who are satisfactory in this respect it is desirable to have represented as great a diversity of intellectual tradition, social milieu and personal character as possible.
The hypothesis may be put forward, to be tested by the s subsequent investigation, that this development has been in large part a matter of the reciprocal interaction of new factual insights and knowledge on the one hand with changes in the theoretical system on the other.
Of course there may well be particular reasons why Spencer rather than others is dead, as there were also particular reasons why he rather than others made such a stir.
Now obviously the propositions of the system have reference to matters of empirical fact; if they did not, they could have no claim to be called scientific.
Empirical interest will be in the facts so far as they are relevant to the solution of these problems.
Special emphasis should be laid on this intimate interrelation of general statements about empirical fact with the logical elements and structure of theoretical systems.
The main concern of the study is with the outline of a theoretical system. Its minor variations from writer to writer are not a matter of concern to this analysis.
If there are four equations and only three variables, and no one of the equations is derivable from the others by algebraic manipulation then there is another variable missing.
The system becomes logically closed when each of the logical implications which can be derived from any one proposition within the system finds its statement in another proposition in the same system.
From all this it follows what the general character of the problem of the development of a body of scientific knowledge is, in so far as it depends on elements internal to science itself.
The importance of certain problems concerning the facts will be inherent in the structure of the system.
It is probably safe to say that all the changes of factual knowledge which have led to the relativity theory, resulting in a very great theoretical development, are completely trivial from any point of view except their relevance to the structure of a theoretical system.
If observed facts of undoubted accuracy will not fit any of the alternatives it leaves open, the system itself is in need of reconstruction.
But the fact a person denies that he is theorising is no reason for taking him at his word and failing to investigate what implicit theory is involved in his statements.
Theory not only formulates what we know but also tells us what we want to know, that is, the questions to which an answer is needed.