Critical Heuristics of Social Systems Design

  • W. Ulrich


The stuff of applied disciplines such as OR/MS is what epistemologists call the ’context of application’, in distinction to the so-called ’context of justification’. Epistemologists such as Karl R. Popper (1961, 1968, 1972) have claimed that the context in which science is applied is relatively irrelevant for the justification of its propositions. In distinction to this position, I propose to understand — and indeed define — applied science as the study of contexts of application. Of course this definition renders the distinction between the two contexts obsolete. From an applied- science point of view, the distinction is really quite inadequate: To justify the propositions of applied science can only mean to justify its effects upon the context of application under study. The key problem that makes applied science, as compared to basic science, so difficult to justify lies in the normative content that its propositions gain in the context of application.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Ulrich
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Public Health and Social ServicesBernSwitzerland

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