The Functions of Institutions: Etiology and Teleology

Frank Hindriks*, Francesco Guala

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
103 Downloads (Pure)


Institutions generate cooperative benefits that explain why they exist and persist. Therefore, their etiological function is to promote cooperation. The function of a particular institution, such as money or traffic regulations, is to solve one or more cooperation problems. We go on to argue that the teleological function of institutions is to secure values by means of norms. Values can also be used to redesign an institution and to promote social change. We argue, however, that an adequate theory of institutions should not be ‘moralized’ in that they should not be defined in terms of the values they are supposed to promote.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2027–2043
Number of pages17
Early online date29-Mar-2019
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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