Share
Explore BrainMass

Theory without practice is fantasy but practice without theory is blind.

Describe what is meant by the observation made by Vincent Ostrom, Indiana University professor (and husband of 2010 Nobel Prize co-winner in Economics, Elinor Ostrom):

Theory without practice is fantasy but practice without theory is blind.

Solution Preview

This subject is in the middle of my area of expertise. You're in good hands.

Here is the book you want to access: "The practice of constitutional development:
Vincent Ostrom's quest to understand human affairs" by Vincent Ostrom, Filippo Sabetti, Barbara Allen (Lexington 2009).

On page 23-25, the matter is laid very clearly. The meaning of that passage you quote is that the line between theory and practice is a blurry one, in fact, it is largely a false one. All practice is based on some theory and is constrained by theory as well as the practical effects of previous, theory laden institutions.

Theory itself makes no sense unless it specifically derives from problems that the current tradition gives rise to. They is about practice and is tightly bound to it because a theory divorced from the tradition of which it is a part makes no sense. Its very language would not be understood.

Think of it this way - why would you even theorize about politics or morals unless the society in which you live had developed serious social problems? You would not need to theorize in utopia.

Ostrom is worried about creating and maintaining political institutions. All theory and practice is constrained by them.

Institutions are the creations of theory, but a theory that is specifically embodied in present practice. Think of theory as an abbreviation of our expereince. Both Alistair McIntyre and Michael Oakeshott rested their entire philosophical views on these issues - institutions are not merely a set of bureaucracies, they are a specific ...

Solution Summary

The solution provides a discussion on the topic of theory and practice based on the ideas of Vincent Ostrom.

$2.19