Tina Wildhagen Assignment 7 4105
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Tina Wildhagen: Assignment 7 4/1/05 In this essay, I address two of the fallacies to which the strategy of grounded theory may be susceptible. First, I list two of Glaser and Strauss’s (S&G) arguments as formal arguments, including premises and conclusions. Each argument’s conclusion is the same—the method of grounded theory generates better theory than does the logico-deductive method. Following each argument, I discuss a fallacy to which the argument may be susceptible. Argument One: (1) If one uses a grounded theory rather than a logico-deductive theory, then the assumptions of that theory will be grounded in empirical data more than those for the logico-deductive theory. (2) If the assumptions of a theory are grounded in empirical data, then that theory will have better explanatory power than a theory with a priori assumptions. (3) If a theory has more explanatory power than another, then it is the better theory. ______________________________________________________________________________ Therefore, if one uses a grounded theory rather than a logico-deductive theory, then it is the better theory. Fallacy: 1. Distinction without a Difference Fallacy In my opinion, Premise 1 is an example of Damer’s Distinction without a Difference Fallacy (117), because G&S are unfairly distinguishing the empirical qualities of the assumptions of grounded and logico-deductive theories. I argue that the assumptions of every sociological theory, regardless of the method by which the theory is generated, are grounded in empirical data. For example, Marx, whose theories G&S criticize, grounded many of his assumptions in the work conditions for factory workers. In my opinion, no sociological theory’s assumptions are generated a priori, because all theorists have some empirical knowledge of the social world. In order to avoid this false distinction between assumptions of these two kinds of theories, researchers who are using a grounded theory strategy should compare their assumptions with those of logico-deductive theories to see if they are similar. Argument Two: (1) If one uses the method of grounded theory, then one allows categories to emerge from the data in the substantive area. (2) If one allows categories to emerge from the data in the substantive area, then one will “aim at achieving much diversity in emergent categories” (37). (3) If one “aim[s] at achieving much diversity in emergent categories,” then theories using those categories will explain better the questions in that substantive area than will logically deduced theories. (4) If theories using emergent categories with diverse characteristics will explain better the questions in that substantive area than will logically deduced theories, than those theories are better theories. ____________________________________________________________________________ Therefore, if one uses the method of grounded theory, the theories thus generated will be better than will logically deduced theories. Fallacies: 1. Fallacy of Deductive Inference: Denying the Antecedent (66) In my opinion, the Premise 3 of Argument Two is fallacious because it assumes that in the absence of the antecedent (diversity in emergent categories), a theory will have diminished explanatory power. That is, this premise implies that the diversity of a category is the sole determinant of its explanatory power in a substantive area. However, in my opinion, the utility of a category also depends on its ability to explain phenomena across substantive areas. G&S themselves recognize the importance of this “analytical” property of concepts, citing the importance of categories that are “sufficiently generalized to designate characteristics of concrete entities, not the entities themselves” (38, emphasis added). A category that relies too much on including diverse characteristics runs the risk of simply describing a phenomenon. In order to avoid simply describing empirical phenomena, researchers should attempt to uncover only the essential characteristics of concepts. 2. False Alternatives (126) In my opinion, by limiting the methods of generating theory to either grounded theory or logico-deductive methods, this argument is susceptible to Damer’s False Alternatives Fallacy. This fallacy occurs when one restricts alternatives too severely and assumes that one of the suggested alternatives is true. I argue that there exists middle ground between pure grounded theory methods and pure logico-deductive methods for generating theory. That is, researchers can employ strategies from both methods. Abigail Darwin #7 The grounded theory strategy of Glaser and Strauss may be susceptible to fallacies which violate the relevance criterion, acceptability criterion, sufficiency criterion, and rebuttal criterion of a “good” argument (Damer 2005). With regard to the relevance criterion, grounded theory may be susceptible to the fallacy of drawing the wrong conclusion. As Damer states, “this fallacy consists in drawing a conclusion other than the one supported by the evidence presented in the argument” (Damer 2005:86). Specifically, insofar as Glaser and Strauss emphasize that “accurate evidence is not so crucial for generating theory,” it is conceivable that a researcher could potentially draw erroneous conclusions from the data and posit relationships that are erroneous or non-existent (Glaser and Strauss 1967:30). To avoid this fallacy, researchers must ensure that the evidence they gather is accurate and should run statistical tests on the data to ensure that relationships which seem to exist actually do and in the direction hypothesized. One fallacy which violates the acceptability criterion to which grounded theory may be susceptible is the fallacy of false alternatives. As Damer states, “this fallacy consists in restricting too severely the number of proposed alternatives and in assuming that one of the suggested alternatives must be true” (Damer 2005:126). Glaser and Strauss seem to imply that there are only two alternatives for conducting research: using logico-deductive theory or using grounded theory. They suggest that logico-deductive research primarily consists of verifying “arm chair theories” not “grounded” in reality (Glaser and Strauss 1967:10); grounded theory, by contrast, is a research method driven by the results of data collection which entails both theory generation and verification (Glaser and Strauss 1967). After delimiting research to these two modes, the authors spend the remainder of the article defending why grounded theory is the superior method. In presenting the reader with merely these two alternatives, they imply