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.
Keywords Complexity – Context – Generality – Models – Pragmatics – Anthropomorphism
Edmonds, B. (2013) Complexity and Context-Dependency. Foundations of Science, 18(4):745-755. DOI: 10.1007/s10699-012-9303-x (previous version at http://cfpm.org/cpmrep209.html)