The learning goals of this course are:
- (Knowledge) you acquire knowledge that allows you describe and recognize important (technical) concepts in the sociology of science and the relation between science and institutions.
- (Understanding) you understand how game theory and the theory of coordination games can be used to describe and analyse key problems in social ontology, and how the nature of institutions is relevant for understanding the workings of science.
- (Application) you can apply key terms in social ontology and develop your own views in how institutions streamline coordination.
Content of the course:
The course looks at the nature of institutions, and develops a unified view of institutions. We will explain the workings of institutions like money, private property and marriage, and explain how rule-based accounts and equilibrium-based accounts of institutions can be combined in a unified theory. We will read Francesco Guala’s book Understanding Institutions. The science and Philosophy of Living Together (Princeton: University Press 2016). At the end of the course, and in a subsequent paper, students will have to be able to identify social contexts in which the game theoretical approach to institutions can be applied, and explain to a lay audience how coordination works, how coordination engenders norms and what an equilibrium is.
The structure of the course follows the chapters of Guala’s book.
Evaluation: One paper that explores a chapter of Guala’s approach to institutions, or an application of one of his chapters to science, art or language.
Guala, F. (2016), Understanding Institutions. Princeton: Princeton University Press
Searle, J. (1995), The Construction of Social Reality. London: Penguin.