Questo saggio offre un ritratto pragmatista del sé e dunque una descrizione che parte dalla premessa per cui il sé è anzitutto un attore sociale incarnato, situato, che possiede la capacità di un’effettiva autocritica. Così, oltre a evidenziare il ruolo dell’azione, l’autore sottolinea anche quello della socialità e della riflessività. A differenza di molti ritratti abbozzati da altri autori pragmatisti, quello presente cerca di rendere una più completa giustizia alla dimensione «interiore» della soggettività umana, soprattutto attraverso la costruzione dell’interiorità come (...) riflessività (il rapporto del sé con se stesso). (shrink)
The aim of this volume is to explore new approaches to the problem of the constitution of the various aspects of sociality and to confront these with received ideas. Many of the contributions are devoted to a rather holistic and antireductionist conception of social objects, groups, joint actions, and collective knowledge. The topics that are dealt with are: (a) the question of the ontological status of social objects and their relation to physical objects; (b) collective agency; and (c) the (...) question whether there can be shared knowledge and shared beliefs, a rather new topic in the discussion of the social aspects of personal life. (shrink)
Different accounts of what it is for something to have a social nature have been given. Sociality does not appear to be a category worthy of philosophical focus, given some of these accounts. If sociality is construed as plural subjecthood, it emerges as a category crucial for our understanding of the human condition. Plural subjects are constituted by a joint commitment of two or more persons to do something as a body. Such commitments generate rights and obligations of (...) a special type, and underlie such phenomena as social conventions, agreements, shared action and social groups on one standard understanding of what these are. (shrink)
The paper is a response to some critical points and omissions in John Wettersten’s review of my recent book The Philosophy of Sociality: The Shared Point of View (Oxford University Press, 2007). I point out in this short paper that the reviewer has not discussed the most central notions in the book relating to its "we-mode" approach, i.e. collective acceptance, group reasons, the collectivity condition, collective commitment and their role in accounting for e.g. cooperation, social institutions, cultural evolution. I (...) also clarify the ontological commitments of my broadly naturalistic approach and show e.g. that we-mode social groups do exist as social systems but not a full-blown collective agents, although it is conceptually and instrumentally central to view them as collective agents. Also questions of we-mode versus I-mode explanations of collective action are considered in the paper. (shrink)
No longer is sociality the preserve of the social sciences, or ‘‘culture’’ the preserve of the humanities or anthropology. By the same token, cognition is no longer the sole preserve of the cognitive sciences. Social cognition (SC) or, sociocognition if you like, is thus a kaleidoscope of research projects that has seen exponential growth over the past 30 or so years.
: Confucianism is often valued as a doctrine that highlights both the individual and social dimensions of the ideal person, for it indeed puts special emphasis on such lofty goals as loving all humanity and cultivating the self. Through a close and critical analysis of the texts of the Analects and the Mencius, however, it is attempted to demonstrate that because Confucius and Mencius always take filial piety, or, more generally, consanguineous affection, as not only the foundation but also the (...) supreme principle of human life, the individual and social dimensions are inevitably subordinated to and substantially negated by the filial precisely within the Confucian framework, with the result that Confucianism in essence is neither collectivism nor individualism, but "consanguinitism.". (shrink)
: How much violence can a society expect its members to accept? A comparison between the language theories of Julia Kristeva and Jacques Lacan is the starting point for answering this question. A look at the early stages of language acquisition exposes the sacrificial logic of patriarchal society. Are those forces that restrict the individual to be conceived in a martial imagery of castration or is it possible that an existing society critically questions those points of socialization that leave their (...) members in a state of homelessness? The following considerations should help to distinguish between unavoidable and avoidable forms of violence. (shrink)
Cases of modest sociality are cases of small scale shared intentional agency in the absence of asymmetric authority relations. I seek a conceptual framework that adequately supports our theorizing about such modest sociality. I want to understand what in the world constitutes such modest sociality. I seek an understanding of the kinds of normativity that are central to modest sociality. And throughout we need to keep track of the relations—conceptual, metaphysical, normative—between individual agency and modest (...) class='Hi'>sociality. In pursuit of these theoretical aims, I propose that a central phenomenon is shared intention. I argue that an adequate understanding of the distinctiveness of the intentions of individuals allows us to provide a construction of attitudes of the participants, and of relevant inter-relations and contexts that constitutes shared intention. I explain how shared intention, so understood, differs from a simple equilibrium within common knowledge. And I briefly contrast my views with aspects of views of John Searle and Margaret Gilbert. (shrink)
