Developmental systems theory (DST) is a wholeheartedly epigenetic approach to development, inheritance and evolution. The developmental system of an organism is the entire matrix of resources that are needed to reproduce the life cycle. The range of developmental resources that are properly described as being inherited, and which are subject to natural selection, is far wider than has traditionally been allowed. Evolution acts on this extended set of developmental resources. From a developmental systems perspective, development does not proceed according (...) to a preformed plan; what is inherited is much more than DNA; and evolution is change not only in gene frequencies, but in entire developmental systems. (shrink)
Developmental systems theory (DST) is a general theoretical perspective on development, heredity and evolution. It is intended to facilitate the study of interactions between the many factors that influence development without reviving `dichotomous' debates over nature or nurture, gene or environment, biology or culture. Several recent papers have addressed the relationship between DST and the thriving new discipline of evolutionary developmental biology (EDB). The contributions to this literature by evolutionary developmental biologists contain three important misunderstandings of DST.
The Developmental Systems Theory (DST) presented by its proponents as a challenging approach in biology is aimed at transforming the workings of the life sciences from both a theoretical and experimental point of view (see, in particular, Oyama  2000; Oyama et al. 2001). Even though some may have the impression that the enthusiasm surrounding DST has faded in very recent years, some of the key concepts, ideas, and visions of DST have in fact pervaded biology and philosophy of (...) biology. It seems crucial to us both to establish which of these ideas are truly specific to DST, and to shift through these ideas in order to determine the criticisms they have drawn, or may draw (e.g., Sterelny et al. 1996; Griesemer 2000; Sterelny 2000; Kitcher 2001; Keller 2005; Waters 2007). (shrink)
Griffiths and Russell D. Gray (1994, 1997, 2001) have argued that the fundamental unit of analysis in developmental systems theory should be a process – the life cycle – and not a set of developmental resources and interactions between those resources. The key concepts of developmental systems theory, epigenesis and developmental dynamics, both also suggest a process view of the units of development. This chapter explores in more depth the features of developmental systems theory that favour treating (...) processes as fundamental in biology and examines the continuity between developmental systems theory and ideas about process in the work of several major figures in early 20th century biology, most notable C.H Waddington. (shrink)
The concepts and powerful mathematical tools of Dynamical Systems Theory (DST) yield illuminating methods of studying cognitive processes, and are even claimed by some to enable us to bridge the notorious explanatory gap separating mind and matter. This article includes an analysis of some of the conceptual and empirical progress Dynamical Systems Theory is claimed to accomodate. While sympathetic to the dynamicist program in principle, this article will attempt to formulate a series of problems the proponents of the (...) approach in question will need to face if they wish to prolong their optimism. The main points to be addressed involve the reductive tendencies inherent in Dynamical Systems Theory, its somewhat muddled position relative to connectionism, the metaphorical nature DST-C exhibits which hinders its explanatory potential, and DST-C's problematic account of causality. Brief discussions of the mathematical and philosophical backgrounds of DST, seminal experimental work and possible adaptations of the theory or alternative suggestions (dynamicist connectionism, neurophenomenology, R&D theory) are included. (shrink)
The author discusses Niklas Luhmann's concept of ethics and morals. Therefore he sketches the main traits of Luhmann's theory of systems (e.g. the terms autopoiesis, system and environment, code and programme). From the system-theoretical point of view, ethics are characterized as the reflexive theory of morals. Morals are described as the communication of regard or disregard. The author shows which consequences follow from this concept by discussing problems concerning several subsystems at the same time. The problems of Luhmann's (...)theory of morals and ethics are demonstrated by analyzing the concepts of risk and responsibility. Finally, the author demands that ethics should be understood even more as social ethics which reflect upon their social foundation in a more consequent way. (shrink)
