Page 75 - MODES of EXPLANATION

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some operation and interact (causally) with other parts of the mechanism so that the
coordinated operation of the parts is what constitutes the systemic activity of the
mechanism.” (Persson & Ylikoski, 2007)
“Philosophers attack a realism that is ‘global’ and metaphysical. Most scientists use
and would defend a more modest (or ‘local’) realism, and would do so on heuristic
rather than on metaphysical grounds. By local realism, I mean something like the
following: on certain grounds (usually, for example that the existence of an entity or
property is known, derivable or detectable through a variety of independent means
…), scientists would argue that an entity or property is real, and they cannot imagine
plausible or possible theoretical changes which could undercut this conclusion.
Furthermore, they might argue that their experimental and problem-solving
approaches require them to presuppose the existence of that entity, property or
phenomenon.” (Wimsatt, 2007)
Constructivism
“An alternative to Realism is Constructivism. Constructivism recognizes that all our
knowledge is ‘constructed’, it does not reflect any external ‘transcendent’ realities,
but is contingent on convention, human perception, and social experience. It gives
credit to different kinds of actors as active constructors of contexts, not just passive
reactive agents to environmental aspects and new technologies. In fact, it provides a
standpoint from which multiple interpretations and understandings of contexts are
legitimized and from which these understandings can be imported into the design
process. In addition, it values the member's point of view to the concrete use
situations without this being as problematic to the epistemic-ontologic configuration
as it is for the realists.” (Oulasvirta, Tamminen, & Höök, 2005)
Important aspects of constructivism are as follows:
Ontological. Contexts are constructed socially, in interaction with other agents
in the world, and psychologically, in making sense of sense data.
Epistemological. Interpretation of context is always constituted within a frame
of reference.
Pragmatic. Instead of labeling contexts, people themselves can create and
maintain contexts in their action.
Constructivists place a heavy emphasis on human agency and all that it implies:
“Actions of objects have causes, whereas actions of humans have reasons. Invisible
forces that operate on humans but that appear to operate independent of human
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