This is a translation of "Socialite et argent", a text by Emmanuel Levinas originally published in 1987. Levinas describes the emergence of money out of inter-human relations of exchange and the social relations - sociality - that result. While elsewhere he has presented sociality as "non-indifference to alterity" it appears here as "proximity of the stranger" and points to the tension between an economic system based on money and the basic human disposition to respond to the face of (...) the other person. Money both encodes and effaces sociality, both designates and disguises social relations. It arises from the way that needs and interests are manifested in exchange relations, in what he calls the "interestedness" of economic life. But interests are always already cut through by the fact that being is always "being with others". Being is always "inter-being". Interestedness is always confronted by disinterestedness, that is, by a sociality marked by the "goodness of giving", attachment to and concern for the poverty of the other person. Levinas concludes with a discussion of sociality and justice, posing questions about the tension between the demand to respond to an Other immediately before me and at the same time to respond to the demands of an other Other (the third person) who also invites a response. (shrink)
Numerous social and political theorists have referred to social groups or societies as “unities.” What makes a unity of a social group? I address this question with special reference to the theory of social groups proposed in my books On Social Facts and Living Together: Rationality, Sociality and Obligation. I argue that social groups of a central kind require an underlying “joint commitment.” I explain what I mean by a “joint commitment” with care. If joint commitments in my sense (...) underlie them, what kind of unity does this give social groups? In what sense or senses is it objective? (shrink)
The life–mind continuity thesis holds that mind is prefigured in life and that mind belongs to life. The biggest challenge faced by proponents of this thesis is to show how an explanatory framework that accounts for basic biological processes can be systematically extended to incorporate the highest reaches of human cognition. We suggest that this apparent ‘cognitive gap’ between minimal and human forms of life appears insurmountable largely because of the methodological individualism that is prevalent in cognitive science. Accordingly, a (...) twofold strategy is used to show how a consideration of sociality can address both sides of the cognitive gap: (1) it is argued from a systemic perspective that inter-agent interactions can extend the behavioral domain of even the simplest agents and (2) it is argued from a phenomenological perspective that the cognitive attitude characteristic of adult human beings is essentially intersubjectively constituted, in particular with respect to the possibility of perceiving objects as detached from our own immediate concerns. These two complementary considerations of the constitutive role of inter-agent interactions for mind and cognition indicate that sociality is an indispensable element of the life–mind continuity thesis and of cognitive science more generally. (shrink)
Evolutionary ethics (EE) is a branch of philosophy that arouses both fascination and deep suspicion. It claims that Darwinian mechanisms and evolutionary data on animal sociality are relevant to ethical reflection. This field of study is often misunderstood and rarely fails to conjure up images of Social Darwinism as a vector for nasty ideologies and policies. However, it is worth resisting the temptation to reduce EE to Social Darwinism and developing an objective analysis of whether it is appropriate to (...) adopt an evolutionary approach in ethics. The purpose of this article is to ‘dedemonise’ EE while exploring its limits. I shall begin by presenting two ways of integrating a Darwinian way of thinking into the context of social and political sciences : Social Darwinism and what one could label ‘Pro-social Darwinism’. Next I will point out some of the fundamental errors on which Social Darwinism is grounded; this will help in understanding why contemporary evolutionary ethicists cannot possibly hold the views defended by this theory (unless they are inclined to intellectual dishonesty). On the contrary, EE seems more akin to a Pro-social Darwinian approach, except for the fact that it restricts its reflections to theoretical ethics. The second part of the paper (sections 3 to 7) provides a clear and detailed picture of EE as well as an analysis of its relevance at the different levels of ethics (descriptive, meta-, normative and practical). Special focus will be given to questions relating to the genesis of morals and the delicate shift from facts to norms. (shrink)
To what extent is our being as social creatures dependent on our having a grasp of sociality? Is a purely solipsistic space, a space that can be grasped without any grasp of the existence of others, possible? These questions are examined and the possible connection between space and sociality explored. The central claim is that there is indeed an intimate relation between the concept of space and the idea of the social: that any creature that has a grasp (...) of the concept of space must also be a creature that has a grasp of sociality in the sense of having a grasp of itself as one creature existing alongside a multiplicity of other creatures. (shrink)
