Transdisciplinary Research on Individuals 


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Philosophy-of-Science (TPS) Paradigm

  Aims and scope
  Basic assumptions
  Central findings

Empirical Applications
of the TPS Paradigm


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The Transdisciplinary Philosophy-of-Science Paradigm for Research on Individuals (TPS Paradigm)





































































 - Philosophical assumptions -

All research is done by humans

The TPS Paradigm explicitly considers that all research is done by humans and that, consequently, all scientific endeavours are inextricably entwined with and thus limited by human's perceptual and conceptual abilities.

Research on individuals encounters further intricate challenges because researchers themselves are always individuals with their own particular viewpoints and abilities that determine and limit their interests in and opportunities for exploring the "world". Therefore and unlike scientists in other fields, researchers exploring individuals are not independent from their particular objects of study. This entails particular risks for all kinds of biases and fallacies of the human mind. 

Three metatheoretical properties

Given that all science is done by humans, the TPS Paradigm defines as a phenomenon anything that humans can perceive or can make perceptible (e.g., using technical means) and/or that humans can conceive of - a notion that differs from various philosophical traditions of thought (e.g., of Kant). 

At its core, the TPS Paradigm considers three metatheoretical properties that can be conceived in different forms for each given phenomenon. These particular properties are considered because they determine a given phenomenon's perceptibility by humans in everyday life - and thus also by researchers. 

These properties are 

  1. Spatial location in relation to the intact body of the individual under study (e.g., bones are internal, outer skin is external), 
  2. Temporal extension (e.g., behaviours are momentary, individuals' muscles are temporally extended) and 
  3. Spatial extension, specified as physicality (i.e., spatially extended) versus "non-physicality" (i.e., without spatial properties). Individuals' bodies and behaviours are spatially extended; but for the phenomena of the psyche, spatial properties cannot be assumed.

Importantly, these properties are conceived on levels of abstraction that are commonly not considered in everyday life and most research. But because these abstract properties generally determine a phenomenon's accessibility to humans, they also determine the accessibility of many further properties that can be perceived in the phenomena under study (e.g., colour) or can be inferred from them (e.g., causal mechanisms) and that are largely within the focus of research. Therefore, these three metatheoretical properties also determine the methodologies and methods required for explorations.

Epistemological complementary 

In the psyche-physicality (body-mind) problem, the TPS Paradigm adopts the presuppositions of epistemological complementarity, which takes a metaphysically neutral position without making either monistic or dualistic presuppositions. Epistemological complementarity, originally introduced in quantum physics as a solution for the wave-particle dilemma in research on the nature of light, highlights that by using different methods, ostensibly incompatible information can be obtained about the properties of the same object. These properties seem to be maximally incompatible with one another but are both equally essential for an exhaustive account of the results obtained, and may therefore be regarded as complementary to one another. 

The TPS Paradigm builds on the principle of complementarity in several ways, such as in the conception of "non-physical" properties of psychical phenomena and the rejection of methodological compromises while implying no limitations to the application of methods. Instead, the TPS Paradigm argues for analysing the presuppositions and the appropriateness of the conceptual structures involved and for conceiving categorically different and mutually complementary frames of reference for the different properties under study, which are all essential for exploring the particular object of research. 

Individuals as complex living systems 

The TPS Paradigm explicitly considers the fact that individuals are living organisms and builds on various concepts of complexity that are rooted in thermodynamics, the physics of life, philosophy, theoretical biology, medicine, and psychology. That is, it rejects assumptions on universal determinism and the principles of reduction and disjunction, according to which phenomena can be explored by dissecting, isolating, and separating their elements from another based on the idea that any composite can be known simply by knowing its constituent elements. 

Instead, the TPS Paradigm considers that living individuals can be conceived of as open nested systems that function at each hierarchical level as organized wholes and in which new properties emerge that could not have been predicted from knowledge of their constituents and the interrelations between them (the principle of emergence). To explore this interconnectedness across different levels of organismal organization, the TPS Paradigm differentiates various kinds of phenomena from one another.

Differentiation of various kinds of phenomena

On the basis of the specific and different constellations of forms with regard to these metatheoretical properties that can be conceived of for each given kind of phenomenon, the TPS Paradigm makes distinctions between various kinds of phenomena explored in individuals. 

These are the phenomena of morphology (e.g., bones), physiology (e.g., nerve potentials), behaviour (e.g., vocalising) and the psyche (e.g., thinking, feeling). They are called basic kinds of phenomena because they are inseparable from the intact body of the individual under study; separations can be made only conceptually as done in the TPS Paradigm.

Furthermore, the TPS paradigm differentiates between the phenomena of semiotic representations (e.g., language), artificially modified outer appearance (e.g., clothing) and contexts (e.g., situations). These are conceived as composite kinds of phenomena that each comprise several different kinds of phenomena and that are therefore more heterogeneous and complex than basic kinds of phenomena.

More information is provided in Uher (2016, 2015a,b,c,d) and the Science Blogs "A new scientific paradigm for research on individuals" and "What is philosophy-of-science? And why is this needed?"