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Modeling the demands of interdisciplinarity:Toward a framework for evaluating interdisciplinary endeavors

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Author(s): Zachary Stein

Journal: Integral Review
ISSN 1553-3069

Issue: 4;
Start page: 91;
Date: 2007;
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Keywords: cognitive development | epistemology | integral methodological pluralism | interdisciplinary | language of evaluation | levels-of-analysis | perspectival | transdisciplinarity

ABSTRACT
I suggest there are two key factors that bear on the quality of interdisciplinary endeavors: the complexity of cognition and collaboration and the epistemological structure of interdisciplinary validity claims. The former suggests a hierarchical taxonomy of forms of inquiry involving more than one discipline. Inspired by Jantsh (1972) and looking to Fischer's (1980) levels of cognitive development, I outline the following forms: disciplinary, multi-disciplinary, cross-disciplinary, inter-disciplinary, and trans-disciplinary. This hierarchical taxonomy based on complexity is then supplemented by an epistemological discussion concerned with validity. I look to a handful of philosophers to distil the general epistemological structure of knowledge claims implicating more than one discipline. This involves differentiating between levels-of-analysis issues and perspectival issues. When all is said and done, we end up with a “language of evaluation” applicable to interdisciplinarity endeavors. Ultimately, this suggests an ideal mode of interdisciplinary endeavoring roughly coterminous with Wilber's (2006) Integral Methodological Pluralism.
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