Walter Isard, Ronald E. Miller, Benjamin H. Stevens
1985 Journal of Regional Science  
Man has been impelled to scientific inquiry by wonder and by need. Of these, wonder has been incomparably more fertile. -F.A. Hayek A Universe of Higher Reality In his famous philosophical doctrine, the so-called 'Theory of Forms,' Plato distinguished between an invisible Universe of Higher Reality that constituted the unchanging and determinate 'forms' of all things and a Visible World of change and flux that is only a copy or reflection of the Universe of Higher Reality. According to Plato's
more » ... heory of Forms, true and certain knowledge can only be obtained from the Universe of Higher Reality, whereas the Visible World of experience, i.e., the real world we live in, cannot produce true or certain knowledge. Plato's "idea of explaining the visible world by a postulated invisible world" invented "a new approach towards the world and towards knowledge of the world" (Popper 1963:89) by explaining visible matter with theories about invisible structures. However, theories can describe even 'deeper layers of reality' that are not 'real matter' but are of a hypothetical character, for example, forces, fields of forces, or, in a more general sense, interaction. "Discoveries are guided by theory [...] rather than that theories are the result of discoveries due to observation," (Popper 1963:118) and theories demand that something is observable under certain conditions. Popper points to this important statement concerning the tasks of theories and observations repeatedly in his book Conjectures and Refutations, for example: Scientific theories are not just the result of observation. They are, in the main, the products of myth-making and of tests. Tests proceed partly by way of observation, and observation is thus very important; but its function is not that of producing theories. It plays its role in rejecting, eliminating, and criticizing theories; and it challenges us to produce new myths, new theories which may stand up to the observational tests. (Popper 1963:128) Theories are only approximations of truth (or reality) and usually describe only one or just a few aspects of reality. One can speak of better agreement with reality or of more explanatory power when one theory (compared to others) explains more observable facts or explains them with higher precision or has a higher degree of universality. But even contradictory theories may have the power of explaining observable phenomena, for example, when considering the Introduction_Umbruch.qxp 12.06.2003 11:48 Uhr Seite 1 wave-particle duality of light and matter. Krugman (1999:6) even speaks of 'modeling tricks', i.e., "assumptions that reflect not so much a realistic view of how the world works as a judgment about what will make the analysis of geographic issues manageable without doing too much damage to the relevance of that analysis." The growth of scientific knowledge is related to the repeated defeat of theories and their replacement by more suitable ones. The development from the Copernican view of the world through Newton's theory of gravity, down to Einstein's theory of relativity in the 20th century was marked by competition, debate, denunciations, cross-fertilizations and proof, proof, proof. More recently, modern atomic physics, which explores what matter is made of and what forces hold it together, had to readjust its theories of matter several times. First when Nils Bohr's popular electron orbit model proved to be a very rough geometric approximation and then when the dynamic theory of the quantum world founded on Heisenberg's and Schrödinger's quantum mechanics had to be taken into account. With the atomic model and its related theories, our thoughts on matter changed and thus of reality as well, because theories are "self-made instruments of thought." (Popper 1963:117) The discoveries of thousands of physicists resulted in the Standard Model of Particles and Forces that is now a well-tested theory of the fundamental structure of matter. Though this model explains and exactly predicts a large variety of phenomena and creates a very close picture of matter, physicists are still doing research on the 'new physics beyond the Standard Model.' Earth: The Big Atom Physical laws of matter never change. Though we still do not comprehensively understand matter or the atom, the object of atomic physics' research and the rules that govern its behavior will remain the same for all eternity. More precisely, according to the Standard Model of Particles and Forces, scientists believe that everything in the universe is made up of a set of 'building blocks' of twelve matter particles that are governed by only three fundamental forces, which are communicated by four force-carrier particles. That is the good fortune of physics! In contrast, spatial planning and related socio-economic sciences that explore life on the 'Big Atom,' i.e., the globe we live on with its man-made environment ruled by complex socio-cultural, economical, and political effects, are confronted with the ability of mankind to adapt its behavior and to invent new technologies, and thus change the rules that manifest themselves in space. Even more complicating is the fact that there is only one Earth and we cannot perform reproducible experiments in a socio-spatial environment. We cannot send our one 'Big Atom' into an accelerator, thereby making the building blocks and governing forces of life visible in order to understand the creation, formation, and dynamics of the man-made environment, never mind the economy, society, 2 Martina Koll-Schretzenmayr, Marco Keiner, and Gustav Nussbaumer Introduction_Umbruch.qxp 12.06.2003 11:48 Uhr Seite 2 politics, and all the other socio-spatial phenomena on Earth. Therefore, the