Kuhn’s criteria for theory-choice:

Accurate – empirically adequate with experimentation and observation.

Consistent – internally consistent, but also externally consistent with other theories.

Broad Scope – a theory’s consequences should extend beyond that which it was initially designed to explain.

Simple – the simplest explanation, principally similar to Occam’s Razor.

Fruitful – a theory should disclose new phenomena or new relationships among phenomena.

But as Mitch Hedberg said, “There’s more to it than that!” Here are some additions, and I believe there are even more:

Meaningful – the theory’s compatibility with the theorist’s grounding orientation to life.

Contiguous – the theory’s capacity to integrate with an existing body of theory.

Intelligible – the theory situates the theorist in a world whose relevant features are intelligible.

Congenial – a theory should employ the theorist’s cognitive natural/acquired intellectual strengths.

Social – a theory’s reinforcing affirmation by a community with whom the theorist identifies, or, antithetically, it’s reinforcing rejection by a community against whom the theorist has defined himself.

Applicable – the existence of opportunities to use the theory practically and to develop the tacit intellectual practices (know-how) inherent in all practical application of theory

Concrete – the number of concrete examples available to 1) explicit demonstrate how the theory is practically applied and 2) to demonstrate its applicability

Spontaneous – a theory’s ability to shed conscious interpretation and to disappear into the phenomena themselves.

2 thoughts on “Theory-choice

  1. “Words are vocal symbols for ideas; ideas, however, are more or less definite mental symbols for frequently returning and concurring sensations, for groups of sensations. It is not sufficient to use the same words in order to understand one another: we must also employ the same words for the same kind of internal experiences, we must in the end have experiences in common. On this account the people of one nation understand one another better than those belonging to different nations, even when they use the same language; or rather, when people have lived long together under similar conditions (of climate, soil, danger, requirement, toil) there originates therefrom an entity that “understands itself — namely, a people. In all souls a like number of frequently recurring experiences have gained the upper hand over those occurring more rarely: about these matters people understand one another rapidly and always more rapidly — the history of language is the history of a process of abbreviation; on the basis of this quick comprehension people always unite closer and closer. The greater the danger, the greater is the need of agreeing quickly and readily about what is necessary; not to misunderstand one another in danger — that is what cannot at all be dispensed with in intercourse. Also in all loves and friendships one has the experience that nothing of the kind continues when the discovery has been made that in using the same words, one of the two parties has feelings, thoughts, intuitions, wishes, or fears different from those of the other. (The fear of the “eternal misunderstanding”: that is the good genius which so often keeps persons of different sexes from too hasty attachments, to which sense and heart prompt them — and not some Schopenhauerian “genius of the species”!) Whichever groups of sensations within a soul awaken most readily, begin to speak, and give the word of command — these decide as to the general order of rank of its values, and determine ultimately its list of desirable things. A man’s estimates of value betray something of the structure of his soul, and wherein it sees its conditions of life, its intrinsic needs. Supposing now that necessity has from all time drawn together only such men as could express similar requirements and similar experiences by similar symbols, it results on the whole that the easy communicability of need, which implies ultimately the undergoing only of average and common experiences, must have been the most potent of all the forces which have hitherto operated upon mankind. The more similar, the more ordinary people, have always had and are still having the advantage; the more select, more refined, more unique, and difficult to comprehend, are liable to stand alone; they succumb to accidents in their isolation, and seldom propagate themselves. One must appeal to immense opposing forces, in order to thwart this natural, all-too-natural progressus in simile {continuation of the same thing}, the evolution of man to the similar, the ordinary, the average, the gregarious — to the common!”

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