Two Approaches to Professional Practice:
Nomothetic vs. Phronetic

compiled by Edward G. Rozycki, Ed.D.

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edited 4/22/14

The documents on this website tend to follow two different approaches. The first, not frequently found on this website, is the highly theoretical approach sometimes referred to as nomothetical; the second is the phronetic, often case-based, approach. The following chart compares the two. (ftBlog)

Type

Contrast

Nomothetic

Phronetic

Common Characterizations

episteme (Aristotle)

Law-governed, Top Down [1]

Rule or Principle-Following

Hypothetico- Deductive

All necessary information assumed

phronesis (Aristotle)

Bottom-up

Inductive

Context embedded[2]

Information missing[3]

Possible Advantages

Generalizable

Perspicuous

Context Free

Logically Clear

Needs minimal interpretation

Maintains consensus[4]

Clearly applicable

Involves prioritization

Minimizes competition, cost

Risks

Lacks supportive knowledge

Not clearly applicable

May have theoretical competitors[5]

Priorities unclear

Loses consensus with complexity

Not generalizable

Not perspicuous

Confounds causal with other variables [6]

May require substantial interpretation

Example

Developing criteria by using pre-existing definitions

Developing criteria by analyzing paradigm cases[7]

In General

Decisions based on Statistical Analysis

Fast & Frugal Heuristics[8]

In Curriculum Theory

Tyler Approach

Means Ends Logic[9]

Activities Focus

Cultural Focus

In Ethics or Law

Deontology/ Utilitarianism/Contract Theory, Statute Law

Casuistry, Case Law

In Organizational Studies

Systems Analysis

Standard Organizational Theory

Case Analysis[10]
Cultural Studies
Phronetic Research

 

ENDNOTES & REFERENCES

ftBlog For addition discussion, examples and references see "Maintaining Traditions of Practical Wisdom"

1.  What is a system?

2.  Describing versus Defining

3.  Can We Avoid Making Assumptions?

4.  The Nature of Consensus

5.  Evaluating Theories

6.  Causal Fallacies in Teaching and Learning

7.  Expanding a Description to Achieve Consensus

8.  Types of Heuristics

9.  Logical Structure in Curriculum

10.   Organizational Issues and Insights

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