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  1. 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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  • 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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  • Pragmatism, Ontology, and Philosophy of the Social Sciences in Practice.Simon Lohse - 2017 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 47 (1):3-27.
    In this article, I will discuss two prominent views on the relevance and irrelevance of ontological investigations for the social sciences, namely, ontological foundationalism and anti-ontological pragmatism. I will argue that both views are unsatisfactory. The subsequent part of the article will introduce an alternative role for ontological projects in the philosophy of the social sciences that fares better in this respect by paying attention to the ontological assumptions of actual social scientific theories, models, and related explanatory practices. I will (...)
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  • Group Freedom: A Social Mechanism Account.Frank Hindriks - 2017 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 47 (6):410-439.
    Many existing defenses of group rights seem to rely on the notion of group freedom. To date, however, no adequate analysis of this notion has been offered. Group freedom is best understood in terms of processes of social categorization that are embedded in social mechanisms. Such processes often give rise to group-specific constraints and enablements. On the proposed social mechanism account, group rights are demands for group freedom. Even so, group rights often serve to eradicate individual unfreedom. Furthermore, generic measures (...)
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  • The Social Ontology of Deliberating Bodies.Philippe Urfalino - 2017 - Journal of Political Philosophy 25 (4):387-410.
    This article is a plea for a realist view of deliberative bodies against a nominalist view. They cannot be reduced to the changing collection of the individuals who compose it. The deliberative bodies are real collective entities insofar as we are able to precise their criteria of identity. These are the differentiation between an interior and an exterior linked by functions or ends; thus these collective entities are adaptive systems. There are three kinds of such adaptive systems: technical systems, organisms (...)
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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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  • 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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  • Levels: Descriptive, Explanatory, and Ontological.Christian List - 2019 - Noûs 53 (4):852-883.
    Scientists and philosophers frequently speak about levels of description, levels of explanation, and ontological levels. In this paper, I propose a unified framework for modelling levels. I give a general definition of a system of levels and show that it can accommodate descriptive, explanatory, and ontological notions of levels. I further illustrate the usefulness of this framework by applying it to some salient philosophical questions: (1) Is there a linear hierarchy of levels, with a fundamental level at the bottom? And (...)
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  • How (Not) to Argue For Moral Enhancement: Reflections on a Decade of Debate.Norbert Paulo & Jan Christoph Bublitz - 2019 - Topoi 38 (1):95-109.
    The controversy over moral bioenhancement has fallen into a stalemate between advocates and critics. We wish to overcome this stalemate by addressing some of the key challenges any moral enhancement project has to meet. In particular, we shall argue that current proposals are unpersuasive as they, first, fail to diagnose the often complex causes of contemporary moral maladies and, second, are premised on methodological individualism. Focusing on brains and minds neglects social and environmental factors. Solving the mega-problems of today very (...)
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  • Implicit bias and social schema: a transactive memory approach.Valerie Soon - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (7):1857-1877.
    To what extent should we focus on implicit bias in order to eradicate persistent social injustice? Structural prioritizers argue that we should focus less on individual minds than on unjust social structures, while equal prioritizers think that both are equally important. This article introduces the framework of transactive memory into the debate to defend the equal priority view. The transactive memory framework helps us see how structure can emerge from individual interactions as an irreducibly social product. If this is right, (...)
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  • Levels: Descriptive, Explanatory, and Ontological.Christian List - manuscript
    Scientists and philosophers frequently speak about levels of description, levels of explanation, and ontological levels. This paper presents a framework for studying levels. I give a general definition of a system of levels and discuss several applications, some of which refer to descriptive or explanatory levels while others refer to ontological levels. I illustrate the usefulness of this framework by bringing it to bear on some familiar philosophical questions. Is there a hierarchy of levels, with a fundamental level at the (...)
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  • Aggregating Causal Judgments.Richard Bradley, Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (4):491-515.
    Decision-making typically requires judgments about causal relations: we need to know the causal effects of our actions and the causal relevance of various environmental factors. We investigate how several individuals' causal judgments can be aggregated into collective causal judgments. First, we consider the aggregation of causal judgments via the aggregation of probabilistic judgments, and identify the limitations of this approach. We then explore the possibility of aggregating causal judgments independently of probabilistic ones. Formally, we introduce the problem of causal-network aggregation. (...)
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  • Mentalism Versus Behaviourism in Economics: A Philosophy-of-Science Perspective.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2016 - Economics and Philosophy 32 (2):249-281.
    Behaviourism is the view that preferences, beliefs, and other mental states in social-scientific theories are nothing but constructs re-describing people's behaviour. Mentalism is the view that they capture real phenomena, on a par with the unobservables in science, such as electrons and electromagnetic fields. While behaviourism has gone out of fashion in psychology, it remains influential in economics, especially in ‘revealed preference’ theory. We defend mentalism in economics, construed as a positive science, and show that it fits best scientific practice. (...)
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  • Distributing States' Duties.Stephanie Collins - 2015 - Journal of Political Philosophy 23 (3):344-366.
