Volume 8 · Number 1 · Pages 103-110

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Communication Emerging? On Simulating Structural Coupling in Multiple Contingency

Manfred Füllsack

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Problem: Can communication emerge from the interaction of “self-referentially closed systems,” conceived as operating solely on the base of the “internal” output of their onboard means? Or in terms of philosophical conceptions: can communication emerge without (“outward” directed) “intention” or “will to be understood”? Method: Multi-agent simulation based on a conceptual analysis of the theory of social systems as suggested by Niklas Luhmann. Results: Agents that co-evolutionarily aggregate probabilities on how to cope with their environment can structurally couple and generate a form of “eigenbehavior” that retrospectively (i.e., by an observer) might be interpreted as communication. Implications: The “intention” or the “will to be understood,” as prominently claimed to be indispensable in communication by theoreticians such as Jürgen Habermas, can be seen as a retrospective ascription to an emergent property of complex interaction. Constructivist content: The paper attempts to base constructivist reasoning on data generated in simulations.

Key words: Communication, information, contingency, structural coupling, intentionality, observer dependency, multi-agent simulation.


Füllsack M. (2012) Communication Emerging? On Simulating Structural Coupling in Multiple Contingency. Constructivist Foundations 8(1): 103-110. Available at http://constructivist.info/8/1/103.fuellsack

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