To what extent is Veblen an open-systems theorist?
Mearman, A. (2002) To what extent is Veblen an open-systems theorist? Journal of Economic Issues, 36 (2). pp. 573-580. ISSN 0021-3624
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The concept of open systems (OS) is increasingly influential. Several institutionalists, including William Kapp, have used the concept, but Geoffrey Hodgson argued that it is currently underdeveloped. This paper aims to stimulate a clarification of the concept of an open system. This work is heavily influenced by critical realism, and its treatment is considered first. Often in critical realism, open systems are effectively defined as simply "not closed systems." This follows from an association of closure with experiment and hence openness with the absence of experiment. A problem is that by defining open systems as "not closed," all distinctions between different types of openness are collapsed. The flaw in this approach can be illustrated if the closure of systems is considered. Closures external to thought can be termed "real." Humans usually create real social closures. Institutions, in various senses of the term, are an example. However, institutions do not create complete closure; rather, they merely increase stability and repetitiveness in terms of series of events.