Conceptual Underpinnings of the Methodological Strategy

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Analysis of the truth claims of data by any method should rest on its conceptual

underpinnings. As persuasively argued by Rescher (1992), knowledge development is

itself a practice, the study of which is the domain of epistemology. Rescherian epistemology

further isolates two interconnected cycles of practice underlying knowledge

development, thus allowing us to categorize different approaches. The first one is a

theoretical cycle which seeks to maintain internal consistency among theoretical ideas,

or “theoretical self-substantiation.” The second, an applicative cycle, seeks “pragmatic

validation” external to theory. Rescher underscores the tension between the two cycles,

and maintains that in any vibrant domain of inquiry, the overall legitimization of a

methodology for the substantiation of our factual beliefs must unite the two distinct

cycles, one toward a systematic coherence at the theoretical level, and the other toward

pragmatic validity at the empirical level. See Figure 1(a) for a graphical representation of

the cycles.

Systematizing

Methodology

System of Validated

Knowledge

Theoretical Controls

of Self-Substantiation

Pragmatic Controls of

Empirical Efficacy

Theoretical Cycle

Empirical Cycle

Figure 1. Rescherian epistemology applied to validation

(a) Two-fold cycle of the legitimization of systemizing methodology (Adapted from

Rescher, 1992)

In this study we engage the two-fold cycle to develop a system of validated knowledge

regarding OO software development expertise. In the theoretical cycle we develop

theories of OO software development from revealed causal maps (RCMs) of OO experts.

In the applicative cycle we compare the findings from the causal maps with those

obtained from survey respondents.