The complexity of science

Koers 64 (4):499-520 (1999)
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Abstract

In this article I present an alternative philosophy of science based on ideas drawn from the study of complex adaptive systems. As a result of the spectacular expansion in scientific disciplines, the number of scientists and scientific institutions in the twentieth century, I believe science can be characterised as a complex system. I want to interpret the processes of science through which scientists themselves determine what counts as good science. This characterisation of science as a complex system can give an answer to the question why the sciences are so successful in solving growing numbers of problems and correcting their own mistakes. I utilise components of complexity theory to explain and interpret science as a complex system. I first explain the concept of complexity in ordinary language. The explanation of science as a complex system starts with a definition of the basic rules that guide the behaviour of science as a complex system. Next, I show how various sciences result through the implementation of these rules in the study of a specific aspect of reality. The explanation of the growth of science through evolutionary adaptation and learning forms the core of the article.

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Hennie Lötter
University of Johannesburg

Citations of this work

How to Judge Scientific Research Articles.Hennie Lotter - 2000 - South African Journal for Language Teaching 34.

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