The Philosophy of Sociality examines the nature of sociality in its various forms, with special emphasis on collective intentionality. Raimo Tuomela begins with a distinction between the "we-perspective" and the "I-perspective." His study of strong collective intentionality -- as expressed by joint intentions, collective commitment, group belief, authority-based group action, and other phenomena -- outlines the circumstances under which an individual is required to think and act as a group member. By developing a systematic theory of sociality, (...) Tuomela investigates such topics as social institutions, cooperation, cultural evolution, and group responsibility. In The Philosophy of Sociality Tuomela asserts that "we-mode" collective intentionality is a conceptual prerequisite for understanding basic social notions. He finds several contexts in which we-mode intentionality is preferable to "pro-group" I-mode intentionality. He ultimately defends a naturalistic view of the social world by arguing that the we-mode is a genetic and cultural adaptaion. (shrink)
Selfishness narrowly defined as choosing dominant outcomes independent of context is widely rejected by experimentalists. Humans live in two worlds of personal and impersonal exchange; both are manifestations of human sociality, but the emphasis on preferences rather than cultural norms of personal exchange across time too much reflects a limited economic modeling, and fails to capitalize on the fresher experimental economics message of culture and diversity.
E.O. Wilson (1975) described humans as one of the four pinnacles of social evolution. The other pinnacles are the colonial invertebrates, the social insects, and the non-human mammals. Wilson separated human sociality from that of the rest of the mammals because, with the exception of the social insect like Naked Mole Rats, only humans have generated societies of a grade of complexity that approaches that of the social insects and colonial invertebrates. In the last few millennia, human societies have (...) even begun to exceed, in numbers of individuals and degree of complexity, the societies of ants, termites, and corals. (shrink)
E.O. Wilson (1975) described humans as one of the four pinnacles of social evolution. The other pinnacles are the colonial invertebrates, the social insects, and the non-human mammals. Wilson separated human sociality from that of the rest of the mammals because, with the exception of the social insect like Naked Mole Rats, only humans have generated societies of a grade of complexity that approaches that of the social insects and colonial invertebrates. In the last few millennia, human societies have (...) even begun to exceed, in numbers of individuals and degree of complexity, the societies of ants, termites, and corals. (shrink)
This essay extends Levins'' 1966 analysis of modelbuilding in ecology and evolutionary biology. Amodel, as the product of modeling, might bevalued according to its correspondence to reality. Yet Levins'' emphasis on provisionality and changeredirects attention to the processes ofmodeling, through which scientists select and generatetheir problems, define their categories, collect theirdata, compare competing models, and present theirfindings. I identify several points where decisionsare required that are not determined by nature. Thisinvites examination of the social considerationsmodelers are reacting to at the (...) sites of sociality.Modelers must weave socio-ecological webs so thatthe models can be seen to represent their subjectmatter at the same time as the modelers secure thesupport of colleagues, collaborators and institutions,and enjoin others to act upon their conclusions. Notonly do theory justification and theory generationmerge, but the joint project becomes simultaneouslyphilosophical and sociological. (shrink)
In this paper I analyze interpersonal and institutional recognition and discuss the relation of different types of recognition to various principles of social justice (egalitarianism, meritarianism, legitimate favouritism, principles of need and free exchange). Further, I try to characterize contours of good autonomous life, and ask what kind of preconditions it has. I will distinguish between five kinds of preconditions: psychological, material, cultural, intersubjective and institutional. After examining what the role of recognition is among such preconditions, and how they figure (...) in the work of Axel Honneth, Nancy Fraser and Charles Taylor, I suggest a somewhat complex and hopefully rich picture of interpersonal and institutional recognition as a precondition of autonomous good life. (shrink)
Social identity poses one of the most important challenges to rational choice theory, but rational choice theorists do not hold a common position regarding identity. On one hand, externalist rational choice ignores the concept of identity or reduces it to revealed preferences. On the other hand, internalist rational choice considers identity as a key concept in explaining social action because it permits expressive motivations to be included in the models. However, internalist theorists tend to reduce identity to desire—the desire of (...) a person to express his or her social being. From an internalist point of view, that is, from a viewpoint in which not only desires but also beliefs play a key role in social explanations as mental entities, this article rejects externalist reductionism and proposes a redefinition of social identity as a net of beliefs about oneself, beliefs that are indexical, robust, and socially shaped. (shrink)
This article delineates a new type of social ontologysite ontologyand defends a particular version of that type. The first section establishes the distinctiveness of site ontologies over both individualist ontologies and previous societist ones. The second section then shows how site ontologies elude two pervasive criticisms, that of incompleteness directed at individualism and that of reification leveled at societism. The third section defends a particular site ontology, one that depicts the social as a mesh of human practices and material arrangements. (...) The article concludes by outlining what is involved in giving site-ontological analyses of social things. Key Words: social ontology sociality individualism wholism social facts Heidegger social practices. (shrink)
