D.T. CAMPBELL stated in 1961: "My general orientation I shall call a hypothetical realism. An 'external' world is hypothesized in general, and specific entities and processes are hypothesized in particular, and the observable implications of these hypotheses (or hypostatizations or reifications) are sought out for verification. No part of the hypotheses has any 'justification' or validity prior to, or other than through, the testing of these implications" (1961, p.17).
However, CAMPBELL did not yet consider the deeper nature of 'verification' or 'justification' or 'validity'.
It was more or less at the same time that G. PASK, H.von FOERSTER and others started to scrutinize the role of observers and of their acquired and constantly renovated consensus in the knowledge of reality.
G. VOLLMER, quoted by H. TOTH thus explains the main tenets of hypothetical realism (1992):
"All knowledge is hypothetical, i.e. conjectural, fallible, preliminary. There exists a real world, independent of our consciousness; it is structured, coherent and quasi-continuous: it is at least partially knowable and explainable by perception, experience and intersubjective science…" (p.28 – in TOTH, 1983, p.307).
Knowledge is thus based on consensus, but is somehow anchored in reality and verified or falsified by experience. However no result is ever absolute, as already explained by POPPER.
- 1) General information
- 2) Methodology or model
- 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
- 4) Human sciences
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Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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