Andrew Basden is Professor of Human Factors and Philosophy in Information Systems at the Salford Business School, at the University of Salford His academic interests lie right across most areas of information technology, from assembler language programming through to usefulness and long-term benefits and detrimental impact in society of information technology as well as the amiga computer. He is the author of A Philosophical Framework for Understanding Information Systems. He is married with two children and maintains the Dooyeweerd pages.
In many disciplines debate goes on about "What defines us as a discipline?" This paper suggests that Dooyeweerd's aspects can be used to help us
define disciplines. Though geared to the discipline of information systems, its principles can be applied to any. While extant debate focuses on
identity, this approach focuses on dignity, destiny and responsibility of disciplines.
This version is derived from an earlier version published in Int. J. Information Management in February 2010 under the title 'On using spheres of meaning to define and dignify the information systems discipline' - and is thus better than the pre-publication draft of that paper found in this collection; indeed this version is probably better than the IJIM one. This version is published in the Proceedings of the 2009 conference of the Centre for Philosophy, Technology and Social Systems.
2009. The Notion of Lifeworld Applied to Information Systems Research.
In most research the researcher approaches their domain of interest with prior theoretical constructs, which limit or even distort the findings of the research. This is especially troublesome in interdisciplinary fields like information systems. The philosopher Edmund Husserl saw this as a 'Crisis in the European Sciences' in the mid twentieth century, and advocated "letting things present themselves to us." But how do we do this in research? This paper, 'The Notion of Lifeworld Applied to Information Systems Research', which was presented at the 2009 European Conference on Information Systems, Verona, Italy, proposes an answer to this question based on the findings of several philosophers, especially those of Herman Dooyeweerd. In particular, Dooyeweerd provides a way of respecting the diversity of any field, of acknowledging that research itself is human activity, and of bridging the gulf of possible misunderstandings between researcher and researched. It also contains a useful summary of what the lifeworld is. Though geared to research in information systems, this paper is an example of how Dooyeweerd's ideas may be used to enrich those of others in a way that provides practical guidance in research. 2009. On Using Spheres of Meaning to Define and Dignify the IS Discipline
"Is XXX a real discipline?" is a question that is taxing many. This paper, 'On Using Spheres of Meaning to Define and Dignify the IS Discipline' presented at the UK Association of Information Systems 2009 conference, will be of interest to such people. Those who are working in information systems (IS) feel that neither business people, social scientists nor computer scientists take the field of IS as seriously as it deserves, and have been discussing whether IS is a true discipline or not. In this paper Andrew Basden reviews a number of ways of trying to answer that question, and argues that philosophy is needed to place disciplines in relation to each other. He proposes that disciplines are centred on a particular 'sphere of meaning', because those working and researching in that discipline will find certain things meaningful to them. He harnesses Dooyeweerd's notion of aspects as a useful set of such spheres. The IS discipline, for example, focuses on the lingual sphere, yet makes reference to the technical and social spheres. In such a way a discipline regains its dignity, because it can now understand what types of contribution it can make to the world, and have confidence to dialogue with other disciplines on equal terms. A summary of the argument in this paper can also be found on The Dooyeweerd Pages.
2009. A Different Way of Approaching Data Models and KR Ontologies
All computer and information systems contain a respresentation of what their designers believe to the 'the world' in which they work; this is called a knowledge representation (KR). If the KR is faulty, then the information system will fail or give misleading results of activity in some situations. This can be dangerous, whether the system acts automatically (e.g. selecting web pages relevant for you, or controlling a factory) or provides information and advice on which human beings make decisions (such as a decision support system). The KR for a particular system presupposes a knowledge representation ontology (KRO), which is the designer's belief about what kinds of things are relevant in the world in which the system operates. Too often the KRO is deficient because it overlooks important aspects of the world. This has been a challenge to system designers since the 1970s, and though various ways have been tried of meeting it (such as 'logic programming' and 'object orientation'), none have been entirely successful. The 2009 paper 'A Different Way of Approaching Data Models and KR Ontologies' suggests a way to employ Dooyeweerd's aspects in the generation of more appropriate knowledge representation ontologies. It is written for a KR readership, but most readers should be able to understand most of it. The paper was written for a two-volume encyclopaedia on 'Theory and Applications of Ontology'.
2009. Practically Critical: Making the Critical Approach More Useful
This paper finds the two main streams of critical theory wanting, and suggests that Dooyeweerd's philosophy can make a contribution to enriching them to make them more useful in practice as well as more philosophically sound. It is intended for academic readers in the field of critical theory and information systems, and includes a brief outline of relevant parts of Dooyeweerd's approach. The paper includes a table of specific Critical Theory issues that Dooyeweerd enriches, and a table showing how various systems approaches may be situated by reference to Dooyeweerd's thinking. These may be of interest to Dooyeweerdian scholars.
