Sharing space: The synchronic identity of social groups

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 36 (2):131-148 (2006)
Taking ontological realism about social groups as the thesis that groups are composite material objects constituted by their members, this paper considers a challenge to the very possibility that groups be regarded as material entities. Ordinarily we believe that two groups can have synchronic co-extensive memberships—for example, the choir and the rugby team—while preserving their distinctive identity conditions. We also doubt that two objects of the same kind can be in the same place at the same time, which would appear to be the case when groups have identical memberships. I explain that the principle denying the synchronic co-location of objects of the same kind need not apply universally to material objects and that it is a mistake to take resistance to penetrability as a necessary feature of materiality. Therefore, initial appearances notwithstanding, groups can be in the same place at the same time. Key Words: identity • materiality • location • social group.
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DOI 10.1177/0048393106287184
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