C. West Churchman

  • Magnus Ramage
  • Karen Shipp

Charles West Churchman was a philosopher of systems and management, who did more than anyone to bring ethical considerations into the field of systems thinking. He was a pioneer in several academic fields, always driven by what he described as his “moral outrage” (Churchman 1982, p. 17) that the human intellect is capable of organising society to solve the great problems of the world, such as malnutrition, poverty and war, and yet humanity allows these problems to persist. This moral outrage drove him to establish new fields, develop a range of influential theoretical concepts, and to work as a consultant to a number of important organisations. He was also a highly gifted teacher and developed in his students an acute critical and ethical awareness in his approach to systems thinking. A former student summed up his philosophy and personality, as well as his lasting contribution as follows: West Churchman has devoted his life and his philosophy to securing improvements in the human condition by means of the human intellect. His is a calling that demands from us the most in compassion and consciousness. He pursues it with dignity fortified with contagious passion. (Mason 1988, p. 374).


Operation Research System Thinking Moral Outrage Ethical Awareness System Design Problem 
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Copyright information

© The Open University 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Magnus Ramage
    • 1
  • Karen Shipp
    • 1
  1. 1.The Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK

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