Does the Concept of Interdisciplinarity Require a Constructivist Theory of Everything?

By:
Dr. Derek Cabrera
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Both realists and constructivists support the importance of and need for interdisciplinarity. Yet their foundations for such a belief are necessarily different. An interdisciplinary realist must assume a “systems view”. That is, they must assume that ontological reality is interconnected or bounded in ecological systems and therefore that interdisciplinarity is a useful tool for knowledge generation. In contrast, an interdisciplinary constructivist is not concerned with ontological reality but with constructed reality. Their support for interdisciplinarity must therefore be derived from an assumption that constructs themselves are interconnectable. That is, that there is some mechanism that makes constructs connectable in the first place.

In theoretical physics and mathematics, a theory that fully explains and relates all physical phenomena is called a theory of everything (TOE). Yet, many constructivists deny the possibility of such a theory for what are inevitably relativist reasons. The interdisciplinary constructivist however, must either assume a mechanism that explains constructs and their relationships as interconnectable or negate the importance of interdisciplinarity. This presentation considers an analogue model for a constructivist TOE—a theory that fully explains and relates all conceptual phenomena. In addition, we review the analogous problems associated with realist TOE such as the problem of testability and falsifiability.


Keywords: Constructivist, Theory of Everything, TOE, Patterns of Knowledge, Interdisciplinarity, Constructs, Concepts
Stream: Psychology, Cognitive Science and the Behavioural Sciences, Education and Social Welfare, Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Gender
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Does the Concept of Interdisciplinarity Require a Constructivist Theory of Everything?


Dr. Derek Cabrera

Post doctoral Researcher, School of Human Ecology, Cornell University
Ithaca, NY, USA

Derek Cabrera is a post doctoral researcher at Cornell University, a National Science Foundation (NSF) IGERT Fellow in Nonlinear Systems, and recipient of the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ 2006 K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award. For fourteen years prior to Cornell, he worked in four continents, twelve countries, and fifteen US states as an experiential educator with Outward Bound and as a mountain and river guide with various outdoor organizations as well as work in service learning and restorative justice with the conservation corps movement in the US. He has led high-altitude climbing expeditions to some of the world's most remote mountain regions. He was adjunct faculty at Regis University where he taught courses based on his original learning models. He is the author of the book, Remedial Genius: Patterns of Knowledge. where he led reorganization initiatives. As a social entrepreneur, he has founded, managed and served on the board of directors for several nonprofit and for-profit ventures. He holds a PhD from Cornell University.

Ref: I06P0048