world we live in continues to avoid any clear analytical glimpses and proves its lack of predictable behavior. Pity the poor spatial planners! However, the world is a treasure trove of information and diversity. Initial conditions and historical preconditions, the operation of chance and accidental circumstances, competition and selection, and changes in behavior through adaptation has caused a vast spectrum of natural, cultural, and socio-economic diversity. For instance, according to the United Nations Center for Human Settlements (Habitat), today the planet hosts 19 cities with 10 million or more people, 22 cities with 5 to 10 million people, 370 cities with 1 to 5 million people, and 433 cities with 0.5 to 1 million people. In sum, 844 cities with more than half a million inhabitants exist and there are countless small cities, towns, and villages. And no two of them are alike or even similar, and they are each an individual urban phenomenon. The variety of spatial phenomena, and with it socio-cultural, socio-economic, and historic-political phenomena, is impressive. The theoretical and practical impact related to the diversity of the real world on spatial planning is twofold. First, the existence of diversity enables the discovery of trends, and the observation of trends can be of general value because trends require explanation. However, while the laws of nature are universal, in socio-spatial reality, a trend only indicates the statistical significance based on individual incidents. This is a crucial point when it comes to theoretical approaches in the socio-spatial sciences. Second, when it comes to intervention and politics, we cannot speak of 'the city', 'the region' or 'the economy' and we have to keep in mind that no unique, i.e., universal solution to socio-spatial challenges like 'urban poor' or 'traffic congestion' exists. Moreover, we cannot compare the outcome of alternative interventions or politics as time goes on and development proceeds, and we never can return to the starting position, change experimental variables, and fire the pistol once more -in order to find the policy that works 'best.' Theories of Spatial Planning The search for theory is governed by the search for order -and so is planning. Traditional spatial planning was also born out of the desire for order (Hillier 1995) and predictability. It seemed to demand absolute knowledge and a set of more or less simple but universal rules. Throughout the 20th century, spatial planning has been dazzled by the glamour of pure sciences like thermodynamics or atomic physics and consequently wanted to participate in the fascinating method of capturing the world through hard scientific knowledge and Plato's Universe of Higher Reality. Thus, as Sandercock (1998:59) points out, the application of scientific approaches from natural sciences to social sciences, and with it spatial planning, has a long tradition: Editors' Introduction 3 Introduction_Umbruch.qxp 12.06.2003 11:48 Uhr Seite 3 With the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century ushering in what has come to be called the Age of Reason, the scientific method of empiricism became the dominant way of knowing. Observation, hypothesis, experiments; the search for mathematically based laws of nature; and a sharp distinction between reason and emotion, these became the defining characteristics of the empirical method which has dominated Western approaches to truth/knowledge since the Enlightenment, and out of which developed the social sciences of the nineteenth century, earnestly trying to replicate the methods of the paradigmatic physical sciences. For example, 'social physics' tried to describe the behavior of society by comparing it to gases and using concepts like pressure and densities, or describing spatial interaction in analogy to Newton's theory of universal gravity (see Bertulia et al. 1998). However, we cannot predict the future of socio-spatial units such as neighborhoods, cities, or regions because they are not isolated, stationary, and recurrent systems but are constantly changing and continually undergoing rapid, non-repetitive developments that are caused by and emerging from the interaction of adaptive agents. Thus, we have to be constantly aware of uncertainty and of the individual path of development. As Popper (1963:340) points out, "The fact that we predict eclipses does not, therefore, provide a valid reason for expecting that we can predict revolutions." The critiques of 'social empiricism', or the social sciences that imitate the methods of the physical sciences, is widespread and shakes the pillars of modernist planning, which is a child of the Age of Reason. Moreover, the overall problem with planning theory is that the common positivist meaning of theory, which is derived from the natural sciences, does not fit the socio-spatial object of planning. Allmendinger (2002a:1 -emphasis in original) points out that, in general, "theory is normally required to include some elements of prediction or prescription so as to guide action [...] Accordingly, theory could be seen as having a number of elements; it abstracts from reality a set of general or specific principles to be used as a basis for explaining and acting with the theory being tested and refined if necessary." Yet it turned out that positivist techniques and methods did not include the ability to predict socio-spatial behavior. Therefore, modernist optimism about rational planning waned and with it comprehensive planning and the planners' belief in universal computer modeling in planning science and practice (Allmendinger 2002b). Planning practitioner and philosopher Bent Flyvbjerg (2001:3) asserts that "social science has set itself an impossible task when it attempts to emulate natural