Sunday, February 24, 2013

Epistemological Pragmatism: The Function of Empirical Experiments

The various research methodologies provide multiple means with which an individual may assess a situation. The most appropriate procedures for generating and interpreting information are often determined by the values of the researcher and the specific purpose of a study. However, experimental methods are the most effective means with which one may evaluate theoretical relationships. Although many research strategies generate meaningful information, hypotheses can only be conclusively refuted by contrary evidence (Kabadayi, 2007). While other methods may indicate the nature of a connection between variables, experimentation is the most direct means with which one may determine the significance of antecedent conditions.

Creswell (2009) describes a continuum of research methods within which each specific procedure emphasizes a particular degree of quantitative and qualitative elements. The most appropriate methodology will generate data that is relevant to the purpose of the study. Qualitative studies attempt to explore and represent the general subject of the study as accurately and completely as possible. While case studies explore a specific topic in depth, ethnography and phenomenology focus more on the interpretation of subjective perceptions. However, although qualitative research methods provide the means with which one may construct a representation of some phenomenon, the validity of any inductive generalizations must be evaluated through deductive strategies.

Creswell (2009) explains that quantitative methods attempt to assess the validity of a general theoretical relationship through particular comparisons between hypothetical predictions and objective measurements. Theories are interpretations that explain the relationship observed between objective variables. Scientific disciplines establish theories that are founded on empirical evidence (Çakir, 2012). In quantitative studies, the significance of a theory is evaluated in the context of a relationship that is quantified through the statistical interpretation of numerical values (Creswell, 2009). While surveys assess theories in comparison to collected data, experiments directly test theoretical relationships through comparisons between experimental and control groups. In an experiment, the effect of some manipulation, the independent variable, is quantified in reference to the differentiation it produces, the dependent variable, relative to a control group that is not does not receive the treatment.

Experiments are superior to other forms of research, because this methodology transcends mere correlations through the direct evaluation of the causal relationship between variables. While other methods may indicate some type of connection, experimentation is the only means with which one may determine the causal mechanism that produces observed correlations. Mere observation does not confirm any theoretical interpretation regarding causality. In order to understand the nature of an objective relationship, a researcher must interact with variables to determine what antecedent conditions result in dependent change.

The accuracy of scientific knowledge is increased through the elimination of false theories (Kabadayi, 2007). The scientific function of qualitative studies is limited because no number of finite observations is conclusive evidence to verify a theory with infinite applications. Any research methodology can only conditionally confirm a theory (Çakir, 2012). Regardless of the quantity of evidence that may support an idea, a scientific theory is perpetually open to the possibility of disproval. Any general theory may be conclusively refuted by contrary data. While other strategies may provide information that is relevant to a theory, falsification is most conclusive when founded on a comparison between experimental and control groups that differ in only a single feature.

Although experimentation is the most effective method for testing a theory, other methods are more suitable for alternative agendas. The most appropriate strategy of inquiry must be selected based on the purpose of a research project (Creswell, 2009). Scientific experimentation will produce little progress in the exploration of subjective meanings and interpretations. Qualitative studies like phenomenology and ethnography are much more appropriate for research that is intended to discover and describe human perceptions rather than assess their objective truth. Similarly, case studies are more appropriate when a researcher is seeking to represent only a specific situation. Additionally, the establishment of control and experimental groups may not be possible or morally permissible in many circumstances. Quantitative surveys are often more appropriate in situations involving large populations or when experimental manipulations are not practical.

Experiments do not produce absolute knowledge. Rather, any assessment is limited by the degree to which the strategy of inquiry compares the hypothetical significance of a theory to objective variables (Çakir, 2012). While experimental falsification is conclusive evidence for rejecting a theory, measurements that are consistent with the hypothesis do not necessarily confirm any truth. Ladyman, Douven, Horsten, and van Fraassen, (1997) explain that science functions to construct theories that are only sufficiently accurate to represent truth in practice. Empirical verification is only a means with which a researcher may evaluate the consistency between their theoretical understanding and empirical measurements. This method of comparison is the foundation for valid theories that enable accurate interpretations of objective relationships between variables (Creswell, 2009). Experiments are superior to other research methods, because they explicitly establish conditions that enable direct comparisons between a theory and empirical measurements. 


Çakir, M. (2012). Epistemological dialogue of validity: Building validity in educational and social research. Education, 132(3), 664-674.

Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research Design (3rd Ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.

Kabadayi, T. (2007). The second verificationists. Eurasian Journal of Educational Research, 29, 35-43.

Ladyman, J., Douven, I., Horsten, L., & van Fraassen, B. C. (1997). A defence of van Fraassen’s critique of abductive inference: Reply to Psillos. Philosophical Quarterly, 47, 305–21.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Occult Black Metal Zine Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about the band for those that have never heard of you before?