that no other research modes exist and that no mode could be superior to grounded theory. However, it is plausible that some researchers might insist on combining random sampling with data collection, a technique which Glaser and Strauss state is not necessary, but which I would argue would make the generated grounded theories more accurate (Glaser and Strauss 1967:63). One fallacy which violates the sufficiency criterion to which grounded theory may be susceptible is the fallacy of insufficient sample. As Damer states, “this fallacy consists in drawing a conclusion or generalization from too small a sample of cases” (Damer 2005:142). In their article, Glaser and Strauss assert that “the number of cases [involved in data collection] is…not so crucial” (Glaser and Strauss 1967:30). For Glaser and Strauss, a theorist need only collect data until “saturation” of a given phenomenological category has occurred. However, Glaser and Strauss never present a clear formula for determining when “saturation” has occurred; rather, they leave it up to the “theoretically sensitive” researcher to determine (Glaser and Strauss 1967:62). Thus, it is highly plausible that a researcher, especially one following the mandates of Glaser and Strauss to not be guided by prior theory, could believe he has reached “saturation” when in fact he has not. And, especially if the sample of cases is small, even with statistical analysis, the sociologist could be led to surmise erroneous conclusions and generate inaccurate theory. Thus, researchers using a grounded theory strategy would be wise to collect data on a large sample of cases and to then consult prior relevant empirical research to ensure they really have achieved “saturation.” From there, researchers should use appropriate statistical techniques to ensure that the relationships they think exist actually do. A second fallacy which violates the sufficiency criterion to which grounded theory may be susceptible is the fallacy of unrepresentative data. As Damer states, “this fallacy consists in drawing a conclusion based on data from an unrepresentative or biased sample” (Damer 2005:144). Glaser and Strauss clearly commit this fallacy when they argue that “the researcher who generates theory need not combine random sampling with theoretical sampling” and that “once discovered, [a] relationship [between variables] is assumed to persist in direction no matter how biased the previous sample of data was, or the next sample is” (Glaser and Strauss 1967:63). Using unrepresentative or biased data can lead the researcher to erroneous conclusions; therefore, researchers using grounded theory would be well-advised to use random sampling and unbiased samples. A third fallacy which violates the sufficiency criterion to which grounded theory may be susceptible is the fallacy of arguing from ignorance. As Damer states, “this fallacy consists in arguing for the truth (or falsity) of a claim, because there is no evidence or proof to the contrary or because of the inability or refusal of an opponent to present convincing evidence to the contrary” (Damer 2005:146). Glaser and Strauss clearly commit this fallacy when they argue that “[the assumption] that if a relationship holds for one group under certain conditions, it will probably hold for other groups under the same conditions…is subject only to being disproven— not proven—when other sociologists question its credibility” (Glaser and Strauss 1967:63). As Damer argues, such a statement “violates the principle that the burden of proof for any claim generally rests on the person who sets forth the claim” (Damer 2005:146). Indeed, an argument that relies on proof to the contrary “fails to provide sufficient grounds for the claim at issue, since evidence is missing altogether” (Damer 2005:147). And, not only does Glaser’s and Strauss’ statement violate the sufficiency criterion of a good argument, it also violates the scientific maxim that a theory can never be proven—it can only be supported or disconfirmed (Cohen 1989). Thus, researchers using grounded theory would be well-advised to realize that any theory they generate will have to undergo testing in a wide array of situations before it can be surmised as applicable to those cases; also, researchers should always be on the defensive and realize that their theory may have to be revised at some future time based on disconfirming evidence. One fallacy which violates the rebuttal criterion is the fallacy of denying the counterevidence. As Damer states, “this fallacy consists in refusing to consider seriously or in unfairly minimizing the evidence that is brought against one’s claim” (Damer 2005:172). Glaser and Strauss argue that the “assumption of persistence [of a theoretical relationship] is subject only to being disproven” and that “evidence and testing never destroy a theory; they only modify it” (Glaser and Strauss 1967:28, 63). While it is a scientific maxim that theories must be falsifiable, statements such as these by Glaser and Strauss make one question whether a grounded theory could ever be falsified (Damer 2005:7). Researchers using a grounded theory strategy could avoid this fallacy by clearly spelling out their knowledge claims and scope conditions and by clearly defining and operationalizing all non-primitive terms (Cohen 1989). This would allow replicability, and consequently, falsifiability. Erica Dusenberry #7 Unrepresentative Data—The grounded theory approach is susceptible to the problem of using unrepresentative data to generate a theory. Glaser and Strauss describe theory generation as an ongoing process in which theory emerges and “the emerging theory points to the next steps” to be taken in the research (47). Thus, each subsequent group or category suggested by the emerging theory to be strategically analyzed is essentially hand picked; yielding data that are not necessarily independent across groups. Such a method jeopardizes the random and representative nature of the data. Glaser and Strauss address the issue of data sampling in their discussion of the grounded theory approach. They first claim that “accurate evidence is not so crucial for generating theory” and therefore use of a fully representative or random sample is unnecessary (30). Glaser and Strauss claim that the focus of the grounded theory approach is on generating a theory and not on learning information regarding the whole field. However, in my opinion, a theory generated without consideration of the whole field could itself be unrepresentative and faulty. If one were to focus only on correlated samples that related to a specific category of analysis, then valuable information could be overlooked regarding outside