What elements make a statement arguable? Why is this relevant to action research?

Hmmm. Well to begin with, our books says, “postmodernists argue that truth is relative, conditional, and situational, and that knowledge is always an outgrowth of prior experience.” So, if you’re a postmodernist (or arguing with one) everything is arguable. To some extent, this is universally true. There is nothing in science beyond questioning, beyond argument – at least in principal.

The only things that aren’t arguable are factual statements. I can tell you how many people clicked which answer in my survey. That number in response to that question is not arguable. That is why the famous “hanging chads,” from the 2000 Presidential election were so significant. People’s intentions in voting suddenly became relevant. The convention is a vote is a vote. Nobody says “Well, they voted that way but they didn’t mean to…”

This is also why observable and valid become so very important in research. Researchers desperately need an unassailable factual basis from which to build their argument. The data need to be observable and measurable to be “facts.” They need to be valid (to measure what they proport to measure) to be relevant.

One side note, in qualitative research, the “facts” are the varying stories of experience. The constraint of “fact,” of what is “true,” is relaxed to include conflicting data from which a subjective pattern is woven. This is not dissimilar to me proceeding on the results of my survey, knowing the “science” is weak, the arguability is high, but also believing valid information exists in the data that was collected.

I suppose it should also be said that facts and arguability become particular important when group action is needed. Individuals, like classroom teachers, to a large extent, can adapt their behavior based on an intuitive belief in truth, a lower standard of proof. groups tend to want more safety and the safety comes in knowing the “facts” and acting based on inarguable knowledge. This has various good and bad implications, beyond the scope of this response. So the relevance to Action Research is less than to Academic research, but the relevance remains that the lack of arguability is critical when persuading other people to believe you is important.

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