Borrowed Knowledge: Chaos Theory and the Challenge of Learning across Disciplines

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University of Chicago Press, May 15, 2009 - Science - 288 pages
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What happens to scientific knowledge when researchers outside the natural sciences bring elements of the latest trend across disciplinary boundaries for their own purposes? Researchers in fields from anthropology to family therapy and traffic planning employ the concepts, methods, and results of chaos theory to harness the disciplinary prestige of the natural sciences, to motivate methodological change or conceptual reorganization within their home discipline, and to justify public policies and aesthetic judgments.
Using the recent explosion in the use (and abuse) of chaos theory, Borrowed Knowledge and the Challenge of Learning across Disciplines examines the relationship between science and other disciplines as well as the place of scientific knowledge within our broader culture. Stephen H. Kellert’s detailed investigation of the myriad uses of chaos theory reveals serious problems that can arise in the interchange between science and other knowledge-making pursuits, as well as opportunities for constructive interchange. By engaging with recent debates about interdisciplinary research, Kellert contributes a theoretical vocabulary and a set of critical frameworks for the rigorous examination of borrowing.
 

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Contents

1 What Was Chaos Theory and Why Would People Want to Borrow It?
1
2 Disciplinary Pluralism
25
3 The Rhetorical Functions of Borrowing and the Uses of Disciplinary Prestige
57
4 Motivating Methodological Change
81
5 Metaphorical Chaos
103
6 How to Criticize a Metaphor
121
7 Facts Values and Intervention
149
8 Beautiful Chaos?
181
9 Postmodern Chaos and the Challengeof Pluralism
203
Notes
239
Works Cited
259
Index
283
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About the author (2009)

Stephen H. Kellert is professor of philosophy at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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