The human ability to represent, conceptualize, and reason about mind and behavior is one of the greatest achievements of human evolution and is made possible by a “folk theory of mind” — a sophisticated conceptual framework that relates different mental states to each other and connects them to behavior. This chapter examines the nature and elements of this framework and its central functions for social cognition. As a conceptual framework, the folk theory of mind operates prior to any particular conscious (...) or unconscious cognition and provides the “framing” or interpretation of that cognition. Central to this framing is the concept of intentionality, which distinguishes intentional action (caused by the agent’s intention and decision) from unintentional behavior (caused by internal or external events without the intervention of the agent’s decision). A second important distinction separates publicly observable from publicly unobservable (i.e., mental) events. Together, the two distinctions define the kinds of events in social interaction that people attend to, wonder about, and try to explain. A special focus of this chapter is the powerful tool of behavior explanation, which relies on the folk theory of mind but is also intimately tied to social demands and to the perceiver’s social goals. A full understanding of social cognition must consider the folk theory of mind as the conceptual underpinning of all (conscious and unconscious) perception and thinking about the social world. (shrink)
This article examines two empirical research traditions—experimental economics and the social identity approach in social psychology—that may be seen as attempts to falsify and verify the theory of collective intentionality, respectively. The article argues that both approaches fail to settle the issue. However, this is not necessarily due to the alleged immaturity of the social sciences but, possibly, to the philosophical nature of intentionality and intentional action. The article shows how broadly Davidsonian action theory, including Hacking’s notion of the looping (...) effect of the human sciences, can be developed into an argument for the view that there is no theory-independent true nature of intentional action. If the Davidsonian line of thought is correct, the theory of collective intentionality is, in a sense, true if we accept the theory. Key Words: collective intentionality • experimental economics • social identity theory • Donald Davidson • Ian Hacking • constructivism • action • agency • philosophy of the social sciences. (shrink)
This paper proposes an empirical hypothesis that in some cases of social interaction we have an immediate perceptual access to others' minds in the perception of their embodied intentionality. Our point of departure is the phenomenological insight that there is an experiential difference in the perception of embodied intentionality and the perception of non-intentionality. The other's embodied intentionality is perceptually given in a way that is different from the givenness of non-intentionality. We claim that the phenomenological difference in the perception (...) of embodied intentionality and non-intentionality translates into an account of how, in some cases of social cognition, we perceive mental properties in the perception of embodied intentionality. The hypothesis derives support from a host of recent empirical studies in social neuroscience which demonstrate the importance of embodied engagements in understanding other minds. These studies reveal that embodied intersubjective interaction often builds on our ability to understand other minds in an immediate perceptual way not adequately investigated by theory-theory (TT) and simulation theories (ST) of mind-reading. We argue that there is a genuine, nontrivial difference in the informational content of the perception of embodied intentionality and the perception of non-intentionality which leads to a further difference in the way information is processed in the case of perception of embodied intentionality as opposed to the perception of non-intentionality. The full significance of such difference is appreciated only within an account of perception which views perception and action as tightly coupled. Thus, we propose an "action-oriented account of social perception" to develop a neurophilosophical account of the perceptual knowledge of other minds. (shrink)
In this paper recognition is taken to be a question of social ontology, regarding the very constitution of the social space of interaction. I concentrate on the question of whether certain aspects of the theory of recognition can be translated into the terms of a socio-ontological paradigm: to do so, I make reference to some conceptual tools derived from John Searle's social ontology and Robert Brandom's normative pragmatics. My strategy consists in showing that recognitive phenomena cannot be isolated at the (...) level of human interaction, and are, rather, in part proper to animal interaction as well. Furthermore, it is argued that recognitive powers are constitutive powers more basic than deontic ones and play a role much broader than the one they in fact assume in Searle and in Brandom. (shrink)
This paper presents the history of the Frankfurt School’s inclusion of normative concerns in social science research programs during the period 1930-1955. After examining the relevant methodology, I present a model of how such a program could look today. I argue that such an approach is both valuable to contemporary social science programs and overlooked by current philosophers and social scientists.
This article addresses the question whether the model of social criticism as 'connected' or 'loyal' which is advanced by Richard Rorty and Michael Walzer offers an adequate picture of social criticism. Two claims are made. First, it is suggested that loyalty is an internally conflicted concept, with three components: a recognition of situatedness in a particular relationship; an affirmation of that relationship by the loyal agent; a set of values or local principles. Where the third component is prominent, loyalty is (...) more reflective and distanced; where the second component predominates, loyalty slips into unreflective commitment. Second, it is argued that Rorty and Walzer conflate the social critic's recognition of his or her situatedness in contexts of power with the affirmation of that situatedness. It is concluded that the model of loyal social criticism is mislead mg, and that the practice of the critic must be tempered by the operation of the sense of injustice. Key Words: connection • loyalty • Rorty • social criticism • Walzer. (shrink)
Heidegger has been taken by many as a prophet of extremity, a nihilist, an existentialistic individualist, and a destroyer of normativity. This article offers a sympathetic reading of Brandoms efforts to extricate Heidegger from such readings and to set out a way to read Heideggers philosophy of language and action that underscores their fundamental sociality and normativity. Herein it is shown specifically why Brandom must turn to Heideggers work as a testing ground for his own proposal of an inferentialist (...) semantics. In tandem, Brandoms Kantian reading of Heidegger is analysed and assessed. Key Words: Dasein Martin Heidegger language normativity objectivity pragmatics referential Richard Rorty semantics sociality world-disclosing. (shrink)
Jon Elster worries about the explanatory power of the social sciences. His main concern is that they have so few well-established laws. Elster develops an interesting substitute: a special kind of mechanism designed to fill the explanatory gap between laws and mere description. However, his mechanisms suffer from a characteristic problem that I will explore in this article. As our causal knowledge of a specific problem grows we might come to know too much to make use of an Elsterian mechanism (...) but still lack a law. We might then find ourselves in the paradoxical position of knowing more relevant causal truths about the phenomenon we are interested in than we did before, but being able to explain less. If this possibility is realized in social science settings, as I argue it might well be, Elster?s mechanistic account is threatened. Moreover, even if the possibility is rarely realized in that way, it raises, simply as a possibility, a conceptual problem with Elster?s mechanistic framework. (shrink)
The comparison between biological and social macroevolution is a very important (though insufficiently studied) subject whose analysis renders new significant possibilities to comprehend the processes, trends, mechanisms, and peculiarities of each of the two types of macroevolution. Of course, there are a few rather important (and very understandable) differences between them; however, it appears possible to identify a number of fundamental similarities. One may single out at least three fundamental sets of factors determining those similarities. First of all, those similarities (...) stem from the fact that in both cases we are dealing with very complex non-equilibrium (but rather stable) systems whose principles of functioning and evolution are described by the General Systems' Theory, as well as by a number of cybernetic principles and laws. -/- Secondly, in both cases we do not deal with isolated systems; in both cases we deal with a complex interaction between systems of organic systems and external environment, whereas the reaction of systems to external challenges can be described in terms of certain general principles (that, however, express themselves rather differently within the biological reality, on the one hand, and within the social reality, on the other). -/- Thirdly, it is necessary to mention a direct ‘genetic’ link between the two types of macroevolution and their mutual influence. -/- It is important to emphasize that the very similarity of the principles and regularities of the two types of macroevolution does not imply their identity. Rather significant similarities are frequently accompanied by enormous differences. For example, genomes of the chimpanzees and the humans are very similar – with differences constituting just a few per cent; however, there are enormous differences with respect to intellectual and social differences of the chimpanzees and the humans hidden behind the apparently ‘insignificant’ difference between the two genomes. Thus, in certain respects it appears reasonable to consider the biological and social macroevolution as a single macroevolutionary process. This implies the necessity to comprehend the general laws and regularities that describe this process, though their manifestations may display significant variations depending on properties of a concrete evolving entity (biological, or social one). An important notion that may contribute to the improvement of the operationalization level as regards the comparison between the two types of macroevolution is the one that we suggested some time ago – the social aromorphosis (that was developed as a counterpart to the notion of biological aromorphosis well established within Russian evolutionary biology). We regard social aromorphosis as a rare qualitative macrochange that increases in a very significant way complexity, adaptability, and mutual influence of the social systems, that opens new possibilities for social macrodevelopment. In our paper we discuss a number of regularities that describe biological and social macroevolution and that employ the notions of social and biological aromorphosis such as ones of the module evolution (or the evolutionary ‘block assemblage’), ‘payment for arogenic progress’ etc. (shrink)
Explanatory contrastivists hold that we often explain phenomena of the form p rather than q. In this paper, I present a new, social‐epistemological model of contrastive explanation—accountabilism. Specifically, my view is inspired by social‐scientific research that treats explanations fundamentally as accounts; that is, communicative actions that restore one's social status when charged with questionable behaviour. After developing this model, I show how accountabilism provides a more comprehensive model of contrastive explanation than the causal models of contrastive explanation that are currently (...) en vogue. (shrink)
Since the 1990’s, social sciences are living their computational turn. This paper aims to clarify the epistemological meaning of this turn. To do this, we have to discriminate between different epistemic functions of computation among the diverse uses of computers for modeling and simulating in the social sciences. Because of the introduction of a new – and often more user-friendly – way of formalizing and computing, the question of realism of formalisms and of proof value of computational treatments reemerges. Facing (...) the spreading of computational simulations in all disciplines, some enthusiastic observers are claiming that we are entering a new era of unity for social sciences. Finally, the article shows that the conceptual and epistemological distinctions presented in the first sections lead to a more mitigated position: the transdisciplinary computational turn is a great one, but it is of a methodological nature. (shrink)
The concept of “site” is at the center of current debates in theories of social practices as well as in cultural anthropology. It is unclear, however, how to assess the associated methodological assumption that overriding social structures or cultural formations can manifest themselves in sites. The article draws on the conception of social practices and introduces the notion of “publicness” in order to explicate how and why sociality and social structures can be accessed through “siting”. Sites as well as (...) social practices, it is claimed, have to be conceptualized as essentially public and thus principally observable phenomena. This assumption of publicness implicit to both site ontology and theories of social practices is unfolded on the basis of a praxeological reformulation of the paradigm of joint attention elaborated in developmental psychology. To avoid presentist misinterpretations, we then conceptualize sociality as chains of practices across time and space, drawing on the works of Theodore Schatzki, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Anthony Giddens and Bruno Latour. The public carriers of practices (artifacts, symbols, media, bodies) and the translocal structures they establish acquire particular significance in these approaches. In a further step, we present some methodological consequences of the “publicness assumption” and support our arguments by referring to Pierre Bourdieu's study on Distinction. (shrink)
Now that complex Agent-Based Models and computer simulations spread over economics and social sciences - as in most sciences of complex systems -, epistemological puzzles (re)emerge. We introduce new epistemological concepts so as to show to what extent authors are right when they focus on some empirical, instrumental or conceptual significance of their model or simulation. By distinguishing between models and simulations, between types of models, between types of computer simulations and between types of empiricity obtained through a simulation, section (...) 2 gives the possibility to understand more precisely - and then to justify - the diversity of the epistemological positions presented in section 1. Our final claim is that careful attention to the multiplicity of the denotational powers of symbols at stake in complex models and computer simulations is necessary to determine, in each case, their proper epistemic status and credibility. (shrink)
In this article, we present, assess and give reasons to reject the popular claim that shame is essentially social. We start by presenting several theses which the social claim has motivated in the philosophical literature. All of them, in their own way, regard shame as displaying a structure in which ‘others’ play an essential role. We argue that while all these theses are true of some important families of shame episodes, none of them generalize so as to motivate the conclusion (...) that shame is an essentially social emotion. We consider each thesis in turn, explaining in the process their connections with one another as well as the constraints on a theory of shame they help uncover. Finally, we show how a non-social picture of shame is not only capable of meeting these constraints, but has the further virtue of shedding light on those situations in which others seem to play no role in why we feel shame. (shrink)