Minblod is a new project that I began after forming an affiliation with Humid Records. I am the sole composer and performer. All of the material is recorded in my simple home studio.

2. How would you describe your musical sound?

I think that it would not be inaccurate to say that Minblod may be described as an integration of the black and doom metal traditions. However, I do not attempt to adhere to any specific category. There are elements of my music that violate the definitions of either genre. However, the intentionally primitive production quality is commonly found in both black and doom metal. Rather than attempt to ensure that each component is clearly distinguishable, I prefer that my music be experienced as a cohesive aggregation of darkness and despair. The atmosphere is prioritized over any other consideration.

3. What are some of the themes and concepts the band brings out with the music?

Apparition and Aberration is an exploration of epistemic limitations. So called knowledge is merely a collection of propositions related only to subjective perceptions. The true nature of existence is never directly experienced. This nihilistic realization invalidates any notions of transcendental epistemology.

4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the band's name?

Minblod represents the perpetual condition of subjectivity. Because consciousness is dependent on referential content, an individual is never able to acquire any absolute truth. Rather, the subject must construct artificial theories in order to interpret any meaning. While the accuracy of these representations may be increased through the assessment of hypotheses, it is not possible to possess absolute knowledge. Although false concepts may be eliminated by contrary evidence, a universal theory is never proved by a particular experience.

5. Has the band been able to play live or is this strictly a studio project?

In collaboration with Edward Newman, I have previously played live under the title of my previous project, Distorted Cognitions. However, I prefer to create an atmospheric experience that is really only possible in recordings. As of now, without some unforeseen circumstance, Minblod will not play live.

6. Currently you are signed to Humid Records, how did you get in contact with this label and how would you describe the support they have given you so far?

Initially, my previous project contributed to the first volume of the Humid Records Sampler. After that they expressed interest in working together on future releases. I like working with them. Humid Records is a small underground label that is supportive of the artists. They allow creative freedom and do not attempt to impose any restrictions on artistic expressions.

7. Worldwide, how has the feedback been to your music by fans of black and doom metal?

While feedback has been limited, it has mostly been positive. In the past, a few blogs have given good reviews of my previous music. I have also traded with several labels over the years. I am always open to trades. I encourage anyone who is interested to contact me.

8. Are there any other projects besides this band or is this a full time line up?

For now, I am focusing exclusively on Minblod. I am pretty sure that I am finished with Distorted Cognitions. However, I may do something with that series in the distant future. I am not completely opposed to the possibility of collaborating with someone else at some point, but typically I prefer to work alone. Maintaining total control over my music allows me to shape every element. I do not have to compromise.

9. What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?

It seems as though my music has been progressing in the direction of slower and longer works. The material that I have been working on most recently places more emphasis on synthesizer contributions. I think that this adds more depth to the atmosphere. Although Apparition and Aberration does contain keyboards, they are mostly supplemental to the guitar on this release. In the future, the keyboard will likely be more prominent. I do not know if Minblod will ever completely abandon the metal genre as is common for aging black metal artists. It is sufficient to say that, if that type of development does occur, it will not be in the near future.

10. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

In the beginning and to this day, Burzum remains one of my favorites. The influence that Varg's music has had on me is unquestionable. Although other musicians may have initially pioneered the black metal genre, to me, Varg was the first to really produce this type of music with such a profound atmosphere. Though he would likely deny it, I think that Varg is the single person who has had the most impact on black metal. While others were focused on being 'evil' and 'brutal', Burzum created something that transcended the existing model of corpse paint and gore lyrics. Also, while I do not agree with many of his political opinions, I do appreciate his insights regarding ancient folklore. More recently, I enjoy the music of the various blackened subgenres. For a short list in no particular order, I often listen to: Leviathan, Xasthur, Sapthuran, Paysage d'Hiver, Lantlos, Darkspace, and Nortt. Most recently, I have been listening to quite a bit of Moloch, and the new Elysian Blaze album.

11. Does Occultism play any role in the music?

The nihilistic denial of the presence of any truth in subjectivity is surely a principle that only a small population are ready to accept. While I do not advocate any type of religious faith, I do maintain a general reverence for chaos and irrationality. Humanity is so satisfied with logical truth and subjective rationality. While I agree that this type of thinking may be the most appropriate method of assessment and understanding, the assumption that existence must necessarily conform to the artificial presuppositions of humanity is an example of arrogance and ignorance.

12. Outside of music what are some of your interests?

I am a graduate student of psychology. I also pursue other studies in a variety of disciplines, but I mostly focus on philosophy and the sciences. Most recently , I have been studying philosophical works related to epistemology and existentialism.

13. Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?

It may sound paradoxical that a student of the sciences celebrates chaos and irrationality. However, all scientists should realize the limitations of their epistemic foundations. While the scientific method is the only way to construct valid interpretations of objectivity, the resulting perceptions do not necessarily contain any truth. While inductive generalizations enable descriptive attributions, theories are not valid definitions of existence. This criticism does not deny the functionality of science. Rather, the perpetual state of uncertainty is what motivates the continuous deductive assessment of subjective concepts. Also, I want to thank Occult Black Metal Zine for providing me with the opportunity to participate in this interview.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Apparition and Aberration: An Exploration of Epistemic Limitations (McWilliams, 2013)


“What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.”

“The reality we can put into words is never reality itself.”

Werner Heisenberg


The acknowledgement of existence is the necessary origin of any philosophical discourse. This assertion does not refer to any beings in the particular sense of specific items. Rather, any discussion must be founded on the recognition of a process of being in general. This activity is immediately evident in the experience of consciousness. Even criticisms claiming that objectivity is merely illusory are dependent on the possibility of illusion which includes presuppositions that take for granted the subject as well as some mechanism of deception. All meaningful propositions must then either refer directly to the metaphysical nature of existence, as is the case with so called statements of truth, or to the epistemological means through which the subject interprets this essence. Although questions related to the properties of reality may seem most significant, any derived information is necessarily a product of some perceptual methodology. Therefore, this essay will begin with an assessment regarding the foundation of knowledge and then proceed to draw conclusions related to the limitations of subjectivity.

Apparition: on the scientific method

In order to derive any information regarding existence, the continuous stream of consciousness must establish a relationship between the subject and objectivity. The referential nature of propositions necessitates some means through which the features of existence may manifest. In isolation, one is unable to acquire any knowledge without some causal mechanism of transmission. Because of this intrinsic relativity, it is not possible to differentiate objective characteristics from mere artifacts of perception. The properties of the subjective experience originate equally from the sensory faculties and any circumstantial stimulation.

Rather than referring directly to the metaphysical, functional propositions are only relevant in application to subjective perceptions. Any further interpretation is dependent on a causal attribution that implies a correspondence between distinct experiences and differential disturbances. This type of presupposition is not founded on any rationality or evidence but only the desire for a meaningful comprehension of existence. The assumption that perceptions are the result of environmental variables enables the construction of concepts that provide significant accounts for dynamic sensations. Such artificial derivatives are the source of interpretations regarding objective interactions.

In order to focus attention on important elements, the subject summarizes a collection of sensations by attributing their origin to a common agent. Because the quantity and complexity of empirical information supersedes the capacity of consciousness, perceptual representations reduce the processing required to attend salient features. The interpretive projections of causality consolidate various experiences into the cohesive ideas of which the subject is conscious. These subjective phenomena are not necessarily equivalent to the presupposed metaphysical origin of their manifestation. Thus, it is evident that, although the general sense of existence is immediate, the perception of discrete particularities is only illusory.

Because information must be transmitted to consciousness through the sensory faculties, the true character of the metaphysical is inaccessible to the subject. Any perceptual content includes manipulations that result from the systems of interaction that enable experience. However, the referential nature of perception enables the generation of propositions that may be verified in comparison with objectivity. Although the relationship between variables may never be irrefutably confirmed, hypotheses may be invalidated by contrary evidence. While the truth of any theory is never absolutely certain, a degree of confidence may be established. The probability of the existence of a relationship is proportional to the number of differential results obtained through the initiation of distinct conditions.

Functional propositions are generated through this systematic experimentation. Propositions may be verified to the degree that their implications are assessed in pragmatic applications. Because it is impossible to examine every instance of a concept, the subject is unable to escape a level of uncertainty regarding theories. Inductions of meaning are never absolute. The confirmation of a hypothesis in every prior evaluation does not indicate that subsequent events will necessarily conform to theoretical expectations. Deductive applications may falsify a general concept in a particular case. This realization indicates that, rather than consisting of truth, so called knowledge includes only conditional ideas derived from history.

Aberration: on the religious inclination

Because perceptual content is dependent on personal experience, it is determined largely by cultural context. Through socialization, an individual acquires the dominant modes of interpretation operating within a culture. This inevitable inheritance is the origin of a perspective that is then developed into individuality. Such relative foundations enable a variety of meanings to be derived from particular sensations. These distinct ideas result from different historical contexts through which significance is evaluated. Considering that all concepts are necessarily subjective, there are means with which one may form rational judgments regarding theories. Representative concepts may be assessed by the degree to which they are consistent with reality. In contrast, moral ideals must be evaluated in an instrumental context.

