Cybernetics Society’s Essay Competition 1999 – Highly Commended Paper

Bernard Scott (Centre for Educational Technology and Development, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK)


ISSN: 0368-492X

Publication date: 1 October 2000


This essay reports work in cybernetics that it is believed can shed light on methodological and conceptual issues in the study of child development. To do so, cybernetics is placed in the larger context of the philosophy of science, drawing particularly on the work of Frederick Suppe and Nicholas Rescher. The concept of explanation in cybernetics is used to elucidate controversies concerning “mechanistic” and “organismic” types of explanation. An account is given of several models that appear to be of use in explicating the concepts of development, self‐organisation and morphogenesis. Finally, the distinctions between first‐ and second‐order cybernetics (due to von Foerster) and taciturn and language oriented systems (due to Pask) are invoked to encompass the social dimensions of child development.



Scott, B. (2000), "Cybernetics Society’s Essay Competition 1999 – Highly Commended Paper", Kybernetes, Vol. 29 No. 7/8, pp. 966-994.

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Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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