Question 1: How can we generate and evaluate a theory or a hypothesis at the abstract level?
Answers to this question illustrate the importance that different perspectives attach to logical coherence, formalism and long chains of reasoning when judging whether a hypothesis is scientific or not. Perspectives that reject these standards as criteria for science choose to engage in a broad variety of practices and reasoning, even though these might appear to be contradictory in the light of classical logic.
Formalistic: The hypothesis can be derived from axioms in a logical way. There were no logical mistakes made.
Middle: Formalistic logic as well as other forms of reasoning are applied.
Broad reasoning: Non-formalistic techniques such as counterfactuals, thought experiments, deconstruction, changing conceptualizations and fuzzy sets, heuristics, storytelling, etc. are applied in order to assess the validity of a hypothesis in a more crude and less exact manner.
Question 2: How can we relate a theory or a hypothesis to reality?
This question assesses how empirical observation is conceptualized by different perspectives. Some perspectives have very clear cut rules on how to collect and make sense of empirical observations and data. Others use ways that are less specified and methods may vary depending on the nature of the research.
Standardised and prescriptive methodology: Empirical testing is carried out in a standard and prescribed way, which can be justified by reference to both the philosophy of science and scientific practice. A prominent example is the scientific method.
Middle: A combination of standardized ways of relating theory to the world and non-standard instruments is applied.
Idiosyncratic: An adequate way of referring to reality depends on more research as well as on the researcher and the phenomenon studied. This category refers to descriptive methods which are only defined in very broad terms such as semi-structured interviews, genealogy, counterfactuals and discourse analysis.