The imperfect nature of perceptions establishes an imperative to continuously assess their validity through deductive applications. Because inductive interpretation is the foundation of knowledge, the accuracy of representations is increased when they are altered in the context of contrary experiences. Truth is not inherited from some objective origin. Rather, subjective ideas progressively approximate truth through repeated deductive trials and subsequent modifications. A perpetually incomplete sense is developed through the comparison of artificial constructs to particular examples.

Description is the only appropriate application of a theory. Some concepts may have predictive value, but no idea is absolute. Existence is not defined by the functional terms that enable subjective interpretations. The expectation that nature must necessarily conform to perceptual ideals results from arrogance and ignorance. Concepts are generalizations derived from particular experiences. This process generates a degree of error as individualities are consolidated into some average value. This prototype may be used to assess novelty in the context of previous events. Any differentiation indicates a fundamental limitation of the essentialist concept rather than the existence of some new deviant form.

The illusory character of perceptions invalidates objective foundations of value. Since the true nature of existence is never directly experienced, moral propositions must originate from subjective reasoning. All moral systems are necessarily teleological. Any instrumental imperative must be founded on some consequential value. Prescriptive statements necessarily references some intrinsic ideal toward which their practice is directed. However, this realization does not justify absolute egoism. In order for moral systems to must maintain rational consistency, teleological values must be limited within deontological principles.

As the source of all judgments, rationality is the standard for evaluations regarding the validity of actions. Appropriate regulations service the priorities of the subject without resulting in a logical contradiction. A paradox indicates that a prescription is not consistent with the categorical imperative to maintain universal validity. A degree of contradiction is constant because, rather than define existence, morality functions to deviate the progression of events from a natural course. This purpose is ultimately futile since the continuity of causality is perpetual. Morality is an artificial system constructed to temporarily preserve preferred modes of existence, but the perception of any discrete form is only illusory. The state of nature is effectively chaos. Because no value transcends subjectivity, any interpretation within the limitations of falsification is equally valid and invalid.

Leo Dyer
Sergiy Fjordsson
Billy Chad Grooms
Justin Hembree
Edward Newman

Suggested Reading
Werner Heisenberg
Edmund Husserl
Friedrich Nietzsche
Jean-Paul Sartre
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Synthesis of Relativism and Genetics

A theory is an interrelation of constructs from which hypotheses are developed to explain the relationship between variables (Creswell, 2009). A general cultural relativity hypothesis proposes that perceptions are shaped through the process of socialization (Cheng, Cheung, Chio, & Chan 2013). Cheng et al. (2013) examine this relativism in their multicultural meta-analysis of the relationship between causal perceptions and negative psychological symptoms. Similarly, the research of Vauclair and Fischer (2011) demonstrates the relationship between individual attitudes and cultural context. However, their study also indicates that, although some values are divergent between societies, many other priorities are held in most cultures (Vauclair & Fischer, 2011). Another theory proposes that the evolutionary history of all humanity results in many traits that are common throughout the many diverse civilizations (Haidt, 2007). In his article, Haque (2011) argues that human moral psychology cannot be reduced to arbitrary social conventions. He concludes by noting that the dichotomy between biological and social origins is false (Haque, 2011). Often, subjective values result from the expression of inherited characteristics in the context of a dynamic environment (Haque, 2011).

The debate between theories, regarding the origin of behavioral and perceptual patterns, results from contrary definitions of the independent variable. Both evolutionary and cultural theories assign behavior as the dependent variable. The value of this dependent variable is determined by that of the causal antecedent (Creswell, 2009). Evolutionary theories attribute behavior patterns to the common human history of adaptation (Haque, 2011). In contrast, culturally relative theories assert that behavior patterns are learned through socialization (Haque, 2011). However, both theories have merit, and it is likely that their synthesis produces the most accurate representation (Haque, 2011). Intervening variables are agents that contribute to a result dependent on an independent value (Creswell, 2009). Biology and society complement each other to shape the behavior of the individual (Haque, 2011).

Benassi, Sweeney, and Dufour (1988) documented a general link between psychological stress and the perception that one has little control over events. This type of universal relationship would be consistent with evolutionary theories. However, Cheng et al. (2013) proposed that collectivist cultures would be more able to psychologically accommodate situations resulting from circumstantial conditions rather than personal motivation. Individualism and collectivism represent an interpretive dimension that functions to delineate the differences between societies (Triandis & Suh, 2002). Cultures oriented towards collectivism socialize individuals to maintain harmony throughout situational changes (Morling, Kitayama, & Miyamoto, 2002). The research of Cheng et al. (2013) integrated measures of anxiety and depression from existing research that assessed these psychological symptoms in different cultures (Cheng et al., 2013). Through statistical analysis, this study quantified the correlation between perceptions regarding the degree of personal control and the frequency of psychological distress (Cheng et al., 2013). The results indicated that collectivist values result in a decreased prevalence of depression and anxiety relative to other cultures that prioritize individuality (Cheng et al., 2013). These results support relativist assertions that perception is shaped by culture.

