Integral Review

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

Posts Tagged ‘Steven E. Wallis’

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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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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