Collective Intentionality and the (Re)Production of Social Norms: The Scope for a Critical Social Science

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 42 (3):323-355 (2012)
Abstract
This article aims to contribute to a critical ontology of social objects. Recent works on collective intentionality and norm-following neglect the question how free agents can be brought to collectively intend to x , although x is not in their own interest. By arguing for a natural disposition to empathic understanding and drawing on recent research in the neurosciences, this article outlines an ontological framework that extends collective intentionality to questions of oppression and status asymmetries. In a contribution to this journal, Wisnewski (2005) unfortunately mischaracterizes the problem of meaning in social criticism. Implementing status problems in studies of collective intentions and construing social facts as both subjective and objective in character helps explain why agents can have persistent "misunderstandings" of social objects
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