Unsimple Truths: Science, Complexity, and Policy

London: University of Chicago Press (2009)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The world is complex, but acknowledging its complexity requires an appreciation for the many roles context plays in shaping natural phenomena. In _Unsimple Truths, _Sandra Mitchell argues that the long-standing scientific and philosophical deference to reductive explanations founded on simple universal laws, linear causal models, and predict-and-act strategies fails to accommodate the kinds of knowledge that many contemporary sciences are providing about the world. She advocates, instead, for a new understanding that represents the rich, variegated, interdependent fabric of many levels and kinds of explanation that are integrated with one another to ground effective prediction and action. Mitchell draws from diverse fields including psychiatry, social insect biology, and studies of climate change to defend “integrative pluralism”—a theory of scientific practices that makes sense of how many natural and social sciences represent the multi-level, multi-component, dynamic structures they study. She explains how we must, in light of the now-acknowledged complexity and contingency of biological and social systems, revise how we conceptualize the world, how we investigate the world, and how we act in the world. Ultimately _Unsimple Truths _argues that the very idea of what should count as legitimate science itself should change



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 86,412

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

Sandra D. Mitchell Unsimple Truths: Science, Complexity, and Policy.Kristin Shrader-Frechette - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (2):449-453.
Book Review of "Unsimple Truths. Science, Complexity and Policy" by Sandra Mitchell (2009) (Reprint).Jeroen Van Bouwel - 2012 - International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching Group Newsletter:26-33.
Complexity: a guided tour.Melanie Mitchell - 2009 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Complexity and social scientific laws.Lee C. McIntyre - 1993 - Synthese 97 (2):209 - 227.
Complexity and sustainability.Jennifer Wells - 2013 - New York: Routledge.
Science without laws.Ronald N. Giere - 1999 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Human research and complexity theory.James Horn - 2008 - Educational Philosophy and Theory 40 (1):130–143.
Is Complexity a Scientific Concept?Paul Taborsky - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 47:51-59.
Integrative pluralism.Sandra D. Mitchell - 2002 - Biology and Philosophy 17 (1):55-70.


Added to PP

88 (#165,681)

6 months
5 (#191,963)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Sandra Mitchell
University of Pittsburgh

Citations of this work

The New Mechanical Philosophy.Stuart Glennan - 2017 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The Ontic Account of Scientific Explanation.Carl F. Craver - 2014 - In Marie I. Kaiser, Oliver R. Scholz, Daniel Plenge & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Explanation in the Special Sciences: The Case of Biology and History. Springer Verlag. pp. 27-52.
Perspectival pluralism for animal welfare.Walter Veit & Heather Browning - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (1):1-14.
II—James Woodward: Mechanistic Explanation: Its Scope and Limits.James Woodward - 2013 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 87 (1):39-65.

View all 149 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references