variables and influences on the issue being analyzed. Theory generation should not occur in a vacuum and it is therefore my opinion, as it is Damer’s (144), that accurate and representative evidence is crucial in generating theory since the theory itself is going to be considered in an environment beyond the one used for its generation. Also, Glaser and Strauss state that random sampling is not necessary for discovering a relationship or for assessing its presence in other groups, but in order to describe the magnitude of a relationship, random sampling is necessary (64). Once again, it is my opinion that this assertion by the authors is problematic to a sociologist using the grounded theory approach. First, to claim that a relationship merely exists does not add much to the progression of knowledge if the relationship can not be described in terms of magnitude. Furthermore, to claim that a relationship exists based on samples that are unrepresentative and biased, in my opinion, does hold significant importance since the samples in which the relationship was experienced cannot confer any notion of common understanding to the audience regarding the environment in which the relationship is said to exist nor is the information as inclusive as it would be if random sampling were employed. Therefore, an individual using the grounded theory approach, in my opinion needs to be aware of these sampling issues. I would suggest that he keep in mind the audience that will be considering and potentially using his theory. His audience exists beyond any biased sample that he may create, and therefore he should do his best to make his theory as inclusive and fruitful as possible. Such efforts, in my opinion, would increase the information the theory contains, as well as applicability of his theory to future research. With these goals in mind, I would hope an individual would naturally be more inclined to use representative data for his research. Denying the Counterevidence—The grounded theory approach is also susceptible to the fallacy of denying the counterevidence. For an argument to be sound, it must consider potential counterevidence against its claim. To not do so, is to obstruct the discovery of truth and to violate the fallibility principle (Damer 172). The notion presented by Glaser and Strauss that grounded theory is a progressive and emerging method suggests that once a theory has been established it can not be “completely refuted or replaced by another theory” (4). Theories, then, generated from the grounded theory approach are simply modified over time, as evidence and testing can “never destroy a theory” (28). Therefore, one who adheres to the assertions of Glaser and Strauss would not acknowledge any evidence against his theory nor feel that his theory could be weakened. In fact, Glaser and Strauss suggest is that theories can only be enhanced by new modifications (28). Not only is this a problem of obstructing the development of truth, in my opinion, it is also a problem of theory development. If theories continue to be additively modified, then it can be wondered, ironically considering Glaser and Strauss’s goal to enhance attention to theory generation, how substantively new theories develop. In my opinion, from the method that Glaser and Strauss suggest, the real occurrence is that a few theories simply keep growing in size and depth. In order to avoid this fallacy, in my opinion, a researcher using the grounded theory approach must maintain perspective of his ultimate goal in performing research: to find truth. By denying counterevidence to his claim and lacking acknowledgement of weakness, he does not enhance the purpose of an argument or research. The researcher must keep an open mind regarding his research issue and be able to identify when his theory is not the best for enhancing knowledge on the issue or where faults exist in his own theory (Damer 9). From this acknowledgement, in my opinion, he should focus not on the failure or weakness of his theory, but on the potential insights gained for future research opportunities. Attacking a Straw Man—Glaser and Strauss attempt to assert the magnificence of the grounded theory approach by falling victim to the fallacy of attacking a straw man. They compare the approach of grounded theory to other approaches, most notably logico-deductive (31). The fault, in my opinion, is that Glaser and Strauss make their comparisons against a “weakened version” of the logico-deductive approach in a way that “subtly includes [their] own negative evaluation of it” (Damer 183). It is my opinion that a weakened version of the logico-deductive approach is used by the authors in that their focus on the negative aspects and shortcomings of the approach oftentimes uses opinion and interpretation rather than substantiation by evidence to support claims. For example, in regards to the methods of control used by logico-deductive sociologists, the authors claim that “this effort of purification is made for a result impossible to achieve,” (51). Here the authors focus on the far-reaching role of controls and trivialize the benefits that the efforts of controlling can offer. The logico-deductive approach is further weakened by referring to it as “boring” and “dull” (76), as well as yielding predictions that are only worthy of discussion in places where “they will do no harm,” (99). It is my opinion that references such as these immediately portray the alternative approach to grounded theory as being less robust and obviously weak, even though this is only the authors’ interpretations rather than actual fact about the approach. Glaser and Strauss also insert their negative evaluations of the logico-deductive approach. They claim that it can “lead followers astray in trying to advance sociology,” (4) and the adherence to rules regarding accurate evidence can lead to “stultifying effects of creativity,” (76). Such claims are based on individual negative evaluations of the logico-deductive approach and therefore misrepresent the true strength of logico-deductive (Damer 183). Therefore, an individual attempting to decide whether to use the grounded theory approach or the logico- deductive should question whether the perspective that Glaser and Strauss offer is the best presentation of both methodological options. It is my opinion that this work by Glaser and Strauss offers a good description of the grounded theory approach, but another source on the logico-deductive approach should be cited by an individual in order to accurately weigh the influences that each approach can offer his research. Christopher P. Kelley #7 On Glaser and Strauss “The Discovery of Grounded Theory” The authors