Essentially contested concept – Wikipedia

Essentially contested concept

Essentially contested concept – Wikipedia

[This was an important ‘threshold concept’ to me (see and and is a very important idea for systems | complexity | cybernetics as a science, theory, and practice (or sets of same)]

Essentially contested concept

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In a paper delivered to the Aristotelian Society on 12 March 1956,[1] Walter Bryce Gallie (1912–1998) introduced the term essentially contested concept to facilitate an understanding of the different applications or interpretations of the sorts of abstract, qualitative, and evaluative notions[2]—such as “art“, “philanthropy“,[3] “power”[4] and “social justice“—used in the domains of aestheticssustainable developmentpolitical philosophyphilosophy of history, and philosophy of religion.

Garver (1978) describes their use as follows:

The term essentially contested concepts gives a name to a problematic situation that many people recognize: that in certain kinds of talk there is a variety of meanings employed for key terms in an argument, and there is a feeling that dogmatism (“My answer is right and all others are wrong”), skepticism (“All answers are equally true (or false); everyone has a right to his own truth”), and eclecticism (“Each meaning gives a partial view so the more meanings the better”) are none of them the appropriate attitude towards that variety of meanings.[5]

Essentially contested concepts involve widespread agreement on a concept (e.g., “fairness”), but not on the best realization thereof.[6] They are “concepts the proper use of which inevitably involves endless disputes about their proper uses on the part of their users”,[7] and these disputes “cannot be settled by appeal to empirical evidence, linguistic usage, or the canons of logic alone”.[8]