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Constructive Systems Science - the Only Remaining Alternative?
KTH, Superseded Departments, Computer and Systems Sciences, DSV.
2003 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

The opposition between the realists and the anti-realists isas old as Western science. The question as to whether the“furniture of the world”we call the“things”is to be considered real or not hasconsistently been at the forefront in the debates about scienceand philosophy. This urgent interest is motivated by the closeconnection to another question–namely that of scientificobjectivity - an issue that seldom receives proper treatment.Objectivity has rather been taken for granted in thetraditional Newtonian paradigm with its well-known slogan: Thedetached observer is the objective one and the rational mind ofclarity.

It was impossible to continue with this dictum, which isresponsible for the cleft between the natural and socialsciences and still presents a ban on human feelings inscientific endeavours, after the findings of quantum mechanicsat the beginning of the 20th century. However the penetratingpower of this important insight has been astonishingly weak andwith the emergence of computer science in the middle of thecentury, Newtonian science’s self-assumed status ofobjectivity has been apprehended as both very doubtful and asevere hindrance in other areas outside the quantum domain ofscientific activity. The efforts of computer modelling andsimulation analysis revealed a pronounced observer-dependencyregarding investigation.

For these reasons this thesis will scrutinise the activityof science and the art of modelling–proposing the use ofa 2-step model of modelling (metamodel) to clarify andemphasize the involvement of the observer in the process ofobservation. This approach reveals that the object-orientedapproach (OOA), which has been the prevailing one since thedawn of Western science and is one of the basic tenets of theNewtonian paradigm, makes science unable to describe itsobjects of discourse in an observer-independent manner. Such ascience is at risk to be considered inconsistent, incompleteand non-objective and for that reason unfit for consensualscientific use.

The main claim of this thesis is that the object-orientedapproach is responsible for the genesis of Cartesian dualismand other inconsistencies, which are met in present dayscience. Such a claim is not novel however, but I will arguethat when science is dressed up as the Subject-orientedApproach to Knowledge (SOA) a long row of embarrassing andbewildering situations encountered in classical humanconceptualisation will vanish–in a way that, as far as Iknow, has never been explicitly explained before. This approachalso promises a unification of the different disciplines ofsciences so that e.g. the social sciences can be treated on anequal footing with the natural sciences–and thus thisembarrassing gulf of human knowledge can be removed. This is aprofound shift of paradigm in science and the re-orientation ofhuman thinking required is both considerable andtime-consuming.

For this reason this thesis is not a systematic presentationof the SOA, but rather tries, in Part 1, to pave the way for anunderstanding of this approach by an introductory discussionabout the means and scope of science and the essential role ofsymbolic modelling in this endeavour–and in particularthe way these activities will be influenced by the anticipatedchange of paradigm. Some historical aspects of this particularSOA are also given as a background and this section iscompleted by a brief survey of the modern trends in scientificmodelling.

Part 2 is collection of papers dealing with the principlesof modelling and simulation, and, rather more importantly, asequence of papers reflecting how the ideas of the SOA havedeveloped throughout the years due to the inconsistencies metwith in these and adjacent areas. To my mind they prove -beyond the point of any consensual doubt–that therealist’s position in science cannot be defended anylonger and that the“things of the world”by thescientific community must be considered merely privateallusions.

More important however is the insight that the Newtonianparadigm is unable to produce an observer-independentdescription of this world with its conceived things and theonly way out of this embarrassing dilemma seems to be theacceptance of the SOA–with its hitherto strictly bannedfeature of subjectivity. Using this approach, we claim, sciencecan be given a consensual and consistent foundation–andthe price to pay is the loss of scientific ontology. As alreadypointed out this thesis merely hints at the new path to take–instead concentrating on the reasons for the impendingdemise of scientific realism and need of a constructive systemsscience.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Kista: Data- och systemvetenskap , 2003. , vii, 230 p.
Keyword [en]
modelling, systems science, constructivism, subjectivism, philosophy of science modelling
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-3577ISBN: 91-7283-531-1OAI: diva2:9397
Public defence
NR 20140805Available from: 2003-06-26 Created: 2003-06-26Bibliographically approved

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