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< previous page page_198 next page > Page 198 planners and concerned citizens alike to reveal the ''normative content" of actual and proposed systems designs. By "normative content" Ulrich means both the underlying value assumptions that inevitably flow into planning and also the consequences and side-effects for those affected by the planning. In arguing for a critical systems approach, Ulrich distances himself from the currently dominant use of the systems idea in what he calls "systems science" (operations research, systems analysis, systems engineering, system dynamics, cybernetics). In systems science, he argues, which is dominated by limiting mechanistic and organismic analogies, the systems idea is used in the context of "instrumental reason" to help us decide how to do things . It refers to a set of variables to be controlled. Ulrich's aim involves using the systems idea as part of "practical reason", to help us to decide what we ought to do . Within practical reason, the systems
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