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Institutions as Emergent Phenomena: Redefining Downward Causation

Author

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  • Nicolas Brisset

    (Université Côte d'Azur, France
    GREDEG CNRS)

Abstract

The concept of emergence is frequently used in the social sciences in order to characterize social institutions. Nevertheless, philosophy of mind argues that the idea of emergence is problematic because it encompasses the dubious notion of downward causation, i.e. the fact that an entity at a given ontological level might have a causal influence on lower level entities. This work shows that although it is problematic in some fields, emergence is an ontological feature of the social world. In order to justify this point of view and to show how institutions relate to individuals' actions, we define an institution as an exogenous device, which enables us to show that the relationship between institution and individual actions is not only a causal one but also an intersubjective and a constitutive one.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicolas Brisset, 2016. "Institutions as Emergent Phenomena: Redefining Downward Causation," GREDEG Working Papers 2016-30, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.
  • Handle: RePEc:gre:wpaper:2016-30
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    File URL: http://www.gredeg.cnrs.fr/working-papers/GREDEG-WP-2016-30.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2016
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Emergent Phenomena; Institution; Downward Causation; Convention;

    JEL classification:

    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology

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