Process structural realism, instance ontology, and societal order

Abstract
Whitehead’s cosmology centers on the self-creation of actual occasions that perish as they come to be, but somehow do combine to constitute societies that are persistent agents and/or patients. “Instance Ontology” developed by D.W. Mertz concerns unification of relata into facts of relatedness by specific intensions. These two conceptual systems are similar in that they both avoid the substance-property distinction: they differ in their understanding of how basic units combine to constitute complex unities. “Process Structural Realism” (PSR) draws from both of these approaches in developing an account of how combinations of processes may produce ontologically significant coherences. When a group of processes achieves such closure that a set of states recurs continually, the effects of that coherence differ from what would occur in the absence of that closure. Such altered effectiveness is an attribute of the system as a whole, and would have consequences. This indicates that the network of processes, as a unit, has ontological significance. The closed network of processes, together with the conditions that prevail, constitute the form of definiteness of the coherence. That form continues to obtain as long as the coherence persists. Constituents contribute to, rather than share, that characteristic. Aspects of some recent research in systems biology, microeconomics, and social psychology illustrate the application of PSR.
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