What are the scholarly views on the nature and types of theory? I need to compare and contrast at least three views of what constitutes a theory for an assignment.

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Jessica Pope | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Analytic philosopher Charles Gelso defines a theory as: "a statement of the suspected relationship between and among variables." This definition as to what constitutes a theory is widely accepted in disciples such as economics, political science, the philosophy of natural science, and the philosophy of mathematics. A more sociological view is offered by philosopher James Heinen. In his view, theory comprises "a group of logically organized laws and relationships that continue explanation [within a given discipline]." This notion of what constitutes a theory emphasizes the socially constructed, historically contingent nature of theory itself.

Finally, the disciplines of linguistics and linguistic philosophy offer a third definition of theory. Theory, in these disciplines, can be understood as a set of language and linguistic rules aimed at answering fundamental questions such as who, what, where, when, and why. In this view, theory is understood as a particular type of expression and language use.