Foundations of Science

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 745–755 | Cite as

Complexity and Context-Dependency



It is argued that given the “anti-anthropomorphic” principle—that the universe is not structured for our benefit—modelling trade-offs will necessarily mean that many of our models will be context-specific. It is argued that context-specificity is not the same as relativism. The “context heuristic”—that of dividing processing into rich, fuzzy context-recognition and crisp, conscious reasoning and learning—is outlined. The consequences of accepting the impact of this human heuristic in the light of the necessity of accepting context-specificity in our modelling of complex systems is examined. In particular the development of “islands” or related model clusters rather than over-arching laws and theories. It is suggested that by accepting and dealing with context (rather than ignoring it) we can push the boundaries of science a little further.


Complexity Context Generality Models Pragmatics Anthropomorphism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Policy ModellingManchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUK

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