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Basden Klein


Towards a Kleinian integration

Towards a Kleinian integration of interpretivist and critical-social IS research: The contribution of Dooyeweerd's philosophy


Heinz Klein's approach to information systems was a significant advance on earlier approaches, bringing together a number of issues discussed in interpretivist and critical-social circles, with philosophical groundings. But he found no philosophical grounding for a possible integration, suggesting that interpretivism's reluctance to consider normativity might be a 'Trojan horse' that undermines attempts at integration. This paper employs Dooyeweerd's philosophy to expel the Trojan horse and shows how this can be worked out at strategic and practical levels.

Keywords: Klein, Information systems research paradigms, Paradigm integration, Dooyeweerd, Ground-ideas, Ground-motives, Aspects


During the 1980s and 1990s Heinz Klein, with others, explored, discussed, documented and encouraged some major paradigmatic shifts in the IS discipline, from functionalism to post-functionalism, from the methods of the natural sciences to methods of the social sciences, from a concern with algorithms to a concern with meaning, from a presumption of technical and economic objectives to a recognition that IS is used to foster mutual understanding, critique and change of organisational structures, from a concern to describe to a normative concern to obtain "betterment", and from an autocratic to a more democratic relationship between IS developers and users [Hirschheim & Klein 1994; Hirschheim, Klein & Lyytinen 1995; Truex, Baskerville & Klein 1999; Basden & Klein 2008; Klein 2009]. Heinz was always at the centre of these debates, so the combination of these shifts can rightly be called a Kleinian Approach.

1.1 Background: The Kleinian Project of Integration in IS Research

According to Klein [1999], which expresses his keynote address to a IFIP 8.2 Working Group 1999, two main directions have emerged, interpretivist and critical-social. (As Klein [2009] points out, the word 'critical' has several meanings. The two used here will be differentiated by using 'critical-social' for the IS approach, and 'critical' for philosophy.) Klein [1999] deserves to be treated as authoritative because it is one of his few sole-authored works and one of the very few in which he reflects strategically on the future of IS research (ISR) and identifies challenges. Since "radical social transformations of organizations are taking place at such a speed that they are overwhelming for academic researchers" [p.14] Klein argues that "what is needed are general concepts to classify the mind-taxing variations of organizational transformations into a parsimonious typology. Something like the table of elements would be ideal". The typology he used enabled him to analyse the past four decades of IS research and practice in terms of types of knowledge assumed and the methods of inquiry preferred by the various IS research schools. Klein always tried to ground his thinking in philosophy; the types of knowledge (descriptive and normative) are from Kant and the inquiry methods are from Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Kant and Hegel

This leads to some significant conclusions, the most important of which is that we should seek a union of interpretivist and critical-social approaches [p.22]. Though Richardson & Robinson [2007] question the need for integration, this paper will follow Klein's aspiration for it. The main reasons for it are that, while the interpretive approach is well-developed with good empirical foundations, it lacks both a strong theoretical base and a concern with normative knowledge, whereas critical-social approaches, conversely, have strong concern with normativity and strong philosophical foundations but lack good methods and empirical foundation [p.21]. Though Klein calls for union, he cautions against mere "liaisons of convenience"; instead the IS community must seek "proper philosophical foundations".

Mutual understanding is vital for integration and 'communication deficits' should be overcome [Hirschheim & Klein 2003]. Klein [1999] looks towards the linguistic turn in philosophy to effect this. He spent the following years trying to bring streams together and, in his Leverhulme Lectures [Klein 2007], examined the various turns in philosophy - phenomenological, hermeneutic critical-social and linguistic turns (but not critical realism [Klein, 2004]). Unfortunately, he was unable to deliver the final lecture, in which I had hoped he might integrate them. Whether he would have been able to do so, I don't know, because he gave little indication of any clear idea how to do so.

Klein [1999] however expresses a fear that the integration might not, in the end, be possible:

"none of the above addresses the shortcomings of interpretivism to contribute to the growth of normative knowledge. Its reluctance to address norm and value issues appears to make interpretivism incompatible with critical-social theory." [p.22].
Normative knowledge typically involves norms, rules and values and they play an important role especially in ISD (IS development), which he studied in depth in Hirschheim, Klein & Lyytinen [1995].
"IS theory will remain chronically incomplete," Klein [1999, p.22] argues, "if we as researchers simply ignore the immense importance of normative knowledge for practice and the general betterment of the conditions of human existence."

A decade later Myers & Klein [2011] proposed principles for critical field studies in IS in the style of their now-classic paper Klein & Myers [1999], which proposes principles for interpretive IS research. Accepting Alvesson & Deetz' [2000] identification of insight, critique and transformation as three necessary elements of a critical-social research process, Myers & Klein [2011] suggest that Klein & Myers' interpretive principles can contribute to insight, while normative principles of critical-social research can contribute to critique and transformation. This might afford an integration, but is there a danger that issues revealed during insight will be ignored during critique and transformation? Though Myers & Klein discuss the philosophical basis for critical-social research, in Habermas, Foucault and Bourdieu, they do not discuss any philosophical basis for the integration with interpretive principles, which are rooted in phenomenology and hermeneutics. Klein warns [1999, p.22] that "unless the union can be based on a reasoned understanding that interpretivist and critical-social assumptions are at least partially compatible, the potential intellectual incongruences ... could become the Trojan horse, which brings down the whole integration project."

The challenge remains: on what "proper philosophical foundation" and "reasoned understanding" can we integrate the interpretive and critical-social approaches?

1.2 Purpose, Approach, Scope and Audience

This paper discusses the possibility that a "proper philosophical foundation" for a Kleinian union might be found in Dooyeweerd's philosophy. Applications of Dooyeweerd in IS are growing [for example, de Raadt 1989; Bergvall-Kåreborn & Grahn 1996; Winfield, Basden & Cresswell 1996; Eriksson 2001; Bergvall-Kåreborn 2001; Basden 2002; Eriksson 2003; Mirijamdotter & Bergvall-Kåreborn 2006; Basden & Wood-Harper 2006; Basden 2008a, Basden & Klein 2008]. But most of them address specific IS issues or apply only a small part of Dooyeweerd's thought. This paper applies three major parts of Dooyeweerd's thought at a higher, more strategic level, namely the strategic body of thought of one of the major thinkers in the IS field, Heinz Klein.

