Moral character in human systems (Geoffrey Vickers) | Adams, Catron, Cook (1995)

In brief. David Ing.

While Geoffrey Vickers and Gregory Bateson both worked with human systems, the background philosophies on ethics were different.

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Beginning with The Art of Judgment and culminating in 1983 with Human Systems Are Different, Vickers was concerned to avoid the narrowing of scope that had become a remarkably powerful force in both the theoretical and empirical study of organized human activity. His concept of appreciation was a pivotal element of this effort. Gregory Bateson (1972) also wished to keep the sense of “system” more open than was the norm. Yet while Vickers and Bateson admired one another’s work, they parted intellectual company on the origin and role of ethics.

  • For Bateson, since all systems are identical, morality enters, if at all, in systemic processes that would be found in all systems.
  • Vickers, by contrast, saw a moral character within human systems that distinguished them from both…

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