Dynamical systems theory (DST) is gaining popularity in cognitive science and philosophy of mind. Recently several authors (e.g. J.A.S. Kelso, 1995; A. Juarrero, 1999; F. Varela and E. Thompson, 2001) offered a DST approach to mental causation as an alternative for models of mental causation in the line of Jaegwon Kim (e.g. 1998). They claim that some dynamical systems exhibit a form of global to local determination or downward causation in that the large-scale, global activity of the system governs (...) or constrains local interactions. This form of downward causation is the key to the DST model of mental causation. In this paper I evaluate the DST approach to mental causation. I will argue that the main problem for current DST approaches to mental causation is that they lack a clear metaphysics. I propose one metaphysical framework (Gillett, 2002a/b/c) that might deal with this deficiency. (shrink)
As anthropology becomes more interested in consciousness and its numerous states, and with a slowly increasing appeal to neuroscience for insights and explanations of consciousness, there is an understandable interest in the components of consciousness and how they combine into alternative states in different sociocultural settings. One of those components should be the complexity of information processing producing the knowing aspect of consciousness. The author introduces an approach to this aspect in the form of conceptual systems theory, a neo-Piagetian (...) model of cognitive development, which has been used to good effect to explain information processing in social situations but heretofore neglected by anthropologists. The neuroanthropological underpinnings of CST are discussed, as is the range of potential applications to ethnological and ethnographic problems. (shrink)
I propose a semi-eliminative reduction of Fodors concept of module to the concept of attractor basin which is used in Cognitive Dynamic Systems Theory (DST). I show how attractor basins perform the same explanatory function as modules in several DST based research program. Attractor basins in some organic dynamic systems have even been able to perform cognitive functions which are equivalent to the If/Then/Else loop in the computer language LISP. I suggest directions for future research programs which could find (...) similar equivalencies between organic dynamic systems and other cognitive functions. This type of research could help us discover how (and/or if) it is possible to use Dynamic Systems Theory to more accurately model the cognitive functions that are now being modeled by subroutines in Symbolic AI computer models. If such a reduction of subroutines to basins of attraction is possible, it could free AI from the limitations that prompted Fodor to say that it was impossible to model certain higher level cognitive functions. (shrink)
A study of shifts in scientific strategies for measuring the living body, especially in dynamic systems theory: sheds light on Hegel's concept of measure in The Science of Logic, and the dialectical transition from categories of being to categories of essence; shows how Hegel's speculative logic anticipates and analyzes key tensions in scientific attempts to measure and conceive the dynamic agency of the body. The study's analysis of the body as having an essentially dynamic identity irreducible to measurement aims (...) to contribute to reconceiving the body, in a way that may be helpful to overcoming dualism. (shrink)
Millers Living Systems Theory (LST) is known to be very comprehensive. It comprises eight nested hierarchical levels. It also includes twenty critical subsystems. While Millers approach has been analyzed and applied in great detail, some problematic features remain, requiring further explication. One of these is the relationship between reduction and emergence in LST. There are at least four relevant possibilities. One is that LST exhibits neither clear reductionism nor emergence, but is essentially neutral in this regard. Another is that (...) the apparent comprehensiveness of LST is illusory, as the approach remains vulnerable to reduction that could ultimately reduce it to a shadow of its present self. The charge of reductionism has been made by critics leading Miller to defend this theory vehemently as nonreductionist in nature. A third possibility is that LST is not reductionist, but is in fact an emergent theory. Miller makes this claim quite strongly. A fourth possibility, and in some ways the most analytically problematic, is that LST exhibits evidence of both reductionism and emergence simultaneously. Some critics might see this fourth situation as evidence of a troubling paradox or anomaly that must be resolved before further progress can be made in the explication and application of LST. The purpose of the paper is to remove this apparent anomaly. The paper removes this anomaly by differentiating between new-variable emergence and transformational emergence. No concrete evidence is found to contradict Milers claim of emergence in LST, and thus no true anomaly exists. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine Daniel Dennett’s well-known intentional systems theory of belief and desire from the perspective of physicalism. I begin with a general discussion of physicalism. In the course of that discussion, I present familiar ways that one might attempt to reconcile physicalism with belief-desire realism. I then argue that intentional systems theory will not provide a reconciliation of physicalism and belief-desire realism.
