David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophy of the Social Sciences 29 (4):481-516 (1999)
Of all contemporary social theorists, Luhmann has best understood the centrality of the concept of meaning to social theory and has most extensively worked out the notion's implications. However, despite the power of his theory, the theory suffers from difficulties impeding its reception. This article attempts to remedy this situation with some critical arguments and proposals for revision. First, the theory Luhmann adopted from biology as the basis of his own theory was a poor choice since that theory has no explanatory power, being purely descriptive; furthermore, that theory is fundamentally flawed since it implies that viruses are impossible. Second, Luhmann's theory of meaning cannot coherently make the social domain autonomous as he desires since Luhmann does not take into account the distinction between syntax and semantics. By introducing this distinction, making clear that social systems consist of rules, not just communications, and raising the rule concept to the same prominence in social theory as those of actor and system, autonomy can be maintained while avoiding the counterintuitive aspects of Luhmann's theory.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Jorge Fontdevila, M. Pilar Opazo & Harrison C. White (2011). Order at the Edge of Chaos: Meanings From Netdom Switchings Across Functional Systems. Sociological Theory 29 (3):178 - 198.
Similar books and articles
Jaap den Hollander (2010). Beyond Historicism: From Leibniz to Luhmann. Journal of the Philosophy of History 4 (2):210-225.
Niklas Luhmann (2008). Law as a Social System. Oup Oxford.
Dave Elder-Vass (2007). Luhmann and Emergentism: Competing Paradigms for Social Systems Theory? Philosophy of the Social Sciences 37 (4):408-432.
Hans Henrik Bruun (2008). Objectivity, Value Spheres, and "Inherent Laws": On Some Suggestive Isomorphisms Between Weber, Bourdieu, and Luhmann. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 38 (1):97-120.
Poul Kjaer (2006). Systems in Context: On the Outcome of the Habermas/Luhmann Debate. Ancilla Iuris 1:66-77.
Antoon Braeckman (2006). Niklas Luhmann's Systems Theoretical Redescription of the Inclusion/Exclusion Debate. Philosophy and Social Criticism 32 (1):65-88.
Daniel Lee (2000). The Society of Society: The Grand Finale of Niklas Luhmann. Sociological Theory 18 (2):320-330.
P. Y.-Z. Wan (2011). Emergence a la Systems Theory: Epistemological Totalausschluss or Ontological Novelty? Philosophy of the Social Sciences 41 (2):178-210.
Niklas Luhmann (2000). Art as a Social System. Stanford University Press.
Hans-Ulrich Dallmann (1998). Niklas Luhmann's Systems Theory as a Challenge for Ethics. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 1 (1):85-102.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads62 ( #31,086 of 1,692,597 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #108,676 of 1,692,597 )
How can I increase my downloads?