Organisations as Computing Systems

Journal of Social Ontology 6 (2):211-236 (2020)
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Organisations are computing systems. The university’s sports centre is a computing system for managing sports teams and facilities. The tenure committee is a computing system for assigning tenure status. Despite an increasing number of publications in group ontology, the computational nature of organisations has not been recognised. The present paper is the first in this debate to propose a theory of organisations as groups structured for computing. I begin by describing the current situation in group ontology and by spelling out the thesis in more detail. I then present the example of a sports centre to illustrate why one might intuitively think of organisations as computing systems. To substantiate the thesis, I introduce Piccinini’s restrictive analysis of physical computation. As I show, organisations meet all criteria for being computing systems. Organisations are structured groups with the function of manipulating medium-independent vehicles according to rules. Furthermore, I argue for the modal claim that this is a necessary feature of organisations. Having sketched the computational account of organisations, I compare it to other proposals in the literature.

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David Strohmaier
Cambridge University

Citations of this work

Social-Computation-Supporting Kinds.David Strohmaier - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (7):862-877.

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References found in this work

The extended mind.Andy Clark & David J. Chalmers - 1998 - Analysis 58 (1):7-19.
Group agency: the possibility, design, and status of corporate agents.Christian List & Philip Pettit - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Philip Pettit.
The Rediscovery of the Mind.John R. Searle - 1992 - MIT Press. Edited by Ned Block & Hilary Putnam.

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