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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Gallie's framework of essentially contested concepts. The book examines activism in academia at the levels of individual research, academic community, and within society.
Gallie, "Essentially Contested Concepts," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 56 (1955-56), pp.
(page 169) When we look into some concepts that have been employed since the 1970s in the analysis of private, public, and global governance, we encounter conspicuous examples of essentially contested concepts; for instance, those of accountability and transparency.
(2006) Essentially contested concepts: debates and applications.
Such criticism results from a misunderstanding over the range of application of the idea of essentially contested concepts. One of the most frequent misconceptions is that essential contestedness can be applied to terms such as "politics", "law", "history", etc.
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.
Para ello puede ser muy oportuno proceder a partir de la division de los conceptos en conceptos incontestables o que no pueden dar lugar a discusiones (uncontestable concepts), conceptos concebiblemente contestables o que pueden dar lugar a discusiones (conceivably contestable concepts) y conceptos esencialmente contestables o esencialmente polemicos (essentially contested concepts) (Hurley 43 50).
Gallie (1956) proposed the essentially contested concepts (ECC) theory to address concepts that, by their very nature, invite perpetual disputes and are inevitably contested.
(1956), "Essentially Contested Concepts", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society " 56: 167-98 reprinted in M.
Gallie called essentially contested concepts, and the nature of their classification derives from how (and why) we contest them as such.
Gallie, "Essentially Contested Concepts" in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Vol.
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.