I this paper, I draw on recent research on the radically embodied and perceptual bases of conceptualization in linguistics and cognitive science to develop a new way of reading and evaluating abstract concepts in social theory. I call this approach Sociological Idea Analysis. I argue that, in contrast to the traditional view of abstract concepts, which conceives them as amodal “presuppositions” removed from experience, abstract concepts are irreducibly grounded in experience and partake of non-negotiable perceptual-symbolic features from which a non-propositional (...) “logic” naturally follows. This implies that uncovering the imagistic bases of allegedly abstract notions should be a key part of theoretical evaluation of concepts in social theory. I provide a case study of the general category of “structure” in the social and human sciences to demonstrate the analytic utility of the approach. (shrink)
This major study of Hobbes's political philosophy draws on recent developments in game and decision theory to explore whether the thrust of the argument in Leviathan, that it is in the interests of the people to create a ruler with absolute power, can be shown to be cogent. Professor Hampton has written a book of vital importance to political philosophers, political and social scientists, and intellectual historians.
Mirror neurons are widely regarded as an important key to social cognition. Despite such wide agreement, there is very little consensus on how or why they are important. The goal of this paper is to clearly explicate the exact role mirror neurons play in social cognition. I aim to answer two questions about the relationship between mirroring and social cognition: What kind of social understanding is involved with mirroring? How is mirroring related to that understanding? I argue that philosophical and (...) empirical considerations lead us to accord a fairly minimal role for mirror neurons in social cognition. (shrink)
John Rawls (1921-2002) was one of the 20th century's most important philosophers and continues to be among the most widely discussed of contemporary thinkers. His work, particularly A Theory of Justice, is integral to discussions of social and international justice, democracy, liberalism, welfare economics, and constitutional law, in departments of philosophy, politics, economics, law, public policy, and others. Samuel Freeman is one of Rawls's foremost interpreters. This volume contains nine of his essays on Rawls and Rawlsian justice, two of which (...) are previously unpublished. Freeman places Rawls within historical context in the social contract tradition, addresses criticisms of his positions, and discusses the implications of his views on issues of distributive justice, liberalism and democracy, international justice, and other subjects. This collection will be useful to the wide range of scholars interested in Rawls and theories of justice. (shrink)
Many commentators have remarked upon the striking points of correspondence that can be found in the works of Freud and Nietzsche. However, this essay argues that on the subject of desire their work presents us with a radical choice: Freud or Nietzsche. I first argue that Freud’s theory of desire is grounded in the principle of inertia, a principle that is incompatible with his later theory of Eros and the life drive. Furthermore, the principle of inertia is not essentially distinct (...) from his later theory of the death drive. Consequently, Freud’s theory of desire can only be interpreted consistently as a monism of the death drive. I then analyze Nietzsche’s attempt to ground his theory of desire in the concept of the will to power. I argue that Nietzsche’s view of desire is fundamentally opposed to the key elements of Freud’s theory of desire: the principle of constancy, the Freudian definition of the drive, and the pleasure principle. Next, I explicate the stakes of this opposition by analyzing the social consequences of each view for morality and justice. I argue that the Freudian subject seeks to dominate the social other, and that there is an insurmountable conflict between the satisfaction of desire and the demands of social life. Consequently, Freud’s view allows only for a negative conception of the social good in which morality is defined as the intrinsically impossible task of eliminating evil, and justice can be achieved only through the equal distribution of instinctual frustration. Finally, I argue that in Nietzsche’s theory of desire there is no essential conflict between individual desire and social life. The Nietzschean subject desires to manifest power in the form of activity that is independent of external agents, not to dominate the other. Consequently, Nietzsche’s view allows for the possibility of a positively defined concept of the social good in which morality is the affirmation and enhancement of every subject’s happiness, and justice can be achieved through the promotion and protection of an equality of power among subjects. (shrink)
To naturalize religion we must identify what religion is, and what aspects of it we are trying to explain. In this paper religious social institutional behavior is the explanatory target, and an explanatory hypothesis based on shared primate social dominance psychology is given. The argument is that various religious features, including the high status afforded the religious, and the high status afforded to deities, is an expression of this social dominance psychology in a context for which it did not evolve: (...) high density populations made possible by agriculture. (shrink)
