The Open Theory and Its Enemy: Implicit Moralisation as Epistemological Obstacle for General Systems Theory

Systems Research and Behavioral Science, Vol. 36 No. 3, January/February 2019

20 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2019

See all articles by Steffen Roth

Steffen Roth

La Rochelle Business School; University of Turku

Date Written: March 28, 2019

Abstract

Ludwig von Bertalanffy decisively shaped open systems theory as challenge and alternative to the then-dominant theories of closed systems. This strategic positioning and its success have abetted frequent and frequently implicit moralisations of openness and closeness. In this article, we draw on the concept of autopoietically closed systems to show that the prevailing affirmative bias to openness constitutes an epistemological obstacle to the advancement of general systems theory. We demonstrate how this obstacle can be removed by tetralemmatic decision programmes that facilitate the management of dilemmatic cooccurrences of and trade-offs between openness and closeness.

Keywords: open systems; autopoietic systems; general systems theory; epistemological obstacles; tetralemma; Bertalanffy; Luhmann

Suggested Citation

Roth, Steffen, The Open Theory and Its Enemy: Implicit Moralisation as Epistemological Obstacle for General Systems Theory (March 28, 2019). Systems Research and Behavioral Science, Vol. 36 No. 3, January/February 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3361694

Steffen Roth (Contact Author)

La Rochelle Business School ( email )

102 rue de Coureilles
Les Minimes
La Rochelle, 17024
France

University of Turku ( email )

Assistentinkatu 7
Turku, 20014
Finland

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