Is there a good way to describe theories that are very different in their underlying story about how a system works, yet the theories prescribe similar actions.

("actions" assume the theory is about how to best control a particular system eg. training people, running the economy, etc. We could also talk about "outcomes" if the theory is about predicting the world eg. the post-election scramble to explain voter behaviour in politics)

One example is from dog training:

There are many theories about how a dog should be trained (alpha & dominance theories, positive reinforcement, operant conditioning etc...). They prescribe very different things about how a dog thinks, but ultimately the training suggested is far more similar than it is dissimilar: be consistent when trying to ingrain or remove behaviours.

As such, these theories are hard to differentiate by outcome; they lead you to take very similar actions despite the underlying reasoning for those actions being quite different.

Is there a word or phrase to describe this? I can imagine there is something in moral philosophy to describe theories that have different underlying tenets but prescribe similar actions as ethical.

SAMPLE SENTENCE: "Those theories are X, it doesn't matter which you believe as they lead to the same action"

(PS. Best I can think of is physical science terms like "non-differential hypotheses", but that doesn't feel like a good fit here)

  • You have already used methodology (actually, just method rather) and that works. A more descriptive noun could be approach which is one of the many synonyms, means (to an end) and path being a few others.
    – Kris
    Nov 22, 2018 at 7:30
  • How could it matter whether your example is from dog training our anything else? If you see a real correlation between this or that, please describe it. If you’re sure there is no such thing, please say so. Otherwise, what are you really asking about? Nov 22, 2018 at 21:05

1 Answer 1


Such theories can be termed convergent as they converge into a single outcome.

Those theories are convergent; it doesn't matter which one you believe in as they all lead to the same action"


1 Coming closer together; converging.

‘there are a number of convergent reasons for the growth of interest in pragmatics’

1.3 (of a number of things) gradually change so as to become similar or develop something in common.

‘the aims of the two developments can and should converge’

  • Convergent is close, but it doesn't quite feel right... I think convergent best describes the entirety of the theories becoming highly similar, rather than just the theories' prescribed actions becoming similar whilst the underlying logic for taking those actions remains highly dissimilar. Nov 23, 2018 at 15:42

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