Is conceptual vagueness an asset? Arguments from philosophy of science applied to the concept of resilience
Is conceptual vagueness an asset or a liability? By weighing arguments from philosophy of science and applying them to the concept of resilience, I address this question. I first sketch the wide spectrum of resilience concepts that ranges from concise concepts to the vague perspective of “resilience thinking”. Subsequently, I set out the methodological arguments in favor and against conceptual vagueness. While traditional philosophy of science emphasizes precision and conceptual clarity as precondition for empirical science, alternative views highlight vagueness as fuel for creative and pragmatic problem-solving. Reviewing this discussion, I argue that a trade-off between vagueness and precision exists, which is to be solved differently depending on the research context. In some contexts research benefits from conceptual vagueness while in others it depends on precision. Assessing the specific example of “resilience thinking” in detail, I propose a restructuring of the conceptual framework which explicitly distinguishes descriptive, evaluative and transformative aspects.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Common, Mick & Perrings, Charles, 1992. "Towards an ecological economics of sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 7-34, July.
- Derissen, Sandra & Quaas, Martin F. & Baumgärtner, Stefan, 2011. "The relationship between resilience and sustainability of ecological-economic systems," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(6), pages 1121-1128, April.
- Hirsch Hadorn, Gertrude & Bradley, David & Pohl, Christian & Rist, Stephan & Wiesmann, Urs, 2006. "Implications of transdisciplinarity for sustainability research," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 119-128, November.
- Brian Walker & Leonie Pearson & Michael Harris & Karl-Göran Maler & Chuan-Zhong Li & Reinette Biggs & Tim Baynes, 2010. "Incorporating Resilience in the Assessment of Inclusive Wealth: An Example from South East Australia," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 45(2), pages 183-202, February.
- Frame, Bob & Brown, Judy, 2008. "Developing post-normal technologies for sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 225-241, April.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:76:y:2012:i:c:p:112-118. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.