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Complex Causality: Climate Change Essay

1718 words - 7 pages

Complex events are incidents that challenge pre-existing ideas through not meeting standard expectations or solutions. Equally, due to their ‘complex’ nature they should be able to be analysed from a multidisciplinary perspective. A multidisciplinary perspective is the drawing together of methodologies from different social science disciplines (such as economics, international relations, history and political science) to analyse an event and consequently reach a single conclusion. Overall, the use of a multidisciplinary perspective (in comparison to a singular disciplinary perspective) will provide the fullest and most accurate analysis of complex events, however this can create a trade off with the complexity and time taken to reach a conclusion. Firstly, this advantage will be argued through implying complex events have complex causality that can only truly be seen through a multidisciplinary perspective. Secondly, it can be seen that all social sciences lie on a spectrum with lots of overlap and interdependence between disciplines, and therefore it is an intrinsic feature of the social sciences to view complex events through a multidisciplinary perspective. Finally, it can also be seen that each discipline has respective areas of strength as well as areas of weakness and consequently a multidisciplinary approach allows for the most accurate and broadest analysis of a respective event. This can be shown through examples of complex events such as the current problem posed by Climate Change and the unforeseen end to the Cold War in 1991.

However, it is important to keep in mind that while there may be many advantages of using a multidisciplinary perspective to analysis, the ultimate purpose of this analysis is to lead to a final conclusion. Therefore if the time taken or depth of analysis (resulting from consulting more than one discipline) prevents a conclusion from being reached, then a multidisciplinary approach can be seen to have failed.

Firstly, complex events can be seen to have complex causality that can only fully be seen through a multidisciplinary perspective. Complex causality results from events having multiple causes (in addition to complex interactions between causes) and often, unforeseen contingency (Cox, 2014). Inherently, complex events rarely (if ever) have a singular cause and therefore they can be seen to have, through the former part of the definition, complex causality. If an event has multiple causes it is therefore more likely to span multiple disciplines (for example, economics and international relations in the case of Climate Change), which results in a multidisciplinary perspective being an advantage. The end of the Cold War is an example of a complex event that demonstrates many of the signs of complex causality. The impact of particular individuals, in particular Gorbachev who’s reforms and diplomatic efforts lead to the USSR being “less stable than it [had] been at any point since Stalin’s great purges” (CIAa,...

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