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In response to the new leading problems for science, in which the traditional reductionist approach is patently inadequate, complex systems are becoming the focus of important innovative research and application in many areas. It is shown that a full analysis of emergent complexity requires dialectical thinking, with contradiction as a key concept. A mathematical metaphor, of a multi-dimensional phase space containing complex systems, is used to illustrate the plurality of legitimate perspectives at the foundation of genuine diversity. Such conceptual tools allow the articulation of post-normal science, and in this way the contradiction between hegemonic reductionism and fragmented relativism, characterising the post-modern condition, can be resolved.

Additional information

Authors: FUNTOWICZ S, JRC Ispra (IT);RAVETZ J, Research Methods Consultancy, London (GB)
Bibliographic Reference: Paper presented: Complex Ecological Economics Systems Meeting, Stockholm (SE), September 9-11, 1993
Availability: Available from (1) as Paper EN 37787 ORA
Record Number: 199311270 / Last updated on: 1994-11-29
Original language: en
Available languages: en
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