    In order for states to fulfil (many of) their moral obligations, costs must be passed to individuals. This paper asks how these costs should be distributed. I advocate the common-sense answer: the distribution of costs should, insofar as possible, track the reasons behind the state’s duty. This answer faces a number of problems, which I attempt to solve.
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  • Three Kinds of Collective Attitudes.Christian List - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S9):1601-1622.
    This paper offers a comparison of three different kinds of collective attitudes: aggregate, common, and corporate attitudes. They differ not only in their relationship to individual attitudes—e.g., whether they are “reducible” to individual attitudes—but also in the roles they play in relation to the collectives to which they are ascribed. The failure to distinguish them can lead to confusion, in informal talk as well as in the social sciences. So, the paper’s message is an appeal for disambiguation.
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  • Duties of Group Agents and Group Members.Stephanie Collins - 2017 - Journal of Social Philosophy 48 (1):38-57.
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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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  • Emergent Chance.Christian List & Marcus Pivato - 2015 - Philosophical Review 124 (1):119-152.
    We offer a new argument for the claim that there can be non-degenerate objective chance (“true randomness”) in a deterministic world. Using a formal model of the relationship between different levels of description of a system, we show how objective chance at a higher level can coexist with its absence at a lower level. Unlike previous arguments for the level-specificity of chance, our argument shows, in a precise sense, that higher-level chance does not collapse into epistemic probability, despite higher-level properties (...)
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  • Saving the World Through Sacrificing Liberties? A Critique of Some Normative Arguments in Unfit for the Future.Jan Bublitz - 2019 - Neuroethics 12 (1):23-34.
    The paper critically engages with some of the normative arguments in Julian Savulescu and Ingmar Persson’s book Unfit for the Future. In particular, it scrutinizes the authors’ argument in denial of a moral right to privacy as well as their political proposal to alter humankind’s moral psychology in order to avert climate change, terrorism and to redress global injustice.
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  • Mental Causation and Exclusion: Why the Difference-Making Account of Causation is No Help.José Luis Bermúdez & Arnon Cahen - 2015 - Humana Mente 8 (29).
    Peter Menzies has developed a novel version of the exclusion principle that he claims to be compatible with the possibility of mental causation. Menzies proposes to frame the exclusion principle in terms of a difference-making account of causation, understood in counterfactual terms. His new exclusion principle appears in two formulations: upwards exclusion — which is the familiar case in which a realizing event causally excludes the event that it realizes — and, more interestingly, downward exclusion, in which an event causally (...)
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  • The Moral Duty to Reduce the Risk of Child Sexual Abuse.Sergei Levin - 2019 - Human Affairs 29 (2):188-198.
    A paedophile is a person with a sexual attraction to children; some paedophiles commit child sex abuse offences. For such acts, they hold moral and legal responsibility, which presupposes that paedophiles are moral agents who can distinguish right from wrong and are capable of self-control. Like any other moral agents, paedophiles have moral duties. Some moral duties are universal, e.g., the duty not to steal. Whether there are any specific moral duties related to paedophilia is the topic of this paper. (...)
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  • Why Be a Methodological Individualist?Julie Zahle & Harold Kincaid - 2019 - Synthese 196 (2):655-675.
    In the recent methodological individualism-holism debate on explanation, there has been considerable focus on what reasons methodological holists may advance in support of their position. We believe it is useful to approach the other direction and ask what considerations methodological individualists may in fact offer in favor of their view about explanation. This is the background for the question we pursue in this paper: Why be a methodological individualist? We start out by introducing the methodological individualism-holism debate while distinguishing two (...)
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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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  • Collective Responsibility Gaps.Stephanie Collins - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (4):943-954.
    Which kinds of responsibility can we attribute to which kinds of collective, and why? In contrast, which kinds of collective responsibility can we not attribute—which kinds are ‘gappy’? This study provides a framework for answering these questions. It begins by distinguishing between three kinds of collective and three kinds of responsibility. It then explains how gaps—i.e. cases where we cannot attribute the responsibility we might want to—appear to arise within each type of collective responsibility. It argues some of these gaps (...)
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  • Intervening on Structure.Daniel Malinsky - 2018 - Synthese 195 (5):2295-2312.
    Some explanations appeal to facts about the causal structure of a system in order to shed light on a particular phenomenon; these are explanations which do more than cite the causes X and Y of some state-of-affairs Z, but rather appeal to “macro-level” causal features—for example the fact that A causes B as well as C, or perhaps that D is a strong inhibitor of E—in order to explain Z. Appeals to these kinds of “macro-level” causal features appear in a (...)
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  • Distributing States' Duties.Stephanie Collins - 2016 - Journal of Political Philosophy 24 (3):344-366.
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  • Methodological Individualism.Joseph Heath - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    (1968 [1922]). It amounts to the claim that social phenomena must be explained by showing how they result from individual actions, which in turn must be explained through reference to the intentional states that motivate the individual actors. It involves, in other words, a commitment to the primacy of what Talcott Parsons would later call “the action frame of reference” (Parsons 1937: 43-51) in social-scientific explanation. It is also sometimes described as the claim that explanations of “macro” social phenomena must (...)
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  • Methodological Holism in the Social Sciences.Julie Zahle - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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