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Hierarchy – Perspectives for Ecological Complexity - Chicago Scholarship Online
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Hierarchy: Perspectives for Ecological Complexity

T. F. H. Allen and Thomas B. Starr


Complexity is all around us now to the point where practitioners across many fields must engage with it. But complexity comes with uncertainty, ambiguity and contradiction that makes it arcane on first encounter. Of all the theories surrounding complexity, hierarchy theory is the most intuitive and tractable because hierarchies and levels are habitual parts of human thinking. Hierarchies are associated with shifts across scale. Engineers rescale as they must, but always work one level at a time so as to avoid collapse through emergence. By contrast rescaling to find new levels leads to a funda ... More

Keywords: complexity, constraint, emergence, hierarchy, holon, levels, model, narrative, observation, scale

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2017 Print ISBN-13: 9780226489544
Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2018 DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226489711.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

T. F. H. Allen, author
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Thomas B. Starr, author