tell us that grounded theory is “the discovery of theory from data” (p.1). They go on to define data as “systematically obtained and analyzed in social research” (p.1). From this point the explanation regularly breaks down to a comparison of the ways that Grounded Theory corrects or compensates for the mistakes and failings of the current conventions of sociology its emphasis a Logical Theory approach. They repeatedly advocate the use of Grounded Theory in the production of formal theory and tout the approach as superior to logical deductive method. The authors consistently make arguments that infer problems with the logical deductive method, which are often neither well-support nor necessarily true, to the point of committing ad-hominem fallacies. This tactic is employed ineffectually as a means to support their assertions about the value of the superior methods of Grounded Theory.. These arguments against logical deductive theory are offered in supportive contrast to methods the authors endorse. This is done instead of sound, well-reasoned arguments. In defense of the matter of data collection, the authors offer an appeal against the claim that their criteria for theoretical sampling “may appear too flexible (too much so for validity some critic has said)” (P.48). The authors’ first response is confusing and seemingly contradicts the stated purposes. They say, “Our main purpose is to generate theory, not to establish verifications with the ‘facts.’” With this statement the value of an unverified or verifiable theory now come into question. In the next paragraph the authors’ tell us that “data collected according to preplanned routine are more likely to force the analyst into irrelevant directions and harmful pitfalls” (p.48). This would be very bad if it were true, but no real support is offered. With the exception of the assertion that conventional methods force some kind of bad outcomes this argument is offered in the absence of e better supporting claim for the Grounded methods. This kind of ad-hominem fallacy weakens the argument for grounded theory. Grounded Theory is also vulnerable to the problems that arise from Denying Counter evidence and/or Ignoring counter evidence. Because the data collection and the theory are both propelled by the individually determined and directed perceptions and conclusions of the researcher, the problem of systematically biasing one’s findings in favor of one’s own pet theory becomes more likely. The problem stems from the fact that Grounded Theory is by design un- falsifiable by any means. According to the authors’ depiction, Grounded Theory simply changes with the inclusion of new evidence and is thus continually refined (p.62). Although the authors suggest that this is tempered by the inclusion and exclusion of perceived conditions this is a problematic and possibly self deluding. As issues arise, what the researcher thinks is and isn’t going on, could compounded the problem of starting with an initial misconception or getting off track Suppose using grounded theory a researcher found solid data about the practice of deception found in cases of infidelity. The grounded researcher employs categories from this earlier research and substantive theory develops from observational studies of the concealment of extramarital activities practiced by cheating spouses and their lovers. With the secretive nature of clandestine relationships, the researcher might determine that at times the absence of evidence could be construed as implicate indication of some form of cover-up--likely covert action—a kind of “everything is too perfect and fits well to be real” argument. By this understanding, the absence of evidence at times can be construed as evidence by the very fact it is not where and when the researcher expected to find it. In this case, the absence of evidence is now good data. After moving on from this study to its natural progression, the surreptitious observation and research of US clandestine operations, the research has further evidence from a comparative study that maximizes differences by moving from a micro structure of obscured behaviors to the macro structure of organizationally obscured behaviors. The researcher has further verification and refinement of how things are systematically concealed by clandestine network structures. Based on this developing substantive theory, suppose the Grounded theorist felt s/he had reason to believe that aliens had crash landed in the Nevada desert some time in the 1940’s or 50’s and that the government has been systematically hiding evidence of the fact ever since. The pursuit of this absurdity makes clear the problems that can abound with either the denial of counter evidence and\or the Ignoring of counter evidence afforded by an un-falsifiable theory. Another fallacy that Grounded theory could be susceptible to is arguing from ignorance. This problem also stems from the issue of Grounded Theory being un-falsifiable. For example the authors tell us that, “This assumption of persistence is subject only to being disproven--not proven—when other sociologists question credibility… (in grounded theory ) once discovered the (a) relationship is presumed to exist”(p.63). The authors go on to tell us that “persistence helps generalize scope and is usually considered uninteresting since it requires no modification of the theory” (p.63). The problem of having a relationship that is not susceptible to being falsified is there can be no evidence against it, only forever-shifting scope conditions. This makes nearly any perceived relationship real with a simple course of rebuttals. In this case, a near infinite number of proposed conditions offered by a challenger can be rebutted with the simple claim that the proposed circumstance doesn’t meet the scope and only serves to refine the theory. Employing this method, I could make a career on one claim and sit in my office waiting for challenges claiming that any possible circumstance which appears to be in contrast to my theory simply doesn’t meet the scope and helps me refine it a bit more and every so often publish a more “refined” version. The problem of Arguing in a circle is also a concern with Grounded Theory. If an argument implicitly or explicitly asserts in one of its premises what is asserted in its conclusion, then the argument is circular. In Grounded Theory, the conclusion in a sense is the argument since the argument changes in accordance with its conclusions. The relationships examined are not defined by these assumptions but essentially on where those assumptions eventually take the researcher’s idea or proposed persistent relationship. Layana Navarre-Jackson Assignment 7 Glaser