IS 901 - Epistemological Foundations of Information Systems and Operations


Degree Course Center for Doctoral Studies in Business
Lecturer Prof. Dr. Armin Heinzl
Contact hours per week 2
Grading See below
Language of instruction English
Room L15, 1-6, Room 714-715
Time See schedule below
Registration wifo1(at)
Office hours By appointment


This course is designed for doctoral students in information systems and operations/logistics. It provides a basic understanding of philosophy of science and its epistemological foundations. On the one hand, the course will focus on those concepts which derive knowledge from observation and induction. However, since it also takes experiments as well as the new experimentalism into account, it also refers to those disciplines that focus on the evaluation of technological artifacts. Thus, the underlying epistemological foundations are of central interest to all doctoral students that study the structure and behavior of information systems and operations/logistics phenomena. The course will be offered in an interactive style. All doctoral students have to offer at least one presentation and a documentation regarding a specific topic. Assignment of topics will be conducted by the lecturer.


No. Date Content Presenter(s)
1 10.09.2012
  • Introduction
  • Assignments
  • Literature
No session
prepare for presentations
2 08.10.2012
  • Science as knowledge derived from the facts of experience
  • Observation and experiments as practical intervention
  • Deriving theories from facts: induction
  • Limitations of positivism
3 10.10.2012
  • Falsificationism, sophisticated falsificationism, and its limitations
  • Interpretativism, its variants, and its limitations
4 24.10.2012
Non method-centric stances
  • Kuhn’s paradigms
  • Lakatos’ research programs
  • Feyerabend’s anarchistic theory of science
  • Methodical changes in method
5 07.11.2012
Philosophical foundations of the sciences of the artificial
  • Foundations of mathematical and logical deduction
  • Foundations of creating technological artifacts
6 21.11.2012
Bridging the past and the future
  • The "new" experimentalism
  • Why should the world obey laws?
  • Realism and anti-realism

Introductory literature

Chalmers, A.F.: What is this thing called science? 3rd edition, Open University Press, Maidenhead 1999.

This book only represents a starting point. Literature for the assignments has to be retrieved by participants.

For session 6, the following sources are recommended:

Von Bertalanffy, L., "The History and Status of General Systems Theory”, The Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 15, No. 4, 1972.

Weber, R., "Toward a theory of artifacts: A paradigmatic base for information systems re-search”, Journal of Information Systems, Vol. 1, No. 2, 1987.

Simon, H.A., "The sciences of the artificial”, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1996. [Special focus on chapter 5: "The Science of Design: Creating the Artificial”]

Students are requested to retrieve additional literature which deepens the respective stances.


During the first session, topics will be assigned to doctoral students. Each student will be asked to elaborate a presentation with regard to the assigned topic which goes beyond the introductory literature as well as to moderate a discussion regarding his/her topic on the basis of a recommended scholarly published article. Further details will be provided in the first session.


50% topic presentation,

30% selection and moderation of scholarly published article,

20% course participation