Sustainability assessment and complementarity

Ecology and Society 21 (1):30 (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Sustainability assessments bring together different perspectives that pertain to sustainability in order to produce overall assessments and a wealth of approaches and tools have been developed in the past decades. But two major problematics remain. The problem of integration concerns the surplus of possibilities for integration; different tools produce different assessments. The problem of implementation concerns the barrier between assessment and transformation; assessments do not lead to the expected changes in practice. This paper aims to analyze issues of complementarity in sustainability assessment and transformation as a key to better handling the problems of integration and implementation. Based on a generalization of Niels Bohr’s complementarity from quantum mechanics, we have identified two forms of complementarity in sustainability assessment, observer stance complementarity and value complementarity. Unlike many other problems of sustainability assessment, complementarity is of a fundamental character connected to the very conditions for observation. Therefore complementarity cannot be overcome methodologically; only handled better or worse. Science is essential to the societal goal of sustainability, but these issues of complementarity impede the constructive role of science in the transition to more sustainable structures and practices in food systems. The agencies of sustainability assessment and transformation need to be acutely aware of the importance of different perspectives and values and the complementarities that may be connected to these differences. An improved understanding of complementarity can help to better recognize and handle issues of complementarity. These deliberations have relevance not only for sustainability assessment, but more generally for transdisciplinary research on wicked problems.



External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The philosophy of Niels Bohr: the framework of complementarity.Henry J. Folse - 1985 - New York, N.Y.: Sole distributors for the U.S.A. and Canada, Elsevier Science Pub. Co..
Parallelism and complementarity: The psycho-physical problem in Spinoza and in the succession of Niels Bohr.Hans Jonas - 1986 - In Marjorie G. Grene & Debra Nails (eds.), Spinoza and the Sciences. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 237--247.
Latency versus Complementarity: Margenau and Bohr on Quantum Mechanics.Harmon R. Holcomb - 1986 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 37 (2):193-206.
From Cubist Simultaneity to Quantum Complementarity.Christophe Schinckus - 2017 - Foundations of Science 22 (4):709-716.
Complementarity of Mental Observables.Irina Basieva & Andrei Khrennikov - 2014 - Topics in Cognitive Science 6 (1):74-78.
Niels Bohr's philosophy of physics.Dugald Murdoch - 1987 - New York: Cambridge University Press.


Added to PP

300 (#59,501)

6 months
59 (#65,000)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Hugo F. Alrøe
University of Aarhus

References found in this work

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Ian Hacking.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas Samuel Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Otto Neurath.
The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science.Nancy Cartwright - 1999 - New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Knowledge and human interests.Jürgen Habermas - 1971 - London [etc.]: Heinemann Educational.

View all 39 references / Add more references