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May 09, 2007

Analysis, synthesis, systems thinking and the scientific method: rediscovering the importance of open systems

John Barton *, Tim Haslett
Department of Management, Monash University, Victoria, Australia
email: John Barton (bartcons@bigpond.net.au)

*Correspondence to John Barton, Department of Management, Monash University, Victoria, Australia.

Keywords
analysis • synthesis • scientific method • systems thinking • open systems
Abstract

This paper reconsiders the role of systems thinking in science and addresses an issue raised by Peter Checkland some 25 years ago, that of the relationship between systems thinking, analysis and the scientific method. The paper argues that the scientific method is most usefully interpreted as a dialectic between analysis and synthesis supported by the triadic logic of C.S. Peirce, and that the role of systems thinking is to frame this dialectic. Three generic forms of the system concept are identified - closed systems, input-output systems and open systems. Consequently, systems thinking is shown to play a central role in mainstream science. The paper concludes that a system is best defined as a cognitive construct for making sense of complexity and the organization of knowledge and that contemporary system thinking is best identified as the ethical, scientific pursuit of knowledge using the socio-ecological (open) systems frame. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
To access this paper, click on the URL: Analysis, synthesis, systems thinking and the scientific method: rediscovering the importance of open systems

Posted by ACASA on May 9, 2007 at 02:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)