essentially contested concept

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essentially contested concept

a category of general concepts in the social sciences, e.g. POWER, the application of which, according to Gallie (1955) and Lukes (1974), is inherently a matter of dispute. The reason given for this is that competing versions of concepts such as ‘power’ inevitably involve relativity to VALUES. According to this view, hypotheses using concepts such as ‘power’ can be appraised empirically but will remain relative to the evaluative framework within which the particular versions of the concept are couched. There are parallels between this notion and Weber's earlier view that social science propositions are VALUE-RELATIVE (see also VALUE FREEDOM AND VALUE NEUTRALITY). See also POWER.
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Such criticism results from a misunderstanding over the range of application of the idea of essentially contested concepts.
8) Bearing this in mind, it seems that the corpus of what we call essentially contested concepts is made up of more or less all traditional concepts of political philosophy which do not have a technical meaning or are not part of some metatruths.
It would be wrong to claim that essentially contested concepts are necessarily reducible to psychologisms such as interest or distrust, or to the fact that on the philosophical level there is a plurality of metaphysical interpretations.
13) Thus Gallie, in his paper on essentially contested concepts, presupposes publicly accessible relations as a matrix for understanding the meaning of signs.
Newey's criticism thus does not target Gallie directly, but other authors do, including Connoly, MacIntyer, and Mason, who made the original thesis radical by claiming that politics and history are essentially contested concepts.
Gallie (1956) proposed the essentially contested concepts (ECC) theory to address concepts that, by their very nature, invite perpetual disputes and are inevitably contested.
Gallie called essentially contested concepts, and the nature of their classification derives from how (and why) we contest them as such.
In particular, he considers and rejects explanations which attribute the persistence of disagreement to conflicting value-claims or which claim that disputants simply fail to understand one another, offers what he takes to be a novel reconstruction of the essentially contested concepts doctrine and suggests that recent optimism as to the possibility of "an overlapping consensus upon a political conception of justice" is misplaced.
The principal argument Mason does provide for his tertium quid seems to lie behind his treatment of essentially contested concepts.
What is `essentially contested' here is not the extension of `work of music' which seems to be how Gallie thought of essentially contested concepts.
Canadian Federalism is an essentially contested concept of this type and consequently disagreements about Federalism are not only about what the concept means as such but most basically about the meaning of the historical experience of nation-building in Canada and how we want to live in the future.