Integral Review

A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis

Posts Tagged ‘metatheory’

On the Normative Function of Metatheoretical Endeavors

Zachary Stein

Abstract: I reconstruct an historical understanding of metatheory that emphasizes its normative function. The pioneering work of James Mark Baldwin inspires an account of how metatheoretical constructs emerge developmentally and come to serve a discourse-regulative function—overseeing, organizing, and regulating whole fields of discourse. Then I look to Charles S. Peirce as an exemplary normatively oriented metatheorist and explain how both continue a philosophical tradition concerned with the normative function of humanity more broadly. Thus, while I think it is valuable to pursue a variety of metatheoretical endeavors, including descriptive and empirical ones—mapping the terrain of various discourses, or summarizing their contributions—I argue for a specific vision of metatheory as a normative endeavor with rich intellectual and historical precedence. Unpacking some of the implications involved with this way of viewing and doing metatheory lead to considerations about the differences between two general types of metatheory (scholastic-reductionist and cosmopolitan-comprehensivist), the role of philosophical interlocutors in the public-sphere, and the trajectory of human evolution in the coming decades.

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Metatheories and Organizational Theory: A Pragmatic Response to Metatheoretical Uncertainty

Stratos E. Ramoglou

Abstract: Metatheoretical dilemmas about the nature of the social world often animate organizational theorists who purport to dissolve pertinent controversies along truth-laden lines of philosophical argumentation. The present paper acknowledges the inescapable uncertainty at this level of discourse to nonetheless resist taking the usual step according to which metatheoretical discourse should be abandoned as unhelpful, if not misleading, metaphysics. However, it also parts from traditional modes of metatheoretical defense to instead try to identify whether metatheoretical frameworks, beyond considerations of any possible cognitive merit in deciphering the nature of the world, may be of any use in making a desirable difference in the world. In developing a pragmatist defense of realist metatheories, we may explicitly value metatheoretical discourse from a novel standpoint and further delineate subtle conceptual relations between metatheory, theory, phenomenological acceptance, action and epistemic ethics.

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A Case for Flexible Epistemology and Metamethodology in Religious Fundamentalism Research

Carter J. Haynes

Abstract: After reviewing a representative sample of current and historical research in religious fundamentalism, the author addresses the epistemological presuppositions supporting both quantitative and qualitative methodologies and argues for epistemological flexibility and metamethodology, both of which support and are supported by metatheoretical thinking. Habermas’ concept of the scientistic self-understanding of the sciences is used to point up the limitations of positivist epistemology, especially in the context of fundamentalism research. A metamethodological approach, supported by epistemological flexibility, makes dialogical engagement between researchers and those they research possible, and an example of how this would look in an actual research design is provided. The article concludes with a theoretical statement and graphic representation of a model for dialogical engagement between Western scholars and non-Western religious fundamentalists. Such engagement, the author argues, is necessary before any real progress on the “problem” of radicalized fundamentalism can be made.

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Strategy as Metatheory

Alan E. Singer

Abstract: Business strategy or strategic management is a subject that has comprised a major part of the curriculum in business schools around the World for at least 40 years. It is routinely described as “integrative,” yet has arguably remained somewhat limited in its scope and philosophy. The purpose of this paper is to expand the scope of strategic management accordingly (to include ethics for example) but to do this in a way that arguably offers efficient insights to students and practitioners. The approach involves bringing together several formal metatheories while at the same time indicating how each of them can function as an integrative theory of strategy.

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Toward a Science of Metatheory

Steven E. Wallis

Abstract: In this article, I explore the field of metatheory with two goals. My first goal is to present a clear understanding of what metatheory “is” based on a collection of over twenty definitions of the term. My second goal is to present a preliminary investigation into how metatheory might be understood as a science. From that perspective, I present some strengths and weaknesses of our field and suggest steps to make metatheory more rigorous, more scientific, and so make more of a contribution to the larger community of the social sciences.