An artificial origin of many moral principles would result in collections of values that may be unique to a single cultural tradition (Haidt, 2007). For example, Vauclair and Fischer (2011) found that many cultures embrace different priorities that may emphasize autonomy or interdependence. These divergent attitudes result in moral systems that value personal rights while others prioritize obligations and relationships (Vauclair & Fischer, 2011). However, the existence of cultural diversity does not falsify the natural origins of morality (Haque, 2011). The excessive emphasis that is often placed on examples of diversity may ultimately threaten the validity of anthropological interpretations (Haque, 2011). Mikhail (2007) notes that, rather than refuting natural theories of emergence, diversity may indicate a systematic variation of basic principles in the context of environmental circumstances.

While the research of Vauclair and Fischer, (2011) demonstrate that some orientations are specific to a particular culture, their results also indicate that others are found universally. Because social cooperation is adaptive in most contexts, this value is common throughout various societies (Krebs, 2008). Similarly, the research of Hauser, Cushman, Young, Jin and Mikhail (2007) demonstrated a great degree of consistency across cultures in responses to some moral dilemmas. These types of moral universals exhibit little variation in the context of diverse variables (Hauser, et al., 2007). Haque (2011) demonstrates that, although some there may be some divergence in the moral systems of different cultures, morality originates from a common history of psychological evolution. Relativistic assertions that deny the significance of evolutionary history often fail to account for individual deviations from the norms prescribed by cultural orientations (Haque, 2011).

The debate regarding the origin of values is founded on an artificial opposition between genetic inheritance and developmental learning. However, these contributions are often complimentary rather than contrary (Haque, 2011). Biological processes act throughout the life history (Haque, 2011). Developmental changes are often adaptations that promote the success of an individual in an ecologically dynamic environment (Haque, 2011). This flexibility ensures the maximum functionality of the resulting individual phenotype (Haque, 2011). Behavior patterns represent an entanglement of social and biological values. Intervening variables of this type are both causally related to the effect (Creswell, 2009).


Benassi, V. A., Sweeney, P. D., & Dufour, C. L. (1988). Is there a relation between locus of control orientation and depression? Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 97, 357–367. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.97.3.357

Cheng, C., Cheung, S., Chio, J. H., & Chan, M. S. (2013). Cultural meaning of perceived control: A meta-analysis of locus of control and psychological symptoms across 18 cultural regions. Psychological Bulletin, 39(1), 152-188. doi: 10.1037/a0028596

Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research Design (3rd Ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.

Haidt, J. (2007). The new synthesis in moral psychology. Science, 316, 998–1001.

Haque, O. S. (2011). Moral creationism: The science of morality and the mutiny of romantic relativism. Journal of Cognition & Culture, 11, 151-187. doi: 10.1163/156853711X568734

Hauser, M. D., Cushman, F. A., Young, L., Jin, R. and Mikhail, J. M. (2007). A dissociation between moral judgment and justification. Mind and Language, 22, 1-21.

Krebs, D. L. (2008). Morality: An evolutionary account. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 149–172.

Mikhail, J. (2007). Universal moral grammar: theory, evidence, and the future. Trends in Cognitive Science, 11, 143-152.

Morling, B., Kitayama, S., & Miyamoto, Y. (2002). Cultural practices emphasize influence in the United States and adjustment in Japan. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 311–323. doi:10.1177/ 0146167202286003

Triandis, H. C., & Suh, E. M. (2002). Cultural influences on personality. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 133–160. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.53.100901.135200

Vauclair, C., & Fischer, R. (2011). Do cultural values predict individuals’ moral attitudes? A multilevel approach. European Journal of Social Psychology, 41, 645-657. doi:10.1002/ejsp.794

Friday, February 15, 2013

Occult Black Metal Zine Review

Minblod are a band from South Carolina that plays a mixture of depressive black and doom metal and this is a review of their 2013 album "Apparition And Aberration" which was released as a joint effort between Humid Records and Depressive Illusions.

Drums range from slow to mid paced playing with no fast drumming or blast beats being present on t his recording, while the bass playing has a very dark tone with riffs that follow the riffing that are coming out of the guitars, as for the synths when they are utilized they bring a very atmospheric and dark ambient sound to the recording.

