Browsing by Subject "Holism"

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  • Raerinne, Jani (2018)
    In addition to their core explanatory and predictive assumptions, scientific models include simplifying assumptions, which function as idealizations, approximations, and abstractions. There are methods to investigate whether simplifying assumptions bias the results of models, such as robustness analyses. However, the equally important issue - the focus of this paper - has received less attention, namely, what are the methodological and epistemic strengths and limitations associated with different simplifying assumptions. I concentrate on one type of simplifying assumption, the use of mega parameters as abstractions in ecological models. First, I argue that there are two kinds of mega parameters qua abstractions, sufficient parameters and aggregative parameters, which have gone unnoticed in the literature. The two are associated with different heuristics, holism and reductionism, which many view as incompatible. Second, I will provide a different analysis of abstractions and the associated heuristics than previous authors. Reductionism and holism and the accompanying abstractions have different methodological and epistemic functions, strengths, and limitations, and the heuristics should be viewed as providing complementary research perspectives of cognitively limited beings. This is then, third, used as a premise to argue for epistemic and methodological pluralism in theoretical ecology. Finally, the presented taxonomy of abstractions is used to comment on the current debate whether mechanistic accounts of explanation are compatible with the use of abstractions. This debate has suffered from an abstract discussion of abstractions. With a better taxonomy of abstractions the debate can be resolved.
  • Willamo, R.; Helenius, L.; Holmström, C.; Haapanen, L.; Sandström, V.; Huotari, E.; Kaarre, K.; Värre, U.; Nuotiomäki, A.; Happonen, J.; Kolehmainen, L. (2018)
    Sustainability challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, poverty and rapid urbanization are complex and strongly interrelated. In order to successfully deal with these challenges, we need comprehensive approaches that integrate knowledge from multiple disciplines and perspectives and emphasize interconnections. In short, they aid in observing matters in a wider perspective without losing an understanding of the details. In order to teach and learn a comprehensive approach, we need to better understand what comprehensive thinking actually is. In this paper, we present a conceptual framework for a comprehensive approach, termed the GHH framework. The framework comprises three dimensions: generalism, holism, and holarchism. It contributes to the academic community's understanding of comprehensive thinking and it can be used for integrating comprehensive thinking into education. Also, practical examples of the application of the framework in university teaching are presented. We argue that an ideal approach to sustainability challenges and complexity in general is a balanced, dialectical combination of comprehensive and differentiative approaches. The current dominance of specialization, or the differentiative approach, in university education calls for a stronger emphasis on comprehensive thinking skills. Comprehensiveness should not be considered as a flawed approach, but should instead be considered as important an aspect in education as specialized and differentiative skills. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.