Integral Review

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

Vol. 6 No. 3 Jul 2010



Tags: , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , ,

Metatheory Building in the Conflict Field

Karim Fathi

Extended Abstract in English

Given the increasingly complex nature of conflicts, a corresponding increase of new methods can be observed in Peace and Conflict Studies. At this juncture, metatheories aimed at integrating this labyrinth of diverse methods is becoming necessary. This paper will draft a conceptual proposal, discussing two well-known holistic approaches of mediative conflict management in an integrative context:

– The Conflict Management Approach by Prof. Dr. Friedrich Glasl (2004).
– The Conflict Transformation Approach (The Transcend Method) by Prof. Dr. Johan Galtung (2000).

The theoretical assumptions of this paper are based on the integral approach by Ken Wilber (2001) – a highly discussed “Theory of Everything“ that has thus far remained widely ignored in Peace and Conflict Studies, yet. Therefore, it is also of interest to scrutinise the integral approach with regard to its contribution for an integrated Peace and Conflict Studies. The analysis was conducted as follows:

1. Introduction of two holistic Peace and Conflict Studies approaches:

a. The Conflict Management Approach by Glasl implies a number of categories and entry points (Ansatzmomente) resulting in a complex intervention spectrum. In this regard, the consideration of escalation levels is highly important, integrating perception-oriented (low escalation), emotion-oriented (medium escalation) and behaviour-oriented (high escalation) measures. The spectrum may be combined with other categories such as conflict type (hot or cold) or criteria of conflict analysis (issues, conflict trends etc.).

b. The Conflict Transformation Approach by Galtung is characterised by a three-fold schematic, enabling a complex understanding of violence (direct, cultural, structural), conflict (behaviour, assumptions, contradictions) and peace (non-violence, empathy, creativity). Moreover, Galtung’s model implies three conflict phases (before, during, after violence) as well as five styles of conflict management.

c. The integral approach can be understood as a “Theory of Everything“ presupposing that no perspective can be 100% wrong (but “partially true”). Its methodology is based on “map making” by categorizing established paradigms, methods and theories in a holistic metacontext. By means of five categories – quadrants, levels, lines, types, states (altogether AQAL: All Quadrants All Lines) – the integral approach claims to consider as many aspects of reality as possible in a holistic concept.

2. Outline of an integration model:

a. Possibility of an epistemological integration of the introduced methods:

The five AQAL-dimensions enable the epistemological foci of the approaches by Galtung and Glasl to be revealed. A point in which both approaches may complement each other becomes apparent by combining a vertical spectrum of escalation levels (Glasl) and a horizontal axis of different fields of violence (Galtung). It might be of further research interest to analyse the potential extent of a correlation to evolution oriented level schemes (Wilber), e.g., referring to development psychology or evolution theory. Are there different development levels (Wilber) of direct, cultural and structural violence (Galtung)? Is there a correlation between levels of development (Wilber) and regression (Glasl)? This paper concludes for both cases a cautious “yes.” In doing so, the consideration of the other AQAL-dimensions (types, lines, states) provides further information.

b. Proposal for an integral heuristic:

The consideration of vertical (levels) and horizontal (quadrants, types, lines) AQAL-categories is also useful to integrate heuristics. However, the integral approach itself does not represent a method of heuristic and practical effect, though it is useful to adapt the AQAL-categories and to consider new tools that are highly relevant for the Peace and Conflict Studies. The heuristic integral concept is based on the vertical conflict scheme by Galtung (three conflict phases) and Glasl (escalation model) and additionally considers horizontal analysis categories (e.g., types: conflict type; quadrants: fields of violence) on each level. A complex integral Peace and Conflict Studies heuristic is the result, under the consideration of an adapted AQAL-model.

3. Conclusion and critique:

The analysis shows that the primary use of the integral approach for Peace and Conflict Studies lies in its ability to integrate the epistemological benchmarks of different approaches. Thereby, the integral concept provides information about some points in which the epistemes and heuristics of Glasl and Galtung may complement each other which could enrich the construction of a metatheory in the Peace and Conflict Studies (especially with regard to the combination of Glasl’s escalation model and Galtung’s three-folded schematics). However, it should be noted that the examples of Glasl’s and Galtung’s meta-approaches provide other important integration and categorisation concepts which are not be covered by the integral approach (at least in its present form). Thus, the AQAL itself may be inappropriate to integrate methods in the context of their orientation (e.g., process, client, solution oriented) or regarding the modus operandi (e.g., (a) conflict analysis, (b) intervention planning, (c) action). The AQAL is not only lacking meta-categories which are adapted to the particular heuristic requirements of Peace and Conflict Studies, also the contextualisation of its dimensions – e.g., the evolutionary scope of the level dimension – may not always be adequate and useful.

Generally, it can be concluded that metatheory building requires to consider different – in some respects contradicting – possibilities of formulating meta-categories. With regard to Peace and Conflict Studies, there remain a lot of research questions to be opened, since different meta-contexts may follow differing “main interests.” Preliminarily, it can be concluded that a really integrated Peace and Conflict Researcher should be familiar with epistemological and heuristic contexts, but also metatheoretical and theoretical contexts as well.

Abstract – Deutsch

Angesichts immer komplexerer Konflikte in der Friedens- und Konfliktforschung (Friedens- und Konfliktforschung) sind Metatheorien von Nöten, die diese unübersichtliche Vielfalt unterschiedlicher Methoden zu integrieren vermögen. Im Rahmen des vorliegenden Papers soll hierzu ein konzeptioneller Vorschlag skizziert werden, indem zwei holistische und bekannte Ansätze der mediativen Konfliktbearbeitung in einem integrativen Kontext diskutiert werden:

– Der Konfliktmanagement-Ansatz nach Prof. Dr. Friedrich Glasl (2004).
– Die Transcend-Methode nach Prof. Dr. Johan Galtung (2000).

