Registration open daily from 8am - 6pm.  Please join us for the #ISSS2015 #Roundtable at 7.45am each morning.

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SIG Session [clear filter]
Wednesday, August 5

13:30 CEST

Designing Scientific Research into Design Team Dynamics

This presentation offers an interim report of a research-into-design study between its pilot stage and its main stage. The study is an empirical investigation of the degrees of congruency between
perceptions of “creative direction-giving” amongst collaborating (as opposed to co-operating) designers. One ambition of this project is to investigate designing scientifically, while doing justice both to the paradigm of empirical natural science and to the practice of design, as it is reflected in cybernetic design theory. Another ambition is to consider the experimental approach from a design perspective. The presentation will be contextualized with an outline of some underlying assumptions shared by cybernetics and design research that are incompatible with the ideals of natural science. These assumptions are: circular causality, non-determinism, and the subjective, included observer. The experimental design of the study, which aims to bridge the aforementioned incompatibility, will be presented, including the design of a novel data acquisition apparatus, and related data analysis methods. Results obtained during the pilot study indicate low congruencies between perceptions of “creative direction-giving” amongst collaborating designers, possibly due to designers’ lack of sensitivity towards their team dynamics. Some possible methodological and design-experimental changes are being considered for the upcoming main stage of the study. These possible changes will be presented and offered for discussion.

Wednesday August 5, 2015 13:30 - 13:54 CEST
Copenhagen 2 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

13:54 CEST

Dancing with Ambiguity

We live embedded in beliefs and premises (as indeed this statement is an example) that my be explicit or implicit and unaware.  I begin with the explicit premise that ambiguity is a concept that we have created in response to a desire for precision or control; a desire that is generally satisfied in only some situations.  My second explicit premise is that we live as participants in a systemic that we cannot fully specify or control.   Given these premises, I wonder how we continue to manage, most of us adequately for the circumstances we are in, however ambiguous they may be.  I claim that in part we continue to operate with a systemic dynamics on our part that couples with the systemic dynamics of our medium.  In part we simplify through various processes, all dependent on language, and thus create locally effective control and an illusion of certainty.

I will explore some notions of how these two approaches could have arisen with biological evolution and with the evolution of language, inclusive of the many implications and entailments of living as languaging beings.  Language and networks of conversation result in different lineages of beliefs and premises that lead to articulation as models (both conceptual and formal) which in turn serve to guide our actions.  As each lineage of language and conversation evolves, it progressively excludes other models and actions.  Since actions have consequences to the world we live, beliefs and premises have extensive implications to further possibilities.  Without denying the value of models I will offer some conjectures on why it behooves us to also accept and dance with ambiguity as a way of enabling alternatives.

Presenter / Artist
avatar for Pille Bunnell

Pille Bunnell

I have a background in ecology and ethology. After finishing grad studies nearly a half century ago, I worked for decades as a systems ecologist who specialized in the integration and explanation of complex concerns for domain specialists, policy makers, students, and the public... Read More →

Wednesday August 5, 2015 13:54 - 14:18 CEST
Copenhagen 2 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

14:18 CEST

The Fine Art of Goal Formulation: A Model of Naturalistic Theatre as Second Order Behavioural Science

Wednesday August 5, 2015 14:18 - 14:42 CEST
Copenhagen 2 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

14:42 CEST

15:06 CEST

Psychohistory for our Time: An Introduction, Bringing Freud and Piaget Into the Twenty First Century

It has become increasingly apparent that a deep and proper understanding of the present time, the past and a sense of what the future may bring requires  a keen historical sensibility concerning how people, nations and institutions function, coupled with the deeper insight into the mind/brain that the twenty first century revolution in the psychology and neurophysiology of humans yields. That is, psychohistory, based on the phenomenological work and insights  of Freud and Piaget ( with their errors clarified by our present understanding of the mind/brain) will give us a new understanding of history for our time.  I will bring Freud and Piaget into the twenty first century. Historical analysis will have a scientific, empirical basis which will also help to validate psychoanalytic and Piagetian theories.  

Presenter / Artist

Wednesday August 5, 2015 15:06 - 15:30 CEST
Copenhagen 2 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

16:00 CEST

Global Systems Modelling and the Club of Rome: Future Directions?
Presenter / Artist
avatar for Robert Hoffman

Robert Hoffman

President, whatIf? Technologies Inc
- systems modelling: Canadian Energy Systems Simulator, Australian Stocks and Flows Framework, Global Systems Simulator- new economic theory World Academy of Art and Science- member, Club of Rome- trustee, American Society for cybernetics

Wednesday August 5, 2015 16:00 - 16:24 CEST
Copenhagen 2 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

16:24 CEST

Reflection in Action on 'Second Order Science'

The paper intends to put forward my perspective on Second Order science not in the mode of ‘tell it like it is (no one wholly and unequivocally knows what it is. This expression is beautifully elucidated in von Foerster, H. (2013, p.2) “The Beginning of Heaven and Earth Has No Name: Seven Days with Second-Order Cybernetics”. Edited by Albert Müller and Karl H. Müller, Fordham University Press.