Dooyeweerd comes from a very different, but little-known, philosophical stream, which allows the issue of integration to be approached in a different way, questioning some presuppositions of conventional approaches. The first service that Dooyeweerd renders us, outlined in section 2, is to reveal why approaches in IS are incommensurable, and thus the reason for the Kleinian Trojan horse. The second service, in section 3, is to offer a basis for dialogue between the approaches, in Dooyeweerd's understanding of the 'ground-ideas' that are assumed by the philosophies underlying them. The third service he renders is to provide a 'Cosmonomic Philosophy', explained in section 4, which enables us, in section 5, to reinterpret the ground-ideas of positivism, interpretivism and critical-social theory and, at a more practical level, principles for interpretive and critical-social research. Dooyeweerd might offer the "reasoned understanding" and "proper philosophical foundation" that can facilitate the Kleinian project of integration without inviting a Trojan horse into our midst.

This paper does not discuss the various characteristics of the Kleinian approach evident in the above-mentioned shifts, nor its strengths and limitations; such discussion can be found in other papers in this special issue, and, from a Dooyeweerdian perspective, in Basden [2010]. Nor does it address all the conclusions of Klein [1999]. Instead, this paper restricts itself to providing a philosophical account of the interrelationship between interpretivist and critical-social (and positivist) approaches in the hope of a fruitful union between them.

This paper might be of interest to four audiences, those interested in: Heinz Klein's work as such, the future strategic direction of the IS field, principles to guide IS research, and how Dooyeweerd's philosophy can be applied.


What concerned Dooyeweerd, working around the middle of the twentieth century until his death in 1977, was the almost universal presumption, for millennia, that theoretical thought is superior to pre-theoretical ('naïve', everyday) thinking. Theoretical thought was seen as neutral and authoritative, while everyday thinking was seen as biased, partial and of little value. By an immanent critique of thinkers over the past 3,000 years, covering the same period as Klein [1999] does, but including the Scholastic period which Klein omitted, Dooyeweerd extensively demonstrated that Western theoretical thinking has been influenced by four 'ground-motives', and these make it non-neutral. {NOTE 1.}

2.1 Ground-motives

A ground-motive is a deep presupposition that a thinking society holds about the nature of reality (being, process, diversity, meaning, the Divine, etc.), about how to think and form ideas and theories of reality, about the nature of rationality, and about normativity (how to determine what is good and evil). A ground-motive is not a theory about these things (even when expressed in theoretical terms) but a deep, widely-shared, unquestioned belief and commitment about them, which drives society to develop its thought and philosophies in particular directions.

According to Dooyeweerd, Greek thought (500 BCE-500 CE) was dominated by the opposition of two principles, Form versus Matter. Around the same period, Hebrew and early Christian thought was governed by the Biblical ideas of Creation, Fall and Redemption. Synthesising these two, mediaeval Scholastic thought became dominated by the opposition of Nature and Grace (or Super-nature). Around the Renaissance this evolved into the Humanistic ground-motive that opposes Nature (that which is controlled by external laws) to Freedom (as experienced in the human personality). These four ground-motives are not unique to Dooyeweerd, but he explored their workings more extensively, showing how each was worked out by humanity in a myriad of ways while it held sway. Today, the Nature-Freedom ground-motive dominates, though the others are still active.

The Form-Matter, Nature-Grace and Nature-Freedom ground-motives are dualistic. They might begin as a duality of two aspects used for explanation of diversity, including of differing human lifestyles (e.g. Greek philosophers work with form and peasants, with matter), but soon the aspects are treated as opposing poles. To the majority, one pole becomes 'higher' and the 'lower' pole becomes associated with evil (though a minority reverse this). This is why, for example, Plato believed society should be ruled by philosophers. Form, Grace (Super-nature) and Freedom are usually deemed 'higher' under their ground-motives.

The Creation-Fall-Redemption ground-motive is a presupposition that temporal reality has been created by a Being that transcends it, and is thus all basically good. This encourages a pluralistic rather than dualistic view. Evil is no longer located in one aspect but in a hostile response to the Creator, which contaminates all humanity does. Most of Christianity since 500 CE has been influenced less by Creation-Fall-Redemption than by Nature-Grace, which explains for example the importance often placed on supernatural 'miracles' and on religious rituals and creeds.

2.2 The Effect of Ground-motives

Dooyeweerd's exposition of these takes the form of a long, complex story, in [1979] and in 500 pages of [1984], rather than a logical proof, because the presence and influence of a ground-motive can never be proven. Proof is theoretical thought and, as explained later, this inevitably involves pre-theoretically presupposing a ground-motive, which is largely invisible to theoretical thought controlled by it and deemed a truth so obvious as never to be questioned nor need stating. The way theoretical thought has operated within other ground-motives can be seen as invalid or meaningless.

Ground-motives are instrumental in the generation of paradigms because they influence what we believe to be problematic about previous ones. They do not influence pre-theoretical, everyday thinking directly, but indirectly insofar as the latter adopts, unquestioned, the products of theoretical thought, such as sociological theory or IS methodology. To the extent that it is free of these, pre-theoretical thought can see the limitations and flaws of the dominant ground-motive.

Thought controlled by dualistic ground-motives can never reconcile the poles because polar opposition is presupposed. Half of pre-theoretical experience is deemed uninteresting (to descriptive knowledge) and a hindrance (to normative knowledge), so dualistic ground-motives restrict or distort the views of thinkers without their realising it. The ground-motive that has most influenced modern and postmodern thought, including IS approaches, is the Humanistic Nature-Freedom ground-motive.

2.3 The Humanistic Nature-Freedom Ground-motive and IS Research

In the Nature-Freedom ground-motive, freedom cannot be reconciled with 'nature', that is control, causality, constraint, etc. Dooyeweerd traced the many turns occasioned by this ground-motive, through Leibniz, Locke, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger and others, showing how they either deny one half of pre-theoretical experience (our experience of freedom, or of law) or would drive the two halves apart. Hume, for example, drove normativity apart from existence; this speaks to Klein's [1999] concern that research confines itself to description and ignores normative knowledge. Kant drove them further apart, and also showed convincingly that, under this ground-motive, thought is fundamentally disconnected from the thought-about thing, leaving us no choices but subjectivism or objectivism. Any attempt to bring them together can have no proper philosophical foundation under this ground-motive.

Though this oversimplifies Dooyeweerd's complex story, it exposes the root of the problem: freedom of interpretation can never be reconciled with laws that transcend us, and freedom of action can never be reconciled with normative requirements laid upon us. So interpretivism will always tend to be antithetical to positivism on the one hand and to the normative element of critical-social approaches on the other. This is the Kleinian "Trojan horse". Eriksson [2003] likewise places positivist ('hard systems') approaches at the Nature pole and interpretivist ('soft systems') approaches at the Freedom pole but, interestingly, he sees critical-social approaches as trying to bridge between the poles. On the one hand critical-social approaches, abhorring 'functionalism', 'managerialism' and 'technicism' [Richardson & Robinson 2007], and seeking emancipation and realization of human potentials [Klein 2009; Myers & Klein 2011], adheres to the Freedom pole. But in imposing this as a norm, it is adheres to the Nature pole. Dooyeweerd argued that such bridging cannot ultimately be successful in theoretical thought guided by the Humanistic Nature-Freedom ground-motive (not even by Hegel [Dooyeweerd, 1984,I,p.65]). Wilson's [1997] disclosure of the paradox of 'enforced emancipation' supports this.

