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On Analysing Benefits and Limitations

Dooyeweerd's suite of aspects provides an excellent way of thinking about benefits and limitations or detriment of any course of action, whether this is in the past or in the future. The core idea is to recognise that aspects are spheres of law - ways in which things are good or bad. The aspects are also spheres of meaning, so that we can look at the course of action from the point of view of each aspect, and assess in what ways it is good and in what ways it is detrimental in that aspect.

Here is an example of how the use of an information system (such as ERP system - Enterprise Resource Planning) might be good or bad in each aspect in the way it affects the operation of the organisation. These are only example questions, and you can add many more and/or modify them to any other type of thing.

How to use Aspects to Assess Benefits and Limitations of ERP System
Aspect Possible Benefits Possible Detriment
(These mathematical aspects do not usually indicate either benefit or detriment.)
(to do with energy + mass)
(Converse of the Detriment.) Could its use lead to an overloading of the storage facilities?
Does its use increase the climate change emissions as a (usually indirect) result of the way we operate?
(to do with life functions)
(Converse of Detriment) Does its use (indirectly) damage health?
Does its use lead us to generate more pollution?
(to do with sense, feeling, emotion)
Does its use make people feel happier or ... ... more angry?
(to do with distinguishing )
Does it help us clarify things? Or does it confuse people?
(to do with history, culture, technology: shaping and creativity)
Does it help us plan better?
Does it help enhance skills?
Does it make us more lazy?
Does it de-skill anyone?
(to do with symbolic communication)
Does it help people communicate better?
Is it easy to enter the information?
Is it easy to find the information we need?
Does it obfuscate information?
Does it mislead? Is its information truthful, accurate, uptodate?
(to do with social interaction)
Does it help people to cooperate better in furthering the goals of the organisation?
Does it reflect and support good organisational structures?
Or does it make that more difficult?
Does it undermine good organisational structure, maybe by forcing upon us inappropriate ones?
(to do with frugal use of resources)
Does it really help manage resources better? Which types of resources? Does it lead to any resources being wasted? (Think outside the box, especially to environmental resources like road use or clean water.)
(to do with harmony, enjoyment, fun)
Does it enhance the harmony by which the parts of the organisation work together?
Does it make organisational life less enjoyable?
Is it boring to use?
(to do with what is due; 'retribution', rights and responsibilities)
Does its use lead to greater fairness?
Does its use encourage us towards Fair Trade and environmental justice? Does its use help to fulfil our contracts better?
Does it lead to unfair treatment of anyone?
Does its use lead (indirectly?) to injustice to those we usually overlook (such as people in the Two-thirds World or animals)?
Does it make it more difficult to fulfil our contracts?
(to do with self-giving love)
Does its use spread an attitude of generosity ... ... or an attitude of selfishness, self-interest, competition, which might undermine the organisation or society in the long term?
(to do with vision, aspiration, commitment, creed, religion)
Is it in tune with the vision of the organisation? Or does it constrain the vision and work against it?

As you can see, Dooyeweerd's suite of aspects helps us formulate questions about a very diverse range of issues. And, as you can see, such questions can be applied prospectively (into the future) or retrospectively (to assess something that has occurred).

This approach is discussed in more detail in the context of information systems use in chapter IV of Philosophical Frameworks for Understanding Information Systems [Basden, 2008], and set within a wider context. It has advantages over many other ways of evaluating courses of action, including for example:

Aspectual analysis of benefits and detriment may take many forms. The above is just one of these: fill out a table. See the discussion of types of aspectual analysis.

This page is part of a collection that discusses application of Herman Dooyeweerd's ideas, within The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Email questions or comments would be welcome.

Written on the Amiga and Protext.

Compiled by (c) 2006 Andrew Basden. But you may use this material subject to conditions.

Created: 23 October 2008 Last updated: