Philosophical issues and their implications for the systems architect

Foundations of Science 12 (3):269-276 (2007)
Many system architects select their system methodologies without explicit consideration of the philosophical perspectives that impact their decisions. This paper describes how the concepts of ontology and epistemology apply in systems science. Ontology is how we specify terms of reference for existence, allowing us to understand the theory of existence via an ‘existence framework’. Epistemology, the theory of knowledge, allows us to explore new models and theories of knowledge acquisition so the best system-based methodologies can be deployed to solve complex system problems. After introducing these concepts, the paper presents system science issues and assesses the impact of ontological, axiological and epistemological perspectives on system methodology selection, research, system design and deployment. An ontological viewpoint such as realism, as an objective view is contrasted versus nationalism, a personal perceptional view. An epistemological viewpoint is explored comparing knowledge as a product of sensory perception or rational reflection. The paper’s significant contribution is that it helps system architects understand that their philosophical views of systems science impact their system methodology choices.
Keywords Ontology  Epistemology  Systems science  Systems architect  Philosophical issues
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DOI 10.1007/s10699-007-9108-5
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