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Glasersfeld E. von (1974) Jean Piaget and the radical constructivist epistemology
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Abraham T. H.
Transcending disciplines: Scientific styles in studies of the brain in mid-twentieth century America.
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/3935
Much scholarship in the history of cybernetics has focused on the far-reaching cultural dimensions of the movement. What has garnered less attention are efforts by cyberneticians such as Warren McCulloch and Norbert Wiener to transform scientific practice in an array of disciplines in the biomedical sciences, and the complex ways these efforts were received by members of traditional disciplines. In a quest for scientific unity that had a decidedly imperialistic flavour, cyberneticians sought to apply practices common in the exact sciences – mainly theoretical modeling – to problems in disciplines that were traditionally defined by highly empirical practices, such as neurophysiology and neuroanatomy. Their efforts were met with mixed, often critical responses. This paper attempts to make sense of such dynamics by exploring the notion of a scientific style and its usefulness in accounting for the contrasts in scientific practice in brain research and in cybernetics during the 1940s. Focusing on two key institutional contexts of brain research and the role of the Rockefeller and Macy Foundations in directing brain research and cybernetics, the paper argues that the conflicts between these fields were not simply about experiment vs. theory but turned more closely on the questions that defined each area and the language used to elaborate answers.
Warren S. McCulloch
Transformative learning and the challenges of complexity.
In: Taylor E. W., Cranton P. & Associates (eds.) Handbook of transformative learning: Theory, research and practice. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco: 178–194.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/488
In order to illustrate what is at stake in the definition and in the development of a complex and constructivist epistemology of transformative learning, this chapter introduces Edgar Morin’s paradigm of complexity and explores six challenges that appear particularly illustrative with regards to the advance of research and practices related to transformative learning.
Alrøe H. F.
Authors’ Response: Systems, Environments, and the Body.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/807
In our response we focus on how different types of systems are related from a constructivist perspective, and specifically on the relation between communicational social systems and embodied agency.
Alrøe H. F.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/803
Society is faced with “wicked” problems of environmental sustainability, which are inherently multiperspectival, and there is a need for explicitly constructivist and perspectivist theories to address them.
However, different constructivist theories construe the environment in different ways. The aim of this paper is to clarify the conceptions of environment in constructivist approaches, and thereby to assist the sciences of complex systems and complex environmental problems.
We describe the terms used for “the environment” in von Uexküll, Maturana & Varela, and Luhmann, and analyse how their conceptions of environment are connected to differences of perspective and observation.
We show the need to distinguish between inside and outside perspectives on the environment, and identify two very different and complementary logics of observation, the logic of distinction and the logic of representation, in the three constructivist theories.
Luhmann’s theory of social systems can be a helpful perspective on the wicked environmental problems of society if we consider carefully the theory’s own blind spots: that it confines itself to systems of communication, and that it is based fully on the conception of observation as indication by means of distinction.
Alrøe H. F.
The paradox of scientific expertise: A perspectivist approach to knowledge asymmetries.
Fachsprache - International Journal of Specialized Communication
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/462
The paradox of scientific expertise is that the growth of science leads to a fragmentation of scientific expertise. To resolve this paradox, this paper probes three hypotheses: 1) All scientific knowledge is perspectival. 2) The perspectival structure of science leads to specific forms of knowledge asymmetries. 3) Such perspectival knowledge asymmetries must be handled through second order perspectives. We substantiate these hypotheses on the basis of a perspectivist philosophy of science grounded in Peircean semiotics and autopoietic systems theory. Perspectivism is an important elaboration of constructivist approaches to help overcome problems in cross-disciplinary collaboration and use of science, and thereby make society better able to solve complex, real-world problems.
Angel S. A.
López-González M. A.
Bibliometric review of the repertory grid technique: 1998-2007.
