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  1. The Stage Theory of Groups.Isaac Wilhelm - 2020 - Tandf: Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (4):661-674.
    I propose a `stage theory’ of groups: a group is a fusion of group-stages, where a group-stage is a plurality of individuals at a world and a time. The stage theory consists of existence conditions, identity conditions, and parthood conditions for groups.
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  • Pluralities, counterparts, and groups.Isaac Wilhelm - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (7):2133-2153.
    I formulate a theory of groups based on pluralities and counterparts: roughly put, a group is a plurality of entities at a time. This theory comes with counterpart-theoretic semantics for modal and temporal sentences about groups. So this theory of groups is akin to the stage theory of material objects: both take the items they analyze to exist at a single time, and both use counterparts to satisfy certain conditions relating to the modal properties, temporal properties, and coincidence properties of (...)
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  • Mapping higher-level causal efficacy.Horia Tarnovanu - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):8533-8554.
    A central argument for non-reductive accounts of group agency is that complex social entities are capable of exerting causal influence independently of and superseding the causal efficacy of the individuals constituting them. A prominent counter is that non-reductionists run into an insuperable dilemma between identity and redundancy – with identity undermining independent higher-level efficacy and redundancy leading to overdetermination or exclusion. This paper argues that critics of non-reductionism can manage with a simpler and more persuasive reductio strategy called mapping: allow (...)
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  • Two theories of group agency.David Strohmaier - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (7):1901-1918.
    Two theories dominate the current debate on group agency: functionalism, as endorsed by Bryce Huebner and Brian Epstein, and interpretivism, as defended by Deborah Tollefsen, and Christian List and Philip Pettit. In this paper, I will give a new argument to favour functionalism over interpretivism. I discuss a class of cases which the former, but not the latter, can accommodate. Two features characterise this class: First, distinct groups coincide, that is numerically distinct groups share all their members at all time. (...)
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  • Ontology, neural networks, and the social sciences.David Strohmaier - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):4775-4794.
    The ontology of social objects and facts remains a field of continued controversy. This situation complicates the life of social scientists who seek to make predictive models of social phenomena. For the purposes of modelling a social phenomenon, we would like to avoid having to make any controversial ontological commitments. The overwhelming majority of models in the social sciences, including statistical models, are built upon ontological assumptions that can be questioned. Recently, however, artificial neural networks have made their way into (...)
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  • Organisations as Computing Systems.David Strohmaier - 2020 - 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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  • Group Membership and Parthood.David Strohmaier - 2018 - Journal of Social Ontology 4 (2):121-135.
    Despite having faced severe criticism in the past, mereological approaches to group ontology, which argue that groups are wholes and that groups members are parts, have recently managed a comeback. Authors such as Katherine Ritchie and Paul Sheehy have applied neo-Aristotelian mereology to groups, and Katherine Hawley has defended mereological approaches against the standard objections in the literature. The present paper develops the mereological approaches to group ontology further and proposes an analysis of group membership as parthood plus further restrictions. (...)
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  • The Structures of Social Structural Explanation: Comments on Haslanger’s What is (Social) Structural Explanation?.Rachel Katharine Sterken - 2018 - Disputatio 10 (50):173-199.
    In a recent paper (Haslanger 2016), Sally Haslanger argues for the importance of structural explanation. Roughly, a structural explana- tion of the behaviour of a given object appeals to features of the struc- tures—physical, social, or otherwise—the object is embedded in. It is opposed to individualistic explanations, where what is appealed to is just the object and its properties. For example, an individualistic explanation of why someone got the grade they did might appeal to features of the essay they wrote—its (...)
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  • Lookism as Epistemic Injustice.Thomas J. Spiegel - 2023 - Social Epistemology 37 (1):47-61.
    Lookism refers to discrimination based on physical attractiveness or the lack thereof. A whole host of empirical research suggests that lookism is a pervasive and systematic form of social discrimination. Yet, apart from some attention in ethics and political philosophy, lookism has been almost wholly overlooked in philosophy in general and epistemology in particular. This is particularly salient when compared to other forms of discrimination based on race or gender which have been at the forefront of epistemic injustice as a (...)
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  • Kollektives Erinnern und die Persistenz kollektiver Akteure.David P. Schweikard - 2019 - Zeitschrift Für Kultur- Und Kollektivwissenschaft 5 (2):11-42.
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  • Social Structures and the Ontology of Social Groups.Katherine Ritchie - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (2):402-424.
    Social groups—like teams, committees, gender groups, and racial groups—play a central role in our lives and in philosophical inquiry. Here I develop and motivate a structuralist ontology of social groups centered on social structures (i.e., networks of relations that are constitutively dependent on social factors). The view delivers a picture that encompasses a diverse range of social groups, while maintaining important metaphysical and normative distinctions between groups of different kinds. It also meets the constraint that not every arbitrary collection of (...)
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  • Social Groups Are Concrete Material Particulars.Kevin Richardson - 2022 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 52 (4):468-483.
