If it is suggested that there is coherence across and within the unit and time domains, then we should be able to conceptualize it that way.
First, we should have a common approach to describe each of what are typically seen as very different research specialties. For example, even though we typically see developmental psychology and physical chemistry as totally different paradigms, we should, in principle, be able to describe their functional processes in a common way. Secondly, we should be able to show that the diversity across the unit domain and across the time domain is consistent with that fundamental conceptualization. Thirdly, we should be able to show that viewing the functional relationships of a particular unit domain at a different level of aggregation, result in the functional relationships of the next higher or lower level of molarity. Similarly, we should also be able to show that viewing over a different time scale, the functional relationships at any one time scale, result in the functional relationships of the next longer or shorter time scale classification. Within this general philosophical stance ,normal science would specify the precise details of the continuity and clarify those points which are the most problematic.
A well-known example of a "common underlying process" which eventuates in almost unimaginable diversity is biological evolution. What are eventually very great differences in the structural characteristics of life forms begin with the same thing (the uppermost distribution in the figure), these similar elements are changed by a simple process. In the general case, there is some variation along some dimension (here represented on the x axis). If any specific characteristic among those variations "provides more favorable reproductive success," then the population will evolve to center on that selected-for level of that characteristic. Here that process is represented by the successive distributions lower and lower on the y axis. The evolutionary perspective argues that the observed diversity in life forms can best be described as the result of this process. It is generally labeled "variation, selection, and nonregressive replication."
The simple conceptualization applicable to the fundamental process underlying evolution, as well as all the various adaptations within and across each point of focus in the present paradigm, is "if correlation, then selection." Or more correctly, if systematic change then a correlation between variation and selection. That selection can result in change or stability. In this slide, there is a correlation between position in the distribution and the thickness of a filter. Elements on the right side of the distribution can pass through the filter easily, while elements on the center or the left side of the distribution have great difficulty passing through. As a result many from the right end of the distribution will be in the future population while few from the center or the left end of the distribution will prevail.
The observation that a correlation between element x (position on x axis) and element y (thickness of filter) goes with the difference in the outcome distributions is a functional description or explanation, in that it simply says if correlation, then change. How the filter works would be a reductionistic explanation. It would describe how the "filter" "impedes the flow" of the elements in the distribution. The research focus is on the procedure which affect variation and selection.
A simple metaphor for the eventual diversity between two originally identical elements which evolution could produce would be several automobiles starting out on an interstate highway in Washington D.C. Even if there were only a fraction of a mile per hour difference in their speeds they would be widely separated by the time they arrived in Los Angles. After a billion years they would be very far apart indeed.
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