Volume 10 · Number 2 · Pages 189–192
Explaining Social Systems without Humans

Peter M. Hejl

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Open peer commentary on the article “The Autopoiesis of Social Systems and its Criticisms” by Hugo Cadenas & Marcelo Arnold. Upshot: I argue in favor of not eliminating humans from social theory. My argumentation is based on the “mechanistic” perspective that emerged in the interdisciplinary context of systems theory but that is lacking in Luhmann’s work. Based on defining communication in the constructivist-mechanist tradition, I claim that research on human (near-)universals contributes to solving the constructivist problem of how understanding among individuals is possible. I also argue against the author’s critique of an “utilitarian” approach and for maintaining the individual and social level in systems theory. Finally, I address the observer-problem in Luhmann’s theory.


Hejl P. M. (2015) Explaining social systems without humans. Constructivist Foundations 10(2): 189–192. http://constructivist.info/10/2/189

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