The objective of this paper is to investigate possible contributions of the complexity perspective to the analysis of ethical problems, especially those arising from intercultural relations. A conception of complexity will be presented that is considered appropriate for the investigation of specific social phenomena involving qualitative aspects. Counterfactual models will be developed for different social scenarios that involve ethical issues, together with evaluation of the possible consequences, positive and negative, arising from each of the scenarios. The counterfactual models will be structured using natural language and include the capacity to consider a significant number of qualitative variables, such as cultural, historical, and moral contexts, amongst others, which are not always accessible using the mathematical models employed in the sciences of complexity. Development of the counterfactual models will incorporate central characteristics of complex systems, including: (a) structural organization made up of components or agents whose interactions lead to large-scale behaviour that is not easily predictable from the individual behaviour of each agent; (b) inclusion of a large number of network sub-systems; (c) instantiation of emergent properties and self-organizing processes. Finally, an example of a counterfactual complex model related to an ethical problem described in different cultural settings will be presented. Such scenarios will consider different political, religious, and family organization characteristics and the moral values underlying them. It is believed that the use of counterfactual models in the complexity perspective could help to detect, clarify, and evaluate common and divergent cross-cultural aspects related to ethical conflicts.


Mariana Claudia Broens Associate Professor - Philosophy Department

Epistemology of integrative and predictive sciences e-session