Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id CAA18422 (8.6.9/5.3[ref email@example.com] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from firstname.lastname@example.org); Wed, 14 Feb 2001 02:16:57 GMT Message-ID: <3A89E9AF.4786B49A@wehi.edu.au> Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2001 13:13:03 +1100 From: wilkins <wilkins@wehi.EDU.AU> Organization: The Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.76C-CCK-MCD (Macintosh; U; PPC) X-Accept-Language: en To: email@example.com Subject: Re: realist-rationalist quad References: <4A2569F3.0008D842.firstname.lastname@example.org> Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary="------------B011318DA59A588BA9F27604" Sender: email@example.com Precedence: bulk Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1 Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
> Umm... I'm kinda curious how you accurately quantify this beyond
> "guessometrics". If you are unable to deliver hard numbers using a
> consistent methodology, I think talk of anything beyond putting a blott
> somewhere that looks about right is a bit overkill.
> Is there something I'm missing here?
Not really. Qualitative research must be impressionistic, although I'm
fairly sure you could do some mapping of it using certain techiques.
Here's something I wrote a few years back, which badly needs to be
brought up to date and expanded on:
5 Social research
There are similarities to this modelling process in methodologies already
employed in the social sciences, notably in the health sciences. Social
researchers Glaser and Strauss (Glaser 1978, Strauss 1986) developed a method
known as 'grounded theory research', part of the so-called 'discovery mode'
of social research, in which a hypothesis is tested for properties of a
specific category. The researcher aims to have a theory to work by
both modified by and influences the selection of the collection of
qualitative data (Glaser 1978: 36, cf Becker 1993). 'Qualitative' is, of
course, a code word in social research for 'subjective', and the data
collected represent attitudinal expressions from the subjects under study,
delineated according to the researcher's field of interest. It therefore
lends itself to a social constructionist approach (Charmaz 1989). In grounded
theory, though, there is a feedback loop to the researcher's choice of
categories, so that emerging issues will enable the researcher to redefine
what data needs to be collected, and how it is to be interpreted. Out
virtual infinity of categories, only a manageable set of categories are
chosen for study, and this set is refined according to judgements based upon
the data collected. Grounded theory, along with other phenomenological
methods in social science, often have a flawed understanding of the
possibility of completeness in their models, however, and it is instanced
here only as a feedback model of social research, whereby the categories
under investigation are refined as the study progresses. This entirely a
social and semantic approach to research. As with all research into
subjective states, it is strongly open to preconceptional bias and
ideological distortion, but it is widely used to guide research into social
interactions, and cannot simply be dismissed as another sociological fashion.
I have alluded to earlier approaches of this kind (Osgood and others 1967,
Tulloch 1972), and something of this kind is a persistent theme in social,
and therefore historical, research.
I raise this method here as an example of the prima facie plausibility
approach I am sketching - if this sort of approach underpins much actual
social research, then it may be useful in studying the social aspects of
science. However, studying the social aspects alone do not give a rounded
picture of theory development. I reject the simple constructionist approach
to science, as I would the simple social constructionist approach to
epidemiology. No matter what the social influences on the course of science
or disease may be, there are nevertheless asocial causal agents that initiate
and continue these social movements.
Having climbed these abstracted heights, the question will arise
can be applied.  While the objections to Hull's conception may not be
fatal in principle, perhaps historians of science will be able to
and other approaches and continue as before. I feel that the techniques
developed for both pheneticist and cladist analysis, of clusters in the phase
space and Hennigian comb cladograms will provide an approach not previously
available for the study of sociocultural phenomena, and change in
particular, but without any reason to apply them, they will be ignored for
the more familiar techniques of multifactorial analysis and narrative. One
such technique that could be used is the Wagner Similarity method (cf Wiley
and others 1991). This method establishes an instance matrix of characters
(presence and absence, but it could be any value 0>x>1) and calculates the
sum of the modulus of differences to give the Wagner distance between taxa
(or theories). From this a net diagram of relationships, or an unrooted tree,
can be drawn up to give a sharp notion of the overall similarity of
theories. The same data can be recast as a rooted cladogram if a sister-group
can be selected. Software, both commercial and public domain, is
perform these analyses and others using well-established algorithms. While
this will not definitively establish ancestry of a conceptual lineage,
be used to test hypotheses of ancestry, and to overcome the Whiggish tendency
of historians to read preferred modern views back into a historical subject,
such as Darwin's reliance or not on now-discredited views such as
embryological recapitulation (cf Richards 1992).
From Wilkins, J. S. (1998). “The evolutionary structure of scientific
theories.” Biology and Philosophy 13(4): 479–504.
-- John Wilkins, Head, Graphic Production, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, Australia Homo homini aut deus aut lupus - Erasmus of Rotterdam <http://www.users.bigpond.com/thewilkins/darwiniana.html> Content-Type: text/x-vcard; charset=us-ascii; name="wilkins.vcf" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit Content-Description: Card for wilkinsContent-Disposition: attachment; filename="wilkins.vcf"
=============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Feb 14 2001 - 02:19:06 GMT