Rhythm guitars range from slow to mid paced riffs that combine depressive black metal with doom to create a sound of their own and there are no guitar solos or leads present on this recording.

Vocals are all high pitched and grim sounding depressive black metal screams, while there is not much in the way of lyrics, as for the production it has a very dark, raw and primitive sound to it with some of the songs being long and epic in length.

In my opinion Minblood are a very great sounding hybrid of depressive black metal and doom and if you are a fan of this musical genre, you should check out this band. RECOMMENDED TRACKS INCLUDE "Dark Mysteries" and "Heuristic Construct". RECOMMENDED BUY.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

On Empiricism: The Epistemic Limitations of Subjectivity

Çakir (2012) explains that scientific disciplines attempt establish theories that are founded on empirical information. Theories are interpretations of meaning that explain the relationship between variables (Creswell, 2009). In quantitative research, these general propositions are tested in order to assess their validity in a particular case. Kabadayi (2007) notes that scientific knowledge is constructed through the elimination of falsified representations. Because specific observations do not necessarily verify a universal concept, a scientific theory must continuously be evaluated in the context of empirical information. However, empiricism does not imply a belief regarding the truth of a proposition (Steup, 2011). Rather, theories are only assumed to represent objectivity to the degree to which they may be assessed. All scientific knowledge is conditional. Contrary empirical evidence invalidates any existing concept.

Empiricism is the assertion that knowledge is acquired through experience (Steup, 2011). Empirical propositions must be changed in accordance with contrary perceptual experiences. However, subjective perception is little evidence that a contingent proposition is true. Empiricism does not imply that an individual believes in the truth of presently accepted scientific theories. Ladyman, Douven, Horsten, and van Fraassen, (1997) explain that the purpose of science is only to establish empirical adequacy. A theory is only ever sufficiently true to explain observations. The conditional nature of propositions invalidates any notions of absolute knowledge. While some ideas may be universally true, the subject has no way of establishing this type of certainty.

Any concept that is coherent and consistent with empirical evidence is epistemologically valid (Dicken, 2009). However, empiricism rejects postulations of elements that are not evident in experience (Van Fraassen, 2004). Without some form of significance, any proposition is unnecessary and meaningless. Although the empiricist cannot conclusively deny the possibility of a superfluous agent, a theory must include pragmatic implications to maintain functionality. If interpretations are intended to represent objectivity, trivial stipulations must be avoided. While there is not any intrinsic moral imperative to ensure that all statements are empirically assessed, a conscientious individual must evaluate all propositions that may motivate significant actions. It may be permissible to indulge in fantasy or polite misrepresentations, but essential assertions must be consistent with empirical evidence to ensure appropriate implementations.

Inductions derive a general theory from finite experiences. While this type of generalization is an effective means of interpretation, no universal concept is immune to eventual falsification (Kabadayi, 2007). A theory provides the foundation for hypothetical predictions (Creswell, 2009). Through deductive assessments, the validity of the theory is evaluated in the context of the particular case. The empirical results of this evaluation either confirm or refute the subjective concept. A theory is conclusively falsified by contrary evidence (Kabadayi, 2007). However, the validity of a theory is only conditionally verified in reference to a particular means of assessment (Çakir, 2012). In order to maximize the accuracy of perceptual representations, concepts must be open to criticism from all sources of evidence. This continuous criticism enables representations to increasingly approximate objectivity.

Although falsification enables the differentiation between valid and invalid concepts, the scientific method does not enable an individual to transcend subjectivity. Any evaluation is an application of an existing methodology (Çakir, 2012). The degree to which a theory may be assessed is limited by the means with which the assessment is performed. While evidence may or may not be consistent with a hypothesis, the nature of the proposition itself is dependent on the individual perspective. Contextual values shape knowledge (Ruphy, 2006). Evidential relevance is defined in reference to existing assumptions. The same data often serves as evidence for multiple distinct hypotheses.

While this realization of relativity does cause one to question the content of any specific theory, it does not invalidate the purpose of science in general (Ruphy, 2006). The integrity of scientific disciplines is maintained as long as all ideas are open to all forms of criticism. The influence of subjective preferences is mitigated through critical interactions between individuals with distinct perspectives. However, although the resulting principles may not include the influence of any specific culture, they are still limited by the fundamental conditions of subjectivity. Even if the scientific community removes all personal biases from a theory, the representation is never more than a hypothetical interpretation. All such concepts must remain perpetually open to falsification (Kabadayi, 2007). The propositional foundations of knowledge are only conditional and never absolute.


Çakir, M. (2012). Epistemological dialogue of validity: Building validity in educational and social research. Education, 132(3), 664-674.

Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research Design (3rd Ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.

