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Ontological individualism reconsidered

Synthese 166 (1):187-213 (2009)

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  1. The Unreasonable Destructiveness of Political Correctness in Philosophy.Manuel Doria - 2017 - Philosophies 2 (3):17.
    I submit that epistemic progress in key areas of contemporary academic philosophy has been compromised by politically correct ideology. First, guided by an evolutionary account of ideology, results from social and cognitive psychology and formal philosophical methods, I expose evidence for political bias in contemporary Western academia and sketch a formalization for the contents of beliefs from the PC worldview taken to be of core importance, the theory of social oppression and the thesis of anthropological mental egalitarianism. Then, aided by (...)
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  • Failures of Methodological Individualism: The Materiality of Social Systems.Sally Haslanger - forthcoming - Journal of Social Philosophy.
    Methodological individualism (MI) has been a major topic in the philosophy of social science over the past several decades. Originally, the idea was that the social world is made up of individuals, and so explanation of social phenomena should be in terms of the behavior and attitudes of individuals. This paper argues against both ontological and explanatory individualism, claiming that social phenomena include material systems - such as transportation systems, healthcare systems and the like. Such systems are not "made up (...)
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  • Limits to Levels in the Methodological Individualism–Holism Debate.Julie Zahle - 2020 - Synthese:1-20.
    It is currently common to conceive of the classic methodological individualism–holism debate in level terms. Accordingly, the dispute is taken to concern the proper level of explanations in the social sciences. In this paper, I argue that the debate is not apt to be characterized in level terms. The reason is that widely adopted notions of individualist explanations do not qualify as individual-level explanations because they span multiple levels. I defend this claim relative to supervenience, emergence, and other accounts of (...)
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  • Social Explanation: Structures, Stories, and Ontology. A Reply to Díaz León, Saul, and Sterken.Sally Haslanger - 2018 - Disputatio 10 (50):245-273.
    In response to commentaries by Esa Díaz León, Jennifer Saul, and Ra- chel Sterken, I develop more fully my views on the role of structure in social and metaphysical explanation. Although I believe that social agency, quite generally, occurs within practices and structures, the relevance of structure depends on the sort of questions we are asking and what interventions we are considering. The emphasis on questions is also relevant in considering metaphysical and meta-metaphysical is- sues about realism with respect to (...)
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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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  • Distinguished Lecture: Social Structure, Narrative and Explanation.Sally Haslanger - 2015 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 45 (1):1-15.
    Recent work on social injustice has focused on implicit bias as an important factor in explaining persistent injustice in spite of achievements on civil rights. In this paper, I argue that because of its individualism, implicit bias explanation, taken alone, is inadequate to explain ongoing injustice; and, more importantly, it fails to call attention to what is morally at stake. An adequate account of how implicit bias functions must situate it within a broader theory of social structures and structural injustice; (...)
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  • Rethinking the Individualism-Holism Debate.Julie Zahle & Finn Collin (eds.) - 2014 - Springer.
    This collection of papers investigates the most recent debates about individualism and holism in the philosophy of social science. The debates revolve mainly around two issues: firstly, whether social phenomena exist sui generis and how they relate to individuals. This is the focus of discussions between ontological individualists and ontological holists. Secondly, to what extent social scientific explanations may and should, focus on individuals and social phenomena respectively. This issue is debated amongst methodological holists and methodological individualists. -/- In social (...)
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  • Typicality and Minutis Rectis Laws: From Physics to Sociology.Gerhard Wagner - 2020 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 51 (3):447-458.
    This paper contributes to the clarification of the concept of “typicality” discussed in contemporary philosophy of physics by conceiving the nomological status of a typical behaviour such as that expressed in the Second Law of Thermodynamics as a “minutis rectis law”. A brief sketch of the discovery of “typicality” shows that there were ideas of typical behaviour not only in physics but also in sociology. On this basis and in analogy to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, it is shown that (...)
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  • The Metaphysics of Groups.Nikk Effingham - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 149 (2):251-267.
    If you are a realist about groups there are three main theories of what to identify groups with. I offer reasons for thinking that two of those theories fail to meet important desiderata. The third option is to identify groups with sets, which meets all of the desiderata if only we take care over which sets they are identified with. I then canvass some possible objections to that third theory, and explain how to avoid them.