Den theoretischen Rahmen, auf den sich die Überlegungen dieser Arbeit stützen, liefert der Integrale Ansatz (IA) von Ken Wilber (2001) – eine viel diskutierte philosophische „Theorie von Allem“, die im Rahmen der Friedens- und Konfliktforschung jedoch noch weitgehend unberücksichtigt geblieben ist. Daher ist es im Rahmen der Arbeit von weiterem Interesse den IA auf seinen Mehrwert für eine integrierte Friedens- und Konfliktforschung zu untersuchen.

Die Untersuchung verlief wie folgt:

1. Vorstellung der in der Untersuchung berücksichtigten Ansätze:

a. Der Konfliktmanagement-Ansatz von Glasl unterscheidet eine Vielzahl von Kategorien und Ansatzmomenten, die ein komplexes Interventionsspektrum ergeben. Sehr wichtig ist hierbei unter anderem die Berücksichtigung von Eskalationsstufen, die eine Unterscheidung zwischen perzeptions- (niedrige Eskalation), gefühls- (mittlere Eskalation) und verhaltensorientierten (hohe Eskalation) Maßnahmen ermöglichen.

b. Die Konflikttransformation nach Galtung zeichnet sich unter anderem durch dreigeteilte Schematisierungen aus, die ein komplexes Verständnis von Gewalt (direkt, kulturell, strukturell), Konflikt (Verhalten, Annahmen, Widerspruch) und Frieden (Gewaltlosigkeit, Empathie, Kreativität) ermöglichen. Darüber hinaus unterscheidet Galtung unter anderem auch drei Phasen des Konflikts (vor, während, nach der Gewalt).

c. Der IA versteht sich als eine Methode des metatheoretischen „Map makings“. Mittels fünf Kategorien – Quadranten, Ebenen, Linien, Typen, Zustände (zusammen AQAL) – folgt der IA dem Anspruch, so vielen Aspekten der Realität wie möglich in einem Gesamtkonzept Rechnung zu tragen.

2. Skizze eines Integrationsmodells:

a. Möglichkeit zur epistemologischen Integration der vorgestellten Konfliktbearbeitungsansätze:

Mittels der fünf Dimensionen des AQAL lassen sich die epistemologischen Schwerpunkte der Ansätze von Glasl und Galtung darstellen. Ein gegenseitiger Ergänzungspunkt bietet sich vor allem bei der kombinierten Berücksichtigung eines vertikalen Spektrums von Eskalationsstufen (Glasl) und eines horizontalen Rasters von mehreren Gewaltbereichen (Galtung).

b. Vorschlag für ein heuristisches Gesamtkonzept:

Der IA stellt keine heuristisch-praktische Methode dar, daher ist es in diesem Fall sinnvoll, die AQAL-Kategorien anzupassen und sogar neue Kategorien, die für die Friedens- und Konfliktforschung besonders relevant sind, zu berücksichtigen. Das heuristische Gesamtkonzept nimmt das vertikale Konfliktschema von Galtung (drei Phasen des Konflikts) und Glasl (Eskalationsmodell) zum Ausgangspunkt und berücksichtigt zusätzlich auf jeder Ebene horizontale Untersuchungskriterien (z.B. Quadranten: Gewaltart etc.)

3. Fazit und Kritik:

Die Untersuchungen dieser Arbeit verdeutlichen, dass der Mehrwert des IA für die Friedens- und Konfliktforschung vor allem darin liegt, die epistemologischen Bezugspunkte unterschiedlicher Ansätze zu integrieren. Am Beispiel der Ansätze von Glasl und Galtung zeigt sich aber auf, dass ein heuristisches Metamodell zusätzliche Metakategorien erfordert, die von der Schematisierung des IA nicht erfasst werden. Es lässt sich daher schließen, dass sich die Metatheoriebildung für die Friedens- und Konfliktforschung, vielfältigen Herausforderungen und weiterführenden Forschungsfragen gegenübersieht, zumal sich unterschiedliche Metakontexte unterscheiden lassen, mit differierenden Geltungsansprüchen und „Integrationslogiken“. Ein wirklich integrierter Friedens- und Konfliktforscher sollte sich im Idealfall sowohl im Bereich der epistemologischen und im heuristischen, im metatheoretischen und im theoretischen Kontext sicher bewegen können.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , ,

Toward a Metatheoretical Integration of Developmental Paradigms

Mark W. Antley

Abstract: This paper shows how a partial consilience might be achieved in the field of human development by means of principles from general systems theory. The author concurs with Sameroff (1989) that it is possible to interpret the mechanistic, organisimic, and contextualist paradigms/worldviews (Goldhaber, 2000; Pepper, 1970) in terms of general systems theory. The author selects a major developmentalist from each paradigm and interprets that scholar’s work in terms of systems principles. The following developmentalists were selected: Arnold Sameroff (contextualism), Erik Erickson (organicism), and Albert Bandura (mechanism). The systems principles employed are wholeness and order, self-stabilization, self-reorganization, hierarchical interaction, and dialectical contradiction (Sameroff, 1989). The author addresses the conflicting presuppositions of the major paradigms in order to provide for their theoretical subsuming under systems theory. Finally, the author notes areas of inconsistency that will need to be resolved in the future and calls for further scholarship to translate developmental theory in terms of general systems theory for the benefit of students, scholars, consultants and other practitioners familiar with systems theory.

Tags: , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , ,

Evolutionary Psychology, Developmental Systems Theory and Advaita Philosophy as Metatheories: Are the Three Compatible?

Annemie Ploeger


Current Issue

Recent Issues