Dicken, P. (2009). Constructive empiricism and the vices of voluntarism. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 17(2), 189-201. doi: 10.1080/09672550902794421.

Kabadayi, T. (2007). The second verificationists. Eurasian Journal of Educational Research, 29, 35-43.

Ladyman, J., Douven, I., Horsten, L., & van Fraassen, B. C. (1997). A defence of van Fraassen’s critique of abductive inference: Reply to Psillos. Philosophical Quarterly, 47, 305–21.

Ruphy, S. (2006). "Empiricism all the way down": A defense of the value-neutrality of science in response to Helen Longino's contextual empiricism. Perspectives on Science, 14(2), 189-214.

Steup, M. (2011). Empiricism, metaphysics, and voluntarism. Synthese, 178(1), 19-26. doi:10.1007/s11229-009-9518-8

Van Fraassen, B. (2004). Précis of the empirical stance. Philosophical Studies, 121, 127–132.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Meta-Analysis and Post-Modernism

The paradigms that characterize particular academic disciplines often orient research towards a style of design (Creswell, 2009). While all research contains both quantitative and qualitative elements, most studies emphasize one approach more than the other (Creswell, 2009). These research designs are not dichotomous opposites (Creswell, 2009). Rather, quantitative and qualitative designs represent the extremes of a continuum of possibilities (Creswell, 2009). For example, in mixed methods research, qualitative and quantitative forms are combined in tandem to strengthen any conclusions beyond the capability of a limited design (Creswell, 2009). By embracing a variety of assessment types, a mixed methodology transcends the limitations of a single research paradigm. However, a research design must be valid in the context of the specific problem. Researchers must justify the design of their study by demonstrating the functionality of selected means (Creswell, 2009).

Qualitative research is consistent with orientations are more concerned the exploration of meanings or the generation of change (Creswell, 2009). Constructivism is one such type of paradigm that focuses on the subjective interpretation of meaning (Creswell, 2009). Rather than test the validity of a perception, constructivist research explores the variety of subjective concepts and often attempts to describe the diverse interpretations of individuals. Other orientations toward advocacy emphasize collaborative participation to generate positive change (Creswell, 2009). This type of research attempts to understand a problem and identify the most appropriate means with which the conditions may be improved for individuals. Because of these exploratory functions, qualitative research tends to examine open ended questions (Creswell, 2009). Rather than adhere to a specific research design, qualitative studies must continuously develop in the context of the situation (Creswell, 2009). This ensures that the methods and interpretations are appropriate for the situation (Creswell, 2009). In qualitative research, themes are inductively interpreted from data gathered in an emerging design (Creswell, 2009). However, although this type of study may produce information that accurately represents a particular situation, the validity of any generalizations is limited because of the specificity of collected data.

In contrast, quantitative studies typically attempt to evaluate objective theories through deductive tests of specific hypotheses (Creswell, 2009). This type of research is often scientifically oriented. Postpositivism is one such type of orientation that emphasizes the empirical examination of relationships between variables (Creswell, 2009). From the postpositivist perspective, validity is defined as the degree to which perceptions are consistent with objectivity. Valid theories accurately represent the nature of a relationship between variables. Similarly, pragmatism is another paradigm that often emphasizes quantitative research (Creswell, 2009). Pragmatist research derives conclusions from functional applications of a theory (Creswell, 2009). Functional theories are the foundation for hypotheses that accurately predict the consequences of specific events. In quantitative research, the resulting measurements are interpreted through statistical analysis to enable conclusions regarding the hypothesis (Creswell, 2009). While this research design may generate conclusions regarding the validity of a theory in a particular case, it does little to explore the diverse possibilities of meanings and perceptions regarding a situation.

Meta-analysis is one type of quantitative design that integrates information from multiple sources (Whiston & Li, 2011). In this type of research, empirical information is interpreted through the statistical analysis of existing studies (Whiston & Li, 2011). The meta-analytic research of Cheng, Cheung, Chio and Chan (2013) collected data regarding psychological symptoms from a variety of prior studies. This study examined the relationship between locus of control and symptoms of depression and anxiety in order to quantify the effect of cultural orientations (Cheng et al., 2013). Their conclusions represent a quantitative interpretation of 152 studies including 33,224 individuals total (Cheng et al., 2013). While meta-analysis is an appropriate means with which to assess the validity of a theory across a large sample of the population, the degree to which particular cases are accurately represented in the study is reduced by the lack of depth in this type of data collection.