and Strauss present a grounded theory strategy as an approach for conducting qualitative research. The grounded theory strategy is not statistical or quantitative but focuses on an area of study and involves gathering data from a variety of sources through interviews and field observations. Once the data is gathered, it is analyzed using coding and theoretical sampling procedures before theories are generated. The goal of grounded theory research is to construct theories in order to understand phenomena. In the following paragraphs, I will summarize the grounded theory strategy of Glaser and Strauss and then attempt to point out the fallacies that Glaser and Strauss have committed while presenting their strategy for grounded theory. Glaser and Strauss state that the problem with applying logico-deductive theory is that if sociologists are focused on verification, then they miss the chance to explore new sociological phenomena and they end up trying to force the data to fit the theory that they have started with. In addition, Glaser and Strauss state that logico-deductive theory uses “exampling” whereby researchers find examples for “dreamed-up, speculative, or logically deduced theory after the idea has occurred” (p.5). They tear down logico-deductive theorizing to build up grounded theory by stating that exampling is one problem that cannot occur in grounded theory (p.5). Glaser and Strauss state that the adequacy of theory is tied to how the theory is generated and go on to state that “the notion of independence too often ends up being taken as a license to generate theory from any source—happenstance, fantasy, dream life, common sense, or conjecture—and then dress it up as a bit of logical deduction” (p.6). Glaser and Strauss also state that logico- deductive theory only tests part of a theory rather than the whole theory, whereas grounded theory tests the entire theory and grounded theory does not force the data to fit the theory because the strategy involves starting with data and not theory. Grounded theory uses comparative analysis and the researcher uses any information that is found to be contradictory to the theory to change the theory or, in the words of Glaser and Strauss, “the scope of the theory is broadened” (p.57). According to Glaser and Strauss, testing of the theory is not independent of theory generation and it is only after sample “saturations” that the researcher begins to notice specific relations among categories. At that time, the sociologist learns which categories need the most or least “saturation” and which can be dropped (p.70). Glaser and Strauss argue that substantive theory is developed for empirical observations and formal theory comes from substantive theory. Moreover, they argue that grounded formal theory is more trustworthy than logico-deductive theory in its use in research and teaching (p.98). They state that grounded theory is also more useful in predictions and explanations and that explanations and predictions from logico-deductive formal theory are used where “they will do no harm” (p.98). Abusive Ad Hominem Fallacy: Glaser and Strauss commit this fallacy by unfairly attacking logico-deductive theory when using dismissive terms such as “dreamed-up” and “exampling” when discussing logico-deductive theory. It seems that they are using this technique to discredit logico-deductive theory and—in doing so—discrediting any possible argument that proponents of the theory might come up with and to build up grounded theory. Glaser and Strauss might avoid this fallacy as well as the following two fallacies by avoiding the attempt to build up grounded theory by tearing down logico-deductive theory, they could have admitted that there is much of logico-deductive theory that does meet their criteria for usefulness and pointed out why grounded theory is more useful. Resort to Humor or Ridicule: As mentioned above, Glaser and Strauss attack logico- deductive theory by using terms such as “dreamed-up” and “exampling” when ridiculing logico- deductive theory. They also state that the logical deduction in logico-deductive theory is “fantasy” that is “dressed up.” Attacking a Straw Man Fallacy: Glaser and Strauss commit this fallacy by oversimplifying logico-deductive theory and stating that the researchers find examples for “dreamed-up theory after the idea has occurred” (p.5). Red Herring Fallacy: Glaser and Strauss commit the red herring fallacy by attacking logico-deductive reasoning as an attempt to draw attention away from the major weakness in their strategy of grounded theory, which is that grounded theory is not falsifiable if the researcher is allowed to just keep “broadening” the theory when new information is found that contradicts or does not fit into the theory in question. Glaser and Strauss might avoid this fallacy by addressing the weaknesses in grounded theory and explaining why the theory is still useful and adequate despite the weakness. Special Pleading Fallacy: Glaser and Strauss appear to commit the special pleading fallacy by attempting to apply double standards with regard to what constitutes a useful theory. They state that one rule for deciding that a theory is useful is how the theory is generated (p.5). Glaser and Strauss argue in favor of grounded theory’s strategy of looking at data prior to generating a theory but they also state that the criteria for useful research concerns categories and properties. However, they ignore the fact that logico-deductive theories might meet their criteria for categories and properties and still dismiss logico-deductive theory as not being useful. Glaser and Strauss might avoid this fallacy by not attempting to play by a double standard. Instead of trying to build up grounded theory by tearing down logico-deductive theory, they could have admitted that there is much of logico-deductive theory that does meet their criteria for usefulness and pointed out why grounded theory is more useful. Arguing in a Circle Fallacy: Glaser and Strauss commit this fallacy by stating that grounded theory is more useful than logico-deductive theory and emphasizing how useless logico-deductive theory is, while not actually giving logical reasons for the uselessness of logico- deductive theory or their basis for the claims that logical deduction in that theory is “fantasy” and inadequate. The authors also do not justify their claim that one of the rules of usefulness for theory is that the method of generating the theory is important regardless of whether the theory meets the criteria for categories and properties. Glaser and Strauss might avoid this fallacy by having a factual basis for the claim that logico-deductive theory is useless, which