Fishing for meta-knowledge : a case for transdisciplinary validation

Dörfler, Viktor and Baracskai, Zoltán (2017) Fishing for meta-knowledge : a case for transdisciplinary validation. In: IFKAD 2017, 2017-06-07 - 2017-06-09, GSOM - St. Petersburg University.

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the problem of validating new transdisciplinary knowledge. The problem of validating new knowledge is always hard, but in case of mono-disciplinary knowledge, we at least have the disciplinary knowledge against which to validate. However, when transdisciplinary knowledge is created, two additional problems appear. On the one hand, the new knowledge links to concepts in more than one discipline, which are thus likely to belong to different intellectual traditions. On the other hand, the new knowledge does not belong to any of these disciplines, and thus the usual ways of validating fail us. Design/methodology/approach – In this paper we choose the electric car (represented by the Tesla), which we look at from the viewpoint of mathematics, physics, psychology, and economics. For each discipline we consider a simplistic approach that we label ‘dogma’ and a more sophisticated approach that we label ‘philosophy’. We speculate about how new knowledge can be created within these disciplines as well as in a multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary manner. Then we examine the problem of validating transdisciplinary knowledge. We conceptualise a three-step validation process for the new transdisciplinary knowledge and show how it can be supported using a knowledge-based expert system. Originality/value – Validating is always a difficult problem in academic research but in the case of transdisciplinary knowledge, it gains an additional level of complexity. In contrast, practitioners validate all the time, and their validation is nearly always transdisciplinary. Furthermore, what works well in academic research is validating experimental findings and similar results based on hard evidence. There are continuous attempts to develop validation principles in qualitative research but there is still no agreement or guidelines on how to execute validation correctly or, at least, in an acceptable way. Validating in case of conceptual results is virtually non-existent. The little that exists can be reduced to examining the consistency of new knowledge with the existing disciplinary knowledge. Therefore in this paper we initiate what can be a long journey of developing principles of validation in the case of new transdisciplinary knowledge resulting from a conceptual inquiry. This is what we call validating meta-knowledge. Practical implications – We believe that the most significant implication of our work in transdisciplinary validation will be education, particularly at the highest doctoral level. However, we also believe that creative problem solvers, academics and practitioners alike will also benefit from a better understanding of transdisciplinary validation.


Dörfler, Viktor ORCID logoORCID: and Baracskai, Zoltán;