Introduction: The role of methodology in semiotic theory building

Karin Boklund-Lagopoulou & Alexandros Ph. Lagopoulos

Punctum, 3(2): 5-32, 2017
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2017.0013

What are the criteria for a well-built scientific theory? Each scientific field incorporates four levels of operations. The first level is that of epistemology, the integration, explicit and conscious or implicit and empirical, of any theory into one of the larger paradigms marking a historical period. The second level, theory, is founded on this paradigm and defines the key concepts and axes of investigation of the field. From theory follows in a systematic manner the third level, methodology, which allows research to proceed to concrete operations on the basis of the framework installed by theory. Finally, techniques follow from methodology or are articulated with it in a systematic manner, and give their final form to the above operations. Only then is it possible to formulate concrete results; only with this level is the value of a theory demonstrated. Debates are possible about the level of theory, and their outcome may be more or less convincing, but this is only intellectually rewarding. The final value of a theory follows from its completeness on all four levels, whence its capacity to respond in a satisfactory manner to the data selected and lead to reliable empirical results.

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