Generativity and emergence

Social entities and structures have properties that exercise causal influence over all of us, and over the continuing development of the society in which we live. Schools, corporations, armies, terror networks, transport networks, markets, churches, and cities all fall in this range -- they are social compounds or entities that shape the behavior of the …

ABM fundamentalism

  I've just had the singular opportunity of participating in the habilitation examination of Gianluca Manzo at the Sorbonne, based on his excellent manuscript on the relevance of agent-based models for justifying causal claims in the social sciences. Manzo is currently a research fellow in sociology at CNRS in Paris (Centre National de la Recherche …

Social generativity and complexity

The idea of generativity in the realm of the social world expresses the notion that social phenomena are generated by the actions and thoughts of the individuals who constitute them, and nothing else (link, link). More specifically, the principle of generativity postulates that the properties and dynamic characteristics of social entities like structures, ideologies, knowledge systems, …

Generativism

There is a seductive appeal to the idea of a "generative social science". Joshua Epstein is one of the main proponents of the idea, most especially in his book, Generative Social Science: Studies in Agent-Based Computational Modeling. The central tool of generative social science is the construction of an agent-based model (link). The ABM is said …

Complexity and contingency

One of the more intriguing currents of social science research today is the field of complexity theory. Scientists like John Holland (Complexity: A Very Short Introduction), John Miller and Scott Page (Complex Adaptive Systems: An Introduction to Computational Models of Social Life), and Joshua Epstein (Generative Social Science: Studies in Agent-Based Computational Modeling) make bold …

ABM fundamentalism

image: Chernobyl control room Quite a few recent posts have examined the power and flexibility of ABM models as platforms for simulating a wide range of social phenomena. Joshua Epstein is one of the high-profile contributors to this field, and he is famous for making a particularly strong claim on behalf of ABM methods. He …

Non-generative social facts

  Is every social process generated by facts about individuals? For example, consider a television advertising campaign for a General Motors truck. This is a complicated sequence of events, actions, contracts, relationships, and interactions among organizational units as well as individuals. The campaign itself is constituted by the schedule of television spots on which the adverts …

Reduction and generativeness

Providing an ontology of complex entities seems to force us to refer to some notion of higher-level and lower-level things. Proteins consist of atoms; atoms consist of protons, electrons, and neutrons; and cells are agglomerations of many things, including proteins. This describes a relation of composition between a set of lower-level things and the higher-level …

Reduction and generativeness

Providing an ontology of complex entities seems to force us to refer to some notion of higher-level and lower-level things. Proteins consist of atoms; atoms consist of protons, electrons, and neutrons; and cells are agglomerations of many things, including proteins. This describes a relation of composition between a set of lower-level things and the higher-level …

Are emergence and microfoundations contraries?

image: micro-structure of a nanomaterial (link) Are there strong logical relationships among the ideas of emergence, microfoundations, generative dependency, and supervenience? It appears that there are.     The diagram represents the social world as a laminated set of layers of entities, processes, powers, and laws. Entities at L2 are composed of or caused by …

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