There are things we can accomplish as individuals and there are things that we can more effectively and efficiently achieve collectively. For the latter, we create what are called institutions to serve as instruments for getting things done. The lunch club introduced previously is a simple example of an institution.
The club, like all institutions, is an abstract entity. It does not have a physical existence other than the existence of the individual entities that constitute it. The members of the club exist physically but the club is only a set of rules that members of the club agree to abide by. The club exists in some Platonic realm though the benefits it provides to its members are tangible.
The benefits of the lunch club include companionship, the opportunity for discussions, etc. But there are costs too. For example, when the club chooses a particular cuisine on some occasion that is not to your liking, you incur a cost. When you join the lunch club, you weigh all the costs and benefits of joining. You join the club because you figure that the benefits exceed the costs.
The existence of any institution, thus, depends on whether the benefits exceed the costs as subjectively and objectively evaluated by the members. The lunch club continues to operate only as long as there are people who receive net benefits from membership. Being a member means abiding by the club rules. So now we come to the rules. Continue reading