Ergonomics and sustainability: Towards an embrace of complexity and emergence
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Technology offers a promising route to a sustainable future, and ergonomics can serve a vital role. The argument of this article is that the lasting success of sustainability initiatives in ergonomics hinges on an examination of ergonomics' own epistemology and ethics. The epistemology of ergonomics is fundamentally empiricist and positivist. This places practical constraints on its ability to address important issues such as sustainability, emergence and complexity. The implicit ethical position of ergonomics is one of neutrality, and its positivist epistemology generally puts value-laden questions outside the parameters of what it sees as scientific practice. We argue, by contrast, that a discipline that deals with both technology and human beings cannot avoid engaging with questions of complexity and emergence and seeking innovative ways of addressing these issues.