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Title: Cybernetics and contingency, codes and programs : an account of social system thinking in law and legal theory today
Author: Bryson, Giulia
ISNI:       0000 0004 7961 4776
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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The thesis discusses aspects of current Social Systems Theory, with the main attention devoted both to the level of the compassing social system society and to that of function systems, especially law. Throughout, I refer to the version of social systems theory developed and presented as theory of social autopoiesis in Niklas Luhmann's mature work, while a limited but important part of the thesis will explain this choice and serve as a comparative and genealogical guideline. Central will be the notion and idea of what Luhmann calls a Contingency Formula - term that both functions as a problem outline and that indicates how the problem can be solved, within the context of the Legal System. Equally centre-staged is the scientific, even the philosophical background the Contingency Formula is based upon. The reporting and explaining of this background, to which luhmannian Social System Theory is indebted in its initial inspirations as well as in its relentless efforts of 'doing justice' to every new empirical finding, involves, among others, elements of cybernetics, Boolean algebra, biology, and approaches to mathematics and topology - as well as of some pivotal concepts in philosophy (e.g. contingency). The Contingency Formula and the problematic of modern society in relation to Law and Justice of which it constitutes the pivot, constitute the focus of my PhD. They are approached through a comparison with traditional theories of justice and pre-systemic views of society; as it is generally the case of systems theory, the decisive difference-marker is provided by the notion of a function. The systemic narrative also involves the divide of coding and programming, and the claim that, in modern society, with its constant overproduction of complexity, these are part of its arsenal of modes of systemic reducing that complexity. It finally implies contingency formulas. These operate as system-immanent second-order observation devices that allow function systems to manage their steering dilemmas without unrealistically claiming to have access to a (function system transcending) first-order observation of its own interventions. I am addressing both the Contingency Formula as general concept and Luhmann's endorsement of Justice as Contingency Formula of the function system law (plus Teubner's alternative offer of a Transcendence Formula Justice), up to a compared analysis of modernity and post-modernity according to the social-systemist approach of modern society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available