Open Questions in the Metaphysics of Habitable Categories

EurAmerica 4 (50):669-707 (2021)
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My purpose in this text is to offer a general roadmap for navigating most current debates in the metaphysics of social categories regarding what sort of fact it is for a person to inhabit one social category or another—for example, what makes a person Mexican, or gay, or rich. With this goal in mind, I propose classifying the debating positions into three broad camps: common sense theories, socio-historical accounts, and performative theories. I characterise their main differences, identifying the main challenges and achievements of each. I show that for persons well integrated into their categories, the differences between these three broad camps are minuscule, yet become crucial when we try to account for people not so well integrated. Then, I sketch a pluralist proposal that reconciles the three camps I have identified, while doing justice to the challenges presented by interstitial phenomena such as mestizaje, transition, passing, migration, etc.

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Axel Barceló
Institute Of Philosophy, Mexico


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