This is my newest project, at a very early stage now. I hope to get some funds for it in the coming years.
Institutions have become fashionable. There is a growing field of institutional economics, as well as more abstract studies of institutions undertaken by socio-ontology.
Two accounts of institutions are usually distinguished in the literature: institutions-as-rules and institutions-as-equilibria. I am not about to argue that these views are wrong, although I portray them as insufficient. Instead, institutions shall be characterized as products of certain situated, embodied cognitive endeavors – as cognitive niches.
The latter’s purpose is to ease some aspects of our cognitive functioning, but first of all to render the world around us cognitively available.
I propose that institutions can be conceived of as cognitive niches. As such they bring forth a kind of knowledge; they maintain information resources, and also risk, at a relatively complex level of social complexity. At the end of the day, institutions differ in terms of how much they succeed or fail in the task of making certain entities available as goods.
Some preliminary remarks on it are here:
Who asks questions and who benefits from answers: Understanding institutions in terms of social epistemic dependencies. To appear in Erkenntnis
Institutions as Cognitive Niches: A Dynamic of Knowledge and Ignorance. To appear in S. Arfini, L. Magnani (eds.) Embodied, Extended, Ignorant Minds: New Studies on the Nature of Not-Knowing (Synthese Library), Springer, 2022