In everyday experience, however, thinking, being and normativity, and freedom and control, coalesce and, recognising this, philosophies since Kant have tried to bridge Humean and Kantian gulfs. Briefly: Husserl's transcendental phenomenology tried to reach the essence of things, Heidegger's existentialism tried to dissolve the separation between being and world, Gadamer's hermeneutics tried to dissolve being into interpretation while Marx's dialectical materialism tried to dissolve freedom into historical causality, Hegel's dialectic tried to think the poles together, as did Bhaskar's critical realism, Wittgenstein tried to dissolve linguistic law in free 'games', and so on. But none have unambiguously succeeded. This is why, though overcoming 'communication deficits' [Hirschheim & Klein 2003] is important in everyday experience of IS, and the linguistic turn, which interested Klein [1999], can help with this, they offer no "proper philosophical foundation" for integration, not for resolving Wilson's paradox.


The historical influence of ground-motives was demonstrated by Dooyeweerd and we can see it in IS research. But is it inescapable, or is pure, unbiased ground-motive-free theoretical thought possible in principle? Dooyeweerd [1984,I,p.34-59] undertook a transcendental critique of theoretical thought as it occurs under any ground-motive, and found ground-motives inescapable. {NOTE 2.} Ground-motives constitute the very kernel of theoretical thinking itself, as explained now. In so doing, he also provided a basis on which supposedly incommensurable philosophies can understand each other [ibid., p.70].

3.1 Process and Attitude in Theoretical Thought

Kant and Husserl also made transcendental critiques of theoretical thought but Dooyeweerd believed [1999,p.6] they did not go deep enough. They both focused on the process of theoretical thought but both presupposed the theoretical attitude of thought, which is taken during the process, and failed to see that it too needs transcendental critique.

Klein likewise considered process rather than attitude. Klein [1999] differentiated methods of inquiry and the types of knowledge they generate (normative and descriptive). Klein & Myers [1999] and Myers & Klein [2011] differentiate the role that theory plays in each approach - theory is tested in positivist research, used as lens in interpretive research or used to guide critique or transformation in critical-social research. Though these typologies can differentiate the approaches, a basis for integration requires understanding of what is common among them: researchers in all approaches take a theoretical attitude to the world they study - respectively, to the components of theory and testable 'facts', to the interpretable world, and to the world to be critiqued and transformed. As Dooyeweerd said [1984,1,p.35], "no veritable philosophy whatsoever can escape this attitude" and it is he who offers an understanding of the theoretical attitude.

3.2 Ground-ideas of Philosophy: Three Transcendental Questions

For three millennia, few philosophers have adequately explored the difference between theoretical and pre-theoretical attitudes of thought. It was with this difference that Dooyeweerd began his transcendental critique. He argued that there are three transcendental, basic questions that philosophy must answer, each one leading to the next and the third lying at the heart of theoretical thought. Any full philosophy must provide, or assume, answers, and it is these answers (together forming its 'ground-idea') that differentiate each philosophy from others and provide a basis for discourse among them. Though Dooyeweerd directed them at philosophy, each question reveals an issue that research must address, and they are thus explained in terms of research rather than philosophy.

Question 1: What is the difference between theoretical and pre-theoretical attitudes of thought? In the pre-theoretical (or naïve or everyday) attitude we engage with the research situation ('world') as a totality with diversity of meaning exhibited therein: "naïve experience has an integral vision of the whole" [1984,I:84]. By contrast, in the theoretical attitude of thought we abstract aspects of this whole that are meaningful to us and ignore the rest. In doing so, we take an antithetical stance over against the world (Dooyeweerd called this a Gegenstand relation). Abstracting aspects of interest yields data to which we apply our analytical faculty.

Dooyeweerd's analysis perhaps over-plays the distinction between theoretical (abstractive) and pre-theoretical (everyday) attitudes of thought. Clouser [2005] provides a more nuanced version with two levels of abstraction. In lower abstraction, while focusing on aspects that are meaningful to us, we retain some awareness of other aspects. In higher abstraction, this wider awareness is absent and focus is entirely, and narrowly, on the aspect of interest.

Question 2: What makes it possible and valid to apply our analytical faculty to this data? Kant called this application the theoretical synthesis and discussed how it occurs but not why it is valid. Dooyeweerd explored the conditions for it to be valid. Dooyeweerd, like Winch [1958], recognised the possibility of multiple rationalities, so neither that of our analytical faculty nor that of the abstracted aspects may dominate, but something must transcend both. Habermas [1986] affirmed Winch's view but eventually argued that communicative rationality can bridge between all others. Dooyeweerd argued, however, that even this is only relative and that it is the human being who interprets, thinks and acts, that transcends them; uniting analytical faculty with data is always a human responsibility, not a logic. So philosophy needs to critically self-reflect to understand what it is about the human that makes this valid, or it will assume something uncritically: "Philosopher, know thyself".

Question 3: What makes critical self-reflection possible and valid? Though scientific stances, such as psychology or sociology, can provide insight into human functioning, they cannot provide insight into the human sellhood; if we approach this with science, "the 'authentic', the 'fundamental' I-ness ... will ever recede from our view" [Dooyeweerd, 1984,I,p.58]. In fact, argued Dooyeweerd, critical self-reflection cannot be achieved by any theoretical thought, whether scientific or philosophical. Rather, it involves the self being concentrated pre-theoretically upon what it takes to be the origin of all meaning, whether this is God or something else. It is not that the researcher ponders the origin of meaning but that doing research is a meaningful activity and is supra-individual in nature [ibid. p.59], so what the researcher and research community does is governed by what they (tacitly) agree is meaningful. This is determined by the dominant ground-motive; for example the interpretivist reaction to positivism was in terms of free interpretation rather than in terms of the supernatural. The origin of meaning affects how we see the human who thinks and the totality that is the studied world.

Whereas Kant recognised Q1 and Husserl also recognised Q2, neither recognised Q3, which shows that meaning is central. Unfortunately, the standpoint of the dualistic ground-motives divorces meaning from reality [Dooyeweerd, 1984,I,p.502] - as attested by the relative sparseness of philosophical discussion on this topic.

