An abstract for CCS16

The following astract was submitted to CCS16 by Kunbei Zhang and Aernout Schmidt:

Blending Complexity Research

Disruptive complex adaptive systems (CASs, e.g. the profiling/social-media complex) put more and more pressures on individual agents’ capacities to act autonomously and responsible. As legal theorists we have some questions here. The foundation of our trade is a conception of individual freedom that supports liability for deliberate behaviors. Thus: pressures on individual agents’ capacities to act autonomously disrupt the basic paradigm of our discipline. This is worth investigating. Yet, investigating the potential of CASs to disrupt the law as a cultural survival vehicle requires “blended research,” by a whole gamut of disciplines, including legal theory.

Blending different disciplinary efforts is notoriously difficult, as each discipline tends to develop its own technical language for its own specific specializations. `Tort’ is a different concept for legal and for non-legal specialists, as `rational choice’ is for economic and non-economic specialists, as `culture’ is for anthropologists and non-anthropologists and as `inflation’ is for cosmologists and non-cosmologists. These differences are sticky, as they tend to nurse specialist identity. In order to support diverse specialists to work together on complex problems in cross-disciplinary teams we need a lingua franca that allows for discussing and deciding on the merits of the models involved while leaving relevant parts of the domain of discourse to specialists. How can we do that?

That is what this contribution is about. We distill an instance of the lingua franca required from the requirements-engineering literature that has emerged in the computing sciences around 2000. We introduce simple techniques to support cross-disciplinary discussion, using Acemoglu and Robinson (2001)’s formal econometric model of democratic/non-democratic regime change as a vehicle. And we show how the approach helps improve access to comprehension of complex situations by blending cross-disciplinary contributions.

CCS16 Satellite Session on Law and Complexity

Marion Dumas (SFI, USA) and  Aernout Schmidt (Leiden University, the Netherlands) are organizing a one-day Satellite Session on Law and Complexity for the Conference on Complex Systems, September 2016 in Amsterdam. The initiative is a follow-up on a discussion about the role of legal theorists in interdisciplinary complexity research teams. The proposal has been awarded  and […] Continue reading → ...

(P1-6) Institutions – A family of Concepts?

Yesterday we (Tina, Michiel, Carl, Gerrit-Jan and me) had a brainstorm meeting over the peer-reviewed, published article by Michiel on Big Data and what credible bargaining powers consumers can feasibly command in order to be taken seriously while endeavoring to participate in the shaping of privacy contracts, case law and legal rules that protect their […] Continue reading → ...

(P1-05) Institutions: mixing the natural and the rational

‘Institutions’ matter. Many definitions do circulate. Ours is discussed below (and largely harvested from Schmidt 2009). Institutions have: identity claimed sovereignty over a domain shared beliefs function rules (or laws) policies norms elites work forces publics feedback and communication channels hierarchically organized, internal and external, institutional structure. ‘Institution’ is a family concept; it is hard […] Continue reading → ...

(P6-01) EU-Greece on July 13, 2015

This morning we got the news that there had been reached an agreement about the Greek insolvency problem. It turned out to be a prescription by the non-Greek EU countries for how Greeks have to adapt their life styles into a new format, turning to what, e.g., Germans and Dutch prefer. This seems a strange, […] Continue reading → ...

(P8-02) Groupiness and rivalry within disciplines

One characteristic of a discipline is a tendency to “groupiness.” Economists (members in other disciplines behave similarly) join groups that share characteristic reasoning habits. The economic discipline has thus developed different sub cultures. Such groups have formed around economists like Hayek, Keynes, Friedman, Coase, Akerlof, Bowles, Myerson, Greenspan. Often, in-group coordination (this phemomenon may be […] Continue reading → ...

(P1-04) What is a CANS?

For understanding the legislators’ difficulties in regulating the behaviors in CANSs (like the behaviors in the global, multi-level and multi-niche cluster of networked personal-data devouring and producing individuals and institutions), we need a systemic perspective that relates responsible individuals with the communities they co-evolve with. Systems An important concept therefore is `system’ in general (as […] Continue reading → ...

(P0-10) Why ask: What is a CANS?

This snippet aims to convey a general notion of why it is worth while to ask What is a CANS? For solving Complex Problems, we need cross-disciplinary cooperation. The statement is a no-brainer. Its realization is not.  We promote CANS-thinking because it is our aim to identify quality mechanisms that help comprehend what the scope […] Continue reading → ...

(P8-00) The Road Ahead

Our project is work in progress by definition. As long as homo sapiens survives as a species, there is no end state imaginable where our comprehension of socal institutions and their regulation will be in stasis and complete. So we will write blogs/paragraphs on how we appreciate what we are doing and have been doing, […] Continue reading → ...

(P7-00) The Results Category

In Partition P7 we collect paragraphs that consider conclusions that emerge from looking at what has been collected in the other partitions. Most of these will have the form of falsifiable propositions. Especially important for this collection of paragraphs are heuristics that will support CANS theory reception by mainstream law professionals (Partition 7). Continue reading → ...

(P5-00) The Law’s Emergence Category

We reserve a separate partition for blogs and paragraphs that address the legal system, its institutions, its professions and its professionals as CANSs themselves. With what will be collected here we hope to further find out how complex adaptive systems (legal systems included) can be modeled to emerge as complex contingencies that survive in niches, […] Continue reading → ...

(P0-00) The Preliminaries Category

In this Category we discuss mainstream scholarly attitudes towards law, legal theory and complexity and their interactions. Concepts and terms are introduced. Also, hunches about usefulness for understanding many serious and persistent social problems, badly in need of scholarly legal attention that is aware of complexity theory are collected here. Continue reading → ...

(P3-00) The Structure & Dynamics Category

Category P3 collects paragraphs focusing on interactions and relations between structures and dynamics. Thoughts on how the analysis in structure and dynamics of complex situations have de facto helped understand and manage social systems facing actual critical transitions find a place in this category. Also examples of how institutional ecologies may have co-evolved in between […] Continue reading → ...

(P2-00) The Dynamics Category

In the Category P2 we collect paragraphs on the dynamics of systems and system aggregates. Often these dynamics are described in cyclic models of processes, like in metabolics (e.g., the Krebs cycle), in evolution (Darwin’s reproduction-variation-selection), in teleologic behaviors (Wright), in intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (Deci). One issue to be discussed (Dennett, Gazzaniga) concerns the […] Continue reading → ...