Philosophical foundations

FC-03 - Philosophical Perspectives

This entry follows in the footsteps of Anselin’s famous 1989 NCGIA working paper entitled “What is special about spatial?” (a report that is very timely again in an age when non-spatial data scientists are ignorant of the special characteristics of spatial data), where he outlines three unrelated but fundamental characteristics of spatial data. In a similar vein, I am going to discuss some philosophical perspectives that are internally unrelated to each other and could warrant individual entries in this Body of Knowledge. The first one is the notions of space and time and how they have evolved in philosophical discourse over the past three millennia. Related to these are aspects of absolute versus relative conceptions of these two fundamental constructs. The second is a brief introduction to key philosophical approaches and how they impact geospatial science and technology use today. The third is a discussion of which of the promises of the Quantitative Revolution in Geography and neighboring disciplines have been fulfilled by GIScience (and what is still missing). The fourth and final one is an introduction to the role that GIScience may play in what has recently been formalized as theory-guided data science.

FC-03 - Philosophical perspectives
  • Define common philosophical theories that have influenced geography and science, such as logical positivism, Marxism, phenomenology, feminism, and critical theory
  • Identify the philosophical views and assumptions underlying the work of colleagues
  • Describe a brief history of major philosophical movements relating to the nature of space, time, geographic phenomena and human interaction with it
  • Compare and contrast the kinds of questions various philosophies ask, the methodologies they use, the answers they offer, and their applicability to different phenomena
  • Evaluate the influences of one’s own philosophical views and assumptions on GIS&T practices
  • Defend or refute the statement, “All data are theory-laden”
FC-02 - Epistemology

Epistemology is the lens through which we view reality. Different epistemologies interpret the earth and patterns on its surface differently. In effect, epistemology is a belief system about the nature of reality that, in turn, structures our interpretation of the world. Common epistemologies in GIScience include (but are not limited by) positivism and realism. However, many researchers are in effect pragmatists in that they choose the filter that best supports their work and a priori hypotheses. Different epistemologies – or ways of knowing and studying geography – result in different ontologies or classification systems. By understanding the role of epistemology, we can better understand different ways of representing the same phenomena.

FC-01 - Metaphysics and ontology
  • Define common theories on what is “real,” such as realism, idealism, relativism, and experiential realism
  • Compare and contrast the ability of different theories to explain various situations
  • Recognize the commonalities of philosophical viewpoints and appreciate differences to enable work with diverse colleagues
  • Evaluate the influences of particular worldviews (including one’s own) on GIS practices
  • Justify the metaphysical theories with which you agree
  • Identify the ontological assumptions underlying the work of colleagues
FC-02 - Epistemology

Epistemology is the lens through which we view reality. Different epistemologies interpret the earth and patterns on its surface differently. In effect, epistemology is a belief system about the nature of reality that, in turn, structures our interpretation of the world. Common epistemologies in GIScience include (but are not limited by) positivism and realism. However, many researchers are in effect pragmatists in that they choose the filter that best supports their work and a priori hypotheses. Different epistemologies – or ways of knowing and studying geography – result in different ontologies or classification systems. By understanding the role of epistemology, we can better understand different ways of representing the same phenomena.

FC-03 - Philosophical perspectives
  • Define common philosophical theories that have influenced geography and science, such as logical positivism, Marxism, phenomenology, feminism, and critical theory
  • Identify the philosophical views and assumptions underlying the work of colleagues
  • Describe a brief history of major philosophical movements relating to the nature of space, time, geographic phenomena and human interaction with it
  • Compare and contrast the kinds of questions various philosophies ask, the methodologies they use, the answers they offer, and their applicability to different phenomena
  • Evaluate the influences of one’s own philosophical views and assumptions on GIS&T practices
  • Defend or refute the statement, “All data are theory-laden”
FC-01 - Metaphysics and ontology
  • Define common theories on what is “real,” such as realism, idealism, relativism, and experiential realism
  • Compare and contrast the ability of different theories to explain various situations
  • Recognize the commonalities of philosophical viewpoints and appreciate differences to enable work with diverse colleagues
  • Evaluate the influences of particular worldviews (including one’s own) on GIS practices
  • Justify the metaphysical theories with which you agree
  • Identify the ontological assumptions underlying the work of colleagues
FC-02 - Epistemology
  • Explain the notions of model and representation in science
  • Identify the epistemological assumptions underlying the work of colleagues
  • Bridge the differences in epistemological viewpoints to enable work with diverse colleagues
  • Define common theories on what constitutes knowledge, including positivism, reflectance-correspondence, pragmatism, social constructivism, and memetics
  • Justify the epistemological frameworks with which you agree
  • Recognize the influences of epistemology on GIS practices
  • Compare and contrast the ability of various theories to explain different situations
FC-02 - Epistemology
  • Explain the notions of model and representation in science
  • Identify the epistemological assumptions underlying the work of colleagues
  • Bridge the differences in epistemological viewpoints to enable work with diverse colleagues
  • Define common theories on what constitutes knowledge, including positivism, reflectance-correspondence, pragmatism, social constructivism, and memetics
  • Justify the epistemological frameworks with which you agree
  • Recognize the influences of epistemology on GIS practices
  • Compare and contrast the ability of various theories to explain different situations
FC-01 - Metaphysics and ontology
  • Define common theories on what is “real,” such as realism, idealism, relativism, and experiential realism
  • Compare and contrast the ability of different theories to explain various situations
  • Recognize the commonalities of philosophical viewpoints and appreciate differences to enable work with diverse colleagues
  • Evaluate the influences of particular worldviews (including one’s own) on GIS practices
  • Justify the metaphysical theories with which you agree
  • Identify the ontological assumptions underlying the work of colleagues

Pages