Epistemological and empirical challenges of Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory: an interview with professors Álvaro Pires and Lukas Sosoe

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Epistemological and empirical challenges of Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory: an interview with professors Álvaro Pires and Lukas Sosoe

Epistemological and empirical challenges of Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory: an interview with professors Álvaro Pires and Lukas Sosoe

DESAFIOS EPISTEMOLÓGICOS E EMPÍRICOS DA TEORIA DOS SISTEMAS DE NIKLAS LUHMANN: ENTREVISTA COM OS PROFESSORES ÁLVARO PIRES E LUKAS SOSOE

Álvaro Pires, Interviewees1 
http://orcid.org/0000-0001-5927-9091

Lukas Sosoe, Interviewees2 
http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0416-3475

Lucas Fucci Amato, Interviewers3 
http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8923-8300

Marco Antonio Loschiavo Leme de Barros, Interviewers4  5 
http://orcid.org/0000-0001-9465-8783

Gabriel Ferreira da Fonseca, Interviewers6  7 
http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7401-7644

1 University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

2 University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg

3 University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

4 University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

5 Mackenzie Presbyterian University, São Paulo, Brazil

6 Estácio University Center of Bahia, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

7 Salvador University Center (Uniceusa), Salvador, Brazil


INTRODUCTION

Niklas Luhmann (1927-1998) built one of the most encompassing and abstract sociological theories of the 20th century. Bringing to sociology the radical constructivism developed by transdisciplinary scientists such as the mathematician George Spencer-Brown, the physicist Heinz von Foester, and the biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, Luhmann renewed the bases of understanding society and its subsystems – including law, science, politics, economy and many others. Two decades after the death of this German sociologist, his views on world society, communication and functional differentiation have given rise to an immense body of literature that focuses on analyzing a variety of questions. But how to deal with the scale and abstraction of this theory and apply it to the understanding of localized legal phenomena, such as crime and punishment, or ethics and courts?

In this interview, this discussion was posed to two leading Luhmannian scholars who work specially in the Francophone academy. Álvaro Pires, Distinguished University Professor at the University of Ottawa (Canada), and Lukas Sosoe, Full Professor at the University of Luxembourg, were interviewed in São Paulo, on August 22, 2019. Professors Pires and Sosoe have parallel academic trajectories, having worked together in some projects and symposiums. Professor Pires conducted pioneer works on empirical and criminological research with systemic approaches. Professor Sosoe works with legal theory, ethics, contemporary political philosophy and European studies. He has worked on translations to the French of many books by Niklas Luhmann. In this interview, both scholars explore the limitations and potentials for addressing empirical and historical questions within systems theory and present their views on the epistemological innovations that radical constructivism brings for socio-legal studies.

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