is what they are basing their claim that grounded theory is so much better than logico-deductive theory on. Danielle Rohret Glaser and Strauss present a strong argument overall for the use of grounded theory. However, the strategy they advocate may be particularly susceptible to several of the fallacies outlined in Damer. To begin with, Glaser and Strauss claim that their method of theory generation “is a way of arriving at theory suited to its supposed uses” (p. 3). One of those supposed uses is to enable prediction and explanation of behavior. I would argue that the predictive value of theory generated using a grounded theory strategy is questionable at best. G&S present theory as a process. According the these authors, theory generation and development is ongoing. That is, future instances of the phenomenon of interest are potential opportunities to refine or modify a theory. If a negative case (or set of negative cases) doesn’t falsify a theory, but rather refines it, a theory never makes a false prediction. If a theory by definition, always makes the correct prediction, it has no real predictive power. This line of argumentation leads Glaser and Strauss to commit the structural fallacy of inconsistency: Prediction is one use of theory. Grounded theory is suited to all its uses. Therefore, grounded theory is suited to prediction. But, as I have argued, the very method of grounded theory is, in fact, not suited to prediction. The grounded theory method may be particularly susceptible to the fallacy of circular argumentation. The reasons for this are again related to the fact that the grounded theory method produces theories that can not be falsified, only modified and refined. If a theory makes a prediction about the relationship between two variables, for example, and then the empirical relationship between those two variables is used to modify the theory post hoc, the revised theory will by definition predict the correct “outcome”. The practice of grounded theory may be particularly susceptible to committing fallacies that violate the rebuttal principle. It’s not that the method denies or ignores the counterevidence. In fact, counterevidence is essential in the grounded theory method, as it provides the feedback to modify the theory. Rather, the method itself does not allow for viable alternative positions, as I have already eluded to. It simply incorporates alternative positions into the theory. This violation of the rebuttal principle represents an unnamed fallacy. Incidentally, although the method is susceptible to fallacies related to the violation of the rebuttal principle, G&S in the presentation of their argument for the use of grounded theory do a good job adhering to the rebuttal principle. Throughout there argument they attempt to preempt potential counterarguments that are likely to come from the logico-deductivists that held sway at that time in sociology. The use of grounded theory may be particularly susceptible to commission of the genetic fallacy, thus violating the relevance criterion. Upon first consideration, it might seem as if grounded theory guards against this type of fallacy, in that the method allows for the continual reconsideration of context that is allowed to alter the theory. However, the genetic fallacy occurs when the arguer ignores relevant changes that may have altered its character in the interim. The key phrase here is “altered its character”. When a negative case arises in grounded theory it is used to alter the original theory, rather than viewing that negative case as an instance of a different, altered phenomenon to which the theory is not relevant. One could potentially avoid committing this fallacy by paying more attention to scope conditions and identifying the contexts under which a theory does or does not apply. I believe that there is not much that can be done to avoid committing the preceding fallacies when using grounded theory, short of changing the very definition of what grounded theory is. While there are definite benefits created through the practice of grounded theory, the term is in a way an oxymoron. A theory, conceived of as a set of interrelated universal statements, must be independent of time, space and historical circumstance. Grounded theory, theory generated from historical circumstance in a manner of speaking, violates this condition. Shane Soboroff Theory Construction and Analysis Assignment 7: Glaser & Strauss Grounded Theory uses data collection and analysis to construct an analytical framework for the understanding of various “categories” of social phenomenon. By using groups where a category can reasonably be expected to apply and comparing those groups to other groups, the scope of the framework and the predictions that may be generated by it will emerge. Grounded theory aims to create logical and meaningful frameworks for understanding social categories without relying on assumptions that are derived from logic but may have no grounding in reality. There are a few instances where the logic and procedure for generating grounded theory may run into trouble logically. By analyzing two of these instances in the light of Damer’s book Attacking Faulty Reasoning, it is possible to also see how such trouble can be avoided, while allowing the pursuit of grounded theory to continue. “For substantive theory, he (the researcher) can select, as the same substantive class, groups regardless of where he finds them. He may thus compare the “emergency ward” to all kinds of medical wards in all kinds of hospitals, both in the United States and abroad. But he may also conceive of the emergency ward as a subclass of a larger class of organizations, all designed to render immediate assistance in the event of accidents of breakdowns” (Glaser & Strauss 53-54). Glaser and Strauss go on to include fire, crime, automobile, and plumbing agencies in this class of categories. In the light of the grounded theory approach, this is perfectly logical. For Glaser and Strauss, the fact that plumbing and automobile agencies are qualitatively different in the services they provide (i.e. most likely not providing life-saving services) allows the researcher to further define the scope of the theoretical framework they are developing. However, by creating a class of “organizations, all designed to render immediate assistance in the event of accidents or breakdowns,” one may run the risk of the fallacy of equivocation. Damer defines equivocation as: “Directing another person toward an unwarranted conclusion by making a work of phrase employed in two different senses in an argument appear to have the same meaning throughout” (Damer 105). In the instance we have just dealt