DSRP, Validity, and Knowing the Truth

A frequent question we receive about DSRP is "Once I make distinctions, and recognize systems, relationships, and perspectives in my thinking process, how will I know if I've arrived at the truth?" This question assumes a single, unidimensional truth that can be uncovered by following some formula. We need to remember that inductive and deductive logic do not necessarily lead us to truth, as they rest on propositions and assumptions. These propositions and assumptions are mental models which require making distinctions (D), organizing part-whole structures (S), drawing relationships (R), and taking perspectives (P).

The MetaMap presentation below walks through the distinction between inductive and deductive logic. You can zoom in or out and move the map to explore. Click here to view it in a new window.

One of the primary conclusions to come out of scholarship on validity in recent years is that all forms of validity (listed here) are actually subsumed by construct validity. Construct validity refers to the degree to which one is measuring the construct (e.g., concept, idea, behavior, thing) one thinks they are measuring. DSRP provides the structural algorithm for building any construct, therefore, it provides a basis for all forms of validity.

We can use DSRP to work toward internal validity1 by scrutinizing our arguments, and we can work toward external validity2 by testing them against the real world. But at all levels of thinking, DSRP comes into play. We are choosing to define a problem (omitting others) and taking a perspective on it (giving differential weight to one of many possible viewpoints).

So how does DSRP relate to validity? First of all, we can assess our thinking as a system of logic, and make distinctions among assumptions and propositions and theories while examining their interrelationships. This can help us establish internal validity. As for external validity (application to real-world phenomena), DSRP will alert us to carefully attend to our distinctions and investigate the "other" created by them. Are we selectively attending to evidence?

But to get more specific, can we establish truth with DSRP? The answer is a qualified yes, because truth is contextual (hence the concern with external validity). That is, we can establish a specific truth, given a series of parameters we have specified. In other words, we can say that from the perspective of A (imposing a constraint), within system B that is composed of certain parts D, E, and F that are interrelated, X is true. Another way to say this is that truth is conditional or contextual, and that DSRP helps us define in great detail the context or conditions under which something is true.

  1. Internal validity refers to the internal structure of one's reasoning or scientific experimentation.

  2. External validity refers to whether the application of our theories and explanations to the real world provides confirming evidence of their accuracy.

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