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  • Sobre la crisis de la responsabilidad en un mundo en globalización.Francisco Blanco Brotons - 2021 - Isegoría 64:13-13.
    The notion of responsibility seeks to establish a connection between agents and some harm or injustice, imposing on them the duty to make things right. The identification of responsibilities is therefore a fundamental step in the work of fighting against injustices, by imposing concrete obligations on particular agents. However, our globalizing world puts in crisis the traditional assumptions on which this idea is based. In this article I examine the reasons for this crisis and I offer alternative interpretations to avoid (...)
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  • Social Ontology.Rebecca Mason & Katherine Ritchie - forthcoming - In Ricki Bliss & James Miller (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Metametaphysics.
    Traditionally, social entities (i.e., social properties, facts, kinds, groups, institutions, and structures) have not fallen within the purview of mainstream metaphysics. In this chapter, we consider whether the exclusion of social entities from mainstream metaphysics is philosophically warranted or if it instead rests on historical accident or bias. We examine three ways one might attempt to justify excluding social metaphysics from the domain of metaphysical inquiry and argue that each fails. Thus, we conclude that social entities are not justifiably excluded (...)
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  • Beyond Binary: Genderqueer as Critical Gender Kind.Robin Dembroff - 2020 - Philosophers' Imprint 20 (9):1-23.
    We want to know what gender is. But metaphysical approaches to this question solely have focused on the binary gender kinds men and women. By overlooking those who identify outside of the binary–the group I call ‘genderqueer’–we are left without tools for understanding these new and quickly growing gender identifications. This metaphysical gap in turn creates a conceptual lacuna that contributes to systematic misunderstanding of genderqueer persons. In this paper, I argue that to better understand genderqueer identities, we must recognize (...)
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  • Existence, Really? Tacit Disagreements About “Existence” in Disputes About Group Minds and Corporate Agents.Johannes Himmelreich - 2019 - Synthese 198 (5):4939-4953.
    A central dispute in social ontology concerns the existence of group minds and actions. I argue that some authors in this dispute rely on rival views of existence without sufficiently acknowledging this divergence. I proceed in three steps in arguing for this claim. First, I define the phenomenon as an implicit higher-order disagreement by drawing on an analysis of verbal disputes. Second, I distinguish two theories of existence—the theory-commitments view and the truthmaker view—in both their eliminativist and their constructivist variants. (...)
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  • Beyond Binary: Genderqueer as Critical Gender Kind [Chinese].Robin Dembroff - 2020 - Philosophers' Imprint 20 (9):1-23.
    Chinese translation courtesy of Zhuanxu Xu. We want to know what gender is. But metaphysical approaches to this question solely have focused on the binary gender kinds men and women. By overlooking those who identify outside of the binary–the group I call ‘genderqueer’–we are left without tools for understanding these new and quickly growing gender identifications. This metaphysical gap in turn creates a conceptual lacuna that contributes to systematic misunderstanding of genderqueer persons. In this paper, I argue that to better (...)
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  • A Naturalistic Argument for the Irreducibility of Collective Intentionality.Mattia Gallotti - 2012 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 42 (1):3-30.
    According to many philosophers and scientists, human sociality is explained by our unique capacity to “share” attitudes with others. The conditions under which mental states are shared have been widely debated in the past two decades, focusing especially on the issue of their reducibility to individual intentionality and the place of collective intentions in the natural realm. It is not clear, however, to what extent these two issues are related and what methodologies of investigation are appropriate in each case. In (...)
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  • A Framework for Social Ontology.Brian Epstein - 2016 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 46 (2):147-167.
    This paper sets out an organizing framework for the field of social ontology, the study of the nature of the social world. The subject matter of social ontology is clarified, in particular the difference between it and the study of causal relations and the explanation of social phenomena. Two different inquiries are defined and explained: the study of the grounding of social facts, and the study of how social categories are “anchored” or set up. The distinction between these inquiries is (...)
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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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  • When Local Models Fail.Brian Epstein - 2008 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 38 (1):3-24.
    Models treating the simple properties of social groups have a common shortcoming. Typically, they focus on the local properties of group members and the features of the world with which group members interact. I consider economic models of bureaucratic corruption, to show that (a) simple properties of groups are often constituted by the properties of the wider population, and (b) even sophisticated models are commonly inadequate to account for many simple social properties. Adequate models and social policies must treat certain (...)