The emancipatory stream (Adorno and Horkheimer) has the advantage that it presupposes innate normativity (specifically emancipation), but it is wanting because it provides no clear understanding of what emancipation is nor how to apply it in practice. It can lead to the paradox of 'enforced emancipation'. The communicative stream (based on Habermas' Theory of Communicative Action) is good in taking the lifeworld seriously, but it depends too heavily on rational types of communication. The root problem of one is its presupposition of the nature-freedomground-motive, and that of the other is reduction of all life to the lingual and analytic aspects. Dooyeweerd's thought may be used to set both forms on a better foundation, redefining their core notions in a way that enriches them.
This paper is a pre-publication draft of a chapter of the same name in the book Critical Perspectives on Information Systems ed. Carole Brooke, publ. Elsevier, 2009. 2008.A slow journey towards Social Theory in information systems
This paper shows how Dooyeweerd's philosophy can not only engage with other streams of thought (in this case social theory) but even stimulate us to take seriously what we initially dismissed. It was submitted in November 2007 for a special issue of the journal Information Technology and People on 'Using social theory to make sense of information systems: Reflexive essays'. Because the author always preferred to take an 'everyday' approach to information systems, social theory seemed irrelevant, but Dooyeweerd's philosophy (which does take an everyday approach) highlighted a number of issues, which social theory also addresses, so the author found himself slowly journeying towards social theory. The paper was not accepted, but the grounds for its rejection are informative: "because it as more about philosophy than social theory and because it did not address issues pertaining to dealing with empirical research data and using social theory to come to grips with it, which is what we had wanted for the special issue. It also read more as "Musings" rather than Reflections" on research." However, the editor added, "I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and regretted that we did not have enough time to go through it several times to make it fit the Special Issue. ... It's been nice "meeting" you through this special issue though."
2008.Understanding everyday experience and use of facebook and games
This paper was delivered at the Workshop on 'Digital Culture: New Forms of Living and Organising?', organised by IRIS, the Informatics Research Centre, University of Salford, 16-17 June 2008. It employs Dooyeweerd's suite of aspects to understand both computer games and facebook. "I've been looking forward to this workshop for twenty years," said the author, "I began playing computer games 20 years ago, and for most of that time, academia has paid computer gaming no attention. Yet those involved in creating games in the early days (before the big money poured in), had creative ideas that would have been of interest to the disciplines of computer science, psychology, human factors, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, sociology and aesthetics. [approximate wording of what he said or at least meant to say]. All that time I wanted to find a way of understanding what was going on, and worked out a framework for understanding based on philosophy. This is a reflection on that working-out." This version has been written from the talk given, and is an initial draft for one to be submitted to a journal.
2007. Frameworks for understanding IS and ICT
This paper was presented at the European Computers and Philosophy Conference, June 2007, Enschede, Netherlands, in the 'Intersections' track. It summarises how the author has used Dooyeweerd's philosophy to formulate frameworks for understanding five areas of research and practice in information systems. It was very well received. For more, see the author's book, Philosophical Frameworks for Understanding Information Systems, (IGI Global: Hershey, PA, USA), 2007.
2007. A brief overview of Dooyeweerd's philosophy
This paper was prepared by the request of the Centre for Philosophy, Technology and Social Systems in May 2007 for inclusion in their Proceedings. Its aim is to summarise the introduction to Dooyeweerd's philosophy found in the author's book Philosophical Frameworks for Understanding Information Systems, so as to provide a useful brief introduction. It has yet to be accepted for publication, so is being donated to the All of Life Redeemed website for the time being.
2007. 'Fresh light thrown on the Chinese room'
This is an unfinished paper, but is included in this collection because it provides ideas which have yet to be published fully. It is based on an extended abstract submitted to the European Computers and Philosophy Conference, ECAP 2007, but not selected. It suggests that Dooyeweerd's radical non-Cartesian notion of subject-object relationship can provide new ways to address the artificial intelligence question of whether computers can be like human beings, as epitomized by John Searle's thought experiment of the Chinese Room. Debate has polarized into two camps, but Dooyeweerd can provide fresh insight, because he gives priority to meaning rather than to being or causality. A short version of this can be found in chapter V of the author's book, 'Philosophical Frameworks for Understanding Information Systems'.