science and produce explanatory and predictive, that is, epistemic theory." Hence, "the goal is to help restore social science to its classical position as a practical, intellectual activity aimed at clarifying the problems, risks, and possibilities we face as humans and societies, and at contributing to social and political praxis." (Flyvbjerg 2001:4) Moreover, Bent Flyvbjerg (2001) argues that the Aristotelian concept of phronesis, which goes beyond episteme (analytical, scientific knowledge) and techne (technical knowledge or know-how) by in-4 Martina Koll-Schretzenmayr, Marco Keiner, and Gustav Nussbaumer Introduction_Umbruch.qxp 12.06.2003 11:48 Uhr Seite 4 volving judgment, values, and interests, is the core of social science and, thus, of spatial planning. Moreover, Richard W. Miller (1987:139) developed alternatives to the positivist's accounts of explanation by setting up a causal model of explanation and interpreting a theory as "a description of underlying causal factors which, in actual circumstances, are sufficient to bring about more directly observable phenomena of the kind studied by the field in question. [...] Thus, one might say that a theory is a description of a repertoire of causal mechanisms, a theoretical explanation, an explanation appealing to instances of such a repertoire." This definition of theory has been adapted by planning (see Hopins 2001) because it is not grounded in universal prediction but deals instead with a set of relevant causal mechanisms in a specific field, as well as an agreement on criteria for the quality of explanatory power. Moreover, it is useful and reliable for explaining specific real situations. Therefore, Miller's causal theory of explanation provides spatial planners with a framework to deal with the diversity of spatial phenomena and the multifold nature of causalities in socio-spatial reality. However, there is still nothing like a unified theory of spatial planning or even a theory of spatial planning at all. Moreover, though some scholars state that spatial planning is a science in that it expands our knowledge about how the world works and how we can deal with it (Hopkins 2001), others question whether there can be any science to spatial planning at all. The first issue concerns the dual nature of the subject of spatial planning, i.e., an environment that is both natural and social. Whereas some planning-related disciplines, like geology, hydrology or civil engineering, are applied natural sciences, others, like sociology and psychology, are social sciences. Second, spatial planning is considered an applied discipline because it "is that professional practice that specifically seeks to connect forms of knowledge with forms of action in the public domain" (Friedmann 1993: 482) and is concerned with "alternative futures" (Holston 1999). The third issue concerns the integrative nature of spatial planning, i.e., "planning's occupation of multiple worlds" (Beauregard 2001:437), that makes 'planning theory' seem like a 'scientific parasite' because it is based on a series of scientific pontoons and only survives by sucking fresh blood from other sciences. So, as has happened to other sciences in similar ways, planning science was strongly influenced by a series of major scientific paradigms during the course of the 20th century. In this tradition, planning theorists and practitioners adapted general problem-solving approaches from other, mainly natural and engineering disciplines, and applied them to planning. In the second half of the 20th century, one of the most influential and inspiring scientific approaches to planning was systems theory. In the 1960s and 1970s, systems planning theorists such as McLoughlin (1973) hoped to provide effective methods for the study and control of social/urban systems by means of cybernetic models and systems theory. The work of McLoughlin influenced planning researchers in many countries. The success of systems theory in the realm of spatial planning is closely related to the rational approach in planning Editors' Introduction 5 Introduction_Umbruch.qxp 12.06.2003 11:48 Uhr Seite 5 after the Second World War that is best described by modernist planners Harvey S. Perloff (1957) and L. Brian McLoughlin (1969), who sketched the rational ideal of planning: Planning involves the careful elaboration and integration of a series of projected actions to attain the desired goals. Planning thus centres on the making of decisions and scheduled effectuations of policies. It takes form in a number of closely integrated steps, from the analysis of problems, the setting of broad objectives and the survey of available resources, to the establishment of specific operating targets; and through various succeeding stages until the result can be checked against the targets established and needed adjustments proposed. (Perloff (1957) -cit. in Sandercock 1998:62) Planning seeks to regulate or control the activity of individuals and groups in such a way as to minimise the bad effects which may arise, and to promote better 'performance' of the physical environment in accordance with a set of broad aims and more specific objectives in the plan. (McLoughlin (1969) -cit. in Allmendinger 2002a:169). In the 1980s, when planners realized that things were more difficult than they had thought at first glance and they lost interest in planning objectives and comprehensive plans that proposed an alternative future, one of the most appealing paradigms was chaos theory. In parallel, an interest in fractal geometry arose (see Batty and Longley 1994) , which offered the opportunity to explain complex spatial patterns by means of the simple rules of fractal growth. But neither paradigm ever gained the power that systems theory had had for planning, which had even