A missing system is a hypothetical
System described by a
Model that doesn’t
track real System
Boundaries – a system that doesn’t exist (in the hypothesised
boundaries).This is more specific than Thomson-Jones’s (2010) use
of the term for cases where “there are no actual, concrete systems in
the world around us which fit the description [our model]
This is different from the “models as fictions” accountBarberousse and Ludwig (2009)
in two respects:
- It only refers to wrongly identified delineated systems.
- Users of these models don’t necessarily treat them as fictions.
With increasing Knowledge, many of the systems our best models hypothesise turn out to be missing systems – e.g. our biological system conceptualised as an organism where it is really an ecosystem; our political system as an autonomous social sphere where it really is part of a wider system of societal self-organisation.
We expose missing systems with Deflationary Explanations, i.e. by explaining that something is in fact something else that we have already explained, at least in principle.
We can use Conceptual Engineering to remove or ameliorate Concepts that are compressing models of missing systems.
- Barberousse and Ludwig (2009): “Models as Fictions”
- Dennett (1991): “Real Patterns”
- Thomson-Jones (2010): “Missing Systems and the Face Value Practice”