State space models for normative systems

Stein, Zachary (2009) State space models for normative systems. In: Annual Meeting of the Jean Piaget Society, St. Louis. (Unpublished) State space models for normative systems.


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A state space is a mathematical model used in the field of system dynamics to represent all the possible states of a system. Thus the history of a system can be represented as a trajectory through a state space. State space models are powerful representational devices, useful in rendering a broad range of complex dynamic phenomena in a relatively simple way. There is some precedence for their use in psychological research and theory; topological and dynamic systems models have already served a variety of descriptive and explanatory purposes. This paper explores potentials for using state space models in psychology to study normative systems, e.g., norm-laden behaviors—such as judgments, rule following, and self-censure, which are ubiquitous in human behavior. These kinds of systems are not well handled by existing methods in psychology. In part, this is due to a lack of clarity about the characteristics of normative systems. But it is also due to a lack of techniques for representing the normative properties of behavior. Formal logic has been the default representational device in this area, but approaches inspired thereby have lagged behind advances elsewhere in the field, where dynamic, poly-focal, and contextual methods have been adopted. Moreover, not all normative phenomena lend themselves to strictly logical treatment. State space models offer an alternative means for researching norm-laden behaviors by leveraging the affordances of geometrical representational devices used in system dynamics. For example, an argument-validity state space can be defined by a set of normative parameters allowing for the geometrical specification of an argument's normative status. This basic innovation in the modeling of normative phenomena can serve as the basis for new research programs, including explorations of the relations between norm-laden systems and causal/biological ones.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Education > Educational Methods and Practices
Education > Educational Theory
Depositing User: Zak Stein
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2016 19:04
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2016 19:04

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