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The metaphysics of groups

Philosophical Studies 149 (2):251-267 (2010)

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  1. Composition.Daniel Z. Korman & Chad Carmichael - 2016 - Oxford Handbooks Online.
    When some objects are the parts of another object, they compose that object and that object is composite. This article is intended as an introduction to the central questions about composition and a highly selective overview of various answers to those questions. In §1, we review some formal features of parthood that are important for understanding the nature of composition. In §2, we consider some answers to the question: which pluralities of objects together compose something? As we will see, the (...)
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  • Metaphysical Nature of Social Groups: The Significance of Abstract and Concrete for Identity and Persistence of Social Groups.Strahinja Đorđević & Andrea Berber - 2021 - Disputatio 13 (61):121-141.
    In this paper, we consider the relative significance of concrete and abstract features for the identity and persistence of a group. The theoretical background for our analysis is the position according to which groups are realizations of structures. Our main argument is that the relative significance of the abstract features with respect to the significance of concrete features can vary across different types of groups. The argumentation will be backed by introducing the examples in which we show that this difference (...)
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  • The Ontology of Social Groups.Amie Thomasson - 2019 - Synthese 196 (12):4829-4845.
    Two major questions have dominated work on the metaphysics of social groups: first, Are there any? And second, What are they? I will begin by arguing that the answer to the ontological question is an easy and obvious ‘yes’. We do better to turn our efforts elsewhere, addressing the question: “What are social groups?” One might worry, however, about this question on grounds that the general term ‘social group’ seems like a term of art—not a well-used concept we can analyze, (...)
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  • What Are Groups?Katherine Ritchie - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 166 (2):257-272.
    In this paper I argue for a view of groups, things like teams, committees, clubs and courts. I begin by examining features all groups seem to share. I formulate a list of six features of groups that serve as criteria any adequate theory of groups must capture. Next, I examine four of the most prominent views of groups currently on offer—that groups are non-singular pluralities, fusions, aggregates and sets. I argue that each fails to capture one or more of the (...)
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  • The Location Problem in Social Ontology.Frank Hindriks - 2013 - Synthese 190 (3):413-437.
    Mental, mathematical, and moral facts are difficult to accommodate within an overall worldview due to the peculiar kinds of properties inherent to them. In this paper I argue that a significant class of social entities also presents us with an ontological puzzle that has thus far not been addressed satisfactorily. This puzzle relates to the location of certain social entities. Where, for instance, are organizations located? Where their members are, or where their designated offices are? Organizations depend on their members (...)
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  • Groups as Pluralities.John Horden & Dan López de Sa - 2020 - Synthese 198 (11):10237-10271.
    We say that each social group is identical to its members. The group just is them; they just are the group. This view of groups as pluralities has tended to be swiftly rejected by social metaphysicians, if considered at all, mainly on the basis of two objections. First, it is argued that groups can change in membership, while pluralities cannot. Second, it is argued that different groups can have exactly the same members, while different pluralities cannot. We rebut these objections, (...)
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  • Organisations as Computing Systems.David Strohmaier - 2021 - Journal of Social Ontology 6 (2):211-236.
    Organisations are computing systems. The university’s sports centre is a computing system for managing sports teams and facilities. The tenure committee is a computing system for assigning tenure status. Despite an increasing number of publications in group ontology, the computational nature of organisations has not been recognised. The present paper is the first in this debate to propose a theory of organisations as groups structured for computing. I begin by describing the current situation in group ontology and by spelling out (...)
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  • Maurinian Truths : Essays in Honour of Anna-Sofia Maurin on Her 50th Birthday.Robin Stenwall & Tobias Hansson Wahlberg (eds.) - 2019 - Lund, Sverige: Department of Philosophy, Lund University.
    This book is in honour of Professor Anna-Sofia Maurin on her 50th birthday. It consists of eighteen essays on metaphysical issues written by Swedish and international scholars.
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  • The Metaphysics of Social Groups.Katherine Ritchie - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (5):310-321.
    Social groups, including racial and gender groups and teams and committees, seem to play an important role in our world. This article examines key metaphysical questions regarding groups. I examine answers to the question ‘Do groups exist?’ I argue that worries about puzzles of composition, motivations to accept methodological individualism, and a rejection of Racialism support a negative answer to the question. An affirmative answer is supported by arguments that groups are efficacious, indispensible to our best theories, and accepted given (...)
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  • Location and Mereology.Cody Gilmore - 2013 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • How Groups Persist.August Faller - 2019 - Synthese 198 (8):1-15.
    How do groups of people persist through time? Groups can change their members, locations, and structure. In this paper, I present puzzles of persistence applied to social groups. I first argue that four-dimensional theories better explain the context sensitivity of how groups persist. I then exploit two unique features of the social to argue for the stage theory of group persistence in particular. First, fusion and fission cases actually happen to social groups, and so cannot be marginalized as “pathological.” Second, (...)
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  • Mereological Nominalism.Nikk Effingham - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (1):160-185.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
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  • What Are Social Groups? Their Metaphysics and How to Classify Them.Brian Epstein - 2019 - Synthese 196 (12):4899-4932.
    This paper presents a systematic approach for analyzing and explaining the nature of social groups. I argue against prominent views that attempt to unify all social groups or to divide them into simple typologies. Instead I argue that social groups are enormously diverse, but show how we can investigate their natures nonetheless. I analyze social groups from a bottom-up perspective, constructing profiles of the metaphysical features of groups of specific kinds. We can characterize any given kind of social group with (...)