with, immediate assistance in the case of an emergency room would be to give someone medical attention. There will be a whole constellation of actions and expectations associated with this type of assistance. Where the plumber is concerned, the goal will be to possibly stop property damage, though it is likely that no one’s life is threatened and the allowance for error may be greater. Researchers attempting to classify groups in grounded theory must be careful to remember that the goal is not simply to verify the existence of a category of phenomena through a multitude of substantive evidence, but to find the limits of its application through similar and divergent circumstances. The latter goal should drive the former. By focusing on finding similar and divergent groups, a researcher is forced to generate new properties, categories, and the relationships between them at every stage of the theory construction process. This will allow the theoretical framework to evolve naturally. If a researcher allows for this, the definitions of their categories and the categorical properties will always be explicit and understood in the context of their applicability to a new situation. Charges of equivocation will be avoided. “Naturally we wish to be as sure of our evidence as possible, and therefore check on it as often as we can. However, even if some of our evidence is not entirely accurate this will not be too troublesome; for in generating theory it is not the fact upon which we stand, but the conceptual category that was generated from it. A concept may be generated from one fact, which then becomes merely one of a universe of many possible diverse indicators for, and data on, the concept (Glaser & Strauss 23).” In this instance Glaser and Strauss argue that conceptual categories may arise from a single fact. Under grounded theory this fact would have been established based on the identification of a theoretically relevant group. In other words, the concept that the researchers were interested in could be expected to apply to that group. Damer might argue that the assertion made in the above excerpt violates the fallacy of the insufficient sample. Damer defines this fallacy as: “consisting of drawing a conclusion or generalization from too small a sample of cases”(Damer 142). If one fact is generating an assumption about the operation of a concept from a single case, then Glaser and Strauss have a logical problem. The solution is to find more cases and identify indicators of the concepts through comparative analysis. I believe that Glaser’s and Strauss’ argument, while susceptible to this charge, can also be defended from it. A fact may exist in multiple circumstances. For instance, the fact of a resource exchange may appear in numerous contexts. In one instance it may be money for groceries. In another, it may be information. While no one instance may be typical of all exchanges, the concept of exchange behavior could still apply. I still feel that Glaser and Strauss need to specify whether or not the one fact will be found in many cases or can be simply taken from a single case. Campos, Ana Grounded Theory concerns itself with sociologists’ ability to discover theory from systematically collected and analyzed data in social research (Glaser & Straus, 1967:1). Glaser and Straus define the purpose of sociological theory in five points; (1) “to enable prediction and explanation of behavior; (2) to be useful in theoretical advanced sociology; (3) to be useful in practical application…(4) to provide a perspective on behavior; (5) to guide and provide a style for research on particular areas of behavior” (1967: 3). According to Glaser and Straus, the process to construct theories that fulfill the purpose of sociological theory (the five points) is the grounded theory approach. However, this approach to theory construction does not take into account several of Damer’s (2005) principles for effective discussion (fallibility, truth-seeking, clarity, burden of proof, charity, structure, relevance, acceptability, sufficiency, rebuttal, resolution suspension of judgment, reconsideration) (Damer, 2005: 4-7); thus it is susceptible to several fallacies. According to Damer, a fallacy is a violation of criteria of a good argument (2006: 43). In order to find the strengths and weakness of Grounded Theory approach, it is important to (1) discuss the grounded theory strategy of Glaser and Strauss in light of the fallacies Damer presents, (2) and make suggestions on strategies researchers might use in order to avoid fallacies when using grounded theory. Before analyzing the Theory Construction Approach and its susceptibility to fallacies, it is vital to understand the limitations of this theory construction process. The first requirement for providing an effective intellectual discussion is to use the Fallibility Principle, which has been embraced when “each participant in a discussion of a disputed issue [is] willing to accept that fact that he or she is fallible, which means that one must acknowledge that a through examination of the issue may reveal that one’s initial view is not the most defensible position in the question” (Damer, 2005). The Grounded Theory approach places theories in a constant revision process. The theory in an indeterminate state, limiting other academics’ ability to critically analyze the theory. Thus, the theory never becomes accessible to test it, reject it, or accept it. It is necessary to formulate the theory and open it for criticism; thus, the theorist can never be wrong. One strategy grounded theorists can use is to have an open and community theorizing process. Grounded theory requires a constant revision of a theory; thus, if the academic community has the ability to participate in the theorizing process by testing, accepting, or rejecting knowledge claims as the theory is in development, grounded theory would follow the fallibility principle. Like all other approaches, the Grounded Theory approach to theory construction encourages the avoidance of specific fallacies, while placing itself as a target for others. In order to point out the strengths and weaknesses of the theories, it is necessary to use Damer’s proposed fallacies (46). First, I will critique Glaser and Straus’s argument for the Grounded Theory approach; second, I will point out the fallacies the ground theory approach successfully avoids; and lastly, I will point to the fallacies the grounded theory approach becomes an easy target for. ■Glaser and Straus Argument and their Fallacies: Throughout Glaser and Straus’ argument for grounded theory, they appeal to irrelevant emotional sociological debated, such as the science and anti-science