In this article, I present a novel approach to the scientific understanding of consciousness. It is based on the hypothesis that the full range of phenomenal qualities is built into the frequency spectrum of a ubiquitous background field and proceeds on the assumption that conscious systems employ a universal mechanism by means of which they are able to extract phenomenal nuances selectively from this field. I set forth that in the form of the zero-point field (ZPF) physics can offer a (...) promising candidate that is qualified for playing the dual role as both the carrier of energy and consciousness. The appropriate mechanism, which rests upon the principle of dynamical coupling of ZPF modes, is a unique feature of quantum systems, suggesting that the dividing line between conscious and non-conscious systems is defined by the differentiation between quantum systems and classical systems. The presence of this mechanism in the brain is supported by the neurophysiological body of evidence, leading to a consistent explanation of the dynamical properties of the neural correlates of consciousness. Building on these findings, I lay the foundations for the conceptually coherent integration of consciousness into the physical worldview, derive an indicator for the quantity of consciousness of a given system, and outline the further steps toward a theory of consciousness. (shrink)
From his earliest work forward, phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty attempted to develop a new ontology of nature that would avoid the antinomies of realism and idealism by showing that nature has its own intrinsic sense which is prior to reflection. The key to this new ontology was the concept of form, which he appropriated from Gestalt psychology. However, Merleau-Ponty struggled to give a positive characterization of the phenomenon of form which would clarify its ontological status. Evan Thompson has recently taken up (...) Merleau-Ponty’s ontology as the basis for a new, “enactive” approach to cognitive science, synthesizing it with concepts from dynamic systems theory and Francisco Varela’s theory of autopoiesis. However, Thompson does not quite succeed in resolving the ambiguities in Merleau-Ponty’s account of form. This article builds on an indication from Thompson in order to propose a new account of form as asymmetry, and of the genesis of form in nature as symmetry-breaking. These concepts help us to escape the antinomies of Modern thought by showing how nature is the autoproduction of a sense which can only be known by an embodied perceiver. (shrink)
A novel conceptual framework is introduced for the Complexity Levels Theory in a Categorical Ontology of Space and Time. This conceptual and formal construction is intended for ontological studies of Emergent Biosystems, Super-complex Dynamics, Evolution and Human Consciousness. A claim is defended concerning the universal representation of an item’s essence in categorical terms. As an essential example, relational structures of living organisms are well represented by applying the important categorical concept of natural transformations to biomolecular reactions and relational structures (...) that emerge from the latter in living systems. Thus, several relational theories of living systems can be represented by natural transformations of organismic, relational structures. The ascent of man and other living organisms through adaptation, is viewed in novel categorical terms, such as variable biogroupoid representations of evolving species. Such precise but flexible evolutionary concepts will allow the further development of the unifying theme of local-to-global approaches to highly complex systems in order to represent novel patterns of relations that emerge in super- and ultra-complex systems in terms of compositions of local procedures. Solutions to such local-to-global problems in highly complex systems with ‘broken symmetry’ might be possible to be reached with the help of higher homotopy theorems in algebraic topology such as the generalized van Kampen theorems (HHvKT). Categories of many-valued, Łukasiewicz-Moisil (LM) logic algebras provide useful concepts for representing the intrinsic dynamic ‘asymmetry’ of genetic networks in organismic development and evolution, as well as to derive novel results for (non-commutative) Quantum Logics. Furthermore, as recently pointed out by Baianu and Poli (Theory and applications of ontology, vol 1. Springer, Berlin, in press), LM-logic algebras may also provide the appropriate framework for future developments of the ontological theory of levels with its complex/entangled/intertwined ramifications in psychology, sociology and ecology. As shown in the preceding two papers in this issue, a paradigm shift towards non-commutative, or non-Abelian, theories of highly complex dynamics—which is presently unfolding in physics, mathematics, life and cognitive sciences—may be implemented through realizations of higher dimensional algebras in neurosciences and psychology, as well as in human genomics, bioinformatics and interactomics. (shrink)
We define a mathematical formalism based on the concept of an ‘‘open dynamical system” and show how it can be used to model embodied cognition. This formalism extends classical dynamical systems theory by distinguishing a ‘‘total system’’ (which models an agent in an environment) and an ‘‘agent system’’ (which models an agent by itself), and it includes tools for analyzing the collections of overlapping paths that occur in an embedded agent's state space. To illustrate the way this formalism can (...) be applied, several neural network models are embedded in a simple model environment. Such phenomena as masking, perceptual ambiguity, and priming are then observed. We also use this formalism to reinterpret examples from the embodiment literature, arguing that it provides for a more thorough analysis of the relevant phenomena. (shrink)
