Etic Theorizing Unanchored

Journal of Social Ontology (forthcoming)
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Etic theorizing uses the theorist’s social notions to theorize about their subject. This theorist may claim that Genghis Khan was a war criminal even though his actions predate the enactment of the Geneva Conventions. Brian Epstein considers a modal etic theorist who claims that Genghis Khan would have been a war criminal even if the Geneva Conventions were never enacted. Epstein argues that this has metaphysical import: it requires postulating a novel metaphysical notion of “anchoring”. Drawing from some familiar issues in modal actualism, I argue that modal etic theorizing does not support this postulate. But it does suggest a distinctive kind of modality at work in social reality.

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Michael J. Raven
University of Victoria


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