I'm not sure whether it's my ignorance or your word-choices and
metaphors, but I seem unable to understand key portions of your reply.
The economics example doesn't help me because I don't know enough about
that field. I do appreciate you taking the time to respond.
>>> Loet Leydesdorff <[log in to unmask]> 11/23/03 04:38AM >>>
Dear Barry and colleagues,
> I think you've lost me from here on. Maybe it's your
> distinction between "formal theory" and "substantive theory"
> -- as though formalizing necessarily eliminates "substance"?
> If that's what you mean, I'd disagree. I've heard it said
> that formalizing squeezes all of the substance out of a
> theory. To me, formalization means using a formal language
> (with clearly-defined terms) and formal logic (with rules for
> deriving new statements), making the *substance* of the
> theory as clear and parsimonious as possible.
The formalization of the substantive theory, in my opinion, is still
part of the substantive theory. The integration of the formal result
the program requires a reflexive turn (of 90 degrees) which abstracts
from the substantive variation explained by the first-order theory.
simulation results can be intuited as being directly relevant for the
substantive system(s) under study, but this substantive appreciation
be deconstructed as making a turn back.
Perhaps, a network metaphor is helpful. The first-order theories can
considered as processors at the nodes that run their own routines. The
program provides a network of links among them. As the latter produces
result (on the basis of a specific representation of the former), the
former may have to update.
For example, neo-classical economists tend to study equilibrating
markets. Evolutionary economists are interested how markets are upset
innovations (Schumpeter). The innovations take place along the time
(change and stabilization), while the markets operate at each moment
time (variation and selection). The two theories thus take different
(nearly incommensurable) perspectives. Proponents of these two
therefore tend to disagree.
In the simulation, we can recombine the formalizations, for example,
considering interaction terms between market mechanims and
evolution in terms of technological trajectories and regimes. The two
competing (first-order) theories will try to annex these results as
relevant explanations because both of them wishes to be the one
comprehensive theory. However, we are able to recognize their
perspectives as partial from the algorithmic perspective. The two
first-order perspectives can be considered as attempts to stabilize a
geometrical narrative about the more complex system under study. In
other words, we gain a degree of freedom for the explanation in the
combination of the first-order (node) and the second-order (link)
The two perspectives do not have to be recombined because both are
legitimate programmes in themselves. The recombination, however, may
require the development of another discourse for the translation (at
degrees between them). This discourse then serves the stabilization of
the mutual shaping between the first-order discourse and the
second-order discourse into a coevolution. In the above example of
neo-classical and evolutionary economics, for example, the discourse
self-organization may serve this purpose (Paul Krugman, The
Self-Organizing Economy, 1996). The various routines can then be
considered as subroutines that develop competitively and disturb one
With kind regards,
Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR)
Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX Amsterdam
Tel.: +31-20- 525 6598; fax: +31-20- 525 3681
<mailto:[log in to unmask]> [log in to unmask] ;
<http://www.upublish.com/books/leydesdorff-sci.htm> The Challenge of
Scientometrics ; <http://www.upublish.com/books/leydesdorff.htm> The
Self-Organization of the Knowledge-Based Society