This 'taking-to-be' of an origin of meaning is religious in nature, a belief, a commitment, even though tacit, where 'religion' is used in a technical sense, as a binding of the self to its firm ground and as "absolute self-surrender" [p.57-58]. 'Religion' here does not refer to organised creeds but overlaps with what Richardson & Robinson [2007] mean by 'political' in "academic publication is first and foremost a political rather than epistemological issue."

So Dooyeweerd subverts all claims that theoretical thought is neutral, self-sufficient or autonomous of any external influence, but for a different reason from that found in post-Kantian thought. It is not that thought is disconnected from the thought-about thing, but because all theoretical thought is belief. Dooyeweerd's explanation has the advantage of being more commensurable with everyday experience, where we believe we do know things and where being, meaning and normativity coalesce.

3.3 Ground-ideas of ISR Approaches

Dooyeweerd claimed that explication of ground-ideas opens the way for discourse among philosophies. The three transcendental questions can be reformulated for research approaches as:

  • Q1 concerns what we expect to be abstracted from the world when we take a theoretical attitude (Gegenstand) to it.
  • Q2 concerns to what extent the approach recognises the centrality of the human person, and what role it expects of the Researcher in relation to the Researched world (especially researched humans).
  • Q3 concerns what makes the research meaningful in the context of the thinking community, and how it relates to the dominant ground-motive, Nature-Freedom.

Positivism, arising under the influence of the Nature pole, seeks to minimise expressions of Freedom, such as opinion, belief, ethics and pure reflection. So it presupposes that the world operates by invariant, causal, largely mechanical laws. Theories embody this assumption and, to test them, positivism seeks 'facts' obtained by empirical means, usually only from the senses. Positivism assumes that the laws of logic, especially statistical logic, dominate the rationality of the abstracted aspects and that the human should mechanically function in accordance with these laws as a detached observer. The full humanity of the Researcher, which the Nature-Freedom ground-motive has traditionally seen as opinions, etc. is suppressed. The origin of meaning is primarily the predefined purpose of the study, though this is circumscribed by the limitation to empirical means and mechanical laws. Positivist research therefore tends to be narrowly focused, which generates tension between rigor and relevance [Lee 1999].

The interpretivist approach, of which Checkland [1981] and Klein & Myers [1999] are well-known exponents, has its roots in phenomenology and hermeneutics, which are motivated by the Freedom pole. The world is constituted of idiosyncratic interpretations ('appreciations': Checkland) of both detail and context ("social and historical background": Klein & Myers), interacting in a hermeneutic circle. Interpretivism pays little attention to logical rationality. Instead, according to Klein & Myers [1999, p.71], citing Gadamer, it is harmony between detail and context that is the important rationality. The humanity of the Researcher is recognised but the Freedom pole limits this to autonomous sense-making. The origin of meaning is the prior set of beliefs or assumptions held by participants (Researcher and/or Researched) about what is important (meaningful) - Weltanschauung. In order to preserve Freedom, the interpretations, hermeneutic circle and sense-making must all be autonomous and the Weltanschauung must be unquestioned, which yields research that fails to detect and challenge distortions [Hirschheim, Klein & Lyytinen 1995].

Under the critical-social approach, the world is whatever is to be critiqued and transformed, which, according to Myers & Klein [2011], includes social structures of power, domination or distortion, the participants' beliefs and assumptions, and critical-social theories. Little attention is paid to harmony, nor to logical rationality except in the act of making critique or justifying transformation. The rationality of emancipation or power dominates and can result in curious distortions, like that detected by Basden [2008a] in Walsham's adherence to the power motive (which inverted generosity as "leveraging power"). The humanity of the Researcher is recognised, including fallible beliefs, but this is largely limited to a role of emancipator who critiques the status quo to transform it. The meaning-origin that gives the basis for critique and incentive for transformation, is freedom from unwarranted constraints [Hirschheim, Klein & Lyytinen 1995] imposed as a norm. The influence of the Nature-Freedom ground-motive may be detected in that social structures and participants beliefs are seen as problematic to the extent that they are 'unwarranted constraints'. The notion of 'unwarranted', however, sits uneasily astride the two poles.

This understanding of the three approaches is summarised in Table 1, with the influence of the Nature-Freedom ground-motive in brackets.

Table 1. Ground Ideas of Three Approaches to IS Research.
ISR approach World Reason, data &
Origin of meaning
Positivist Causal, invariant law-relationships (expected to be of a mechanistic nature);
Narrowly-defined 'facts' to test these.
Laws of logical rationality dominate, applied by detached observer (with opinions etc. suppressed) (Functionalist) purpose of the study.
Interpretivist (Autonomous) interpretations of things and their contexts, especially historical backgrounds, subjectively-formed via a 'lens'. Meaning harmonised by (autonomous) sense-maker Participants' prior belief about what is meaningful - Weltanschauung - and hermeneutic circle. (Unquestioned)
Critical-social Social structures of domination;
Researcher's own beliefs;
Critical-social theories;
(Seen as problematic because they constrain)
Emancipatory rationality dominates, applied by critical-transformative emancipator Removal of unwarranted constraints (Tension).

Assumptions about meaning, Researcher and world have been identified but not yet integrated. Dooyeweerd's Cosmonomic Philosophy can facilitate this.


Dooyeweerd's Cosmonomic Philosophy is a philosophical outworking of the Creation-Fall-Redemption ground-motive. The Creation-Fall-Redemption ground-motive makes it easier than do the dualistic ground-motives to philosophically address meaning, it exerts less pressure to reduce the diversity of pre-theoretical experience of the world to a duality, and it makes the Kantian and Humean gulfs harmless. The following outlines those portions of Cosmonomic Philosophy that are relevant here; fuller discussion can be found in chapters II, III of Basden [2008a].

4.1 Meaning and its Origins

We ascribe meanings to things (for example purpose to a research project) and we convey meanings by symbolic utterances or texts, which signify. We also live within a lifeworld full of meanings. All these concrete meanings come from a deeper origin. The Nature-Freedom ground-motive provides one that is divisive; Dooyeweerd provides one that is more integrative.

Whereas under the Nature pole of the Humanistic ground-motive, meaning is largely meaningless, reduced to an optional property of being, Dooyeweerd reversed this [1984,I,p.4]: "Meaning is the being of all that has been created and the nature even of our selfhood." Whereas under the Freedom pole, meaning is (inter)subjective ascription or signification that is completely autonomous, Dooyeweerd argued that meaning has the character of referring [ibid.,p.4], so that ascriptions, significations and lifeworld meanings always refer to meaning that transcends us all.