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  • The Creation of Institutional Reality, Special Theory of Relativity, and Mere Cambridge Change.Tobias Hansson Wahlberg - forthcoming - Synthese 198 (6):5835-5860.
    Saying so can make it so, J. L. Austin taught us long ago. Famously, John Searle has developed this Austinian insight in an account of the construction of institutional reality. Searle maintains that so-called Status Function Declarations, allegedly having a “double direction of fit”, synchronically create worldly institutional facts, corresponding to the propositional content of the declarations. I argue that Searle’s account of the making of institutional reality is in tension with the special theory of relativity—irrespective of whether the account (...)
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  • The Metaphysics of Social Kinds.Rebecca Mason - 2016 - Philosophy Compass 11 (12):841-850.
    It is a truism that humans are social animals. Thus, it is no surprise that we understand the world, each other, and ourselves in terms of social kinds such as money and marriage, war and women, capitalists and cartels, races, recessions, and refugees. Social kinds condition our expectations, inform our preferences, and guide our behavior. Despite the prevalence and importance of social kinds, philosophy has historically devoted relatively little attention to them. With few exceptions, philosophers have given pride of place (...)
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  • Social Ontology.Brian Epstein - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Social ontology is the study of the nature and properties of the social world. It is concerned with analyzing the various entities in the world that arise from social interaction. -/- A prominent topic in social ontology is the analysis of social groups. Do social groups exist at all? If so, what sorts of entities are they, and how are they created? Is a social group distinct from the collection of people who are its members, and if so, how is (...)
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  • How Individuals Constitute Group Agents.Keith Harris - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (3):350-364.
    Several social metaphysicians have argued that groups are constituted by, but not identical to, their members. While the constitution view is promising, there are significant difficulties with existing versions of that view. Fortunately, lessons may be extracted from more traditional metaphysics and applied to the case of group agents. Drawing on such lessons, I present a novel account of the constitution relation holding between individuals and group agents. According to the resulting structural-constitution view, when individuals constitute a group of a (...)
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  • The Identity of Social Groups.Kit Fine - 2020 - Metaphysics 3 (1):81-91.
    I apply the theory of embodiment to various questions concerning the identity of social groups.
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  • On the Persistence of Social Groups.John D. Greenwood - 2020 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 50 (1):78-81.
    In this short discussion note, I cast doubt upon the common view that social groups persist throughout changes in their membership, by virtue of the maintenance of their structure and/or function. I offer two counterexamples, and consider two possible responses to a natural objection to them, neither of which support the view that it is a metaphysical truth that social groups persist through changes in their membership, or persist by virtue of the maintenance of their structure and/or function.
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  • Institutional Objects, Reductionism and Theories of Persistence.Tobias Hansson Wahlberg - 2014 - Dialectica 68 (4):525-562.
    Can institutional objects be identified with physical objects that have been ascribed status functions, as advocated by John Searle in The Construction of Social Reality (1995)? The paper argues that the prospects of this identification hinge on how objects persist – i.e., whether they endure, perdure or exdure through time. This important connection between reductive identification and mode of persistence has been largely ignored in the literature on social ontology thus far.
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  • Restoring Constitution: Saving Performativity From Mäki’s Critique.Mickey Peled - 2020 - Journal of Economic Methodology 27 (1):51-65.
    ABSTRACTThis paper aims to solve a fundamental critique of the research project of the performativity of economics. The critique by philosopher Uskali Mäki strikes the concept of performativity in...
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  • Social Mereology.Katherine Hawley - 2017 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 3 (4):395-411.
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  • Too Many Omissions, Too Much Causation?Björn Petersson - 2019 - In Tobias Hansson Wahlberg & Robin Stenwall (eds.), Maurinian Truths : Essays in Honour of Anna-Sofia Maurin on her 50th Birthday.
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  • Metaphysics and Social Justice.Aaron M. Griffith - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (6).
    Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that aims to give a theoretical account of what there is and what it is like. Social justice movements seek to bring about justice in a society by changing policy, law, practice, and culture. Evidently, these activities are very different from one another. The goal of this article is to identify some positive connections between recent work in metaphysics and social justice movements. I outline three ways in which metaphysical work on social reality can (...)
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  • What is Field's Epistemological Objection to Platonism?Ylwa Sjölin Wirling - 2019 - In Robin Stenwall & Tobias Hansson Wahlberg (eds.), Maurinian Truths : Essays in Honour of Anna-Sofia Maurin on her 50th Birthday. pp. 123-133.
    This paper concerns an epistemological objection against mathematical platonism, due to Hartry Field.The argument poses an explanatory challenge – the challenge to explain the reliability of our mathematical beliefs – which the platonist, it’s argued, cannot meet. Is the objection compelling? Philosophers disagree, but they also disagree on (and are sometimes very unclear about) how the objection should be understood. Here I distinguish some options, and highlight some gaps that need to be filled in on the potentially most compelling version (...)
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  • Why the Social Sciences Are Irreducible.Tobias Hansson Wahlberg - 2019 - Synthese 196 (12):4961-4987.
    It is often claimed that the social sciences cannot be reduced to a lower-level individualistic science. The standard argument for this position is the Fodorian multiple realizability argument. Its defenders endorse token–token identities between “higher-level” social objects and pluralities/sums of “lower-level” individuals, but they maintain that the properties expressed by social science predicates are often multiply realizable, entailing that type–type identities between social and individualistic properties are ruled out. In this paper I argue that the multiple realizability argument for explanatory (...)
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  • Mereology.Achille C. Varzi - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    An overview of contemporary part-whole theories, with reference to both their axiomatic developments and their philosophical underpinnings.
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