Funnels and Data
Anything, from anyplace,
relevant to problem
Courtroom rather than Lab
From Stephen Toulmin
But still evidence organized by some logic!
capable of challenge!
In other words, Science!
There is a real world!
But Humans interpret it !
In contexts of social inﬂuence!
In ways of which they are not necessarily aware!
And those interpretations inﬂuence!
What they do next!
So how do you learn how they do it?!
The Meaning Question
Within a specific event, I ask:
Did that sign X, which I assume signifies Y,
also signify Y to Z? Or did X even signify
anything at all to Z?
Often the most important question will be asked
and answered for you, with a clear no.
The Context Question
Within a specific event, I ask:
Does sign X have any co-occurrence relations
with other signs Y1…Yn within event dimensions
as bound by particular study parameters?
But context is much more complicated than
that. It’s layered. In general, it is about patterns
But it’s not all diﬀerences!
Maybe not even mostly diﬀerences!
What about the psychic unity part!
What about human universals!
What about a theory of what it means to be human?!
The Language Learning
• Learning new meanings and contexts
• One metaphor for HSR is second language
• Only I need to shift to second languaculture
• LC2 instead of L2
• LC2 is a surface of POV2
• Whorf-Sapir redux
The Translation Metaphor
• The goal of HSR is to translate meanings and
contexts between two or more POVs
• “Translate” here means showing how social
action from one point of view makes sense from
• Avoid the moral relativity trap. This is about
meaning-making across semiotic differences,
not moral evaluation
• Making sense of human differences in terms of
It’s neither objective nor subjective!
It’s an intersubjective science!
You’re part of the data!
You’re the learner and translator!
What about the logic to make the case?!
Some details, part two!
We need more than deducation and induction
The surprising fact, F, is observed
If H were true, F would be a matter of course
Hence, there is reason to suspect that H is true
Valid if consequences capable of test through experimentation
and F follows as a necessary conclusion
Mode of perception an ordered set of contexts
H a function of historically available contexts
• HSR rests on an iterative, recursive abductive logic,
IRA for short
• It isn’t the only kind of logic used in HSR, but as far
as social research goes, only in HSR is it officially
• Unofficially it’s used all over the place
• It is a regular feature of some professions besides
ethnography, like journalists, historians, intelligence
analysts, detectives, computer science, …
• And actual science practice
• IRA logic doesn’t fit experimental control,
traditional research design, or long-range goals.
• Not a recipe for getting from A to B, but a way
to start and a strategy for change en camino
• It can, in fact, be destructive or dysfunctional or
at least inappropriate
• It is also an engine of creativity and innovation
and, in social research, of new theory and new
A Learning Logic
Like the Moliere character who
discovered that he’d been speaking in
prose all his life, we’ve all been using IRA
since we were little kids. IRA is how you
learn new ideas based on experience.
If it doesn’t have IRA in it, it isn’t in the
Rich points inspire questions about
context and meaning.
The questions about context and meaning
force the differences in POVs to emerge.
IRA is the process of figuring out how to
translate them, first for you, second for
The similarities are about a
not about theory or method
What are those similarities
among all those projects?
The answer is, they all use
the same way of learning
and representing the
Here’s a second thing those
pictures share. The same images
of work in the opening slides also
make disciplines disappear!
That’s the second problem I like to work on!
Call it a transdisciplinary epistemology!
Because interdisciplinary is still about discipline,!
And the practical epistemology in not!
are what make it
based on diverse
by logic in a way
capable of challenge
based on other
evidence, like any
It’s a diﬀerent
A Pragmatic Transdisciplinary Epistemology?!?!!
We have met the
it is us!
• First person psychology!
• Intentionality--beliefs, desires, emotions,
• Lived experience!
Not your grandfather s
human social science!
a different kind of phenomenon"
a diffferent kind of science"
The Learn Dynamically
• Rich points and IRA logic and context/meaning
questions and nonlinear dynamic epistemology!
• Interesting that people love rich points, get IRA,
but have more trouble with C/M questions!
• The heartbreak of naïve realism.!
• Adjustable for time, depth and breadth!
Knowledge and Human Interests!
• Researcher as subject, research as human social world!
• Tales of drugworld and waterworld!
• The danger: Can we talk about me for awhile? !
• One way or another, the researcher and the research are part of
• This part of the epistemology is neglected in this webinar!
The Leverage Part?!
• Donella Meadows, 1997!
• Limits to Growth!
• Turning a freighter!
• A small shift in one thing can produce big
changes in everything. !
• Leverage points!
Indicator based problem!
Locate actual tasks that those indicators are meant to measure!
Do ﬁeldwork in those tasks using rich points, context/
meaning questions and IRA logic!
Rich points lead to leverage points!
Find positive deviance!
Loop back to top, probably with better indicators!
The Court Project Example!
And try strategy out!
But encourage contiual experimentation, variations and!
modiﬁcations on the part of those involved in the task!
Much of this from complexity org dev work!
Spinning in his grave!
• Non-monotonic but logical?!
• Non-experimental but empirical?!
• Non-quantitative but
• Non-materialistic but
• Non-linear but formalizable?!
Human social science is just catching up with the concept.!
It isn’t about playing a certain kind of music. It’s about playing
any kind of music in a certain way. That “certain way” is what a
practical transdisciplinary epistemology is about.!
Hope it was useful!
APRIL 1-3, 2014 TORONTO
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