abstracts

2.1 Robert Artigiani:
"Human Values and Social Complexity"


Social systems are solutions to survival problems interacting human beings compute when populations exceed natural carrying capacities. Biologically stored genetic information no longer being sufficient to sustain separately acting organisms, individuals cannot merely do what pleases or protects themselves. Tired, fearful, hungry, or excited, individuals cannot obey biological urges and rest, run, eat, or mate, if individual preferences threaten systemic cohesion. Specialized tasks upon which communal welfare depends may be neglected, depriving people of resources or information needed to preserve societal networks.

Cascading disconnects may destabilize whole systems. To avoid breakdown, individuals must regularize behaviors, performing social roles. Regularized individual choices and actions correlate behaviors across space and time. People knowing what one another are doing synergistically amplify the effects of each other's activities and become wholes greater than the sums of their parts. Cooperative behavior thus transforms the environmental scale on which selection occurs, and individual physical attributes are no longer directly selected for or against by nature. Rather societies, each correlating behaviors in slightly different ways, become the objects of natural selection. Since moralizing choices correlates behaviors, values, ethics, and morals (VEMs) are the information structuring social systems.

VEMs encouraging individuality and autonomy have selective advantage because the roles they script efficiently access resources. But computing solutions to survival problems posed by new or amplified resource flows redefines roles and relationships. Increasing social complexity accelerates change and requires new VEMs. The possibility that contemporary science improves societal adaptability by reinforcing humanistic VEMs is explored.


Robert Artigiani, History Department, US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5044, USA. Email: Artigian@NADN.NAVY.mil



2.2 Gary McIntyre Boyd
"Educating Values Immanent in the Emergent Levels of Socio-cybersystemic Being"


Educating in the sense of "drawing out and realizing what is immanently there" applies more meaningfully to values and motivations rather than to factual or technical knowledge and skills. Conflicting and tacit values are among the main inhibitors of significant learning for most people. This is because we are not ideal autonomous intentional Cartesian individuals, but rather are fluid socially embedded discursively and interactively evolving selves.

It is asserted here that: We can as sociocybernetic educators, draw upon and capitalize on, existing values and aims which have their origins in biological and sociocybernetic evolution.

In particular it is argued that a structure of about nine emergent communication and control(cybersystemic) levels has evolved, and that each of the levels has its own characteristic immanent values criteria (and feedback control loops) which can and should be drawn upon to motivate and broaden and deepen the learning conversations which constitute education.

What these levels are and how they relate to more conventional levels of motivations such as Maslow's and also how they relate to conventional curriculum objectives levels such as those of Bloom & Madaus' is exhibited. How learning activities should be developed to take leverage from and orchestrate the action of these evolved-in "values which are" in discursively legitimate ways is discussed.

Keywords: Sociocybernetic-values, cybersystemic-levels, values-education, identity,


Gary McIntyre Boyd, 3839 Oxford Ave., Montreal, Quebec, Canada H4A 2Y2. Email: boydg@VAX2.CONCORDIA.CA



2.3 Martin Hall:
"Systems Thinking and Human Values: Towards Understanding the Chaos in Organizatons"<
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This paper looks at how human values measurement and systems thinking principles can become a part of a sociocybernetic system for understanding chaos in organizations. Tools and methodologies will be examined to see how they might be used to help make sense out of the complexity in the modern organization. Core issues include such elements as decision-making, organizational culture and the usefulness of effective values measurement techniques and their applicability in a sociocybernetic framework.

Links will be made between values and organizational structure and process. Discussion will be centered around how to specifically and practically use both individual and organizational values to transform organizations toward a more effective and efficient reality.


Martin L.W. Hall, 2860 Pine Street, Napa, CA 94558-5829, USA. Email: martin@sysval.org



2.4 Paul Maiteny and Bruce Reed:
"Oscillation: A Meaning and Values-centred Approach to the Sustainability of Human Systems"


The paper outlines a framework for systemic understanding of behaviour in and between human systems based on the relationship between meanings, values and actions. Termed oscillation theory (Reed, 1978 & 1995), it has been developed during more than twenty years' experience of organisational consultancy.