    It is natural to think that social groups are concrete material particulars, but this view faces an important objection. Suppose the chess club and nature club have the same members. Intuitively, these are different clubs even though they have a common material basis. Some philosophers take these intuitions to show that the materialist view must be abandoned. I propose an alternative explanation. Social groups are concrete material particulars, but there is a psychological explanation of nonidentity intuitions. Social groups appear coincident (...)
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  • Social construction and indeterminacy.Kevin Richardson - 2024 - Analytic Philosophy 65 (1):37-52.
    An increasing number of philosophers argue that indeterminacy is metaphysical (or worldly) in the sense that indeterminacy has its source in the world itself (rather than how the world is represented or known). The standard arguments for metaphysical indeterminacy are centered around the sorites paradox. In this essay, I present a novel argument for metaphysical indeterminacy. I argue that metaphysical indeterminacy follows from the existence of constitutive social construction; there is indeterminacy in the social world because there is indeterminacy in (...)
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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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  • Animism: Its Scope and Limits.Graham Oppy - 2022 - In Tiddy Smith (ed.), Animism and Philosophy of Religion. Springer Verlag. pp. 199-226.
    What should we be animists about? This chapter aims to answer that question. I begin by distinguishing between ontological and ideological formulations of animism. I suggest that plausible forms of animism will be merely ideological, and I distinguish between full-strength and less-than-full-strength animism. Next, I consider the extent to which idealism, pantheism and panpsychism might be taken to support some sort of universal animism. I conclude that there is no plausible form of full-strength universal animism. After noting that animals are (...)
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  • Same people, different group: Social structures are a central component of group concepts.Alexander Noyes, Frank C. Keil, Yarrow Dunham & Katherine Ritchie - 2023 - Cognition 240 (C):105567.
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  • Institutional Identity.Rust Joshua - 2019 - Journal of Social Ontology 5 (1):13-34.
    For some sufficiently long-standing institutions, such as the English Crown, there is no single thread, whether specified in terms of constitutive rules or assigned functions, that would connect the stages of that institution. Elizabeth II and Egbert are not connected by an unbroken chain of primogeniture and they have importantly different powers and functions. Derek Parfit famously sought to illuminate his account of personal identity by comparing a person to a club. If Parfit could use our intuitions about clubs to (...)
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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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  • Collective intellectual humility and arrogance.Keith Raymond Harris - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):6967-6979.
    Philosophers and psychologists have devoted considerable attention to the study of intellectual humility and intellectual arrogance. To this point, theoretical and empirical studies of intellectual humility and arrogance have focused on these traits as possessed by individual reasoners. However, it is natural in some contexts to attribute intellectual humility or intellectual arrogance to collectives. This paper investigates the nature of collective intellectual humility and arrogance and, in particular, how these traits are related to the attitudes of individuals. I discuss three (...)
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  • Memberless social groups.Jason Hanschmann - 2023 - Synthese 201 (2):1-15.
    Many philosophers maintain that an adequate metaphysical theory of social groups (e.g., baseball teams, rock bands, committees, and courts) will be one that is capable of accommodating social groups that may exist despite having no members. In this paper, I examine cases that motivate this position, cases where a social group seems to persist at some time despite having no members at that time. My aim here is twofold. First, I aim to show that we may accept that these motivating (...)
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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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  • Butler and Postanalytic Philosophy.Paul Giladi - 2021 - Hypatia 36 (2):276-301.
    This article has two aims: to bring Judith Butler and Wilfrid Sellars into conversation; and to argue that Butler's poststructuralist critique of feminist identity politics has metaphilosophical potential, given her pragmatic parallel with Sellars's critique of conceptual analyses of knowledge. With regard to, I argue that Butler's objections to the definitional practice constitutive of certain ways of construing feminism is comparable to Sellars's critique of the analytical project geared toward providing definitions of knowledge. Specifically, I propose that moving away from (...)
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  • Artifactual Normativity.Christopher Frugé - 2022 - Synthese 200 (126):1-19.
    A central tension shaping metaethical inquiry is that normativity appears to be subjective yet real, where it’s difficult to reconcile these aspects. On the one hand, normativity pertains to our actions and attitudes. On the other, normativity appears to be real in a way that precludes it from being a mere figment of those actions and attitudes. In this paper, I argue that normativity is indeed both subjective and real. I do so by way of treating it as a special (...)
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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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  • Anchoring versus Grounding: Reply to Schaffer.Brian Epstein - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (3):768-781.
    In his insightful and challenging paper, Jonathan Schaffer argues against a distinction I make in The Ant Trap (Epstein 2015) and related articles. I argue that in addition to the widely discussed “grounding” relation, there is a different kind of metaphysical determination I name “anchoring.” Grounding and anchoring are distinct, and both need to be a part of full explanations of how facts are metaphysically determined. Schaffer argues instead that anchoring is a species of grounding. The crux of his argument (...)
