Experience, Modelling and Operationality
New Horizons in Institutional and Evolutionary Economics series
The hard sciences are successful because they deal with the soft problems; the soft sciences are struggling because they deal with the hard problems. Heinz von Foerster (2003)1 This book is about deep complexity in social sciences. Deep complexity, abbreviated as DCX, is a term introduced here to denote the particular kind of complexity experienced in problem-situations which no method available in the current scientific literature can seemingly deal with satisfactorily. These situations I call deeply ill-structured problem-situations. The book is a long argument about how some deeply ill-structured problemsituations in social sciences can nevertheless be dealt with in a scientific manner. In order to analyse deeply ill-structured problem-situations, I argue that one needs to step outside the limits of the prevailing scientific paradigm and its disjunctive reasoning. This paradigm, which enjoys monopoly status in the hard sciences, excludes from its scope everything that cannot be grasped through the range of its concepts and tools. Deeply ill-structured problem-situations fall outside the boundaries of this paradigm. Yet it has succeeded in appearing as the sole, exclusive way to do science. But is it necessarily the unique way to put to work what is commonly understood as defining science? Science is a particular activity in the production of knowledge. It combines five properties: it is about some object or subject matter pertaining to some reality; it aims at some truth value or validity; it relies on an explicit conceptual and methodological framework; it is systematically exposed to public criticism and test;...