However, there are praise-worthy, pioneering efforts and research in this regard (see Umpleby, 2014; Riegler and Mueller, 2014; Mueller, 2014; Lissack, 2014). Rather, I attempt to observe it as I see it. Second Order Science, in a sense, is seeding and sprouting, even if the idea of Second Order Cybernetics has been around for about five decades. Why this sudden interest in Second Order Science? Why is Second Order Science being discussed only in the cybernetics fraternity? What are the relations between the Second Order Science and the Second Order Cybernetics? For me, Second Order Science starts not with first Order Science but with Science per se. I do not see Second Order Science as some extension of first Order Science, rather it is Science; that is to be seen, that is being seen from the ‘second order’ from the start. 

Hayek (1979) points out that all science starts with the classification. In the physical sciences, objects are classified by unchanging characteristics that are both measurable and distinguishable by controlled and objective tests. But not in the social sciences. The social sciences, including economics are the study of ‘human action’, and humans are not programmed robots or automatons. In fact, economics ought to be more about the Homo sapiens and not Homo economicus. The standard Arrow-Debreu world of perfect information, perfect knowledge is a chimera, in many real cases and circumstances.

The essential point of science or scientific theories is its explanatory power; its power to enhance understanding. Also, the power of prediction is one of the virtues of science though it has its peculiarities and problems. And there is difficulty in forecasting too far into the future that leaves having ‘pattern predictions’ as a good enough second best solution in many situations. Hayek observed that ‘during the first half of the nineteenth century the term science came more and more to be confined to the physical and biological disciplines which at the same time began to claim for themselves a special rigorousness and certainty which distinguished them from all others. Their success was such that they soon came to exercise an extraordinary fascination on those working in other fields’. However, there has been a mechanical and uncritical application of physical sciences to social sciences (Hayek, 1942). Even now there is rampant belief and practice that the methods of the physical sciences—observation, experimentation and measurement- are applicable also to the study of society.

In the twentieth century, many modern disciplines, notably economics, and management science, triumphed to earn physics-like scientific status. But still, there is much to be achieved socially with respect to the understanding of many ‘social phenomena’, including the origin or unfolding of crises, be they financial, social, economic or socio-economic, cultural and political. Currently, we explain or see the patterns in these, mostly in hindsight.

Stuart Umpleby explains the ‘philosophical principles underlying Second Order Science’ as follows:  ‘Cybernetics has added two dimensions, not to a single scientific field, but rather to the philosophy of science, thereby expanding science for all fields.  The two dimensions are: 1) the amount of attention paid to the observer and 2) the effect of a theory on the system of interest. Adding these two dimensions to the contemporary philosophy of science would constitute a scientific revolution in the philosophy of science. The new philosophy of science becomes a more adequate guide to the development of scientific knowledge, particularly in the social sciences’. While taking the ‘the radical constructivist view of science’ Glasersfeld (2001) observes that ‘to most traditional philosophers, true knowledge, is a commodity supposed to exist as such, independent of experience, waiting to be discovered by a human knower. It is timeless and requires no development, except that the human share of it increases as exploration goes on'. But, all science intends “to co-ordinate our experiences and to bring them into a logical order” (Einstein, 1955, as quoted in von Glasersfeld, 2001).

Without an observer being part of the system, and without having ability and willingness to be in and out of the system; during observation and ruminations; in the multi-observer experiential world; it’s difficult to co-ordinate our experiences. Through the present paper, I am trying to reflect on Second Order Science, reflecting in action; with my curiosities, questions and confusion that might meaningfully expand the realm of the discussions. Specifically, I shall argue that Second Order Science is the body of knowledge that is emerging to study complex socio-economic phenomena with its own building blocks, methods, models and management frameworks. I can see that the Second Order Science has the potential to take the ‘understanding of understanding’ of the social or socio-economic phenomena; particularly all complex phenomena to an elevated level. The present paper is an explorative initiative in this regard.


Einstein, A. (1955) “The meaning of relativity”, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton U. Press.

Hayek, F. A. (1942) "Scientism and the Study of Society", Economica, vol. IX, no. 35.

Hayek, F. A. (1979) “The Counter-Revolution of Science”, 2nd edition, Indianapolis: Liberty Press.

Lissack, M. (2014) “Second Order Science: Putting the Metaphysics Back Into the Practice of Science”

Mueller, K. (2014) “Towards a General Methodology for Second-Order Science,” Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics, Vol. 12 (5), 33-42

Riegler, A. and Mueller, K. (2014) “Second-order science. Special issue.” Constructivist Foundations Vol. 10, No. 1.

Umpleby Stuart A. (2014) “Second-order Science: Logic, Strategies, Methods”, Constructivist Foundations, Vol. 10, 1, 15-23

von Glasersfeld, E. (2001) “The radical constructivist view of science” Foundations of Science, special issue on "The Impact of Radical Constructivism on Science", edited by A. Riegler, 2001, vol. 6, no. 1–3: 31–43.