Specific operational definitions are established to select relevant information that is then coded into a system of calculations to generate a numeric value (Whiston & Li, 2011). These definitions are directly related to the variables that constitute a hypothesis of a relationship. Locus of control refers to a subjective perception regarding the causal origin of occurrences (Cheng et al., 2013). Rotter (1966) explained that the cultural norms in individualist societies emphasize independence and self reliance. In contrast, Bond and Smith (1996) describe the values of interdependence and harmony that are prioritized in collectivist societies. Because individuals in collectivist cultures are socialized to accommodate changes rather than resist them, as described by Morling, Kitayama, and Miyamoto (2002), Cheng et al (2013) predict that these societies will exhibit symptoms of depression and anxiety at a reduced frequency compared to individualist cultures.

Cheng et al. (2013) noted that individuals within collectivist cultures may be more prepared to endorse an external locus of control. Their hypothesis proposes that the relationship between locus of control and negative psychological symptoms is stronger in individualist societies. Their data analysis indicated that perceptions of an external locus of control are moderately related to symptoms of depression and anxiety (Cheng et al., 2013). This relationship was stronger in societies that are oriented toward individualism (Cheng et al., 2013). The results of their meta-analysis are consistent with the hypothetical relationship between cultural orientations and psychological symptoms (Cheng et al., 2013).


Bond, M. H., & Smith, P. B. (1996). Cross-cultural social and organizational psychology. Annual Review of Psychology, 47, 205–235. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.47.1.205

Cheng, C., Cheung, S., Chio, J. H., & Chan, M. S. (2013). Cultural meaning of perceived control: A meta-analysis of locus of control and psychological symptoms across 18 cultural regions. Psychological Bulletin, 39(1), 152-188. doi: 10.1037/a0028596

Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research Design (3rd Ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.

Morling, B., Kitayama, S., & Miyamoto, Y. (2002). Cultural practices emphasize influence in the United States and adjustment in Japan. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 311–323. doi:10.1177/ 0146167202286003

Rotter, J. B. (1966). Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 80, 1–28. doi:10.1037/h0092976

Whiston, S. C., & Li P. (2011). Meta-analysis: A systemic model for synthesizing counseling research. Journal of Counseling & Development. 89(3), 273-281.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Theoretical Validity: Induction and Deduction

In his literature review, Çakir (2012) explores the foundations of knowledge in education and the social sciences. The social sciences attempt to construct theories that are founded on empirical evidence (Çakir, 2012). These concepts enable meaningful interpretations of events. However, a theory is itself only a subjective interpretation that specifies a causal interrelation (Creswell, 2009). The validity of any proposition is a measure of the degree to which the perceptual construct represents the relationship between variables (Creswell, 2009). Because all such knowledge is established through inductive generalizations, the validity of these interpretations is limited (Çakir, 2012). Any knowledge is only a conditional hypothesis that may eventually be falsified. Science progresses through the replacement such theories as they are invalidated by empirical evidence (Kabadayi, 2007).

Although positivists assert that meaningful principles may be derived from empirical verifications, scientific systems must remain open to the possibility of falsification (Çakir, 2012). No finite number of observations can conclusively prove a theory with infinite applications (Kabadayi, 2007). This limitation of inductionist reasoning invalidates epistemological assertions founded on verification (Kabadayi, 2007). While logical principles may be confirmed through assessments in the context of objectivity, multiple theoretical constructs may often be applied to a single collection of data (Çakir, 2012). Without some form of neutral appraisal, the value of a paradigm is relative to a particular subjective perspective (Çakir, 2012). Because any learning represents an interpretation of novelty in the context of existing understanding, the validity of a theory is never independent of personal values (Çakir, 2012). Methods of verification are never able to transcend subjectivity and resolve perceptual incommensurabilities.

In contrast, deductive falsifications conclusively invalidate any theory (Kabadayi, 2007). A theory provides a rationale for hypothetical predictions (Creswell, 2009). A general theory is only conditionally validated through applications test derivative hypotheses in particular situations (Creswell, 2009). However, the process of evaluation is necessarily embedded within an existing set of practical methods (Çakir, 2012). In order to ensure validity, a theory must remain open to all deductive forms of criticism (Çakir, 2012). Because theories must be assessed through application, validity is defined in reference to specific a methodology rather than intrinsic metaphysical truth (Creswell, 2009). In order to maintain validity, a theory must not be exempt from empirical contradictions. Rather, by eliminating invalidated concepts, the degree of confidence regarding invulnerable ideas is increased. Although absolute certainty may never be achieved, the functionality of a theory in particular instances is ensured by continuously testing hypotheses in all possible applications.


Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research Design (3rd Ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.

Çakir, M. (2012). Epistemological dialogue of validity: Building validity in educational and social research. Education, 132(3), 664-674.

Kabadayi, T. (2007). The second verificationists. Eurasian Journal of Educational Research, 29, 35-43.