Toward an alternative dialogue between the social and natural sciences

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift

Abstract

Interdisciplinary research within the field of sustainability studies often faces incompatible ontological assumptions deriving from natural and social sciences. The importance of this fact is often underrated and sometimes leads to the wrong strategies. We distinguish between two broad approaches in interdisciplinarity: unificationism and pluralism. Unificationism seeks unification and perceives disciplinary boundaries as conventional, representing no long-term obstacle to progress, while pluralism emphasises more ephemeral and transient interdisciplinary connections and underscores the autonomy of the disciplines with respect to one another. Both approaches have their merits and pitfalls. Unification runs the risk of scientific imperialism while pluralism can result in insurmountable barriers between disciplines. The bulk of the paper is a comparison of eight distinct interdisciplinary attempts at integration of knowledge across social and natural and science. The comparison is carried out as four pairwise comparisons: Environmental Economics vs. Ecological Economics; Environmental History vs. Historical Ecology; Resilience Theory vs. Political Ecology; and Sociobiology vs. Actor-Network Theory. We conclude by showing that none of these prominent eight interdisciplinary fields in and of itself manages to provide, in a satisfactory way, such an integrated understanding of sustainability. We argue for pluralism and advocate complex ways of articulating divergent ontological assumptions. This is not equivalent to pursuing knowledge unification either through scientific imperialism or by catering to the requirements of narrow practical utility. It means prioritizing interdisciplinary integration by simultaneously acknowledging the role of societal and natural factors in accounting for sustainability issues.

Detaljer

Författare
Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • University of Helsinki
Forskningsområden

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Tvärvetenskapliga studier
  • Filosofi

Nyckelord

  • Interdisciplinarity, ontology, pluralism, Scientific imperialism, sustainability science, unificationism
Originalspråkengelska
Artikelnummer14
Antal sidor11
TidskriftEcology and Society
Volym23
Utgivningsnummer4
StatusPublished - 2018 okt 24
PublikationskategoriForskning
Peer review utfördJa

Nedladdningar

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