The Foundations of Psychological Theory

The Foundations of Psychological Theory

The Foundations of Psychological Theory

The Foundations of Psychological Theory

Excerpt

Ordinarily it might be thought that the form of explanation is the same regardless of the process to be explained. The nature of explanation is, however, more complicated than it might seem at first glance. There are three major forms of explanation: the predictive, the theoretical, and the phenomenal. The first two are well-known within the context of traditional scientific explanation. The third is somewhat more difficult to deal with, especially if one is used to finding explanations within the framework of science and logic.

PREDICTIVE EXPLANATION

It is possible to observe a given event E follow another event C closely in time. If E invariably or frequently follows C in time, the observer comes to expect that when C occurs E will shortly appear. This expectation is then confirmed by the actual appearance of E. When it is possible for the observer to produce C such that E will occur shortly after, the total observation of C and E is under the control of the observer.

In this case explanation is synonymous with verification by observation. This type of explanation is enhanced by the observer's ability to verify his expectation by manipulating the events rather than by simply observing them passively. We shall see that prediction cannot logically be all there is to say about the constant conjunction of two events. The conjunction gains meaning only when placed within a logico-deductive framework. The combination of this logical framework with consistent empirical observation yields theory.

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