Complexity Studies and Security in the Complex World: An Epistemological Framework of Analysis
Cracow University of Economics
Last modified: October 3, 2006
Security and politics are important areas of applications of various trends of systems thinking. The impact of various trends of systems epistemology can be easily found in security-oriented research, beginning from the early works on international systems (Pitrim Sorokin, Quincy Wright), military security (origins of RAND Corporation), development of conflict theory, through classical security studies, and ending with contemporary studies on broadened concepts of security proposed by the Copenhagen School (Barry Buzan at al,). At present it may be even stated that the new military and non-military threats to contemporary complex society, such as low-intensity conflicts, regional conflicts, terrorism, environmental disturbances, etc. cannot be analyzed without advanced instruments taken from modern complex systems studies.
Unfortunately, in many instances, applications of methods deriving from complexity research in security-oriented studies are weakened by insufficient understanding of contemporary social sciences and complex systems ideas. Too frequently complexity and security are applied solely as slogans without deeper understanding.
The aim of the paper, resulting from the authorís previous research and a current book project, is to provide some answers how to understand and to overcome epistemological barriers challenging applications of complex systems concepts in security-oriented studies.
A survey and typology of definitions and interpretations the security-related concepts will be elaborated. Typology of definitions and of specific aspects of complex systems will be presented. Subsequently, an idea of systemic aspects of security will be developed. This idea constitutes a conceptual framework allowing to show what methods taken from complex systems research (metaphors, analogies and mathematical models) can be used in the following approaches, essential for any security-directed considerations: description, explanation (causal analysis), prediction, anticipation, prescription (based upon mathematical models and heuristic considerations), prevention, pre-emption and retrodiction.