Comment on Jack Knight

  • Piet de Vries
  • Daniel Kiwit
Conference paper


Jack Knight’s paper delivers a broad perspective on the research agenda of social sciences. Knight shows that the interpretation of a handful of concepts, such as cognition, rationality and social context, has profound consequences for the research on the causes of suboptimal social outcomes of political and economic processes. It is the substance of social outcomes and the processes of cognition, rationality and context which are brought together in Knight’s paper. He elaborates the claim that the explanation of the (suboptimal) product of social interaction is determined by the conceptual position taken in the theme of cognition, rationality and social context. This claim is not new, indeed, as Knight acknowledges. It underlies the work of North, and North and Thomas (North 1990; North & Thomas 1973). However, it is the virtue of Knight’s paper to confront different positions of social outcomes with different conceptualizations of the relationship among cognition, rationality and social context/institutions. It concerns three suboptimal social outcome comparisons which might be faced with four kinds of conceptualization.


Social Context Social Outcome Cultural Theory Individual Cognition Private Enforcement 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin — Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Piet de Vries
  • Daniel Kiwit

There are no affiliations available

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