2007. Information systems as a life-world
This paper was submitted to a special issue of Information Systems Journal in 2006-07, but was not considered suitable. It looks at the notion of lifeworld as understood by Husserl, Sxhutz, Heidegger and Habermas, and argues that Dooyeweerd's notion of naï¿½ve experience can enrich the debate, especially in the context of information systems use and development. It is currently being reformulated into a more substantial paper for another journal, but is presented here as an indication of what might be said. Note that the author's understanding of extant views of life-world has improved since this version was written, though this version holds most of the main ideas. A new version with different slant was presented at European Conference on Information Systems 2009, under the title 'The Notion of Lifeworld Applied to Information Systems Research'; see below. 2005. Enriching humanist thought
This paper was presented at the Reformational Conference in the Netherlands in 2005. It discusses how the author has, in his research in information systems and critical social theory, has been able to enrich rather than oppose humanist thought with Dooyeweerd. Its purpose is to stimulate discussion about how this might be done. Since this talk, this paper has been worked up for Philosophia Reformata, to be published 2008. 2004. On Appealing to Philosophy in Information Systems
This paper was submitted to IFIP 2004 but not selected. It discusses the way information systems and information technology researchers have appealed to philosophy, shows how this leads to ways of understanding different areas of research that are incommensurable with each other because the basic philosophies are incommensurable. It then suggests that Dooyeweerdian philosophy can address issues in all areas, and thus might offer a common philosophy. This paper is an early version of the argument developed in the author's book Philosophical Frameworks for Understanding Information Systems
2003.Levels of guidance
This paper was presented at HCI International, 2003, Crete. It shows how Dooyeweerd's aspects can provide guidance at various levels for the design of user interfaces.
2004. Emancipation as if it mattered
This paper was submitted to a special issue of the Information Systems Journal in August 2004 but was not selected. It takes the notion of emancipatory information systems and explores how Dooyeweerd might account for this idea, and critique and enrich it.
2003. with A. Trevor Wood-Harper 2003. A Philosophical Enrichment of CATWOE
This paper was presented at the Australia and New Zealand Systems Conference, ANZSYS 2003. It won the prize for best paper. It takes a well-known and much-discussed concept from Checkland's Soft Systems Methodology and discusses how Dooyeweerdian ideas might enrich it and address some of its known problems. It is an example of how Dooyeweerd can work with rather than against extant ideas. See also the paper 'Enriching humanist thought'.
2003. Enriching critical theory
This paper was presented at CMS3, the Critical Management Systems conference held at Lancaster University, UK, in 2003. It argues that some of Habermas' notions, of lifeworld, system and modernity may benefit from being enriched by Dooyeweerd, in an immanent way, i.e. fufilling the aims Habermas had for them. It then applies this to information technology. See also the paper, 'Emancipation as if it mattered'.
2002. The critical theory of Herman Dooyeweerd?
This paper was originally presented at ECRM 2002: European Conference on Research Methodology in Business and Management Studies, Reading, UK, 29 April 2002. It was written as I was beginning to get to grips with Critical Social Theory, especially that of Habermas. Dr. Heinz Klein, one of the foremost critical thinkers in information systems, in a visit to the University of Salford in 2002, had given a number of criteria for what it means to be 'critical' and the author suggested that Dooyeweerd fulfilled every criterion. The author would like to give credit to Heinz for accepting this suggestion at face value and encouraging him to develop the ideas. This paper resulted. Later, a more developed version was published as: 2002. 'The Critical Theory of Herman Dooyeweerd?' Journal of Information Technology 17:257-69
2002. A Philosophical Underpinning For ISD
This paper was presented at the European Conference of Information Systems, Gdansk, Poland, 2002. It shows how Dooyeweerd's philosophy can help us understand information systems development (ISD). Since Dooyeweerd was unknown in the IS community, it provides a brief introduction to relevant Dooyeweerdian ideas, such as aspects and normativity.
2001. A philosophical underpinning for IT evaluation
This paper was presented at the 8th European Conference on IT Evaluation, ECITE, Oriel College, Oxford, 17-18 September 2001. It is an early discussion in mainstream IS community of how Dooyeweerd's philosophy can be used to understand the benefits and detrimental impact (success and failure) of information systems as used in human life. As such, it contained a brief introduction of relevant Dooyeweerdian ideas because they were new to the community. A more sophisticated approach is now available in chapter IV of the author's 2007 book, Philosophical Frameworks for Understanding Information Systems.
2001. Beyond emancipation
This paper was presented at the Critical Research in Information Systems conference at the University of Salford in June 2001. It suggests how Dooyeweerd's aspects might help us enrich the notion of emancipation which is espoused by Critical Social Theory. Note that, though the author's understanding of critical social theory has moved on since 2001, what he wrote in this paper still pertains.
1999. On the ontological status of virtual environments
This is an unfinished paper, but it is included in this collection because it addresses a very different topic than the other papers do. The ideas in this paper were presented at the CPTS Working Conference in 1999 but have yet to be published. So it is offered in its unfinished state in case the ideas are found useful. It used Dooyeweerdian ideas to try to understand the ontic status of things in virtual environments (virtual reality), such as characters and objects in a computer game. It employs Dooyeweerd's notion of enkapsis. Much of this can also be found in chapters IV and V of the author's book, Philosophical Frameworks for Understanding Information Systems.
1991. A new framework for sustainability
This paper was produced for the St. Andrew's Prize in 1999 in new thinking in sustainability. It shows how Dooyeweerd's aspects can help us understand sustainability.
Philosophical Frameworks for Understanding Information Systems
(IGI Publishing, December 2007) 410 pages
Strijbos S, Basden A (eds) (2006)
In Search of an Integrated Vision for Technology.
(Springer, New York, May 2006) 310 pages
Publishers web site is here