In philosophy of action, we typically aim to explain action by appealing to conative attitudes whose contents are either logically consistent propositions or can be rendered as such. Call this “the logical criterion.” This is especially difficult to do with clear-minded, intentional incontinence since we have to explain how two judgments can have non-contradicting contents yet still aim at contradictory outcomes. Davidson devises an innovative way of doing this but compromises his ability to explain how our better judgments can cause (...) our continent behaviors. In this essay, I preserve Davidson’s approach to the logical criterion but deviate from his broader theory of action by developing a default-interventionist dual systems theory of action. To do this, I focus on the dynamical relationship between System 1 and System 2: the logical construction of value judgments in System 2 from System 1 and the imaginative construction of non-propositional conative attitudes in System 1 from System 2. I draw on Street’s Humean constructivism and Peacocke’s theory of imagination for logical and imaginative construction, respectively. Within this framework, I provide a new definition of continence and incontinence that satisfies the logical criterion and explains how our better judgments can cause our continent behaviors. (shrink)
Marr's seminal work laid out a program of research by specifying key questions for cognitive science at different levels of analysis. Because dynamic systems theory focuses on time and interdependence of components, DST research programs come to very different conclusions regarding the nature of cognitive change. We review a specific DST approach to cognitive-level processes: dynamic field theory. We review research applying DFT to several cognitive-level processes: object permanence, naming hierarchical categories, and inferring intent, that demonstrate the difference (...) in understanding of behavior and cognition that results from a DST perspective. These point to a central challenge for cognitive science research as defined by Marr—emergence. We argue that appreciating emergence raises questions about the utility of computational-level analyses and opens the door to insights concerning the origin of novel forms of behavior and thought. We contend this is one of the most fundamental questions about cognition and behavior. (shrink)
Systems Theory and Scientific Philosophy constitutes a totally new approach to philosophy, the philosophy of mind and the problems of artificial intelligence, and is based upon the pioneering work in cybernetics of W. Ross Ashby. While science is humanity's attempt to know how the world works and philosophy its attempt to know why, scientific philosophy is the application of scientific techniques to questions of philosophy.
In this paper, I address the question of what the Developmental Systems Theory (DST) aims at explaining. I distinguish two lines of thought in DST, one which deals specifically with development, and tries to explain the development of the individual organism, and the other which presents itself as a reconceptualization of evolution, and tries to explain the evolution of populations of developmental systems (organism-environment units). I emphasize that, despite the claiming of the contrary by DST proponents, there are two (...) very different definitions of the ‘developmental system’, and therefore DST is not a unified theory of evolution and development. I show that the DST loses the most interesting aspects of its reconceptualization of development when it tries to reconceptualize evolutionary theory. I suggest that DST is about development per se, and that it fails at offering a new view on evolution. (shrink)
In this article, I address the question of what Developmental Systems Theory aims at explaining. I distinguish two lines of thought in DST, one that deals specifically with development and tries to explain the development of the individual organism, and the other that presents itself as a reconceptualization of evolution and tries to explain the evolution of populations of developmental systems. I emphasize that, despite the claim of the contrary by DST proponents, there are two very different definitions of (...) the “developmental system,” and therefore DST is not a unified theory of evolution and development. I show that DST loses the most interesting aspects of its reconceptualization of development when it tries to reconceptualize evolutionary theory. I suggest that DST is about development per se, and that it fails at offering a new view on evolution. (shrink)
Sustainability is an important topic for understanding and developing our society. For scholars who want their academic contributions to have an impact, sustainability is important for our conceptual systems. Because our conceptual systems share similarities with our social systems, we may investigate their characteristics to gain insight into how both may be achieved or at least understood. Theories of the humanities as well as the social/behavioral sciences are changing very rapidly. They are fragile and few seem to have any longevity. (...) At the same time, the theoretical base does not seem to be “advancing.” They are not supporting highly effective results in the real world, so we continue to have seemingly insolvable problems such as crime, war, and poverty. This may be because academia has become inward-focused or, in Luhmann’s terminology, autonomous from the outside world. In seeking to understand how to develop more sustainable theories we found that the concept of sustainability is contested. And, in the process of comparing the sustainability of social systems to the sustainability of theories, we came to realize that neither perspective is viable. Drawing on Luhmann’s insights on the interdependence of theories and society, we came to realize that the two exist in a coevolutionary relationship. Importantly, we present an approach for measuring that evolution and suggest directions for accelerating the coevolutionary advance of society and science. (shrink)
Here, for the first time, development studies encounters the set of ideas popularly known as 'Chaos Theory'. Samir Rihani applies to the processes of economic development, ideas from complex adaptive systems like uncertainty, complexity, and unpredictability. Rihani examines various aspects of the development process - including the World Bank, debt, and the struggle against poverty - and demonstrates the limitations of fundamentally linear thinking in an essentially non-linear world.
In reworking a variety of biological concepts, Developmental Systems Theory (DST) has made frequent use of parity of reasoning. We have done this to show, for instance, that factors that have similar sorts of impact on a developing organism tend nevertheless to be invested with quite different causal importance. We have made similar arguments about evolutionary processes. Together, these analyses have allowed DST not only to cut through some age-old muddles about the nature of development, but also to effect (...) a long-delayed reintegration of development into evolutionary theory. Our penchant for causal symmetry, however (or 'causal democracy', as it has recently been termed), has sometimes been misunderstood. This paper shows that causal symmetry is neither a platitude about multiple influences nor a denial of useful distinctions, but a powerful way of exposing hidden assumptions and opening up traditional formulations to fruitful change. (shrink)
Developmental Systems Theory (DST) emphasises the importance of non-genetic factors in development and their relevance to evolution. A common, deflationary reaction is that it has long been appreciated that non-genetic factors are causally indispensable. This paper argues that DST can be reformulated to make a more substantive claim: that the special role played by genes is also played by some (but not all) non-genetic resources. That special role is to transmit inherited representations, in the sense of Shea (2007: Biology (...) and Philosophy, 22, 313-331). Formulating DST as the claim that there are non-genetic inherited representations turns it into a striking, empirically-testable hypothesis, driving the sort of investigations that are only now beginning to appear in the scientific literature. DST’s characteristic rejection of a gene vs. environment dichotomy is preserved, but without dissolving all potentially explanatory distinctions into an interactionist causal soup, as some have alleged. (shrink)
Besides their skepticism about universal reason and universal morality, the Frankfurt Schools of Critical Systems Theory and Critical Theory share basic assumptions: (1) the thinking in societal-systemic, institutional concepts, which transcend simple reciprocal relations by dint of their complexity; (2) the assumption that society is based on fundamental paradoxes, antagonisms, antinomies; (3) the strategy to conceptualize justice as a contingent and transcendental formula; (4) the form of immanent (and not morality-based, external) critique as an attitude of transcendence; (5) (...) the aim of societal (and not only political) emancipation in an ‘association of free individuals’ (Marx). The article focuses on those parallels and aims to conceptualize a critical turn-around of autopoietic systems theory. (shrink)
I examine explanations’ realist commitments in relation to dynamical systems theory. First I rebut an ‘explanatory indispensability argument’ for mathematical realism from the explanatory power of phase spaces (Lyon and Colyvan 2007). Then I critically consider a possible way of strengthening the indispensability argument by reference to attractors in dynamical systems theory. The take-home message is that understanding of the modal character of explanations (in dynamical systems theory) can undermine platonist arguments from explanatory indispensability.
