"Hard" Systems Theory
J.van GIGCH describes the nature of So called "Hard" Systems Theory, as "the continuation of the influence of sciences such as physics and mathematics".
"Hard" Systems Theory and the sciences from which it derives demand rigor and strict quantification. They rely on the deductive paradigm and on exact rules of procedure and proof… Hard Systems Theory usually provides good descriptive models of the universe but poor normative ones" (1978, p.73).
"Soft" Systems Theory
According to van GIGCH, "Soft" Systems Theory "views a system as a portion of the world that is perceived as a unit and that is able to maintain its identity in spite of changes going on in it" (from A. RAPOPORT, in "G.S. Yearbook, VoI15, 1970, p.15-25).
"Soft systems… may adopt several states due to environmental conditions yet preserve their original identities in spite of these influences. The solar system, a fountain, a family, a beehive, a city, a nation, and a business firm are systems that undergo continuous changes in their component elements and probably in their outward perceived shape. Systems defined as soft systems have structure, react to the environment by changing their short-term functions, undergo slow long-term changes, but maintain identity and evolve" (p.74).
"Soft" Systems Theory faced a strong resistance from many "Hard" Systems scientists, disorientated by what seems to them a lack of methodological rigor.
The well-known following quip by H.von FOERSTER still remains significant: "Hard" sciences are hard because they study soft problems, and "Soft" sciences ar soft because they study hard problems".
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To cite this page, please use the following information:
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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