Philosophy of the Social Sciences 37 (4):408-432 (2007)

Social systems theory has been dominated in recent years by the work of Niklas Luhmann, but there is another strand of systems thinking, which is receiving increasing attention in sociology: emergentism. For emergentism, the core problems of systems thinking are concerned with causation and reductionism; for Luhmann, they are questions of meaning and self-reference. Arguing from an emergentist perspective, the article finds that emergentism addresses its own core problem successfully, while Luhmann's approach is incapable of resolving questions of causation and reductionism. On the other hand, neither paradigm yet has a convincing response to the challenges of meaning and self-reference. Key Words: social systems • emergence • paradigms • autopoiesis • critical realism.
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DOI 10.1177/0048393107307660
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References found in this work BETA

The Rediscovery of the Mind.John R. Searle - 1994 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 37:253.
For Emergence: Refining Archer's Account of Social Structure.Dave Elder-Vass - 2007 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 37 (1):25–44.
Emergence and the Realist Account of Cause.Dave Elder-Vass - 2005 - Journal of Critical Realism 4 (2):315-338.
The Differentiation of Society.Niklas Luhmann - 1983 - Studies in Soviet Thought 25 (1):31-36.

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Citations of this work BETA

Emergence in Sociology: A Critique of Nonreductive Individualism.Jens Greve - 2012 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 42 (2):188-223.
The Contribution of Systemic Thought to Critical Realism.John Mingers - 2011 - Journal of Critical Realism 10 (3):303-330.
Critical Realism and the Process Account of Emergence.Stephen Pratten - 2013 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 43 (3):251-279.
Emergence and Communication in Computational Sociology.Mauricio Salgado & Nigel Gilbert - 2013 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 43 (1):87-110.

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