Dooyeweerd called this the law side of temporal reality, within which and in relation to which the world (including humans) exists and occurs. The origins of meaning assumed by the three ISR approaches need no longer be disconnected from each other because they can be related to this law-side meaning (see below).

4.2 Meaning and its Diversity: World

The world as we experience it pre-theoretically is diverse, not just in types of things, but in ways of being meaningful ('aspects'). Under the Creation-Fall-Redemption ground-motive, it is the law side that makes meaning-diversity possible. Theoretically analysing temporal reality, which exhibits it, can provide clues to what law-side aspects there might be [Dooyeweerd, 1984,I,p.3]. Dooyeweerd made a penetrating exploration of law-side aspects ('law-spheres' or spheres of meaning), critically reflecting on a lifetime of pre-theoretical experience and on 3,000 years of literature, together with some basic philosophical tests. He delineated fifteen aspects, which are summarised in Table 2. Each has a kernel meaning and associated good that it can deliver if we function appropriately (normativity). Each is illustrated from Hirschheim, Klein & lyytinen's [1995,pp.30-31] discussion of ISD where possible (other examples in square brackets).

Table 2. Dooyeweerd's Aspects, their Kernel Meanings and Normativity
Aspect Kernel meaning Good (normativity) Example issue in ISD
Mathematical aspects
Quantitative Reliable amount n/a Seven generations of ISD
Spatial Simultaneity, continuity n/a [Screen layout]
Kinematic Movement n/a [Animation]
Pre-human aspects
Physical Energy, causality n/a [Electricity powers computers]
Biotic / Organic Life functions Vitality [ISD team health]
Sensitive / Psychic Feeling, responding, sentience Interactivity [Audio cues enhance user interface]
Human individual aspects
Analytical Distinction Clear conceptualisation Objectives clearly/ambiguously defined
Formative Shaping, control Achievement, innovation ISD planned, controlled; project purpose
Lingual Symbolic signification Understandability Concise specifications written; Communication gaps
Social aspects
Social Social relationships, institutions Acting-together Participation; leadership; organisations
Economic Management of scarce resources Frugality, sustainable prosperity Cost-effective production
Aesthetic Harmony, play Enjoyment, fun (Making the IS pleasant to use)
Societal aspects
Juridical Due, appropriateness Justice for all Ensuring workers' rights; Ensuring "right kind of system"
Ethical Self-giving love Attitude pervading society [Attitude that pervades ISD team]
Pistic / Faith Vision, commitment, certainty, belief Worth, identity Believing things; Conflicts; [Courage for radical change]

The grouping of aspects is mine, not Dooyeweerd's, but serves to emphasise that Dooyeweerd's suite gives us a basis for integrating societal, social, individual and pre-human aspects of the researched situation. To Dooyeweerd, all things exhibit all aspects (at least latently), though each type of thing might exhibit certain aspects more (for example, to a poem, the aesthetic and lingual aspects are particularly important).

There is a coherence among the aspects themselves. Each aspect contains analogical echoes of others (for example, physical causality analogies in analytical premise-conclusion and formative historical 'cause'). The good aspects deliver never inherently conflicts (such as between economics and business ethics), though conflict often occurs between our misunderstandings of aspects.

This can deliver Klein's [1999] "parsimonious typology". However, in the spirit of Klein [p.23] it is no overarching "great infallible truth", since Dooyeweerd [1984,II,p.556] was very clear that "the system of the law-spheres designed by us can never lay claim to material completion" because its design is always a result of fallible human functioning (see below). Dooyeweerd's suite will be used to suggest how the ISR approaches complement each other in terms of their origins of meaning and what is theoretically abstracted from the pre-theoretical world; each approach focuses on certain aspects and ignores others.

4.3 Meaning and its Outworking: Researcher and Researched World

In Dooyeweerd, under the Creation-Fall-Redemption ground-motive, functioning, being, rationality, meaning and normativity of the world come together and are made possible by the same source: the law-side aspects. It is not that some are aspects of functioning/being, some of rationality, others of meaning and yet others of normativity but that all these occur in each aspect, and differently in each. Winch's [1958] multiple rationalities may be seen as distinct aspectual rationalities.

Take, for example, an ISD project. The functioning of the project involves every aspect, as illustrated by the examples in Table 2. The very being of the project is constituted in all this diverse functioning. All ascriptions of meaning to elements of the project refer to aspects, for example its purpose refers to formative achievement, and rights is a concept meaningful in the juridical aspect. Each element must make rational sense in each aspect. From at least the biotic aspect, meaning is associated with what is good and bad, beneficial and detrimental, so normativity and anti-normativity are also diverse.

The research project - its being, functioning, rationality, meaning and normativity - is likewise rooted in the law side, the very same law side for Researcher and Researched. So, in the everyday experience of carrying out the project, Researcher engages proximally with Researched in what Dooyeweerd called subject-object and subject-subject relationships (these are multi-aspectual). Knowing is a kind of functioning and in such engagement, Researcher gains some proximal knowledge of the Researched of many types - bodily, social, etc. - which are recognised by feminism. It is the Gegenstand relationship that distances Researcher from Researched (Descartes' so-called subject-object is actually Gegenstand). As argued earlier Gegenstand is essential for theoretical thought, whether the higher abstraction of scientific theorizing (focus on one aspect) or the lower abstraction of analysis (focus on several aspects). Which aspects are abstracted during analysis (the more, the richer the analysis) depends on which aspects the participants take to be important; Weltanschauung is therefore an aspectual profile).

Research can never find absolute truth, because of the functioning of both Researcher and Researched. Some functioning is anti-normative, such as deceit (lingual aspect), cheating (juridical), laziness (formative) but even good functioning is fallible (e.g. words can never express all we mean) because, to Dooyeweerd, only the Creator is absolute.

Knowledge of the law side - what aspects there are and the meaning and normativity of each aspect - is different. Aspectual meaning and normativity can be grasped directly by intuition but never directly by theoretical thought. All theoretical thought can do is to try to distinguish aspects exhibited in temporal reality (analytical Gegenstand), perhaps with help from this intuition, and express the result (lingual functioning) to share with others in debate. So all aspectual suites are social constructions - though this does not diminish aspectual pertinence - and can ever be absolute truth. Rather, we always employ (fallible) suites or typologies by faith.

4.4 Bridging the Gulfs

Dooyeweerd dissolves the Nature-Freedom opposition, not by ignoring either pole nor by thinking them together uncritically, but by redefining both Nature and Freedom as meaningful response to aspectual law, in which the former refer to the earlier aspects and the latter mainly to the later ones. Aspectual law and meaning should not be confused with our knowledge thereof, nor with social norms or rules, which are social constructions, nor with authoritarian demand, but is more like promise that invites response ("If you do X then Y is likely to result").

