Emergence a la Systems Theory: Epistemological Totalausschluss or Ontological Novelty?

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 41 (2):178-210 (2011)
Abstract
In this article, I examine Luhmann’s, Bunge’s and others’ views on emergence, and argue that Luhmann’s epistemological construal of emergence in terms of Totalausschluss (total exclusion) is both ontologically flawed and detrimental to an appropriate understanding of the distinctive features of social emergence. By contrast, Bunge’s rational emergentism, his CESM model, and Wimsatt’s characterization of emergence as nonaggregativity provide a useful framework to investigate emergence. While researchers in the field of social theory and sociology tend to regard Luhmann as the sole representative of systems theory, the latter has been characterized by its diversity, and the writings of such systems theorists as Mario Bunge deserve more (critical) attention from social researchers than they receive at present. Finally, this article suggests that the perennial debate over methodological individualism and holism in social science may make real progress if such ambiguous terms as reduction and reductionism are elucidated before they are employed
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