Relatively Adequate Hypotheses

After defining an Adequate World Hypothesis based on Scope and Precision, Pepper judges four in World Hypotheses: A Study in Evidence (1942), Chapter VII: A General View of the Hypotheses.

The four relatively adequate world hypotheses are distinguished by their Root Metaphor, Categories, Theory of Truth.

A clear and brief description is described in a [1988 journal article]( ([republished in 2015]( by [Steven C. Hayes](, [Linda J. Hayes]( and [Hayne W. Reese](

> Pepper identified four relatively adequate current world hypotheses: mechanism, formism, organicism, and contextualism. > * Mechanism and formism are analytic: The whole is reducible to its parts. The parts are basic, the whole derived. > * Organicism and contextualism are synthetic: The whole is basic, the parts derived. > * Formism and contextualism are dispersive: Facts are related when they are found to be so, not by assumption. Chance, therefore, is not denied in these hypotheses. > * Mechanism and organicism are integrative: Facts are related by assumption and order is categorical. As such, chance is denied. > Dispersive world views tend to be higher in scope than in precision; integrative world hypotheses tend to be higher in precision than in scope. [p. 98, editorial paragraphing added]

More precisely from the original writing by Pepper, the four can be placed in a 2x2 matrix (augmented with some comments on the dimensions).

| World Theories | **Dispersive Theories** | **Integrative Theories** | |---------------------------:|-----------------------------|------------------------------|--------------------------------------------- | **Analytic Theories** | Formism | Mechanism | _Danda_: mainly nature of elements or factors | **Synthetic Theories** | Contextualism | Organicism | _Danda_: mainly complexes or contexts | | _Threat_: lack of precision | _Threat_: lack of scope |

> These four hypotheses arrange themselves in two groups of two each. > The first two are analytical world theories; the second two, synthetic. > * Not that the analytical theories do not recognize and interpret synthesis, and the synthetic theories analysis; but the basic facts or danda of the analytical theories are mainly in the nature of elements or factors, so that synthesis becomes a derivative and not a basic fact, while the basic facts or danda of the synthetic theories are complexes or contexts, so that analysis becomes derivative. > There is thus a polarity between these two pairs of hypotheses. > There is also a polarity between the members of each pair, and the polarity is of the same sort in each pair. > * Formism and contextualism are dispersive theories; > * mechanism and organicism, integrative theories. > * So, analysis, is treated dispersively by formism and integratively by mechanism, and > * synthesis is treated dispersively by contextualism and integratively by organicism. [p. 143, editorial paragraphing added]

> The analytic-synthetic axis is a continuum of logic employed in seeing the world. > * Analytic logic uses a step-by-step approach in logical analysis and is dominated by reason. > * Synthetic logic, on the other hand, attempts to combine separate elements and is dominated by the use of intuition. > The dispersive-integrative axis describes the method of inquiry. > * A dispersive approach defines categories, subdividing items into their smallest units. > * An integrative approach views items in a systematic way by relating to their relationships and focusing on “the whole picture.” > By way of analogy, the microbiologist attempts to break down an organism into smaller and smaller components, whereas the biological ecologist views an organism in the framework of a broader biological system. > Pepper believes that the framework serves as a coherent understructure that demonstrates the philosophic foundation of scientific inquiry. His typology includes > * formism or idealism, whose proponents, including the Greeks and the medieval scholastics, posit a dichotomy of matter versus form or essence; > * mechanism rooted in British empiricism and currently the foundation of positivism; > * contextualism. which Pepper claims as the invention of the American pragmatists; and > * organicism, or an integrative, holistic approach of existentialism and phenomenology. > The implication of Pepper’s typology is that the philosophic traditions inherent in science serve as _a priori_ filters for analysis and modeling. The decision sciences therefore have a foundation in one or more of these philosophic traditions. [p. 1023, editoral paragraphing added]

In [a 1982 journal article]( by [Douglas A. Roberts](, a summary of World Hypotheses with Root Metaphors and Metaphysical Preoccupations was presented as a table.

Table (in popup): Some Features of Pepper's Four Adqequate World Hypotheses [after Roberts (1982), columns reordered]

In 2000, [Michael C. Daley]( created an informative table for World Hypotheses and Economics.

Following a pragmatic tradition between Stephen C. Pepper and C. West Churchman, the bodies of work in World Hypotheses and Inquiring Systems can be lined up.