Understanding Institutions proposes a new unified theory of social institutions that combines the best insights of philosophers and social scientists who have written on this topic. Francesco Guala presents a theory that combines the features of three influential views of institutions: as equilibria of strategic games, as regulative rules, and as constitutive rules.
Guala explains key institutions like money, private property, and marriage, and develops a much-needed unification of equilibrium- and rules-based approaches. Although he uses game theory concepts, the theory is presented in a simple, clear style that is accessible to a wide audience of scholars working in different fields. Outlining and discussing various implications of the unified theory, Guala addresses venerable issues such as reflexivity, realism, Verstehen, and fallibilism in the social sciences. He also critically analyses the theory of "looping effects" and "interactive kinds" defended by Ian Hacking, and asks whether it is possible to draw a demarcation between social and natural science using the criteria of causal and ontological dependence. Focusing on current debates about the definition of marriage, Guala shows how these abstract philosophical issues have important practical and political consequences.
Moving beyond specific cases to general models and principles, Understanding Institutions offers new perspectives on what institutions are, how they work, and what they can do for us.
Francesco Guala is professor in the Department of Economics, Management, and Quantitative Methods at the University of Milan. He is the author of The Methodology of Experimental Economics and the coeditor, with Daniel Steel, of The Philosophy of Social Science Reader.
"The book by Francesco Guala on Understanding Institutions is extremely valuable. It makes a major contribution to our understanding of what institutions are, and it carries important implications for future institutional research. . . . This is a great book, which should be read by every social scientist who wants to understand institutions."--Geoffrey Hodgson, Journal of Economic Methodology
"Guala’s book is very clearly written and well-structured. Its accessible prose makes it ideal as an introductory text. By reviewing several complex problems and offering solutions it will help further constructive debate and theoretical development. . . . [Guala] consolidates an important argument and raises additional questions that help us to move further forward. This is a great book, which should be read by every social scientist who wants to understand institutions."--Geoffrey M. Hodgson, Journal of Economic Methodology
"This valuable and beautifully structured book reviews and explains the key idea of correlated equilibria and also offers a novel theoretical synthesis. Clearly written, but even better, clearly conceived, this book is a winner on many levels."--Stephen Turner, University of South Florida
"In this complex and sophisticated book, the unified view of institutions is original because it bridges two views that have been considered to be incompatible. Moreover, the unified view is linked with other key issues in the philosophy of social sciences. With its enormous scope, it will appeal to specialists in the philosophy of social sciences, as well as such social science practitioners as economists and theoretical sociologists."--Jack Vromen, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Table of Contents:
Analytical Table of Contents xiii
PART I UNIFICATION
1 RULES 3
2 GAMES 20
3 MONEY 33
4 CORRELATION 44
5 CONSTITUTION 57
6 NORMATIVITY 70
7 MINDREADING 89
8 COLLECTIVITY 102
PART II APPLICATION
9 REFLEXIVITY 119
10 INTERACTION 132
11 DEPENDENCE 146
12 REALISM 163
13 MEANING 177
14 REFORM 194