Chapter 2: Systems theory and parts-to-whole relationships
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The customary mode of social analysis is stipulative, by which some set of aggregative properties is postulated and those properties are then examined for their logical coherence. This stipulative analytical mode enables reduction of a society to a representative agent which in turn enables society to be described by aggregative data. This reduction of a multiplicity of individuals to a representative individual reflects the common presumption that the actions of the parts are mutually consistent with the stipulated equilibrium conditions. In contrast, this chapter centeres on complexity and the emergence of societies as constituted through myriad orientations among manifold moving parts. Any mutual consistency among those moving parts is one of historical possibility and not one of logical necessity, calling to mind George Polya's (1954) distinction between demonstrative and plausible reasoning.

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