Institutions as a Philosophical Problem: A Critical Rationalist Perspective on Guala’s “Understanding Institutions” and His Critics

Joseph Agassi*, Ian Jarvie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The symposium on Francesco Guala’s Understanding Institutions was thought provoking. Five critical papers took issue with Guala’s reconciliation of the game-theoretical view of institutions and the rule-governed view. We offer some critical commentary that adopts a different perspective. We agree that institutions are central to social life and, thus, also to the social sciences; they are also prior to and more fundamental than individuals. We add some historical points on the ways previous philosophers thought about institutions, and we come at this from a philosophical viewpoint that is not that of analytic philosophy but rather that of Popper’s critical rationalism. In that framework, we espouse an idea of the relation between philosophy and the philosophy of science that is different from that of Guala and his commentators, and we recommend a reformist philosophy of institutions that is neither radical nor traditionalist and that makes better sense of the institution of the scholarly symposium than do games or rules.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-63
Number of pages22
JournalPhilosophy of the Social Sciences
Volume49
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019

Keywords

  • critical rationalism
  • individuals
  • institutions
  • methodological individualism
  • psychologism
  • reformism

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