The Humean gulf is obliterated because being and normativity have the same source, aspectual law. The Kantian gulf is seen in proper perspective, as referring only to the analytical Gegenstand relationship set within a wider context of human engagement in the world. This, plus intuitive grasp of aspectual meaning, gives hope of mutual understanding between Researcher and Researched whether mediated by language [Basden & Klein 2008] or not. Since meaning and normativity inhabit the same aspects, descriptive and normative knowledge naturally coalesce.

With this in mind, integration of the three ISR approaches may be considered.


It may be noticed that positivism interests itself in being and functioning of the world, interpretivism, in meaning, and critical-social approaches, in normativity. The Dooyeweerdian coherence of functioning/being, rationality, meaning and normativity suggests that integration should be possible. This will be examined at the strategic level of ground-ideas and the practical level of principles of research.

5.1 Reinterpreting the Ground-ideas

The ground-ideas of the three ISR approaches may be reinterpreted from a Dooyeweerdian perspective as follows, summarised in Table 3.

The views of the world by the three ISR approaches may be understood as ways by which temporal reality is expected to be understood, derived from different aspects. The positivist notion of causal, invariant law is rooted in the physical aspect, so its methods, even in social science and economics always bear the restrictive analogical imprint of the physical notion of mechanism. Abstracted data are of single aspects isolated from others and cannot be seen as 'facts' because of the non-neutrality at the centre of theoretical thought. Interpretivist analysis involves abstractions from aspects that are important in the interpreter's profile (Weltanschauung) and/or the theory used as lens. The critical-social primary interest in social structures of domination leads to relatively narrow abstraction of social and juridical aspects. Its interest in the participants' beliefs relates to the faith aspect, and critique of its own theory involves abstracting analytical and lingual aspects thereof.

Views of the basis for uniting analysis and abstracted data may be interpreted as the aspectual rationality that dominates the approach. Positivism elevates logical-statistical rationality (analytical and quantitative aspects). Interpretivism elevates harmony, the rationality of which is governed by the aesthetic aspect. Critical-social approaches elevate the rationality of the juridical aspect of social conditions, and the pistic aspect of the beliefs of the Researcher. Dooyeweerd would set these within the wider context of all aspects. The Researcher is therefore called upon to take all into account even while paying special attention to these aspects. For example, in Klein & Rowe's [2008] interpretive and slightly positivist discussion of professionally qualified doctoral students (PQDSs), use of several other aspectual rationalities can be detected in addition to analytical and aesthetic rationalities. Lingual rationality is that it makes sense to argue well if you wish to persuade or convey understanding, which occurs in their Introduction. Social rationality recommends tailoring the argument to show respect to those involved; the paper applauds the special 'applicative' knowledge of PQDS. Ethical rationality recommends focusing on achieving good for others even at expense of self; Klein & Rowe expect us to make extra effort to tailor doctoral programmes to the specific needs and skills of PWDSs. Pistic rationality may be seen in the final paragraph, which tries to motivate us. Good papers will already do this, but Dooyeweerd provides a foundation to understand and guide it.

The origin of meaning of each approach may be understood as a selection of aspects of the law side that the research community deems meaningful and which control its view of the world. It is useful to identify two of them in particular. The leading aspect is expressed in the specific concern of the research and the founding aspect is that which makes that concern important. Positivist research is led by the aspect of the project's purpose but this is made important by (founded in) the formative aspect of achievement. Interpretivist research is led by the profile of aspects that is the Weltanschauungen of the participants (Researcher, Researched and research community), which is held as beliefs or assumptions (founding faith aspect). Critical-social research is founded on the juridical aspect of '(un)warranted' and led by the aspect of the specific type of unwarranted conditions that must be overcome (for example, biotic or social in case of gender).

Table 3. Dooyeweerdian Understanding the Ground-ideas of Three IS Approaches
Approach World Reason, data &
Origin of meaning
Positivist Physical aspect or its analogies for theory elements.
Single aspect for 'facts'.
Analytical rationality (higher abstraction)
- in context of all aspectual rationalities.
Founding aspect: formative
Leading aspect: that of research purpose.
Interpretivist Several aspects are abstracted, as suggested by Weltanschauung aspectual profile and theory used as lens. Analytical rationality (lower abstraction), with aesthetic rationality
- in context of all aspectual rationalities.
Founding aspect: faith
Leading aspect: those of the Weltanschauungen of participants.
Critical-social Juridical and social aspects of situations;
Pistic aspect of beliefs;
Analytical and lingual aspect of theories.
Juridical and pistic rationality (higher abstraction);
Proximal engagement for transformation;
- in context of all aspectual rationalities.
Founding aspect: juridical
Leading aspect: type of unwarranted conditions.

5.2 Integration of Ground-ideas and Incorporating Normativity

The above analysis indicates ways in which each approach limits itself, usually without realising it. Limited are the aspects abstracted from the world, the aspects of rationalities, the aspects of human functioning and those the research community finds meaningful. This can reveal to each approach how it is restricted in relation to everyday experience, which covers all aspects in principle, and encourage it to recognise the validity of others and enter discourse with them. That aspectual meaning is grapsed by intuition provides a basis for understanding aspects favoured by others. Because of aspectual coherence, it is possible in principle for approaches to work together too. Since Dooyeweerd offers more aspects than the three together use, there might be other ISR approaches as yet unexplored.

Whereas only the critical-social approach explicitly recognises normativity, to Dooyeweerd all approaches should do so. This is because Researcher - whether positivist theory-tester, interpretivist sense-maker or critical-social emancipator - is always and inescapably subject to the entire law side. Researcher lives within and in relation to the same diverse aspectual normativity as the Researched world. Researcher is therefore expected to function responsibly in relation to every aspectual norm, whichever approach is used. Two dimensions of multi-aspectual responsibility exist: for the process of the research, and for the repercussions of the research on its context of application. So normativity is already implicit in interpretivist and even in positivist research, and many of the aspects of these dimensions are already recognised as best practice. Good research papers will discuss their own shortcomings (aspects of process) and possible contribution (aspects of repercussions). What Dooyeweerd offers is a "reasoned understanding" [Klein, 1999] to link normativity inextricably to an understanding of theoretical thought as such, rather than seeing it as optional, and thus that interpretivist and critical-social are compatible over normativity.

This provides a philosophical foundation on which the Kleinian integration of interpretivist and critical-social approaches might be built, along with positivist approaches as a bonus. This strategic analysis of ground-ideas does not however address Klein's [1999, 2009] concern about need for empirical methods. So Dooyeweerd's philosophy is also applied to the level of principles of IS research.

