Theoretical Virtue

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Theoretical virtues are said to be traits that are representative of virtues pertaining to theories, beliefs, and hypotheses. Since time immemorial, philosophers of science have undertaken multiple methodologies that use these theoretical virtues as a collective to establish an objective standard, which is further used to compare theories in order to sought out which theory is the most competent. However, even though this methodology has been practiced repeatedly over the years, a certain issue that always arises is that there has to be a distinction made between two types of theoretical values: cognitive and pragmatic. A virtue is said to be cognitive when it is indicative of the truth or is the truth. This is different from when a theory…show more content…
They might also possess certain characteristics that scientists often consider to be imperative or even pivotal for a theory to represent. In Objectivity, Virtues, and Theoretical Choice, Thomas Kuhn describes five cognitive theoretical virtues that he considered to be absolutely detrimental when it comes to considering a theory to act as an objective standard for comparison. These virtues are namely accuracy, fruitfulness, consistency, breadth, and simplicity. Accuracy refers to how valid a theory’s predictions are; fruitfulness refers to how productive the outcome of the theory; consistency refers to the increased reliability due to a lack of consideration in the theory; breadth refers to how much a theory can accomplish; and simplicity refers to the theory comprising a minimalistic…show more content…
When she compares novelty (from the feminist theory) to consistency (from Kuhn’s theory), she states that the “criterion for novelty is the need for the theoretical frameworks other than those that have functioned — directly or indirectly— in gender oppression.” On the other hand, Longino says that consistency, in a context where theories have functioned in gender oppression, is the need to perpetuate these frameworks (Longino, 1995). It is evident when one digs deeper into the topic and realizes that this conversation is rather one sided, i.e. the truth is heavily mandated by bias and hence could not be indicative of the truth, as philosophers have claimed by declaring the virtue of consistency as cognitive. Longino took this point as a way of identifying an outside factor namely the socio-political factor that every theory is immersed in. Since different socio-political contexts will invariably assign different values to the same being discussed, the meaning that the virtue cannot function as an objective standard. It is under the same ‘socio-political’ context for determining whether a virtue is considered cognitive or pragmatic that Longino believes that the Kuhnian virtues are not entirely
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