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  • Inductive Reasoning Involving Social Kinds.Barrett Emerick & Tyler Hildebrand - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association:1-20.
    Most social policies cannot be defended without making inductive inferences. For example, consider certain arguments for racial profiling and affirmative action, respectively. They begin with statistics about crime or socioeconomic indicators. Next, there is an inductive step in which the statistic is projected from the past to the future. Finally, there is a normative step in which a policy is proposed as a response in the service of some goal—for example, to reduce crime or to correct socioeconomic imbalances. In comparison (...)
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  • Grief and Composition as Identity.C. E. Garland - 2020 - Philosophical Quarterly 70 (280):464-479.
    ‘It feels like I have lost a part of myself’ is frequently uttered by those grieving the death of a loved one. Despite the ubiquity of such utterances, and the palpable sense that they express something true, few philosophers have considered what, if anything, accounts for their truth. Here, I develop a suggestion from Donald Baxter according to which Composition as Identity provides us a means to understand the grief utterances literally. In doing so, I identify and develop a version (...)
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  • Autonomous Military Systems: collective responsibility and distributed burdens.Niël Henk Conradie - 2023 - Ethics and Information Technology 25 (1):1-14.
    The introduction of Autonomous Military Systems (AMS) onto contemporary battlefields raises concerns that they will bring with them the possibility of a techno-responsibility gap, leaving insecurity about how to attribute responsibility in scenarios involving these systems. In this work I approach this problem in the domain of applied ethics with foundational conceptual work on autonomy and responsibility. I argue that concerns over the use of AMS can be assuaged by recognising the richly interrelated context in which these systems will most (...)
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  • Chains of Being: Infinite Regress, Circularity, and Metaphysical Explanation.Ross P. Cameron - 2022 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    'Chains of Being' argues that there can be infinite chains of dependence or grounding. Cameron also defends the view that there can be circular relations of ontological dependence or grounding, and uses these claims to explore issues in logic and ontology.
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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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  • Intersection Is Not Identity, or How to Distinguish Overlapping Systems of Injustice.Robin Dembroff - forthcoming - In Ruth Chang & Amia Srinivasan (eds.), New Conversations in Philosophy, Law, and Politics. Oxford University Press.
    When one takes an intersectional perspective on patterns of oppression and domination, it becomes clear that familiar forms of systemic injustice, such as misogyny and anti-Black racism, are inseparable. Some feminist theorists conclude, from this, that the systems behind these injustices cannot be individuated—for example, that there isn’t patriarchy and white supremacy, but instead only white supremacist patriarchy. This chapter offers a different perspective. Philosophers have long observed that a statue and a lump of clay can be individuated although inseparable, (...)
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  • Metaphysics.Peter Van Inwagen, Meghan Sullivan & Sara Bernstein - 2023 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • Social Categories in Context.Elanor Taylor - 2020 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 6 (2):171-187.
    Social categories play a central role in inquiry. Some authors have argued that social categories can only play this role because they have a particular metaphysical status, such as a connection to natural kinds or to comparatively joint-carving properties. This reflects the broadly realist idea that categories that play important roles in inquiry do so for metaphysical reasons. In this paper I argue that such metaphysical views of social categories cannot accommodate ‘empty’ social categories, cases in which social categories that (...)
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  • What Are Institutional Groups?Miguel Garcia-Godinez - 2020 - In Miguel Garcia-Godinez, Rachael Mellin & Raimo Tuomela (eds.), Social Ontology, Normativity and Law. Berlin: De Gruyter. pp. 39-62.
    Following Tuomela, I argue that institutions consist in institutional activities conducive to the realisation (or “satisfaction”) of institutional activity types. Since this realisation is carried out by institutional groups, our having an answer to 'what are institutional groups?' is a necessary step towards a better understanding of what institutions are and how we create them. In this chapter, I offer an answer to this question.
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  • Norm and Object: A Normative Hylomorphic Theory of Social Objects.Asya Passinsky - 2021 - Philosophers' Imprint 21 (25):1-21.
    This paper is an investigation into the metaphysics of social objects such as political borders, states, and organizations. I articulate a metaphysical puzzle concerning such objects and then propose a novel account of social objects that provides a solution to the puzzle. The basic idea behind the puzzle is that under appropriate circumstances, seemingly concrete social objects can apparently be created by acts of agreement, decree, declaration, or the like. Yet there is reason to believe that no concrete object can (...)
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  • What Is Minimally Cooperative Behavior?Kirk Ludwig - 2020 - In Anika Fiebich (ed.), Minimal Cooperation and Shared Agency. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. pp. 9-40.
    Cooperation admits of degrees. When factory workers stage a slowdown, they do not cease to cooperate with management in the production of goods altogether, but they are not fully cooperative either. Full cooperation implies that participants in a joint action are committed to rendering appropriate contributions as needed toward their joint end so as to bring it about, consistently with the type of action and the generally agreed upon constraints within which they work, as efficiently as they can, where their (...)
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