5.3 Enriching Kleinian Research Principles

The ability of Dooyeweerd to reinterpret and enrich at the practical level of Checkland's [1981] CATWOE [Basden & Wood-Harper 2006] motivates an attempt to reinterpret principles of interpretive and critical-social research as defined in [Klein & Myers 1999; Myers & Klein 2011]. Since the aspects are spheres of meaning, spheres of law and modes of functioning/being, Myers & Klein's [2011] insight, critique and transformation interweave, and the danger of disparity between them is lessened. Tables 4 and 5 show, without justification or elaboration, how the principles may be reinterpreted using Dooyeweerd's philosophy and how such reinterpretation can indicate not only integration but also enrichment. Labels are mine. This analysis is not intended to critique, nor even compare, the sets of principles; that is for deeper analysis on another occasion.

Table 4. Principles of Interpretive Research Reinterpreted and Enriched by Dooyeweerd.
Principle Dooyeweerdian reinterpretation Dooyeweerdian enrichment
Principles for Insight
I1. Iterate between considering the meaning of the part and the whole. This principle underlies the others because it is this Gadamerian hermeneutic circle that generates human understanding. Meaning of the part and the whole are meanings ascribed by reference to the law-side aspects, an intuitive grasp of which is prior to all concrete interpreting. (Gadamer and other proponents of the hermeneutic circle confuse these and presuppose a theoretical, not pre-theoretical, attitude, and thus are unable to appreciate the importance of intuitive grasp of aspectual meaning.) Why not use intuitive grasp of aspect kernel meanings to disclose fuller diversity at both levels?
I2. Critically reflect on the social and historical background of the research setting. Historical and social contexts are formative and social aspects thereof. Why not extend this to each and every aspect?
I3. Critically reflect on how Researcher and Researched interact to construct the data. Data-construction is theoretical abstraction of certain aspects of pre-theoretical actuality. Abstraction gives limited picture of thereof. Researched, as well as Researcher, will abstract. Could intuitive reference to a suite of aspects help Researcher appreciate better what the Researched find meaningful and what abstraction might filter out?
I4. Relate the concrete, unique situations revealed in the data to the theoretical basis adopted by Researcher, especially to generate insights. This takes a theoretical attitude, involving Gegenstand-abstraction of aspects of pre-theoretical experience. Recognising the difference between theoretical and pre-theoretical attitudes can motivate Researcher to seek yet more aspects of the Researched.
I5. Be sensitive to possible contradictions between theoretical preconceptions brought in by Researcher, and the findings, and revise the preconceptions accordingly. Not only is aspectual law incompletely understood, but aspects are ignored, especially if Researcher's preconceptions are not exposed. Even 'findings' do not fully express the pre-theoretical situation. Clearly understanding and intuitively grasping the kernel meanings of aspects, even if incompletely, can help reveal both preconceptions and fruitful lines of revision.
I6. Be sensitive to differences in interpretation between participants (Researcher and each of the Researched). Researcher and each of the Researched live within the same law side though each has different aspectual profiles of meaning. Awareness of aspectual meanings helps reveal profiles.
I7. Be sensitive to possible biases in the accounts given by the researched. Such biases can arise from (a) the Researched overlooking important aspects, (b) fallibility in lingual functioning (the Researched expressing themselves), (c) anti-normative lingual functioning. Differentiating these sources helps enormously; awareness of aspectual meaning with Multi-aspectual Knowledge Elicitation [Winfield et al. 1996] can help detect all kinds of bias.

Table 5. Principles of Critical-Social Research Reinterpreted and Enriched by Dooyeweerd.
Principle Dooyeweerdian reinterpretation Dooyeweerdian enrichment
Principles for Critique
C1. Base data collection and analysis on core concepts from critical-social theorists. But what counts as core concepts, and as critical-social theory? The three elements of ground-ideas can identify fundamental concepts and Dooyeweerd's Cosmonomic Philosophy can widen them.
C2. Take an explicit value position, which expresses a commitment to certain norms that provide the basis for T1 - T3 below. Law-side normativity, in which Researcher and Researched operate, is inescapable; normativity of the societal aspects is especially important. Their (cultural) understanding of it might differ, in which case empathy can be difficult to achieve. Recognising law-side aspectual normativity, and that understanding and cultural manifestation thereof is fallible, can help Researcher to understand a range of value positions.
C3. Expose and challenge beliefs, assumptions and habits. On what basis may beliefs be critiqued (beyond the arbitrary counterpositions of Researcher)? Understanding the kernel normativity of all aspects can help uncover and critique assumptions and suggest alternatives with which to challenge.
Principles for Transformation
T1. Orient research towards realization of human needs and potentials, critical self-reflection and self-transformation. Actual human needs and potentials are meaningful and good by reference to the aspects. Clear understanding of aspectual good, however incomplete, can help avoid over-emphasising certain needs and potentials at the expense of others.
T2. Aim to improve society by overcoming unwarranted power structures. Society exists and changes by humanity functioning especially in the societal aspects (juridical, ethical, faith). Understanding the mutual irreducibility and yet coherence of these aspects helps separate rules, attitudes and vision.
T3. Recognise that theories are fallible, welcome competing truth-claims, and modify critical-social theory accordingly. Analytical-theoretical functioning is never absolute, and theoretical Gegenstand can never be deemed a truth. Understanding aspectual meanings can reveal where theories might be unbalanced or partial.

The following observations may be made.

First, Dooyeweerd's philosophy seems to be sufficient to account for both interpretive and critical-social principles.

Second, interpretive principles quite naturally express aspects as spheres of meaning, while the principles of critique and transformation express aspects more as spheres of normativity and ways of functioning. Since meaning, normativity and functioning are bound together in Dooyeweerd, this suggests the sets of principles can be integrated. For example, could I7 urge Researcher to see the biased value positions of Researched, without reducing normativity to mere data to interpret, so as to contribute to the normative thrust of the research? That raises the challenge of Researcher imposing their own value position; it may be that recognising the law side, to which both Researcher and Researched are subject, can address this.

Third, in the Enrichment column, every principle except C1 benefits from understanding all aspects, especially when combined with intuitive grasp of their meaning. This supports what has already been found by those listed earlier who have applied Dooyeweerd's aspects to IS: Dooyeweerd's suite provides a very usable, intuitive and robust framework for analysis. It does not primarily give answers, nor even questions to ask (though it can be used thus) but rather it opens up spaces for discussion.

A more extensive Dooyeweerdian analysis of these principles is called for, but this initial analysis does at least suggest that Dooyeweerd not only integrate principles but also enrich them.