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  • Is Multiple Realizability a Valid Argument Against Methodological Individualism?Branko Mitrović - 2017 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 47 (1):28-43.
    In recent decades, a number of authors have relied on the multiple realizability argument to reject methodological individualism. In this article, I argue that this strategy results in serious difficulties and makes it impossible to identify social entities and phenomena.
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  • The Analytical Micro–Macro Relationship in Social Science and Its Implications for the Individualism-Holism Debate.Gustav Ramström - 2018 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 48 (5):474-500.
    This article argues that the tradition within the individualism-holism debate of importing arguments from the micro–macro discussion in other disciplines significantly has hampered our understanding of the “individual-social” relationship. While, for example, the “neural-mental” and “atomic-molecular” links represent empirical “gives rise to” relationships, in the social sciences the micro–macro link is a purely analytical “qualifies as” type of relationship. This disanalogy is important, since it has significant implications for the individualism-holism debate: it implies a phenomenally monist social ontology and it (...)
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  • Why Macroeconomics Does Not Supervene on Microeconomics.Brian Epstein - 2014 - Journal of Economic Methodology 21 (1):3-18.
    In recent years, the project of providing microeconomic foundations for macroeconomics has taken on new urgency. Some philosophers and economists have challenged the project, both for the way economists actually approach microfoundations and for more general anti-reductionist reasons. Reductionists and anti-reductionists alike, however, have taken it to be trivial that the macroeconomic facts are exhaustively determined by microeconomic ones. In this paper, I challenge this supposed triviality. I argue that macroeconomic properties do not even globally supervene on microeconomic ones. This (...)
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  • Social Construction and Grounding.Aaron M. Griffith - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 97 (2):393-409.
    The aim of this paper is to bring recent work on metaphysical grounding to bear on the phenomenon of social construction. It is argued that grounding can be used to analyze social construction and that the grounding framework is helpful for articulating various claims and commitments of social constructionists, especially about social identities, e.g., gender and race. The paper also responds to a number of objections that have been leveled against the application of grounding to social construction from Elizabeth Barnes, (...)
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  • What is a (Social) Structural Explanation?Sally Haslanger - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):113-130.
    A philosophically useful account of social structure must accommodate the fact that social structures play an important role in structural explanation. But what is a structural explanation? How do structural explanations function in the social sciences? This paper offers a way of thinking about structural explanation and sketches an account of social structure that connects social structures with structural explanation.
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  • Philosophie der Soziologie.Simon Lohse & Jens Greve - 2017 - In Simon Lohse & Thomas A. C. Reydon (eds.), Grundriss Wissenschaftsphilosophie. Die Philosophien der Einzelwissenschaften. Hamburg, Deutschland: pp. 543-582.
    Die Einleitung unseres Kapitels bietet eine grundsäzliche Charakterisierung der Soziologie und zeichnet einige wichtige historische Entwicklungslinien der Philosophie der Soziologie (PdS) nach. Im Hauptteil werden zentrale ontologische sowie ausgewählte explanatorische Themen der PdS vorgestellt. Im Schlussteil sollen einige aktuelle Diskussionen umrissen werden.
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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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  • Ibsen's Nora and the Confucian Critique of the “Unencumbered Self”.Shaun O'Dwyer - 2016 - Hypatia 31 (4):890-906.
    Criticisms of the liberal-individualist idea of the “unencumbered self” are not just a staple of communitarian thought. Some modern Confucian thinkers are now seeking to develop an ethically particular understanding of social roles in the family that is sensitive to gender-justice issues, and that provides an alternative to liberal-individualist conceptions of the “unencumbered self” in relation to family roles. The character of Nora in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House seemingly exemplifies such conceptions of the unencumbered self in her rejection of (...)
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  • Coleman’s Boat Revisited: Causal Sequences and the Micro-Macro Link.Gustav Ramström - 2018 - Sociological Theory 36 (4):368-391.
    This article argues that empirical social scientists can be freed from having to account for “micro-to-macro transitions.” The article shows, in opposition to the (still) dominant perspective based on Coleman’s macro-micro-macro model, that no micro-macro transitions or mechanisms connect the individual level to the macro level in empirical social science. Rather, when considering that social macro entities and properties are micro manifest rather than macro manifest, it becomes clear that the micro-macro move in empirical social science is purely conceptual or (...)
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