Page 27 - MODES of EXPLANATION

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everyday interaction might have other motivations than the search for laws, causal
explanations, prediction, and control that we associate with the ideas of natural and
biological science.” (Carr, 2008)
Human behavior – indeed, any behavior that occurs in the domain of Science 2 – is
contingent and context dependent. Change the context or the cognitive environs and the
behavior is likely to change. The domain of Science 1 is quite different. In the hard sciences,
contingency is an enemy of prediction and control. The contingent is thus to be eliminated if
possible and controlled for (
ceteris paribus
) if not.
Given this role for contingency, the rough-and-ready distinction between Science 1
and Science 2 is epistemic; it may or may not have an ontological correlate. At some point,
the epistemic tools of the physicist cease to be helpful. The world can no longer be treated as
constituted by discrete closed systems, describable solely in terms of simple relationships.
This rough-and-ready distinction can be illustrated through the use of a continuum – a
Mobius strip (Figure I.1).
[insert Figure 1]
Figure I.1
. Science I and Science 2
In our continuum (pictured as a one-sided loop), the world as we encounter it in the
raw is undifferentiated, and it is we who do the differentiations who allow for cognition.
Along the simple and ordered side of the surface lies the world as we label and categorize it.
Along the complex and attuned side of the surface lies the world as we act in it.
These two sides of the surface have strikingly different characteristics despite being
part of a continuous surface. The simple and ordered side on the right (Science 1)
corresponds roughly to our traditional way of thinking. It excludes context dependence. It is
the world of reliable predictions, truth claims, and invariants. The complex and attuned side
on the left (Science 2) corresponds to a more relationship way of thinking. It explicitly
includes context dependence. This is the world of affordances, anticipations, and actions. It is
devoid of truth claims in favor of abductive hypotheses.
The very notion of what counts as an explanation seems to differ between these two
worlds. Adherents of both worldviews in general agree that a description of a mechanism in
response to a “how?” question constitutes an explanation. The disagreements arise over the
kinds of answers offered in response to a “why?” question, those that tend to arise when an
expectation is not met. While the Science 1 worldview inquires why as a means of revealing
“truth” and will keep asking until this criterion is met (an optimization strategy), the Science
2 worldview inquires why as a foundation for further action (or non-action) and will stop
asking when a satisfactory narrative has been offered (a satisficing strategy). The discussion
that follows will attempt to outline the basis for these orthogonal divergences.
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