How to explain oppression: Criteria of adequacy for normative explanatory theories

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 35 (1):20-49 (2005)
This article discusses explanatory theories of normative concepts and argues for a set of criteria of adequacy by which such theories may be evaluated. The criteria offered fall into four categories: ontological, theoretical, pragmatic, and moral. After defending the criteria and discussing their relative weighting, this article uses them to prune the set of available explanatory theories of oppression. Functionalist theories, including Hegelian recognition theory and Foucauldian social theory, are rejected, as are psychoanalytic theory and social dominance theory. Finally, the article defends structural rational choice theory as the most promising methodology for explaining oppression. Key Words: oppression • explanation • rational choice theory.
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DOI 10.1177/0048393104271923
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