Guidelines:Theories

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When a theory is first formulated and suggested to Scientonomy community, its respective encyclopedia page is created by the editors. This is done to ensure that theory pages are properly classified as either definitions, descriptive, or normative, are linked to correct topic pages, have their authors stated etc. However, these pages are often stubs as they usually lack a proper Prehistory section as well as a detailed Description. Authors of this encyclopedia are encouraged to fill in those gaps by completing the Prehistory and Description sections.

Prehistory

If the gist of the theory can be traced back to a pre-scientonomic philosopher or scientist, this is the section where the credits are to be given. For instance, the Prehistory section of The Third Law (Barseghyan-2015) describes how Kuhn, Laudan and other classic figures in the history and philosophy of science argued that our beliefs about the world shape our methods of theory evaluation. Similarly, the Prehistory section of The Zeroth Law (Harder-2015) outlines some of the major approaches to compatibility of elements within a belief system. Thus, classics of the philosophy of science, such as the writings of Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Imre Lakatos, Paul Feyerabend and Larry Laudan are a great resource for this section. Also check the references cited in respective scientonomic literature.

This section has the potential to be the largest and least bounded, due to the fact that many scientonomic theories could be traced began to the classics of philosophy of science. So it is important to keep this section reasonably concise and only include those ideas that are directly relevant to the theory.

This section of the article will be collapsed upon a reader’s entry to the web page, so they will have to click to expand this section if they want access to this pre-historical information on the subject.

Note Note: There is an important difference between the prehistory of a theory vs. the prehistory of a topic:

  • The prehistory of a topic covers all major attempts to answer the question, i.e. a topic’s prehistory aims to answer the question “who said what on that topic?”
  • The prehistory of a theory must credit only those philosophers who had a similar idea. A theory’s prehistory addresses the question “who else had ideas similar to the ones expressed by the theory?” A theory’s prehistory therefore is not an opportune place to reiterate everything that has been already said in the topic’s prehistory.

For example, the prehistory of Mechanism of Theory Acceptance topic page should include all the majors philosophers and their views on theory acceptance. However, the prehistory of The Second Law (Barseghyan-2015) should only indicate those authors who also held that theories become accepted when they satisfy the requirements of the method employed at the time etc. It shouldn't list Popper’s or Lakatos’s of the world (which will surely feature in the topic’s prehistory), but will likely focus on Kuhn's ideas of theory assessment, Laudan’s reticulated model, Longino’s contextualism etc.

History

This section states the fate of the theory in the scientonomic context, including its acceptance record, and all the modifications associated with it. Large parts of this section are generated automatically by the encyclopedia. This includes the theory's Acceptance Record, Suggestions to Reject, and Suggestions to Accept. However, in some cases it might be necessary to include some additional information about the history of the theory, such as a textual summary of its history. It may also include other interesting details of the history that are not generated by the encyclopedia. For instance, the History section of The Third Law (Sebastien-2016) states that Sebastien's formulation of third law was the first to be accepted by via the scientonomic mechanism of modifications.

Note Note: Unlike the Prehistory section, this section makes no mention of philosophical discussion occurring prior to the creation of scientonomy. Portions of this section will be generated using the semantic wiki software.

Description

Once a theory is suggested, the editors of the encyclopedia normally enter the formulation the theory as well as its main diagram. However, they do not normally provide a comprehensive description of the theory and this is where authors can greatly contribute.

The text of the description should include a theory's exact formulation, as it will be given in "Formulation Text". Neither should it include the formulation diagram, which will be given in "Formulation Diagram". The main goal of this section is to provide a textual description of the theory ans illustrate it by means of historical and/or hypothetical examples.

Note Note: The first paragraph of the description will be imported on other pages of the encyclopedia which cite the theory. E.g. if the theory is currently accepted, then the respective topic page will mention not only the theory's formulation but will also show the first paragraph of the theory's description. Thus, it is important to ensure that the first paragraph of the description gives a succinct summary of the theory's major points. All the details can be saved for the following paragraphs.

Note Note: While it might be tempting to include many examples to help illustrate the point of the theory, it is important not to multiply the number of examples without necessity. Also, do not recount one example in great historical detail. Keep in mind that the role of the encyclopedia is not to mount an argument in defense of scientonomy, but to serve as an efficient resource for those looking for concise and up-to-date information about scientonomy. So only use as many examples as necessary to make the gist of the theory clear.

References

Please make sure to cite any references that you use, carefully following the citation guidelines.