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Evolutionary Psychology as a Metatheory for the Social Sciences

Annemie Ploeger

Abstract: Evolutionary psychology has been proposed as a metatheory for the social sciences. In this paper, the different ways in which scholars have used the concept of a metatheory in the field of evolutionary psychology is reviewed. These different ways include evolutionary psychology as a unification of different subdisciplines, as a nomological network of evidence, as Lakatosian hard core, as a tool for conceptual integration, and as a theory that addresses the major issues in the social sciences. It is concluded that evolutionary psychology has been successful as Lakatosian hard core, that is, it has been fruitful in generating new hypotheses. However, it has been less successful in unifying different subdisciplines. It is also concluded that evolutionary psychology needs to broaden its scope by including insights from evolutionary developmental biology in order to become a unifying framework for the social sciences.

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Advaita (Non-dualism) as Metatheory: A Constellation of Ontology, Epistemology, and Praxis

Latha Poonamallee

Abstract: Integrating contradictory and mutually exclusive positions is a challenge in building a metatheory. In this paper, I examine how advaita (non-dualism) philosophy is a metatheory. Based on a holistic, non-dualistic ontology, discovery based epistemology, and personal accountability-action-reflection oriented praxis, it provides a useful metatheory for embracing, learning from, and transcending the paradoxes of social life. I use the example of Gandhi as a practitioner of this approach to action and knowledge.

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Toward the Development of More Robust Policy Models

Steven E. Wallis

Abstract: The current state of the world suggests we have some difficulty in developing effective policy. This paper demonstrates two methods for the objective analysis of logic models within policy documents. By comparing policy models, we will be better able to compare policies and so determine which policy is best.

Our ability to develop effective policy is reflected across the social sciences where our ability to create effective theoretical models is being called into question. The broad scope of this issue suggests a source as deep as our unconscious ways of thinking. Specifically, our reliance on modern and postmodern thinking has limited our ability to develop more effective policy, and more particularly, logic models.

The move in some quarters toward “integral” thinking may provide insights that support the creation of more useful policy models. However, some versions of that thinking seem to be unwittingly mired in modern and postmodern thinking. This paper identifies how integral thought may be clarified, allowing us to advance beyond postmodern thinking. Usefully, this “neo-integral” form of thinking supports the creation of more mature policy models by encompassing greater complexity and a careful understanding of interrelationships that may be identified within the logic models that are commonly found in policy analyses.

Neo-integral thinking is related to more complex forms of systems thinking and both are found in recent conversations within the nascent field of metatheory. And, to some extent, a logic model within a policy operates as a kind of theoretical model because both may be used to inform understanding and decision-making. Therefore, it seems reasonable to apply neo-integral thinking and metatheoretical methodologies to conduct critical comparisons of logic models.

In the present paper, these methodologies are applied to critically compare two logic models. The structure of each model is analyzed to objectively determine its complexity and formal robustness. The complexity is determined by quantifying the concepts and connections within each model. The robustness of a model is a measure of its internal integrity, based on the ratio between the total number of aspects and the number of concatenated aspects. In this analysis, one policy model is found to have a robustness of 0.08, while another is found to have a robustness of 0.67. The more robust policy is expected to be much more effective in application. Implications for policy development and policy application are discussed.

This approach will enable the more conscious advancement of policy through the development of improved logic models and it opens the door for more effective impact of such policies in a political context. From an integral perspective, this paper implies that we should avoid engaging in loosely defined integral thinking that lead to pronouncements about what people “should” do. Instead, this paper shows how to apply a more precise and objective form of neo-integral thinking to empower individuals and organizations to accomplish their most noble goals.

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Validation of Theory: Exploring and Reframing Popper’s Worlds

Steven E. Wallis

Abstract: Popper’s well-known arguments describe the need for advancing social theory through a process of falsification. Despite Popper’s call, there has been little change in the academic process of theory development and testing. This paper builds on Popper’s lesser-known idea of “three worlds” (physical, emotional/conceptual, and theoretical) to investigate the relationship between knowledge, theory, and action. In this paper, I explore his three worlds to identify alternative routes to support the validation of theory. I suggest there are alternative methods for validation, both between, and within, the three worlds and that a combination of validation and falsification methods may be superior to any one method. Integral thinking is also put forward to support the validation process. Rather than repeating the call for full Popperian falsification, this paper recognizes that the current level of social theorizing provides little opportunity for such falsification. Rather than sidestepping the goal of Popperian falsification, the paths suggested here may be seen as providing both validation and falsification as stepping-stones toward the goal of more effective social and organizational theory.

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