Presenter / Artist

Wednesday August 5, 2015 16:24 - 16:48 CEST
Copenhagen 2 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

16:48 CEST

A Machian Functional Relations Perspective on Complexity and the Systems Approach

The poster discusses two related questions: where to ‘cut’ system definitions and systemic relations based on the perspective of the involved stakeholders. Both are historically related to the genetic historical /-critical, monist approach of psychophysicist Ernst Mach.

Ernst Mach transferred the then current Darwinian evolutionary conception to the epistemological discussion of the historical development of procedures and theories with implications for their ‘epistemological’ value. Scientists’ statements on the nature of reality need to be based on observations, which require an analysis of the ‘psychological worldview’ in and from which observations are identified, measured, analyzed and interpreted. The worldview of scientists influences observations, interpretations of observed facts and identification of causality in models of reality. In turn, observations lead to adaptations of the thought structure (in terms of models and causality) of scientists as much as to a selection of observations that are deemed legitimate to support or refute a hypothesis. At some point, this process necessarily involves a ‘cut’ of relations considered and analyzed. This issue is reflected in the work of Herbert Simon on system decomposition and aggregation.


For the analysis of (causal) interactions in complex systems (Auyang 1998), Simon and Ando (Ando and Simon 1961, see also Shpak et al. 2004) have developed the concept of (near) decomposability, based on the notion that the interactions in structured systems can be separated into groups of interactions according to the strength of interactions between elements of a system. Groups of elements (variables) among which interactions are much stronger than among other elements, are separated into specific ‘modules’ separate from elements with less strong interactions. It is assumed that most of these inter-group interactions can be neglected and intra-group interactions aggregated into single variables.


The obvious danger in this assumption is that interactions between groups of variables can be neglected respectively that microstate variables can be aggregated into macro-state variables over a number of conditions and / or for longer time horizons. This assumption may be correct in the short run or under normal conditions, but may also be wrong under longer terms and more unusual conditions. Thus from a ‘complexity / non-linear mathematics perspective ‘small’ effects may lead under positive feedback to the crossing of thresholds and phase transitions and then may be observed as increased stress, risk and catastrophes in a system’s development (cp. Thom 1989, Jain and Krishna 2002, Sornette 2003).


In human systems these aggregations in the form of system definitions and system models involve approximations and hypotheses on system behavior in the mental world of actors. These assumptions underlying mental representations of systems are likely to be proven wrong earlier or later with the further development of a (dynamic) theoretical system.


In order to tackle the question of where to ‘cut’ system definition, decomposition and system aggregation, the paper proposes to employ physicist-psychologist-philosopher Ernst Mach’s genetic perspective on the evolution of knowledge based on his research in the history of science (Mach 1888, 1905, 1883). Mach suggests to replace causality with functional relations, which describe the relationship between the elements of the measured item and the standard of measurement (Mach 1905, Heidelberger 2010) as functional dependencies of one appearance on the other. Measurement, system delineation and aggregation is thus based on the tools and perspective or worldview of scientists. The poster sketches the links between Bertalanffy’s and Mach’s non-positivist approaches and Simon’s formal approach to derive requirements for ‘tools’ to converse about system definition, decomposition, and aggregation (modularization) interrelated with and dependent on scientists worldviews.



Presenter / Artist

Wednesday August 5, 2015 16:48 - 17:12 CEST
Copenhagen 2 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

17:12 CEST

In Order to Create a Better, Wiser World We Need a Revolution in Academic Inquiry

We are heading towards disaster. Population growth, destruction of natural habitats and rapid extinction of species, vast inequalities of wealth and power around the globe, the lethal character of modern war, pollution of earth, sea and air, and above all the impending disasters of climate change: all these looming global problems indicate we face a grim future.  In order tackle these problems intelligently, effectively and humanely, we need to learn how to do it.  That in turn requires that our institutions of learning, our universities and schools, are rationally designed and devoted to the task.  At present, they are not.  We have inherited from the past a kind of academic inquiry so grossly irrational that it has actually contributed to the genesis of these problems.  The great intellectual success of modern science and technological research has made possible, even caused, all these global crises.  As a matter of supreme urgency we need to bring about a revolution in academia so that humanity may acquire what it so desperately needs: a kind of inquiry rationally designed and devoted to helping us make progress towards as good a world as possible.  The kind of academic inquiry we need would put problems of living at the heart of the enterprise; the pursuit of knowledge and technology would emerge out of and would feed back into, the central and fundamental activities of improving our understanding of what our problems of living are (including global problems), and proposing and critically assessing possible solutions – possible actions, policies, political programmes, ways of living.  The fundamental task would be to help people everywhere come to have a better understanding of what our problems are, and what we need to do about them.

Presenter / Artist

Wednesday August 5, 2015 17:12 - 17:36 CEST
Copenhagen 2 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

17:36 CEST

Modeling with G. Spencer-Brown
Presenter / Artist
avatar for Marcus J. Carney

Marcus J. Carney


Wednesday August 5, 2015 17:36 - 18:00 CEST
Copenhagen 2 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany