Context: This conceptual paper tries to tackle the advantages and the limitations that might arise from including second-order science into global climate change sciences, a research area that traditionally focuses on first-order approaches and that is currently attracting a lot of media and public attention. Problem: The high profile of climate change research seems to provoke a certain dilemma for scientists: despite the slowly increasing realization within the sciences that our knowledge is temporary, tentative, uncertain, and far from stable, the (...) public expectations towards science and scientific knowledge are still the opposite: that scientific results should prove to be objective, reliable, and authoritative. As a way to handle the uncertainty, scientists tend to produce “varieties of scenarios” instead of clear statements, as well as reports that articulate different scientific opinions about the causes and dynamics of change for this specific field of research. (shrink)
Upshot: For communicating second-order science, von Foerster’s ethical imperative provides a viable starting point. Proceeding from this, we plead in favour of emphasising the common grounds of diverging scientific opinions and of various approaches in second-order science instead of focussing on the differences. This will provide a basis for communication and stimulate scientific self-reflection.
Open peer commentary on the article “Between Realism and Constructivism? Luhmann’s Ambivalent Epistemological Standpoint” by Armin Scholl. Upshot: One of the key aspects of constructivism is the role of the observer. As Scholl shows in his article, Luhmann shares this perspective, and beyond that opens up the concept of observation by transferring it from the micro level of individuals to the macro level of society. Luhmann goes even further by stating that all autopoietic and self-referential systems, i.e., all living, psychic, (...) and social systems, can observe, leaving an anthropological view behind. With this, the question of the “who” in “who observes” gains new insights that, surprisingly, touch on one of the central research questions in quantum physics. (shrink)
Open peer commentary on the article “Ontology, Reality and Construction in Niklas Luhmann’s Theory” by Krzysztof C. Matuszek. Upshot: On an epistemological level, Matuszek argues convincingly that Luhmann’s epistemological ambiguities could be embedded in a coherent constructivist approach. However, what do we gain by being assured of this and why is it so difficult to tolerate ambiguities in an otherwise highly elaborated theory?