Social systems theory has been dominated in recent years by the work of Niklas Luhmann, but there is another strand of systems thinking, which is receiving increasing attention in sociology: emergentism. For emergentism, the core problems of systems thinking are concerned with causation and reductionism; for Luhmann, they are questions of meaning and self-reference. Arguing from an emergentist perspective, the article finds that emergentism addresses its own core problem successfully, while Luhmann's approach is incapable of resolving questions of causation (...) and reductionism. On the other hand, neither paradigm yet has a convincing response to the challenges of meaning and self-reference. Key Words: social systems emergence paradigms autopoiesis critical realism. (shrink)
In this article, I examine Luhmann’s, Bunge’s and others’ views on emergence, and argue that Luhmann’s epistemological construal of emergence in terms of Totalausschluss is both ontologically flawed and detrimental to an appropriate understanding of the distinctive features of social emergence. By contrast, Bunge’s rational emergentism, his CESM model, and Wimsatt’s characterization of emergence as nonaggregativity provide a useful framework to investigate emergence. While researchers in the field of social theory and sociology tend to regard Luhmann as the sole (...) representative of systems theory, the latter has been characterized by its diversity, and the writings of such systems theorists as Mario Bunge deserve more attention from social researchers than they receive at present. Finally, this article suggests that the perennial debate over methodological individualism and holism in social science may make real progress if such ambiguous terms as reduction and reductionism are elucidated before they are employed. (shrink)
It is often claimed (1) that levels of nature are related by supervenience, and (2) that processes occurring at particular levels of nature should be studied using dynamical systems theory. However, there has been little consideration of how these claims are related. To address the issue, I show how supervenience relations give rise to ‘supervenience functions’, and use these functions to show how dynamical systems at different levels are related to one another. I then use this analysis to describe (...) a graded approach to non-reductive physicalism, and to critically assess Davidson’s arguments for psychological anomaly. I also show how this approach can inform empirical research in cognitive science. (shrink)
Some central ideas associated with developmental systems theory (DST) are outlined for non-specialists. These ideas concern the nature of biological development, the alleged distinction between "genetic" and "environmental" traits, the relations between organism and environment, and evolutionary processes. I also discuss some criticisms of the DST approach.
Systems Theory analyses the world in terms of communications and divides the natural world into environment and systems. Systems are characterised by their high density of communications and tend to become more complex and efficient with time, usually by means of increased specialisation and coordinationof functions.Management is an organisational sub-system which models all necessary aspects of organisational activity such that this model may be used for monitoring, prediction and planning of the organisation as a whole. The function of a (...) specific management system depends on its history of selection by interactions with theenvironment (which includes other systems). The main function of a management system will be a consequence of the most powerful and sustained selection pressure it has experienced.Systems Theory implies a management science which is quantitative and comparative. It is quantitative because it is based upon the measurement and mapping of communications as the basis of analysis; it is comparative because evaluations relate to specific variables measured in a specific spatio-temporal contextand subjected to analytic processes of constrained complexity.Selection processes are broadly responsible for the dominance of management in contemporary Western societies. The complexity of management systems will probably continue to increase for as long as the efficiency-enhancing potential of complexity outweighs its increased transaction costs. (shrink)
Does systems theory need rethinking? Most social scientists would probably say no. It had its run, was debated critically, and found wanting. If at all, it should be treated historically. Why then might systems theory need rethinking, as the title of this symposium claims? The reason is that, unlike in the natural and biosocial sciences, any conception of system in the social sciences has remained suspect in the wake of problematic Parsonian and cybernetic systems theories. The premise of (...) this special issue is that abandoning conceptions of systems has imposed a high price on the social sciences: a lack of ontologies and methodologies that are both philosophically profound and scientifically defensible. It has left social scientists who choose to ignore ontology in their theoretical and empirical work defenseless against enterprising settlers from a variety of humanities and social science disciplines who attack mainstream work with—often simplistic and naïve, but nevertheless fundamental—philosophical arguments, whether anti-scientific postmodernists or pseudo-scientific rational choice theorists. The goal of this special issue is to showcase new and original work that contributes to a rethinking of systems theory by taking the conception of systems seriously. This introduction offers a programmatic statement of a systemic ontology and methodology as well as a brief general outline and examples of what a systems-based approach in the social sciences entails. Key Words: systems theory systemism systemic approach complexity theory self-organization emergentism paradigms social mechanisms Mario Bunge. (shrink)
