Journal Article

Ontology and the study of social reality: emergence, organisation, community, power, social relations, corporations, artefacts and money

Tony Lawson

in Cambridge Journal of Economics

Published on behalf of Cambridge Political Economy Society

Volume 36, issue 2, pages 345-385
Published in print March 2012 | ISSN: 0309-166X
Published online March 2012 | e-ISSN: 1464-3545 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cje/ber050

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The conception of social reality I have previously defended (and here extend), positing features such as social relations, positions and powers, is thoroughly naturalistic and even consistent with modern interpretations of quantum field theory. It also serves to ground a social science that can be scientific in the sense of natural science. This is the thesis defended here. Central to the argument is an emphasis on a ‘strong’ form of emergence and the category of ‘organisation-in-process’. To bring out various salient features of the position defended, I take the opportunity to compare aspects of it with relevant components of the contribution of John Searle, whose ontological conception appears at once to be both very similar yet also very different.

Keywords: Social science; Organisation; Process; Emergence; Collective practice; Community; Social position; Rights; Obligations; Power; Social relations; Corporations; Artefacts; Money; A10; B40; D20; L10; P00

Journal Article.  23736 words. 

Subjects: General Economics ; Economic Systems ; Production and Organizations ; Economic Methodology ; Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance