Table 1. Metaphors of knowledge.

Knowledge as mechanisticKnowledge as contingentKnowledge as narrative
Believed to be objective, replicable. Knowledge acquired via the “scientific method;” sought to demonstrate causality and allow for prediction.

Nature as mechanistic.
Importance of agent and context. Knowledge seeks causality; relies on behavior, variability, and relation to socially held norms.

Nature as a complex adaptive system.
Interpretive and critical. Knowledge is inherent to object and represents values that may be shared or individually held.

Nature as constructed.