Structures of Logic in Policy and Theory: Identifying Sub-systemic Bricks for Investigating, Building, and Understanding Conceptual Systems

Abstract

A rapidly growing body of scholarship shows that we can gain new insights into theories and policies by understanding and increasing their systemic structure. This paper will present an overview of this expanding field and discuss how concepts of structure are being applied in a variety of contexts to support collaboration, decision making, learning, prediction, and results. Next, it will delve into the underlying structures of logic that may be found within those theories and policies. Here, we will go beyond Toulmin’s logics of claim and proof that have not proven useful for advancing the social sciences and focus on five structures of “causal logic.” The results suggest a useful and more comprehensive approach to developing deeper understanding of our conceptual systems such as theory and policy.

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Correspondence to Steven E. Wallis.

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This paper is based, in part, on a presentation at the 56th annual meeting of the International Society for Systems Sciences (ISSS). July 15–22, 2012, at San Jose State University, California.

I am indebted to three anonymous reviewers whose suggestions have resulted in a stronger and more understandable paper.

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Wallis, S.E. Structures of Logic in Policy and Theory: Identifying Sub-systemic Bricks for Investigating, Building, and Understanding Conceptual Systems. Found Sci 20, 213–231 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10699-014-9360-4

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Keywords

  • Conceptual system
  • Theory
  • theory building
  • Metatheory
  • Policy
  • Metapolicy
  • Causal logic
  • Structures of logic