6.1 Summary

Klein's [1999] project of integrating interpretive and critical-social approaches poses significant challenges, especially interpretivism's reluctance to recognise normativity, which is so important to critical-social approaches. Klein warned that we should seek "proper philosophical foundation", not just "liaisons of convenience". This paper has argued that Dooyeweerd's philosophy can provide such a foundation, by three steps.

First, Dooyeweerd's notion of ground-motives helps to explain why integration is difficult: the Humanistic Nature-Freedom ground-motive drives philosophy to assume an inescapable antithesis between normativity and free interpretation. In order to bring the approaches together a different ground-motive has been explored, that of Creation-Fall-Redemption.

Second, Dooyeweerd offers a basis for integrative dialogue between positivist, interpretivist and critical-social approaches. By shifting the debate from types of knowledge and methods of inquiry, to what is necessary for taking a theoretical attitude as such, he exposed three transcendental questions that help identify the ground-ideas they assume. Meaning is a central issue and proves to be rich and diverse.

Third, portions of Dooyeweerd's meaning-oriented Cosmonomic Philosophy were employed to reinterpret elements of the positivist, interpretivist and critical-social approaches, which were revealed to be situated within a wider horizon established by Dooyeweerd's aspects. Both ground-idea and principles for IS research were reinterpreted. Dooyeweerd's suite of aspects is useful because it affords wider sensitivity in understanding situations and greater precision in directing critique, it can expose the nature of bias or distortion in both Researcher and Researched, and it can be used to highlight aspects that have been overlooked.

Dooyeweerd's notion of law-side aspects, to which all temporal reality, including human beings, are subject, provides a basis for normativity that is diverse in kind and inescapable even for interpretivist and positivist approaches. This removes the main barrier that Klein [1999] feared would jeopardise integration.

6.2 Contributions

The main contribution of this paper to the Kleinian approach in IS research is to offer a "proper philosophical foundation" for both critical evaluation of, and positive proposals for, the Kleinian project of integration of ISR approaches. It might however, as Basden [2010] indicates, also offer a foundation by which to understand the characteristics of the Kleinian approach, some of which were mentioned earlier and which are discussed in other papers in this special issue. Such a philosophical foundation establishes confidence in the validity of the Kleinian approach and can extend it to enter new contexts of IS use.

The paper might also contribute to IS research more generally in several ways because it offers a different understanding of the ISR approaches. First, the claim that no sound foundation for integration can be found in philosophy influenced by the Nature-Freedom ground-motive challenges those who look to post-Kantian turns in philosophy (phenomenological, hermeneutic, dialectical, Nietzschian, linguistic, post-structuralist, existentialist, postmodernist, feminist or critical realist) for a way forward, to articulate more clearly the basis of their hope. This can stimulate fruitful debate within the IS community.

Second, by considering the three transcendental questions - about world, human thinker and origin of meaning - research approaches can articulate their core concepts, so as to understand their own limitations in relation to pre-theoretical experience, and begin dialogue with other approaches. Here the positivist, interpretivist and critical-social approaches have been thus examined, but others can be treated likewise, including the four paradigms derived by Hirschheim, Klein & Lyytinen [1995] from the Burrell-Morgan model, approaches to ISD [ibid p.30], and research approaches based on such philosophies as just listed.

Third, this paper has shown how the application of Dooyeweerd's Cosmonomic Philosophy, especially his notion of aspects and his proposed suite of them, can enrich IS research at the level of whole approaches and at that of principles. In addition, Basden & Wood-Harper [2006] have shown how Dooyeweerd can enrich at the level of key concepts.

Fourth, by considering Dooyeweerd's three phases, this paper introduces Dooyeweerd's philosophy more completely IS research that did previous contributions. Dooyeweerd need not supplant the ongoing work of developing empirical and theoretical foundations, but rather provides a meaning-based, diversity-oriented foundation for self-critique and dialogue in relation to everyday experience of IS development and use and its societal implications.

This paper might also contribute to Dooyeweerdian philosophy itself by demonstrating its utility in advancing a line of research. Whereas most extant application of Dooyeweerd to IS, such as those listed earlier, have demonstrated that Dooyeweerd's notion of aspects can shed light on various specific issues of IS, this paper has employed all three of Dooyeweerd's phases in concert: his transcendental critique of theoretical thought, his immanent critique of ground-motives and his Cosmonomic Philosophy. This discussion demonstrates how to apply the latter at two levels: that of paradigmatic differences and that of practical principles.

6.3 Limitations of This Analysis and Future Work

This analysis has necessarily been brief and indicative rather than exhaustive. A more penetrating investigation of ground-ideas of ISR approaches is called for, and of their principles. Other approaches, beyond positivist, interpretivist and critical-social, should be considered. More of the conclusions in Klein [1999] should be discussed, along with characteristics, strengths and weaknesses of the Kleinian approach. A move in that direction can be found in Basden [2010] but more depth is required. For example, Klein [1999], Klein [2009] and Hirschheim, Klein & Lyytinen [1995] all argue the ability of conflict to stimulate new ways of thinking, but the presuppositions of this could be critiqued using ground-ideas and ground-motives, and Dooyeweerd's Cosmonomic Philosophy could enrich and expand it, perhaps with an aspectual view of dialectics [Basden 1999].

In addition, more of Dooyeweerd's philosophy could be employed, especially his theories of individuality structures and time, the former to inform debate about social and other structures, and the latter to inform debate about the nature of freedom and of societal development.

It might be thought that Dooyeweerd's thought, based on the Biblical ground-motive, would be incommensurable with Kleinian thought, based on the Humanist ground-motive. That this need not be the case has been demonstrated by the use of Dooyeweerd to affirm and enrich Checkland's CATWOE analysis [Basden & Wood-Harper 2006], and the reasons for this are reflected on in Basden [2008b]. Even though the idea of a self-dependent Origin of Meaning, which the Biblical ground-motive holds to be a Creator God, has been mentioned above, the argument in this paper has not (so far) found it necessary to depend on it.

In spite of these limitations, the analysis here at least shows that the Kleinian project of integration might not be fruitless in moving into the future of IS because one way has been shown of expelling what Klein [1999, p.22] feared might be a "Trojan horse, which brings down the whole integration project."


Thanks are due to Nick Breems (Dordt College, U.S.A.), Darek Haftor (University of Stockholm, Sweden), and David Kreps and Helen Richardson (University of Salford, U.K.), for very helpful comments on a draft of this paper, and to the anonymous reviewers and editor who helped set its direction.


NOTE 1. Immanent critique (used also by Habermas) means understanding a thinker in their own terms rather than from outside, and exposing assumptions and presuppositions therein.

NOTE 2. Transcendental critique (used by Kant) seeks to expose the necessary and universal conditions that make something possible and valid; it is not the opposite of immanent critique.


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