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Origins of the Ideas in Evaluating with Validity



The book Evaluating with Validity (House, 1980) broadened the evaluation field's conception of validity by contending that evaluations should be true, coherent, and just. Untrue, incoherent, and unjust evaluations are invalid. The working ideas were argument, coherence, and politics. Truth is the attainment of arguments soundly made, beauty is the attainment of coherence well wrought, and justice is the attainment of politics fairly done. For the truth criterion, it wasn't designs or correlations that determined validity, but rather the validity of the arguments that supported the use of the designs and correlations. The broader conception of validity grew from addressing problems encountered in conducting evaluations. This chapter traces the origins of the ideas and the social context from which they emerged. It contends that these criteria still apply, though the contents of the criteria have changed somewhat and the context has changed substantially.