developed a systems planning branch (Allmendinger 2002). During the 1990s, a new scientific paradigm entered the scientific limelight, i.e., complexity theory, which tries to deal with non-linear complex systems by linking the emergence of certain behaviors or phenomena to the non-linear interaction of individual agents or single entities (e.g., atoms, genes, individuals) based on a finite set of rules. The concept of complex adaptive systems appealed to a broad range of natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. Though Allmendinger (2002) mentions complexity theory as a new concept influencing planning science, he does not seem to comprehend its full importance for the planning realm and the extent to which complexity theory has already been applied in the planning disciplines. The power of the paradigm of complex adaptive systems in planning theory is to enhance our understanding of complex socio-spatial reality. In our opinion, the multidisciplinary framework of a theory of non-linear complex systems offers a philosophy of science that is beyond Popper's 'historicism' as it has become an integrative approach for gaining insight into the natural sciences as well as being useful as a concept, paradigm and metaphor in social, economical, ecological, and political issues. In addition, the approach of non-linear complex systems has altered models and thus the thinking about perceivable phenomena in the natural and social realms. When planners realized that planning reaches beyond rational decisions, is decentered, cannot be exclusively linked to the sphere of the state, and is 6 Martina Koll-Schretzenmayr, Marco Keiner, and Gustav Nussbaumer Introduction_Umbruch.qxp 12.06.2003 11:48 Uhr Seite 6 strongly influenced by power, then the planning paradigms changed and diversified (Friedmann 1998). John Friedmann (1993 , 1998 calls the new concept of planning the post-Euclidian mode of planning. It is linked to four intersecting and overlapping spheres of action and social valued practice, i.e., the sphere of the state, the sphere of civil society, the sphere of the political community as well as political conflict, and the sphere of capital. Whereas, according to Friedmann, the conventional concept of planning, i.e., the Euclidian mode of planning, has been linked to a static, carefully controlled world and planning has been guided by an scientific approach and the tradition of engineering, the post-Euclidian mode of planning has to tackle uncertainty, multiplicity, a fast pace of change, and politics of social transformation. After decades of intensive research all over the world, the science of planning today is only certain of the fact that socio-spatial reality is more complex and dynamic, creates difficulties in understanding, and is less governable than planners expected it to be up until the 1970s. During the course of the last 50 years, planners gained experience in socio-spatial systems and arrived at the conclusion that they know very little about the deeper mechanisms in complex sociospatial systems and hardly anything that would allow them to manage sociospatial realities efficiently. According to Batty and Longley (1994:1), urban planners in particular are faced with a patchwork-like and incomplete state of knowledge: After a century of sustained effort at [...] understanding [cities], our knowledge is still partial and fragmentary, based on a kaleidoscope of viewpoints and ideologies. What, however, is widely accepted, perhaps a little reluctantly by some, is that cities are mirrors and microcosms of society and culture at large, with every viewpoint contributing something to their understanding. Planning, in the sense we decided to use in the context of this book, is embedded within both the general social theory that influences socio-spatial planning of the environment in a cultural, economic and political context, and the technical practice of engineering that is linked to, among others, transportation planning or infrastructure provision and maintenance. We assume that both the socio-spatial and the engineering aspect of planning involve theoretical assumptions and theories of existing reality that influence and guide the work of planning practitioners. Therefore, the main task of planning theory is, first, to systematically provide planning practitioners with an insight into their theoretical assumptions and related theories of reality and help them reflect on it, and, second, to continually improve the practice of planning (Friedmann 1993 (Friedmann , 1998. The central challenge for spatial planning research and practice is to cope with the overwhelming complexity, dynamism, and diversity of both landscapes and urban/infrastructural systems. Though the role of the planning enterprise is often seen as a narrow regulatory activity, it is more a general policy and managing process seeking to optimize opportunities for economic and social life, Editors' Introduction 7 Introduction_Umbruch.qxp 12.06.2003 11:48 Uhr Seite 7 for environmental quality, social justice and sustainable development. In this context, theorizing planning is context-sensitive, thus, it has to happen in the context of socio-cultural and political traditions, and is based on exploring theoretical concepts, paradigms, and discoveries that originate from natural, applied, social, and political sciences as well as the humanities. Therefore, we conclude that planning is not concerned with a theory of planning, but with theories of planning that help delineate the world of spatial planning. The Real and the Virtual World of Spatial Planning It is time now to return to Plato's visible world of change and flux and his invisible world of the Universe of Higher Reality with which we began. The issue of spatial planning requires