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  • Cited by 2
  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: August 2012

16 - The HES Postulates

from VIII - A framework for investigating human–environment systems (HES)


Chapter overview

Starting from the epistemological assumptions presented in Chapter 3, Chapter 16 presents seven Postulates for structuring human–environment relationships under the perspective of improving environmental literacy.

These Postulates serve different functions and can be grouped differently. For example, the Complementarity (P1), Hierarchy (P2), Interference (P3), and Feedback (P4) Postulates enable proper modeling of coupled systems. In combination with the Hierarchy and the Interference Postulates, the Decision (P5) and the Awareness (P6) Postulates are central for understanding the drivers of social systems when making reference to key social science disciplines (see, for example, Chapters 6–11). These two Postulates allow also for a game- and decision-theoretic modeling of human systems such as individuals, groups, companies, institutions, or societies when they interact with each other and their material environment. Finally, the Environment-first (P7) Postulate stresses that each analysis of a HES should start with a thorough understanding of the functioning dynamics of the environment and its responses to human decisions. This highlights the nature of inextricably coupled human and environmental systems and acknowledges unwanted rebound effects (P4), which are ideally avoided.

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