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An Ethical Basis for Critical Systems Thinking

Communicative or Communitarian?
  • M. W. J. Spaul

Abstract

In many respects the systems designer is in the position of a legislator, responsible for the structure of institutional arrangements within which people will spend their working lives; and with the same moral duty to ensure that those arrangements embody some conception of social justice. Like legiwlators, system designers have been motivated by a range of political philosophies: utilitarian calculation by expert elites (Poundstone, 1993), scientific paternalism (Beer, 1981:245–347), and libertarian democracy (Checkland, 1981:283). The distinguishing feature of Critical Systems Thinking (CST) has been its adherence to the principle that justice is best achieved in participatory processes in which power differentials have been recognised and neutralised. The specific participatory arrangements envisaged by critical systems thinkers have, in the main, been modelled on the developing philosophy of Jurgen Habermas (Habermas, 1971, 1984, 1987). The purpose of this paper is to consider whether the interests of CST are best served by such an exclusive allegiance.

Keywords

Public Good Distributive Justice Public Sphere Ethical Basis Moral Rightness 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. W. J. Spaul
    • 1
  1. 1.Anglia Polytechnic UniversityChelmsford, EssexUK

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