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Jobst Conrad “Limitations to Interdisciplinarity …”

January 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Conrad, Jobst 2002. Limitations to Interdisciplinarity in Problem Oriented Social Science Research. – The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies vol. 1, no. 1. kättesaadav: http://www.journal-tes.dk/vol%201%20no%201/problem%20oriented%20conrad.pdf

Practical (social) problems rarely are in accordance with disciplinary boundaries. Therefore scientific knowledge, if superior at all, has to be taken from different fields and combined. So open questions have to be investigated in a problem oriented manner, when external, non-theoretical purposes tend to dominate. Problem oriented research, as opposed to basic research, is less interested in gaining new general scientific findings, but more concerned with the utilization of general knowledge for practical (social) problems which are not structured according to disciplinary categories and limitations. This implies inherent uncertainties and the necessity of (problem oriented) interlinkage of disciplinary knowledge. (3)

Problem oriented research differs from applied research. The latter is oriented towards the specification and application of available scientific knowledge (analytical models, conceptual schemes, techniques, instruments) for relatively clearly specified purposes. In contrast problem oriented research must, in principle, deal with uncertainties related to prognosis, complexity and contingency in order to legitimize decisions which have no certain foundations, but typically cannot wait until basic questions of a scientific field have been solved. (3)

Interdisciplinarity may well be considered a valuable ideal of integrating (theoretical) concepts and methods in a common framework, but rarely a realistic aim in terms of developing a new common theory. Perhaps a common new context is all that can be hoped for. Typically, this would be at the level of system building within an integrated (and reflexive) theory. (4)

Since problem oriented research is almost by definition not oriented towards theory building, it can hardly involve interdisciplinarity. Thus, corresponding empirical analysis of problem oriented research should evaluate how far it satisfied the various criteria of competent multidisciplinary scientific cooperation indicated above but not its genuine interdisciplinarity. (5)

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Alessandro Duranti “On Theories and Models”

January 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Duranti, Alessandro 2005. On Theories and Models. – Discourse Studies, Vol 7(4-5): 409-429

The first thesis I proposed is called ‘the primacy of interaction’, that is, the idea that interaction is the presupposed ingredient and product of any human affair. In other words, we need interaction to be who we are and, in turn, our ways of being produce further interaction. […] Speakers are constantly evaluating their about-to-be-uttered words vis-à-vis their about-to-be-addressed audience. The audience is always part of the message even before it does anything (and it always does do something). (411)

[…] an important question to address in this context is whether we can distinguish between interaction and communication at all, regardless of how they have been defined in the past. (412)

General criteria should be identified to assess not only whether a given description is valid (as opposed to misleading or mystifying) but also whether it is better than other possible descriptions. Such evaluative criteria may include: (1) the ability of a given description to provide a characterization of the phenomenon in question so that we can easily differentiate it from others, whether or not intuitively similar, phenomena; (2) the capacity of an analysis to offer generalizations; and (3) the potential to offer a measure of comparison of phenomena that appear different but turn out to be the same or appear the same but turn out to be different. (416)

the centrality of interaction presupposes an interest in the kind of ‘work’ that interaction gets done or that is done through interaction. Crucial in this endeavor is the dimension of temporality. We do not just ask ‘why this feature/expression/act/turn/exchange/activity etc.?’ but ‘why this feature/expression/act/turn/exchange/activity etc. now?’ (416)

Let us think of a theory as a set of propositions, preferences, and attitudes toward a particular set of phenomena or entities. We are thus always engaged in theorybuilding whenever we are concerned with the logic of our research, the paradigm-in-practice that we use, or, rather, that we must use in order to get to talk about anything (I am using ‘must’ here in both the epistemic and deontic sense). Hence theories include an epistemology, that is, what we think we can know and what we think we should be able to know. And theories also include an
implicit or explicit ontology, particular assumptions on the nature of the phenomena we are trying to understand and a set of associated practices (i.e. way of implementing those assumptions and, in turn, reinforcing them). (418)

Let us think of models as entities that are good to think-with. They are worth pursuing if they provide us with a conceptual apparatus that can be used to describe, and thus (better) understand or explain a given range of phenomena. Models are often thought of as representations but only in the very general sense of ‘standing in’ or ‘standing for’ the phenomena themselves or the logic of their functioning. (419)

One of the advantages of ‘models for’, like all metaphors, is that they have a life of their own which frees them from our own original assumptions. We can explore the model in ways that are more adventurous than the ways in which we can explore something that we control very tightly. One possible generalization here is that there might be a tendency for ‘models of ’ to be more constraining and closed areas of inquiry and a tendency for ‘models for’ to be more open-ended frames of inquiry. (421)

THESIS 1 OR THE PRIMACY OF INTERACTION
We believe that human action (from the lifting of a spoon in preparation for testing the content of a dish to the declaration of war) always involves some form of interaction and that therefore any model, theory, and method
aimed at explaining or simply describing what humans routinely do in the course of their everyday affairs must have some way to include ‘interaction’ as a dimension that needs to be referred to, theorized, and empirically reckoned with, e.g. ‘captured’ or ‘inscribed’ through some form of documentation […] (422)

