SAC # 120

Cross-disciplinary research and the structure of scientific perspectives



TIME | 20 October 2011, 4pm onwards

LOCATION | CSAFE Seminar Room, , Dunedin

SPEAKER | Hugo Alroe


There has been a long interest in the relation between science and other ways of knowing, and in paradigm shifts in the history of single disciplines. This presentation will discuss the role of different perspectives and ‘ways of knowing’ within science, across different disciplines and schools of thought. It will focus on the problematic aspects of crossdisciplinary research that are non-trivial, in that they are not about power or conflicts of interests, but about deeper differences in our means of observing and learning – about the structure of scientific perspectives.  The scientific production of knowledge grows by way of functional differentiation and specialization, and this gives rise to knowledge asymmetries that are deeply problematic when we need science to help solve complex, real-world problems. The paradox of scientific expertise is that the growth of science leads to fragmentation of scientific expertise. Science cannot be re-integrated, but there is a growing need for integration. The presentation gives some suggestions for how to break out of this paradox based on a perspectivist framework, and illustrated with examples from the field of agriculture, food and environment. 

About the Speaker

Hugo Alrøe currently holds a position as Associate Professor in the Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Denmark. He has a Master in horticultural science and a PhD in philosophy of science and ethics from Copenhagen University. For more than a decade he has been working on applying autopoietic systems theory and semiotics to research in the field of food, agriculture and environment, focusing on systems ethics, the role of values in science and the philosophy and methods of cross-disciplinary research. At present he is the leader of a large inter- and transdisciplinary project on “Multicriteria assessment and communication of effects of organic food systems”. Homepage: The presentation builds on a long term collaboration with Associate Professor Egon Noe.


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