On an influential account, chaos is explained in terms of random behaviour; and random behaviour in turn is explained in terms of having positive Kolmogorov-Sinai entropy (KSE). Though intuitively plausible, the association of the KSE with random behaviour needs justification since the definition of the KSE does not make reference to any notion that is connected to randomness. I provide this justification for the case of Hamiltonian systems by proving that the KSE is equivalent to a generalized version of Shannon's (...) communication-theoretic entropy under certain plausible assumptions. I then discuss consequences of this equivalence for randomness in chaotic dynamical systems. Introduction Elements of dynamical systems theory Entropy in communication theory Entropy in dynamical systems theory Comparison with other accounts Product versus process randomness. (shrink)
In this article, I examine Luhmann’s, Bunge’s and others’ views on emergence, and argue that Luhmann’s epistemological construal of emergence in terms of Totalausschluss (total exclusion) is both ontologically flawed and detrimental to an appropriate understanding of the distinctive features of social emergence. By contrast, Bunge’s rational emergentism, his CESM model, and Wimsatt’s characterization of emergence as nonaggregativity provide a useful framework to investigate emergence. While researchers in the field of social theory and sociology tend to regard Luhmann as (...) the sole representative of systems theory, the latter has been characterized by its diversity, and the writings of such systems theorists as Mario Bunge deserve more (critical) attention from social researchers than they receive at present. Finally, this article suggests that the perennial debate over methodological individualism and holism in social science may make real progress if such ambiguous terms as reduction and reductionism are elucidated before they are employed. (shrink)
By advocating an enlightened method of theorizing committed to thinking in terms of a system of differences, Luhmann has contributed to the development of sociology in a manner that cannot be praised enough. Nonetheless, he does not succeed in giving an account of his own position that satisfies the very logical preconditions that he himself has formulated for it. Instead, his systems theory paradigm of sociology is based on metaphysical premises characteristic of the identity-logical thought of "Old Europe." In (...) fact, the only way to make Luh mann's approach truly comprehensible is to reconstruct it as a new version of Hegel's dialectic. (shrink)
In the first section of this paper I argue that the main reason why Daniel Dennett’s Intentional Systems Theory (IST) has been perceived as behaviourist or antirealist is its inability to account for the causal efficacy of the mental. The rest of the paper is devoted to the claim that by emending the theory with a phenomenon called ‘empathic resonance’ (ER), it can account for the various explananda in the mental causation debate. Thus, IST + ER is a (...) much more viable option than IST, even though IST + ER assigns a crucial role to the phenomenology of agency, a role that is incompatible with Dennett’s writings on consciousness. (shrink)
Bridging between psychological and neurobiological systems requires that the system components are closely specified at both the psychological and brain levels of analysis. We argue that in developing his dynamic systems theory framework, Lewis has sidestepped the notion of a psychological level systems model altogether, and has taken a partisan approach to his exposition of a brain-level systems model.
The research methodologies of grounded theory and grounded action are framed by a systems perspective, from which they contribute their own unique properties and processes to the evolution of systems thinking. The author provides definitions for systems, theory, grounded theory, grounded action, and systems thinking, and explores the relationships between theory, grounded theory/grounded action, and systems thinking with regard to purpose, context, and usefulness for the resolution of social concerns and systemic change.
Systems Theory is best understood in its dual nature as an episode in the generic development of human understanding of the world, and as the specific product of its social history. On the one hand it is a "moment" in the investigation of complex systems, the place between the formulation of a problem and the interpretation of its solution where mathematical modeling can make the obscure obvious. On the other hand it is the attempt of a reductionist scientific tradition (...) to come to terms with complexity, non-linearity and change through sophisticated mathematical and computational techniques, a groping toward a more dialectical understanding that is held back both by its philosophical biases and by the institutional and economic contexts of its development. (shrink)
A systems theory for chemistry is proposed in order to provide a general framework, which covers different theoretical approaches used in the molecular sciences.The basic elements of systems theory are introduced and discussed.By construction, this systems chemistry offers classification and categorizationschemes that will help to identify the range of applicability of certain theoretical approachesas well as to find yet unanswered fundamental questions. Consequently, it will be of value not only to thosewho want to understand and study the structure (...) of chemistry, but it might also be of importance to daily research in chemistry. (shrink)
Based on an analysis of the origins and characteristics of Intelligent Design, this essay discusses the related issues of probability and irreducible complexity. From the viewpoint of complex systems theory, I suggest that Intelligent Design is not, as certain advocates claim, the only reasonable approach for dealing with the current difficulties of evolutionary biology.