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Title: Presuppositions and problems of scientific and humanistic approaches to urban planning
Author: Famelis, N.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1979
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Abstract:
This thesis sets out to explore some of the ways in which the methods of inquiry employed in urban planning tend to guide the perspective taken on substantive concerns in that field. It endeavours to accomplish this task by showing that there are certain underlying presuppositions that are implicitly rather than explicitly accepted by making use of any method of inquiry, but focuses on aspects of models of social/spatial phenomena as these are employed in urban planning as instruments for prediction and control rather than copies of segments of reality -- either making existential claims about it or postulating structural isomorphism. Urban planning is taken to be a "social practice" within which thought and action are mutually determined through continuous dialectical processes involving the planners and those who are being investigated and affected by plans. The strong presence of a knowledge component in the thought/action continuum of planning makes relevant a range of ontological and epistemological problems linked with the view taken of science and its methods and procedures of inquiry, and with the way the world of man and society and its manifestation in urban life is looked at. It is argued that the way in which society is theorised about has implications for the methods employed in its study and hence for the planning process seen as a process of inquiry. To the extent that alternative theoretical perspectives on society are possible - indeed, three such perspectives are identified and explored: naturalism, interpretative or humanistic approaches, critical theory of society - there are corresponding approaches to "social practice" including the mode of planning to be adopted in the regulation of societal affairs in the city. Technological and humanistic approaches to urban planning are distinguisned, the latter comprising interactionist and critical modes. The technological model derives its strength from a policy science approach which is informed by a view of science akin to positivistic naturalism. It introduces a range of sharp divisions into inquiry, theory from observation, method from substantive content, values and norms from facts as the unassailable foundations of empirical knowledge, ends from means - which are taken to be unacceptable at least in the realm of ethically relevant action that planning consists of, this does not necessarily entail rejection of scientific approaches to planning as a whole. Rather, the strictures concern the particular view of science, and its methods and procedures, which informs the technological model. It is that view of the "logic of science" which is held to impose unnecessary restrictions on what is to count as legitimate knowledge of the world, and its replacement seems particularly urgent. The conceptualisations that are to be found in the "newer" philosophy of science are taken to provide plausible alternatives to the "old empiricism", though they do not afford as unified a view of knowledge as may appear at first glance. Such views of science, however, render the application of scientific methods and procedures in urban planning much more credible. The view of knowledge which the author finds most convincing is one that recognises the important role played in it by human contribution; accepts the many culturally given elements in any cognitive endeavour; acknowledges the strong presence of metaphorical elements in theories and models of aspects of reality; concedes that there are alternative equally valid ways of conceptualising experience and that assessment of their validity as correspondence with "objective" facts may have to take second place in the light of considerations such as convenience, instrumental effects, or aesthetic criteria; regards a strict separation of the realm of theory from the realm of observation as untenable; and does not suffer epistemological shock from any consequences of relativism that such views might entail. For this is accepted as part of man's epistemological predicament. Such a perspective on knowledge would have implications for the proliferation of theories and models accounting for the same set of phenomena, and for pluralism and tolerance in goals and methods of inquiry; and implications for the way in which knowledge is to be related to "practice" in the realm of ethics, politics, and planning.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.650476  DOI: Not available
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