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Summary of Kenneth D. Mackenzie and Robert House

Summary of Kenneth D. Mackenzie and Robert House

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Published by Akshay Bhat

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Published by: Akshay Bhat on May 22, 2012
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FB11001Akshay S BhatDoctoral Student - StrategyXLRI JamshedpurMay 01, 2012
Summary: Paradigm Development in the Social Sciences: A Proposed ResearchStrategy.This seminal work by Professors Kenneth D. Mackenzie and Robert House illustrates aparadigm
development strategy for the ‚
development of cumulative growth of knowledge
in the social sciences; such a strategy they pronounce is needed for the efficiency withwhich it generates knowledge.On a detailed understanding and prefatorily: we define a
 by a set of Theories,standards, methods and beliefs which are commonly accepted by most scientistsaround the world. Eminent stalwart and researcher in this field Kuhn argues thatscience is a series of peaceful periods, which are interrupted by intellectually intenserevolutions, but in the moments of calm these scientists are guided by the accepted
paradigms of those ‚
 peaceful times
‛. In this article which is viewed as a supplementary
to the earlier works of Mackenzie and House, charts out the nature of a paradigmdevelopment strategy; In this strategy of Research there are some important stages:-a)
Fitting Data into a theoretical framework with general laws (Nomological Lawsas we shall call it later) to explain the data b)
Deducing Hypothesis from the Datac)
Subjecting this to an empirical test.
The suggested paradigm development strategy by Mackenzie and House is the
StrongInference Approach
this strategy is again based on a few important bases as: a)
Deductive Nomological Reasoning, b) Crucial Experiment, c) Experimenter ControlStrategies
and lastly
d) Strong Inference
.We shall now succinctly highlight the important points of consideration under each ofthese Bases:
Nomological Reasoning:
The root word ‘Nomo’ in Greek means ‘Law’ or a set
of rules or cannons. So in short Nomological Deductive Reasoning meansexplanations by deductive subsumptions under general laws. The development fthese laws are quintessential for characteristics of Paradigm Research. Primafacie there are three important parts to it: the phenomenon to be accounted for iscalled the
explanandum phenomenon
 , the statements describing thephenomenon are called
explanandum sentences
and the statements specifyingthe explanatory information are called
explanans sentences
 , explanans sentencescan be further bifurcated as
General Laws
(denoted by L1, L2, L3…) and
SpecialConditions given by
(C1, C2, C3..). The Laws are further categorized as
In layman terms Bridge Principles relate theory to
empirical data, i.e. ‚
Theory has explanatory power and permit it to be tested
So to recapitulate, the Explanans Sentences consist of the GeneralLaws and the Special Conditions and if the flow of study is based on theexplanans and we hypothesize the Explanandum then it is a
 , else ifwe go backwards and based on the Explanandum we draw the
wecall it an explanation.
Crucial Experiment:
Are Decisions made by the experimenter in gathering andtransforming information, but such an act is not easy owing to the myriad
decisions that must be made regarding Bridging Principles and SpecialConditions.
Experimenter Control Strategies:
Can be briefly classified into 3 types anddescribed in first person view to elaborate and drive home the point a) Degree towhich I manipulate the antecedent
conditions b) Degree to which measurementsare imposed and c) The degree o which I have structured the Explanans. In thefirst type of control strategy it is the environment which is being manipulated tomatch the special conditions and assertions, the second control manipulates thedegree to which measurement requirements are imposed on a situation and thethird focuses on the way the Explanans are manipulated to arrive at theExplanandum. These typologies of Research Strategies can be elucidated on acuboids fce where the Degrees in increasing order of magnitude are plotted onthe 3 axes of the cube. And based on the above degrees magnitude and type ofcontrol, the experiments can be classified into 3 major classes as a)
Field Experiment
and c)
Lab Setting Experiment
Strong Inference:
As stated earlier and reiterated ‚Strong Inference focused onDevelopment of Cumulative knowledge through Theory Building‛. StrongInference is based on two premises the first states that ‚All things no matter how
good at explaining a set of Phenomena are ultimately incorrect and will
consequently undergo modifications over time‛ and the second states that ‚the
fate of the better theories is to become explanations the hold for some
phenomena in some limited conditions‛. A guiding principle is the
PopperianPosition which stands by saying that the pursuit of knowledge is more efficientwhen scientists go out to disprove a theory or seek rejections rather thanassemble proof for theories. The fact that this approach allows theory building to
Antecedent here denotes the previously existing reasons and paradigms

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