A healthy oscillation between meaningfulness (termed 'identification' phase) and expressive action ('realisation' phase) has been found to be essential in human systems if they are to remain functional and sustainable. The need for meaningful identification is driven by human yearnings for satisfaction. It underlies creativity and the formation of communities. Attempts have to be made to 'realise' the meaning and purpose of the identification phase through action and engagement with other 'meaning communities' in the system's environment. Otherwise 'identification' becomes dysfunctional. Conversely, action has to be informed by meaningful purpose. Oscillation therefore entails a feedback process between meaning and action. It helps us understand problems in human systems as emergent properties of incongruities between psycho-social representations (maps) of reality and actual relations in the world.

Having tested oscillation theory in organisations, the next step is to apply it to wider problems of sustainability in social and socioecological relations.


Paul Maiteny, The Grubb Institute of Behavioural Studies, Cloudesley Street/home: 198 Camberwell Grove, London N1 0HU/home: London SE5 8RJ, United Kingdom. Email: GrubbUK@aol.com



2.5 Bruce Buchanan:
"Information for a Viable Society: A Proposal"


Sociocybernetics entails participation as well as observation, and this paper presents a proposal for an experimental project, and will report on some preliminary responses.

Almost all current sources of public information serve specialized interests and/or corporate sponsors. Yet many real problems, involving as they do complex and indeed global systems, require more comprehensive and integrated approaches for their societal management. Such problems include the ecological requirements for sustainable development.

All living systems need brains, to manage variety and uncertainty, to increase freedom for adaptive responses. Societies as wholes (as supersystems) require adequately organized and integrated communication structures and processes, and relevant feedback to give direction to values of common benefit.

Current efforts to deal with problems of world order and sustainable development lack adequate overall coordination and focus, which no single agency or partial function can provide. An integrative approach to governance is needed that does not depend ultimately upon personal charisma or the arbitrary societal powers. The task is to structure a societal information system accessible to the most pressing issues as these change over time, and guided by values of free inquiry and responsibility.

This proposal presents some background and theoretical considerations for involving social groups and professionals in ongoing assessments of high priority societal problems, strategies and tasks. As such it would structure and draw upon constellations of informed individuals in flexible networks, utilizing modern technologies, changing over time, and designed for continuing relevance. It would be intended to appeal to public opinion over the heads of governments and corporate interests. Perceived authority would depend upon process and performance, not upon any individuals or groups per se.

This proposal, and a report on initiatives and responses to date, is presented to elicit relevant critical commentary.



Bruce H. Buchanan, 4690 Dundas St. West, Etobicoke, Ontario M9A 1A6, Canada. Email: bbuchan@netcom.ca



2.6 Pyotr I.Smirnov (contributed paper):
"Wildness, Barbarism, Civilization as Ideal Types"


There is a simple question in the theory of the society: " How to distinguish different stages in social development? It has no clear and accepted answer. However, some directions could be indicated in the periodization of society as it develops. The most adequate to the nature of society is the approach when one judges evolution of society by changing of the human state in it. However, it is too abstract, therefore in the current paper we suggest additional conceptual tools for the construction of the ideal types mentioned in the title.

1. Basic types of activities: a) an activity for the actor himself (ego-activity); b) an activity for the "other" - and any subject or object can be this "other" (alter-activity or service); c) an activity for the sake of activity itself (game).

2. Values as the basis of social systems: Two of the most important values - individual and society - can be included here. The domination one of them determines the type of society.

3. Social significance as a basic personal value: Social significance is an individual's ability to exercise influence over the course of affairs in the community. The opposite concept is social insignificance. Usually people do not understand their real aspirations distinctly, and strive towards more common values, or modi of social significance. These modi are Sanctity, Knowledge (Information), Craftsmanship, Economy (Business), Fame (Popularity), Power and Wealth. There are many procedures or methods of gaining social recognition in them; but only two of these ways are fundamentally different: the first way is "personal expertise", the second one is "impersonal" or "market".

4. Home and market economies: In accordance with the aim of production (satisfaction of needs of producers themselves or gaining of profit on market) it is possible to distinguish two types of economy - "home" and "market".

Ideal types of the stages are constructed on the basis of indicators to be mentioned. Periods of wildness, barbarism and civilization are distinguihed. The conception of two types of civilization - home and market ones - is introduced.



Pyotr Ivanovich Smirnov, Department of General Sociology, Fac. of Sociology, Saint-Petersburg State University, Smolny Square 1/3, Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Email: smirpi@soc.pu.ru




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