On the Minimal Recognition of Rights in Holonic Institutions

  • Jeremy Pitt
  • Jie JiangEmail author
  • Ada Diaconescu
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10315)


In one aspect of her study of collective action, Ostrom proposed eight design principles for the supply of institutions for sustainable common-pool resource management. Computational logic has been used to formalise an executable specification of six of these principles for resource allocation in open multi-agent systems and networks. However, the eighth principle, nested enterprises, is structural rather than procedural, and the seventh principle, minimal recognition of rights, concerns a critical relationship between the components of that structure – not just the right to self-organise, but essentially enough (i.e. minimal) rights to self-organise. In previous work, the idea of holonic institutions has been proposed to satisfy the requirement of polycentric self-governance in complex systems of nested enterprises. This paper investigates the axiomatic specification of Ostrom’s seventh principle as a constraint on the holonic structure and sketches a testbed prototype, as a prelude to a more systematic investigation into values, conflict resolution and the trade-off between rights and powers in holonic institutions.


Electronic institutions Holonic architectures Self-organisation Rights Powers Conflict resolution 



The authors would particularly like to thank Pompeu Casanovas for conversations which have significantly helped to clarify numerous issues in rights and powers, but any persistent misunderstandings are our own. We are also very grateful for the many helpful comments of the anonymous reviewers.

The first author has been partially supported by the UK EPSRC Grand Challenge project No. EP/I031650/1 The Autonomic Power System.


  1. 1.
    Artikis, A.: Dynamic specification of open agent systems. J. Logic Comput. 22(6), 1301–1334 (2012)MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Cox, M., Arnold, G., Villamayor Tomás, S.: A review of design principles for community-based natural resource management. Ecol. Soc. 15(4), 38 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Diaconescu, A., Pitt, J.: Holonic institutions for multi-scale polycentric self-governance. In: Ghose, A., Oren, N., Telang, P., Thangarajah, J. (eds.) COIN 2014. LNCS (LNAI), vol. 9372, pp. 19–35. Springer, Cham (2015). doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-25420-3_2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Friedman, B., Kahn, P., Borning, A.: Value sensitive design and information systems. In: Himma, K., Tavani, H. (eds.) The Handbook of Information and Computer Ethics, pp. 69–101. Wiley (2008)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Jiang, J., Pitt, J., Diaconescu, A.: Rule conflicts in holonic institutions. In: IEEE SASO Workshops (FoCAS), pp. 49–54 (2015)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Jones, A., Sergot, M.: A formal characterisation of institutionalised power. J. IGPL 4(3), 427–443 (1996)MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Koestler, A.: The Ghost in the Machine. Hutchinson Publisher, London (1967)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Kowalski, R., Sergot, M.: A logic-based calculus of events. New Gener. Comput. 4, 67–95 (1986)CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Lansing, J., Kremer, J.: Emergent properties of Balinese water temple network: coadaptation on a rugged fitness landscape. Am. Anthropol. 95, 97–114 (1993)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ostrom, E.: Beyond markets and states: polycentric governance of complex economic systems. In: Grandin, K. (ed.) Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 2009, pp. 408–444. Nobel Foundation, Stockholm (2010)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ostrom, E.: Thinking about climate change as a commons. In: 15th Annual Philip Gamble Memorial Lecture, pp. 1–34. UMass Amherst (2011)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ostrom, E.: Governing the Commons: The Evolution of institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1990)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Pitt, J., Busquets, D., Macbeth, S.: Distributive justice for self-organised common-pool resource management. ACM Trans. Auton. Adapt. Syst. 9(3), 14:1–14:39 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Pitt, J., Kamara, L., Sergot, M., Artikis, A.: Voting in multi-agent systems. Comput. J. 49(2), 156–170 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Pitt, J., Ramirez-Cano, D., Kamara, L., Neville, B.: Alternative dispute resolution in virtual organizations. In: Artikis, A., O’Hare, G.M.P., Stathis, K., Vouros, G. (eds.) ESAW 2007. LNCS (LNAI), vol. 4995, pp. 72–89. Springer, Heidelberg (2008). doi: 10.1007/978-3-540-87654-0_3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Pitt, J., Busquets, D., Riveret, R.: Procedural justice and ‘fitness for purpose’ of self-organising electronic institutions. In: Boella, G., Elkind, E., Savarimuthu, B.T.R., Dignum, F., Purvis, M.K. (eds.) PRIMA 2013. LNCS, vol. 8291, pp. 260–275. Springer, Heidelberg (2013). doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-44927-7_18 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Pitt, J., Busquets, D., Riveret, R.: The pursuit of computational justice in open systems. AI Soc. 30(3), 359–378 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Pitt, J., Diaconescu, A.: Structure and governance of communities for the digital society. In: Workshop on Self-Improving System Integration at IEEE International Conference on Autonomic Computing (ICAC), pp. 279–284 (2015)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Pitt, J., Schaumeier, J., Artikis, A.: Axiomatisation of socio-economic principles for self-organising institutions: concepts, experiments and challenges. ACM Trans. Auton. Adapt. Syst. 7(4), 39:1–39:39 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Jasso, G., Törnblom, K.Y., Sabbagh, C.: Distributive justice. In: Sabbagh, C., Schmitt, M. (eds.) Handbook of Social Justice Theory and Research. LNCS (LNAI), pp. 201–218. Springer, New York (2016). doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-3216-0_11 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Sergot, M.: A computational theory of normative positions. ACM Trans. Comput. Logic 2(4), 581–622 (2001)MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Imperial College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.University of SurreyGuildfordUK
  3. 3.Télécom ParisTechParisFrance

Personalised recommendations