Managing Problems of Postmodernity: Some Heuristics for Evaluation of Systems Approaches.
According to social scientists the contemporary western societies manifest an unparalleled scientific, technological and economic development, and, at the same time, a normative, ethical and spiritual crisis. This imbalance makes the management of societal problems very difficult. In this research, the question of investigation is: what help does the contemporary scientific problem-management approaches provide to our postmodern societies? Hence in order to manage its problems, the contemporary western societies - that is us - have designed an amount of intellectual problem-solving instruments - called here systems approaches - such as Operations Research & Management Sciences, Systems Analysis, Systems Engineering, Decision Sciences, Cybernetics, Soft Systems Thinking, etc. This self-referentiality asks for investigation, that is, what is the relation between the characteristics of the contemporary western societies and the problem-solving instruments that these societies have conceived? By means of meta-modeling, a set of evaluation heuristics have been constructed and employed to some of the main contemporary problem-solving systems approaches. Two types of results have been obtained. First, evaluation heuristics have provided some new intelligibility that previous findings have not been able to do; therefore they seem to be a valuable addition to support an understanding of scientific problem-solving approaches. Second, the diversity of systems approaches promises to become a powerful support in managing societal problems when combined in the form of a toolbox, but, at the same time, an impotence of systems thinking has been identified with regard to its various religious ground-motives. The latter makes any prospects of human advancement pessimistic.
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