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132732 Week 1 Commentary

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Matt Henry

on 24 July 2013

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Transcript of 132732 Week 1 Commentary

Week 1: Theory and Ethics

S2, 2013

Why use theory?

What is theory?

What are ethics?
Friedmann (2008) suggests three reasons for using planning theory

A Philosophical Task
What is the philosophical underpining of planning?

i.e. what values provide the foundation for planning
What do you think are the key values of planning?

What are the key values that influence you as a planner?
An Adaptive Task
'Wisdom has it that to be a good planner is to be acutely aware not only of what our work can reasonably be expected to accomplish but also what it cannot' (Friedmann, 2008: 251)
What are the limits to knowledge?

And action?
A Task of Translation
'I see planning theorists actively engaging in mining expeditions into the universe of knowledge, on the lookout for concepts and ideas they believe to be of interest in planning education' (Friedmann, 2008: 251)
Why mine the world of knowledge?

What have you found?

Who has influenced you?
What is Theory?
'It [theory] abstracts a set of general or specific principles to be used as a basis for explaining and acting' (Allmendinger, 2009: 1)
Theories of planning


Theories in planning
Context of theory production?
Politics of theories?
Temporality of theories
Social Sciences
Natural Science
General Laws
Values Changes
Object & Subject
Reflecting & Shaping
Open vs. Closed Systems
Induction -Hume's Puzzle
Hypothesis Testing
Falsification -Popper
Paradigms -Kuhn
Four Categories of Theory
(From Allmendinger, 2009)

How world ought to be
How to go about doing things
Concerned with describing the world as it is
Representations of reality
'Science has always been in conflict with narratives. Judged by the yardstick of science, the majority of these prove to be fables. But to the extent that science does not restrict itself to stating useful regularities and seeks the truth, it is obliged to legitimate the rules of its own game. It then produces a discourse or legitimation with respect to its own status' (Lyotard, 1984: xxiii)
'Each society has its own regime of truth, its 'general politics' of truth: that is, the types of discourse which it accepts and makes function as true; the mechanisms and instances which enable one to distinguish true and false statements, the means by which each is sanctioned; the techniques and procedures accorded value in the acquisition of truth; the status of those who are charged with saying what counts as true' (Foucault, 1980: 131)
What are the stories that planning tells about itself to legitimise itself?
What happens if we replace 'society with profession?
Normative (what should be)

Discursive (production of truth)
What type of theory is being used?

What is its normative dimension?

What is being made truthful?

Who is credible (and how)?

What form of ethic is being articulated?

Key Questions for Today
132.732 Planning Theory
How to decide between 'good' and bad'
'Ends justify the mean'
Is an action intrinsically right or wrong?
'the greatest happiness of the greatest number'
'Act only that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law'
Immanual Kant (1785)
A Provocation
I have gone so far as to assert that, for any practical purposes, there is no 'planning'. Rather there is a diversity of practices in planning (as there is everywhere) and different kinds of planners in different contexts should (and do) enact different models or theories of planning (Alexander, 2003: 181)
Distilling Allmendinger
Five Questions to Keep Asking
Agents of normality
What techniques / procedures do we privilege (in general and in planning)?
Full transcript