Ontological Support for Multiparadigm Multimethodologies: Isomorphic Process–Structures and the Critical Moment

Todd David Bowers


Because it still lacks adequate theory needed to ground its multiparadigm multimethodologies, critical systems practice has been derisively called “theoretically-contradictory eclecticism”. This paper is an introduction to and overview of the author’s forthcoming Ph.D. dissertation which offers a new framework for research in critical systems thinking and proposes a new approach for the practice of critical systemic intervention. To underpin this framework an ontology of process–structure isomorphies is designed as a metaphysical interface through an abstraction called the critical moment to each of the conventional paradigms of critical systems thinking (functionalist, interpretivist, emancipatory and postmodern). The ontology is realised by a new epistemology (its raison d'être) that respects paradigm incommensurability and yet exploits all the advantages to be had from a multiparadigmatic perspectivity. The new methodology, (wherein each of the paradigmatic approaches is critically ‘deployed’) then operationalises and completes the new framework. This new approach calls for and directs the systemist’s critically reflexive, axiologically transparent, multiparadigmatic appreciation of, and multimethodological engagement with, the problem situation and flux. The philosophy necessarily lays out the framework’s foundational motives, rationale, intents and purposes and acts as a guide for its use. The principal advantage of this new approach is derived from its critically-grounded multiparadigmatic perspectivity and the consequent leveraging of the full gamut of existing systemic methodologies and best practices. 


multiparadigm; multimethodology; systemic intervention; systems theory; incommensurability

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