David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophical Papers 32 (2):193-224 (2003)
Abstract Ontological holism is the thesis that social groups are best understood as composite material particulars. At a high level of taxonomic classification groups such as mobs, tribes and nations are the same kind of thing as organisms and artefacts. This holism is opposed by ontological individualism, which maintains that in our formal and folk social scientific discourse we only really refer to individuals and the relations in which they stand. The paper begins from the claim that ontological holism is given prima facie plausibility by the apparently ineliminable role of groups in some descriptions and explanations of the social domain. If the individualist accepts the link between indispensabilty and realism, then individualism must show that groups cannot play the role the holist requires. Three arguments are considered which aim to show that groups are indeed unfitted for this ineliminable role: the appeal to reduction-in principle, the claim that groups cannot possess the causal powers attributed to them by holism, and the view that holism is committed to the attribution of mental properties to groups. Each is rejected as a basis for undermining holism. The paper concludes that this leaves holism in a position to be articulated within a framework that supports a broadly naturalist conception of the social sciences.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
John Dupré (1993). The Disorder of Things: Metaphysical Foundations of the Disunity of Science. Harvard University Press.
W. V. Quine (1960). Word and Object. The MIT Press.
Margaret Gilbert (1989). On Social Facts. Routledge.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Paul Sheehy (2006). Holding Them Responsible. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 30 (1):74–93.
Elliott Sober (1980). Holism, Individualism, and the Units of Selection. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1980:93 - 121.
Pierre Demeulenaere (2000). Individualism and Holism: New Controversies in the Philosophy of Social Science. [REVIEW] Mind and Society 1 (2):3-16.
Michael Esfeld (1999). Physicalism and Ontological Holism. Metaphilosophy 30 (4):319-337.
Paul Sheehy (2006). Sharing Space: The Synchronic Identity of Social Groups. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 36 (2):131-148.
Mario Bunge (2000). Ten Modes of Individualism--None of Which Works--And Their Alternatives. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 30 (3):384-406.
Julie Zahle (2003). The Individualism-Holism Debate on Intertheoretic Reduction and the Argument From Multiple Realization. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 33 (1):77-99.
Henry Jackman (1999). Moderate Holism and the Instability Thesis. American Philosophical Quarterly 36 (4):361-69.
Brian Epstein (2009). Ontological Individualism Reconsidered. Synthese 166 (1):187-213.
Johannes L. Brandl (1993). Semantic Holism is Here to Stay. In Grazer Philosophische Studien. Amsterdam: Rodopi 1-16.
Kirk A. Ludwig (1993). Is Content Holism Incoherent? Grazer Philosophische Studien 46:173-195.
Don E. Marietta Jr (1988). Ethical Holism and Individuals. Environmental Ethics 10 (3):251-258.
Michael Devitt (1994). A Critique of the Case for Semantic Holism. Philosophical Perspectives 8:281-306.
Michael Esfeld (1999). Holism in Cartesianism and in Today's Philosophy of Physics. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 30 (1):17-36.
Added to index2010-08-24
Total downloads25 ( #150,108 of 1,792,815 )
Recent downloads (6 months)6 ( #139,170 of 1,792,815 )
How can I increase my downloads?