Journal of Constructivist Psychology
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/889
This bibliometric review covers the scientific production with or about the repertory grid technique between 1998 and 2007. The analysis of previous reviews suggests the need for a more careful and broad process of bibliographic research. With this aim, 24 bibliographic sources were used to cover a wide range of specialties. We began with the drawing up of an explicit protocol in which the research terms were detailed. Then the bibliographic sources were consulted, taking into account a specification of inclusion and exclusion criteria. As a result of this process, 973 references were obtained: 468 were journal papers, 335 book chapters, 108 doctoral theses and 62 books. The review also evaluates the types of documents found, the evolution of the number of works published, the repertory grid’s fields of application and the degree of openness to other disciplines. The most relevant authors, their affiliations, their countries and the publication language are also revealed in this article, as well as the major journals contributing to disseminate the work done with this technique.
Since Kelly created his personal construct theory (PCT), the repertory grid technique (RGT) has been the most well-known instrument used not only by researchers and practitioners within PCT but also across a variety of disciplines and approaches. In the present work, we try to portray a recent picture of the status of the RGT using bibliometric analysis.
Avenier M. J.
Parmentier Cajaiba A.
The dialogical model: Developing academic knowledge for and from practice.
European Management Review
We propose a methodological framework for developing and communicating academic knowledge relevant for practice: the dialogical model. This model of engaged scholarship comprises five activities: specifying a research question, elaborating local knowledge, developing conceptual knowledge, communicating knowledge, and activating knowledge. The current article focuses on the early stage of research question design and presents the epistemological framework in which the model was initially developed. It also offers guidance on how to maintain academic value and practical relevance in tension throughout the research process. Examples illustrate how to construct research questions relevant both for academia and practice, and how to justify validity in pragmatic constructivism. This model can likewise be mobilized in other epistemological frameworks, particularly for knowledge generation purposes. It enriches the researchers’ methodological toolbox by adding a new procedural tool that provides valuable guidelines from the very start of research projects.
The first part of this article is dedicated to presenting and discussing what internal validity, external validity, and reliability mean specifically in pragmatic constructivism, which is another name for radical constructivism. This naming is consistent with the radical constructivist view of the relationship between knowledge and action, and has the advantage of being free from all the misinterpretations associated with the term “radical.”
Observing Networks: A Note on Asymmetrical Social Forms.
Cybernetics & Human Knowing
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/3308
The paper looks at a combination of systems theory, cybernetics, and sociological theory in search of a tool for inquiring into contemporary social forms. The idea of observing networks, drawing on Heinz von Foerster’s and Niklas Luhmann’s notion of observing systems and Harrison C. White’s network calculus of identity and control, is outlined to enable basic sociological intuitions about social forms to be integrated with an understanding of both complexity and recursivity organizing our perspective on the human condition in a precarious world. Social forms are shown to gain robustness not from substantial identity but from relational ambiguity. Observing networks, or so the hypothesis goes, combine bodies, minds, society, and – soon perhaps – intelligent machines. The paper looks at how an understanding of complexity, recursivity, system, form, and network may help flesh out the calculus of our human condition.
Systems, network, and culture.
Soziale Systeme 15 (2): 271–287.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/489
The paper compares social systems theory and social network theory in terms of what it is they respectively seek to elucidate. Whereas systems theory focuses on problems of difference and reproduction, network theory deals with problems of identity and control, the former privileging communication and the latter action. To understand their different foci, it may help to keep in mind that systems theory is a child of computing’s formative years, whereas the more recent success of network theory, despite its roots in a far older tradition, accompanies the advent of the Internet. The paper goes on to compare the two theories with respect to questions of mathematical modeling, culture, and self-reference, which interestingly are closely related. It proposes a mathematical modeling of culture, which uses Spencer-Brown’s notion of form to combine variables of communication, consciousness, and life into one network relying on three systems capable of reproducing themselves. The paper is relevant for constructivist approaches because it shows how systems are constructed relying on networks within their own interpretation as culture.
What is holding societies together?
Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts 53 (1): 1–22.
Fulltext at http://cepa.info/490
In the paper we maintain that one way to phrase the title question is to look for the introduction of new media for the distribution of communication as chocks forcing society to develop new structures to both reject and accept possible communication. We develop a kind of media archeology by checking this thesis in the four cases of language, writing, the printing press, and the computer, respectively. We show that four models, the ethnological, the ontological, the functional, and the ecological, help to hold society together by precisely asking the question of how it holds together. The paper is relevant for constructivist approaches because it shows the culture forms that different societies rely on to construct themselves.
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