Upgrade to Pro — share decks privately, control downloads, hide ads and more …

Science, complexity, society

Science, complexity, society

What can we know, about what?
For what?
(and who are we?)


Insite Project

June 26, 2012


  1. Science, complexity, society What can we know, about what? For

    what? (and who are we?)
  2. The world around us is of baffling complexity and the

    most obvious fact about it is that we cannot predict the future. Although the joke attributes only to the optimist the view that the future is uncertain, the optimist is right in this case: the future is unpredictable. It is, as Schrodinger has remarked, a miracle that in spite of the baffling complexity of the world, certain regularities in the events could be discovered. Eugene Wigner, The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences
  3. None
  4. Geoff West Nature: “The Newton of biology” “If Galileo were

    a biologist…”
  5. Doing science… • Get the data Laplace: “If men were

    restricted to collecting facts, the sciences would be only a sterile nomenclature, and we would never know the great laws of nature. It is in comparing the phenomena with each other, in seeking to grasp their relationships, that one is led to discover these laws.” • Find the invariants • Develop a mathematical model from which their relationships may be deduced • Use the model to generate predictions for other properties of other entities in other contexts the more entities, properties and contexts, the better
  6. None
  7. None
  8. Assumptions for a theory • Organisms sustained by the transport

    of energy and essential materials via hierarchical branching networks • These networks are space filling • The terminal branches are invariant • Organisms have evolved via natural selection to minimize the energy dissipated in networks (or to maximize the area of interface with their resource environment) Scaling and exponents derived from these assumptions…
  9. The ontology of GNG science • Entities and their quantitative

    properties “geometrical figures, numbers and movements, but not smell, nor tastes, nor sounds, which I do not believe are anything more than names outside the living animal.” Galileo – Decontextualized entities – Entities as ideal types – Properties satisfy invariant and universal relationships Discovering laws of nature
  10. • The first reason that it is surprising is that

    it is true not only in Pisa, and in Galileo's time, it is true everywhere on the Earth, was always true, and will always be true. This property of the regularity is a recognized invariance property. Without invariance principles similar to those implied in the preceding generalization of Galileo's observation, physics would not be possible. • The second surprising feature is that the regularity which we are discussing is independent of so many conditions which could have an effect on it. It is valid no matter whether it rains or not, whether the experiment is carried out in a room or from the Leaning Tower, no matter whether the person who drops the rocks is a man or a woman. It is valid even if the two rocks are dropped, simultaneously and from the same height, by two different people… The irrelevancy of so many circumstances which could play a role in the phenomenon observed has also been called an invariance. However, this invariance is of a different character from the preceding one since it cannot be formulated as a general principle. Again, it is true that if there were no phenomena which are independent of all but a manageably small set of conditions, physics would be impossible. • The preceding two points, though highly significant from the point of view of the philosopher, are not the ones which surprised Galileo most, nor do they contain a specific law of nature. The law of nature is contained in the statement that the length of time which it takes for a heavy object to fall from a given height is independent of the size, material, and shape of the body which drops. In the framework of Newton's second "law," this amounts to the statement that the gravitational force which acts on the falling body is proportional to its mass but independent of the size, material, and shape of the body which falls. Wigner on invariance: Galileo’s “surprising” regularity and laws of nature
  11. What are laws for? • Do laws “explain” phenomena? –

    Wigner: “Every empirical law has the disquieting quality that one does not know its limitations. We have seen that there are regularities in the events in the world around us which can be formulated in terms of mathematical concepts with an uncanny accuracy. There are, on the other hand, aspects of the world concerning which we do not believe in the existence of any accurate regularities. We call these initial conditions.” • Understanding, prediction, control Gravity, OSFHBN
  12. The ideal and the real • How to establish what

    is real, with respect to its idealization? – A falling object a point mass acted on by gravity – A closed vessel “filled” with gas an ideal gas – An animal a species (pre-Darwin) – A circulatory system a hierarchical branching network – A market with information about preferences and endowments and sets prices?? • Gauss and measurement error • Residuals and the ontological switch: From entities to variables…
  13. On to society… • West’s project: scaling laws and the

    “ideal city” • Farmer’s project: Moore’s and Wright’s Laws
  14. A different kind of science

  15. Mayr’s distinction • Typological thinking • Population thinking – Darwin

    unreified the species – Instead of a timeless kind, an historical aggregation bounded by pedigree – What counts for species as population is NOT shared features, but variation characterized by statistical distribution
  16. Foundations of Darwin’s account for “origin of species” • Population

    thinking – Population changes through birth and death – For heritable features, birth doesn’t change feature distribution • Mechanism classes fundamental and distinct – Variation introduce new variant features • NeoDarwinian synthesis: arise from genetic operations during reproduction at genotypic level – Selection determines which features increase in frequency over time • Natural selection Concept of fitness At phenotypic level
  17. DA vs. GNG • Different ontologies historical entities vs ideal

    types Note difference between fitness and gravity or optimized space- filling hierarchical branching networks: • Quantitative, but fitness not measurable w/out circularity • Gravity and OSFHBN entities, with causal roles in stories • Causality unexplained contingency (genotype- phenotype map) vs law • What is explained change process vs (relations among) entity properties • Role of mathematics – Not Darwin’s (or Mayr’s or Gould’s) language…(or nature’s?) – DA theories aren’t models cf. Newton’s laws, quantum mechanics, 8-fold way,… – Population genetics as fitness book-keeping (Fisher …, Hamilton) • Exact testable predictions? Unreasonable effectiveness?? – Models as metaphors, to motivate admissible narrative logic (Eigen, Lindgren, Kauffman…)
  18. On to society… DA attractive to many students of society

    – Historical ontology – Path-dependent change processes – Open-ended and constructive
  19. Thinking about society: some concepts • Kinds of entities –

    Artifacts • Produced by human beings for the use of human beings • Physical, informational, performative – Agents • An organization of human beings and artifacts, in the name of which social action is initiated and executed – Attributions • How agents represent the entities that inhabit their world • In particular, attributions of identity – For agents: what they do, how they do it – For artifacts: how they are made and used, by whom • Non-subordinated functionality Cathedral building, horror movies, cocaine use; cocker spaniel-ness
  20. The emergence of functionality: From interaction to new needs •

    Functionalism needs  interactions ( satisfaction) • Emergence of new needs interactions  new attributions  new values  new needs
  21. Reciprocality principle • The generation of new artifact types is

    mediated by the transformation of relations among agents. • New artifact types mediate the transformation of relationships among agents. agent-artifact space
  22. Tangled hierarchies • Simon’s theory of organization of complex systems

    nearly decomposable hierarchy • Doesn’t work for social organization Note different organization of social and natural sciences! – No strict inclusion of entities – Processes generally not localizable in single level – Higher levels not necessarily associated with slower processes
  23. Negotiations structured by rules structured by negotiation… • NB: “Negotiation”

    not restricted to speech acts • Interactions structured (in part) by permissions who can interact with whom via which interaction modality… – Explicit negotiated within organizations with permissions to assign permissions – Implicit – Arrogated • Challenges to arrogation are negotiated
  24. DA for sociocultural change? • Are variation and selection distinct

    and fundamental? – Even when we can identify variation and selection processes for SCC, they are inextricably intermingled (temporarily and structurally) – Constructive processes and organizational transformations, achieved through negotiation, fundamental and neither variation nor selection, except trivially • Where is the population? Don’t unreify causally efficacious higher-level organizations or systems!!!! In particular, when an organization transforms itself, where is the population??
  25. Contra-GNG: Ginzburg’s “conjectural paradigm”

  26. What kind of a world, how can it be known??

    • Ontology – Across-scale coherence of a world of experience – Frayed curtains “Though pretensions to systematic knowledge may appear more and more far-fetched, the idea of totality does not necessarily need to be abandoned … Though reality may seem to be opaque, there are privileged zones -- signs, clues -- which allow us to penetrate it.” • Epistemology of immersion in a world of experience (also, for the scientist, in many worlds of experience: cf Laplace, but not to abstract, rather to differentiate)
  27. “But can we actually call a conjectural paradigm scientific?” “The

    quantitative and anti-anthropocentric orientation of natural sciences from Galileo on forced an unpleasant dilemma on the humane sciences: either assume a lax scientific system in order to attain noteworthy results, or assume a meticulous, scientific one to achieve results of scant significance… The question arises whether exactness is attainable or even desirable for forms of knowledge most linked to daily experience -- or more precisely, to all those situations in which the unique and indispensable nature of the data is decisive to the persons involved. It was once said that falling in love is the act of overvaluing the marginal differences which exist between one woman (or man) and another. But this can also be said about works of art or about horses. In such situations the flexible rigor of the conjectural paradigm seems impossible to suppress.”
  28. An aside: DA and Ginzburg • DA historical, accounts for

    differences • BUT the coherent organization that makes metonymy intelligible (reconstruction of a hidden totality from visible clues) is COMPLETELY eliminated by DA un-reification. • And Ginzburg talks about structure, not change process…
  29. Organization thinking: ontological commitments • A world is a flux

    of energy, matter, information • In interesting worlds, patterns can be identified, which interact. Call these organizations. • Interactions generate transformations in the organization of the world. • Organization thinking seeks to understand how these patterns form and transform through interaction.
  30. Aspects of organization • Structure – Parts recursive – Interaction

    modalities among parts – Interaction modalities with other organizations • Process -- transformations in organization that organization may participate recursive • Function -- provides directedness in contexts in which more than one process available partially ordered by subordination NOT STATIC: An organization may even have processes for transforming them
  31. Processes to enact processes • Processes supported by structure •

    Instantiating the structure to participate in a process may require enacting management processes – Recruitment of parts to participate – Specialization providing parts with requisite properties and interaction modalities – Coordination controlling spatiotemporal ordering of interactions to achieve appropriate transformation
  32. Aspects of structure • Representations view of world • Rules

    interactional possibilities • Relationships history of interactions with other organizations