THESIS 2 OR THE RECOGNITION OF THE HISTORICITY OF CURRENT TERMINOLOGY
‘Interaction’ has not had the same intensive critical scrutiny (outside of the criticism of ‘interactionism’ in sociology) perhaps because of its taken-for-granted or, alternatively, its underanalyzed status in past and current debates (including theoretical debates on contemporary socio-ethical-political issues). (422)

THESIS 3 OR THE PROBLEMATIC RELATION TO ESTABLISHED DISCIPLINES (E.G. PSYCHOLOGY AND SOCIOLOGY)
Any empirically founded study of human interaction must attend two needs: (1) the need to refer to or take into consideration human consciousness – which includes intentionality as well as human awareness and self-understanding – and (2) the need to avoid assuming a theoretical-methodological stance exclusively or even primarily founded on cognitive processes (assumed to be) lodged within the (individual) mind. (422-423)

THESIS 4 OR THE INEXTRICABLE LINK BETWEEN ANALYSIS AND DOCUMENTATION
We may have a commitment to a continuous updating of our documentary techniques depending on the type of
phenomena we want to capture (phenomena →technique) or a commitment to experiment with different techniques to see what kind of phenomena they can reveal (technique →phenomena). (423)

THESIS 5 OR THE COMMITMENT TO EXPLICIT UNITS OF ANALYSIS
We must first commit to making our units of analysis explicit and then to assess their potential for crosscontextual, cross-cultural, cross-linguistic analysis. (423)

THESIS 6 OR THE NEED FOR EXPLICIT EVALUATIVE PRINCIPLES
Among students interested in an interactional approach, there is a recurrent call for clear statements regarding the criteria for the acceptance or rejection of a given analysis. For example, we need to say what constitutes evidence for asserting that feature f does a or is used to accomplish a. (423)

THESIS 7 OR THE REFLEXIVITY OF INTERACTION
Reflexivity transfers the omnipresent political and ethical dimensions of human affairs to the context of researchers’ choices. (424)

Peter Grzybek “The Concept of ‘Model’ in Soviet Semiotics”

January 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Grzybek, Peter 1994. The Concept of ’Model’ in Soviet Semiotics. – Russian Literature XXXVI: 285-300

a)    Natural language can indeed be considered a modelling system, since it involces the construction of mental models. These models are analogical (or iconical) in nature, but they are not the only mode to represent the contents of a text. In this sense, then, natural language actually reflects what Lotman terms the „principal semiotic heterogeneity“.
b)    The semiotic heterogeneity of a ’text’ not only generally confirms the idea of semiotic heterogeneity; it also makes the claim of an isology between ’sign-text-culture’ more and more convinving.
c)    Although mental models are analogical by nature, their generation is not restricted to iconic signs; nevertheless, iconic components are indispensable from the construction of discouse models, by whatever kind of signs they may be generated.
d)    Since a mental model need not be veridical, but can instead be fictitious and may involve true or false assertions, it is necessary to realize that within this framework, a literary work of art cannot be distinguished from an everyday statement. Given this circumstance, the notion of a ’secondary modelling system’ will have to be reflected anew. It might turn out to be useful to re-define a secondary modelling system not as a structure which is superimposed upon language or constructed like it, but as a structure to which, on a secondary level of signification, cultural concepts (semantic oppositions) are attributed which, instead of the original input, serve as the basis of interpretation. […] secondary modelling systems represent only part of art in general, and that art is not restricted to secondary modelling systems. (295-296)

Göran Sonesseon “Beyond Methods and Models”

January 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Sonesson, Göran 2008. Beyond Methods and Models. Semiotics as a Distinctive Discipline and an Intellectual Tradition. – Signs vol. 2: 277-319

[…] both  hermeneutics  and  rhetoric  are concerned with the Popperean World 2, that of the subjects, but semiotics  is of course mainly concerned  with  World  3,  that  of  organism-independent  artefacts. (306)

I will here suggest a model of communication (Figure 1), which takes the basic operation of communicating to be, not transference in space, or translation into another code, but the act of interpretation, which supposes an active contribution on the part of the receiver, as well as on  that  of  the  sender,  the  receiver  being  sometimes  more,  and  sometimes  less  involved than the  sender.  Indeed,  the  first  result  of  a  process  of  communication  is  to  produce  a  task  of perception for the receiver, who has to have the means of accomplishing this task. (307)

More  simply,  looked  at  from  this  angle,  rhetoric  is  concerned  with  the  way  of  reating  the message, so as to win the adherence of the other, and hermeneutics is involved with the task of recovering  what  the  other  wanted  to  say  (or  what  a  particular  work  really  may  be  taken  to mean). In between the position of Ego and Alter, semiotics has to elucidate what resources are at the disposal of both participants in the process of communication. (308)

In  the  same  way,  semiotics  points  out,  against rhetoric as it is often practiced nowadays […] that nobody can express himself, except by means of  the  semiotic  resources  given  in  a  particular  society.  This  means  that,  not  only  is communication  only  possible  as  an  interaction  between  sender  and  receiver,  addresser  and addressee,  but  that  even  this  interaction  cannot  take  place,  but  through  the  intermediary  of signs  and  other  meanings.  But  these  meanings  are  really  part  of  the  world  going  beyond both addresser and addressee,  the World 3 of Popperian ontology: that which is only given through consciousness, but has an existence independent of consciousness. (309)