Toward a Science of Metatheory

Toward a Science of Metatheory

When the ‘common man’ on the street says, “I have a theory”, it implies that he/she has a speculative hunch regarding something. In science, “theory” is however understood somewhat different as it usually connotes an explanation, principles, a model, or a group of ideas that help to explain and/or predict some sort of phenomena. But what is a Metatheory?

In the paper for next week, Steven E. Wallis discusses this and other questions. The paper, which came as a suggestion from Lixiong, is called ‘Toward a Science of Metatheory’. Thanks Lixiong!

Abstract: In this article, I explore the field of metatheory with two goals. My first goal is to present a clear understanding of what metatheory “is” based on a collection of over twenty definitions of the term. My second goal is to present a preliminary investigation into how metatheory might be understood as a science. From that perspective, I present some strengths and weaknesses of our field and suggest steps to make metatheory more rigorous, more scientific, and so make more of a contribution to the larger community of the social sciences.

Keywords: Metatheory, science, social science, science of metatheory, theory.

The full paper can be downloaded here.