This page disambiguates the word reflexive as it subtly differs in various contexts.
 as in language
A reflexive verb form is one where the subject and object are the same. This concept from linguists has been generalized in systems theory. It has been further generalized in politics to include the concept of decision systems like the open party that affect living things.
 as in systems theory
A reflexive process is a reflective process that changes the process itself. To be reflexive, a system must organize its controls the same way as its content. All command verbs especially, used to describe information flows and feedback loops, within a system, must necessarily be documented and changed the same way as the command verbs and other control verbs that tell the system how to behave from outside the system. Such a system is thus capable of continuing to self-organize with a very small amount of energy from outside. For example, a reflexive intranet must include all of the governance discussions that affect its funding and participation.
A reflexive user interface is one relying on a strong ontology under user control. A reflexive service may rely on a weak ontology but with humans ensuring some response to changes to its rules. Wikipedia is somewhat reflexive in this sense.
 non-, next-, fully-
There are three levels of complexity in any self-organizing system:
- non-reflexive: only the current snapshot of the current system is described, e.g. zooid policy and the zooid implementation of this policy, and not much else; a single sysop can probably keep this up to date, comments can be on talk pages
- next-reflexive: only the current snapshot of the next system is described, e.g. next zooid system, but through the lens of the current system; conventions like next, must, as of required; conventions like user pages and meta pages begin to be required; occasionally sysops will have a troll bite you on the leg but this is minimized by strong social conventions due to the very narrow focus on a single goal - requires wiki best practice to sort out
- fully reflexive: any future system or goal can be described and the conventions help to sort out which are true now, which are becoming untrue, which are becoming true, when; conventions like itself, on this page, link to this page and other directives and rulesets are required, since open-ended debate on the nature of the system must be supported; as non-obvious needs will be discussed, trolls must also be tolerated and full trollgnaw supported - probably requires open politics in force. As of December 8, 2005, most recent changes to this wiki were to help make it more reflexive by the definition used in five levels of intranet.
 as in politics
In politics, a fully reflexive one that determines not only the fate of that system but of living things that rely on it. The open party and open politics in force are nearly fully reflexive proposals - but they remain proposals. It seems entirely unclear that a large group of living things would rely on formal methods to make ethical decisions - yet.
Also there is the problem of representatives: a system used to govern an army, for instance, as Marilyn vos Santos points out, must be cognizant of the fact that an army does not exist to preserve itself but rather to preserve civilian quality of life. A degree of wise and creative input is required to remain ultra-reflexive.
One definition of an ultra-reflexive system is a fully reflexive one that determines not only the fate of that system but of living things that rely on it, without appeal or limit. This seems unlikely to come about at present.