information on and knowledge of spatial processes, architecture of spatial systems, rules of change and principles of urban and landscape formation and transformation. But, the question remains: How do we learn about the real world of spatial planning? In his book Making Social Science Matter Bent Flyvbjerg (2001) argues that case studies matter for social sciences as they have the power to support human learning and are useful for both generating and testing hypothesis as well as supporting trend detection in social sciences. According to Flyvbjerg (2001:135), the power of the case study is based on the fact that "practical rationality and judgment evolve and operate primarily by virtue of deep-going case experiences." Among the central assets of case studies is their context-dependency that corresponds to the nature of socio-spatial reality. Although case studies do not verify hypothesis and tend to have a greater bias towards falsification (Flyvbjerg 2001; Popper 1963) , they do, however, provide learning about spatial reality and are thus an appropriate and even essential key to a planner's trove of information. Thinking in models that are based on theories as a way to better understand the complicated state of reality by reducing its complexity remains a favorite way of considering and debating the invisible and exploring the 'deeper layers of reality' that rule the visible. Without any doubt, the disciplines, or the realms of spatial planning that are related to natural sciences and engineering are very close to and very familiar with the concept of Plato's Universe of Higher Reality. Moreover, the realms of spatial planning that are related to the designing task, for example, architecture, urban design, landscape architecture and planning, are used to develop, communicate and negotiate alternative futures by virtual worlds made from brush and paint, plaster or wood, or created with the computer. However, we argue that the social sciences and thus the realms of spatial planning that are engaged in socio-spatial processes also require a postulated invisible world. The invisible world of social science is not concerned with a Universe of Higher Reality that constitutes unchanging forms, but is needed instead to tackle the main task of social sciences, i.e., "to trace the unintended social repercussions of intentional human actions" (Popper 1963:342), "to understand even the more remote consequences of possible actions" 8 Martina Koll-Schretzenmayr, Marco Keiner, and Gustav Nussbaumer Introduction_Umbruch.qxp 12.06.2003 11:48 Uhr Seite 8 (ibid:343), and, as a result, to give support to the political realm. For example, every car driver wants to reach her/his destination as soon as possible, that is, without being entangled in traffic jam, but, nonetheless, traffic jams are a very common occurrence in metropolitan regions and on highways. Therefore, in order to be able to suggest policies, for example, for efficient and sustainable metropolitan transport systems, we need to propose hypotheses on how these unintended repercussions are provoked. Moreover, the task of giving support to the political field requires hypothesis on what can and cannot be done. Thus, tracing unintended social repercussions of intentional human actions and understanding the even more remote consequences of possible actions that are related to alternative futures, require hypothesizing and building both theories and models by means of 'invisible worlds.' Scientific reasoning and design of policies often are based on a certain kind of metaphor that is not limited to a narrow linguistic sense, but is used in the sense of metaphoric models, i.e., both internal and external metaphorical representations of reality by means of structuring conceptual systems. Or, as Heisenberg puts it: Bohr uses classical mechanics or quantum mechanics like a painter uses brush and paint. The picture is not determined by brush and paint, and paint is never reality; but when one, like a painter, has the image in mind beforehand, then one can make the image visible for other people's eyes, even though it may remain incomplete. (Werner Heisenberg 1988:49 -translation by the authors) In general, models, i.e., substitutes for the real world or parts of it, are intended to interpret the invisible world behind the immediate world of perception by using various forms of abstraction, and, thus, to explain our perceptions. In sum, models try to visualize and explore invisible worlds. Moreover, model simulation can be utilized to enable evaluation of behaviors and universal characteristics by comparing simulations with varying variables. Thus, they are a kind of 'experimental laboratory' in a virtual world that is derived from the real world. The purpose of models and model simulation in the dynamic and complex world of spatial planning is not point prediction or even prediction at all, but to improve the understanding of the real world of spatial planning (Ford 1999) . Within the realm of spatial planning, a wide range of theoretical concepts or paradigms have currently been adopted to understand and model these complex, dynamic, and evolutionary socio-spatial systems, for example, catastrophe theory, synergetics, theory of complexity, self-organization, bifurcation theory, fractal geometry, and chaos theory. Borrowing from other sciences, new paradigms related to non-linearity attained interesting results in developing dynamic approaches of economic and spatial models. Moreover, by definition, models are simplifications of real systems under study. This enables researchers to focus on fields of study with varying scope and depth. By creating virtual worlds with artificial agents and building mod-
doi:10.1111/j.1467-9787.1985.tb00319.x fatcat:37mvzve32ne33mkhsft2ybiu64