sociological debates. ◙ Appeal to Tradition Fallacy ●First, they use the appeal to tradition, which consists in attempting to persuade others of a point of view by appealing to their feelings of reverence or respect for some tradition instead of to evidence” (93). ●They define the grounded theory approach against all other traditional theory construction approaches, by stating that sociology is in need of theories and the “great men” forefathers (Weber, Durkheim, Simmel, Marx, Veblen, Cooley, Mead, Park, ect.) did not explain all social phenomenons (10). Traditionally, sociology had been preoccupied with the empirical testing of existing sociological theory. However, Glaser and Straus went against tradition; thus, they did not appeal to tradition to sell their argument. ●Suggestions: Glaser and Straus not only avoided the fallacy, but also went against it. ◙Appeal to Self Interest • Second, they did not appeal to self interest, “urging an opponent to accept or reject a particular position by appealing solely to his or her personal circumstance or self interest, when there is a more important issue at stake” (95). • Glaser and Straus (1967) do not spend the time appealing to sociologists’ personal circumstances; in the contrary, they went against what sociologist perceived as sociology. As they state, sociology’s primary concern was “the verification [was] the dominant orientation in virtually all social work” (12). Thus, proposing an opposing goal (theory construction instead of empirical testing) and using a anti logico-methodology was definitely not a selling pitch. • Suggestions: Glaser and Straus were not afraid to propose a new direction for sociology. ◙ Popular Wisdom • The fallacy of popular wisdom “consists in appealing to insights expressed in aphomorisms or clichés, folk wisdom, or so-called common sense, instead or relevant evidence for the claim” (150) • Grounded theorists are discouraged from creating a personal experience or observations in everyday life, but take an “initial, systematic discovery of the theory from the data of social research” (3). Glaser and Strauss (1967) discuss the presence of this fallacy in logico-deductive, “The notion of independence too often ends up being taken as a license to generate theory from any source-happetance, fantasy, dream life, common sense, or conjecture- they dress it up as a bit logical deduction” (6). Thus, the theory construction approach can successfully avoid the Popular Wisdom Fallacy. • Suggestions: No grounded theory construction product will ever be susceptible to the popular wisdom fallacy, unless the data was not systematically collected. ■Used Against Work Produced through Grounded Theory: ◙ Unrepresentative Data fallacy • Unrepresentative Data fallacy “consists of drawing a conclusion based on data from an unrepresentative sample or biased data” (144). • Through the modification and bias data selection (Glaser & Straus, 45), grounded theorists have become the red target for committing the Unrepresentative Data fallacy. In the first case study, the researcher will select data engaging in sociological patterns. All other data not supporting the emerging patterns will be eliminated. The second case data will be selected based on those emerging patterns. Thus, the non-random selection of case studies will encourage the researcher to analyzing unrepresentative data. ◙ Pleading Fallacy • Third, the special pleading fallacy consists in “applying principles, rules, or criteria to other person while failing or refusing to apply them to oneself or to a situation that is of personal interests, without providing sufficient evidence to support such an exception” (152) • In order to advocate the grounded theory approach, they focus on constrains within logico-theory construction. Through logico-theory construction, once a theorists has developed a theory, she/he will be force to find data to fit the theory; thus, encouraging the creation of limited and inadequate theories. However, Glaser and Straus are equally guilty, or more, of the same fallacy. The research in grounded theory “collects, codes, and analyzes his data and decides what data to collect nest and where to find them in order to his theory as it emerges” (45). This data selection process leads to bias; it is the need to find supporting data for the previous findings that will dictate future case studies. The question is, “Where can I find supportive data?” Instead of, “Does another random case study have the same patterns?” • Suggestions: In order to avoid the pleading fallacy, it would be logical to select random cases, without predisposed notions, and analyze all under the same basis. Selecting data with a want to prove the previous findings lead to bias data collection. ■Used to support the Work Produced through Grounded Theory ◙ Contradiction between Premise and Conclusion • Contradiction between Premise and Conclusion is “drawing a conclusion that is incompatible with at least one of the premise” (64). • Grounded theory is constructed through the lead of the first findings; thus, the premises will always lead to conclusion, without contradiction. It is impossible to argue against the fact than an orange came from an orange three. In the same manner, the premises come from data, and the following data for the next case study is selected base on the finding from the previous data. ‘The researcher chooses any groups that will help generate, to the fullest extent, as many properties of the categories as possible, and that will help relate categories to each other and to their properties” (49); thus, the premise will not contradict the conclusion. ◙ Genetic Fallacy • The Genetic Fallacy “consists in evaluating a thing in terms of its earlier context and then carrying over the evaluation to the think in the present, while ignoring relevant changes that may have altered it character in the interim” (83) • Grounded theory is never final; thus, the theory construction process is infinite and leads to a large history of a theory. The history will consist of numerous case studies and modifications. This long history will make grounded theories an easy target for a genetic fallacy, meaning that critics can easily manipulate the theory construction process and create argue against the theory. • Suggestion: Being a target of genetic fallacy is unavoidable when the theory construction process requires a long developmental history. ◙ Insufficient fallacy • Insufficient fallacy consists in “drawing a conclusion or generalization from too small sample of cases” (142). • Grounded theories have successfully avoided the accusation of insufficiency fallacy through the collection of a large number of cases.