This paper comments on Gallagher’s recently published direct perception proposal about social cognition [Gallagher, S. (2008a). Direct perception in the intersubjective context. Consciousness and Cognition, 17(2), 535–543]. I show that direct perception is in danger of being appropriated by the very cognitivist accounts criticised by Gallagher (theory theory and simulation theory). Then I argue that the experiential directness of perception in social situations can be understood only in the context of the role of the interaction process in social cognition. I (...) elaborate on the role of social interaction with a discussion of participatory sense-making to show that direct perception, rather than being a perception enriched by mainly individual capacities, can be best understood as an interactional phenomenon. (shrink)
We propose to understand social affordances in the broader context of responsiveness to a field of relevant affordances in general. This perspective clarifies our everyday ability to unreflectively switch between social and other affordances. Moreover, based on our experience with Deep Brain Stimulation for treating OCD patients, we suggest that psychiatric disorders may affect affordance-responsiveness, including responsiveness to social affordances.
This book addresses key topics in social theory such as the basic structures of social life, the character of human activity, and the nature of individuality. Drawing on the work of Wittgenstein, the author develops an account of social existence that argues that social practices are the fundamental phenomenon in social life. This approach offers new insight into the social formation of individuals, surpassing and critiquing the existing practice theories of Bourdieu, Giddens, Lyotard, and Oakeshott. In bringing Wittgenstein's work to (...) bear on issues of social theory the book shows the relevance of his work to a body of thought to which it has never been applied. The book will be of particular interest to philosophers of the social sciences, a wide range of social theorists in political science and sociology, as well as some literary theorists. (shrink)
Children are not simply molded by the environment; through constant inference and interpretation, they actively shape their own social world. This book is about that process. Elliot Turiel's work focuses on the development of moral judgment in children and adolescents and, more generally, on their evolving understanding of the conventions of social systems. His research suggests that social judgements are ordered, systematic, subtly discriminative, and related to behavior. His theory of the ways in which children generate social knowledge through their (...) social experiences will be of interest to a wide range of researchers and students in child development and education. (shrink)
In my 1990 work – Marxism, Morality, and Social Justice – I argued for four modifications of Rawls’s principles of social justice and rendered a modified version of his theory in four principles, the first of which is the Basic Rights Principle demanding the protection of people’s security and subsistence rights. In both his Political Liberalism (1993) and Justice as Fairness (2001) Rawls explicitly refers to my version of his theory, clearly accepting three of my four proposed modifications but rejecting (...) the fourth -- the demand for social and economic (in addition to political) democracy – on grounds that it automatically justifies socialism as opposed to capitalism. I argue, contrary to Rawls, that it is not true that this demand automatically picks (democratic) socialism as the preferable socioeconomic/political system and that a Social and Economic Democracy Principle demanding workplace and neighborhood democracy is officially neutral between these two systems … although plausible empirical assumptions may, indeed, favor the former. I then reprise my second version of Rawls’s theory of social justice which is composed of the following principles arranged in a very strong order of priority (if not quite a lexical order): (1) Basic Rights Principle, (2) Equal Basic Liberties Principle, (3) Fair Equality of Opportunity Principle, (4) Modified Difference Principle, and (5) Social and Economic Democracy Principle. (shrink)
In this paper I evaluate embodied social cognition, embodied cognition’s account of how we understand others. I identify and evaluate three claims that motivate embodied social cognition. These claims are not specific to social cognition; they are general hypotheses about cognition. As such, they may be used in more general arguments for embodied cognition. I argue that we have good reasons to reject these claims. Thus, the case for embodied social cognition fails. Moreover, to the extent that general arguments for (...) embodied cognition rest on these premises, they are correspondingly uncompelling. (shrink)
This article will compare and contrast two very different accounts of convention: the game-theoretical account of Lewis in Convention, and the account initially proposed by Margaret Gilbert (the present author) in chapter six of On Social Facts, and further elaborated here. Gilbert’s account is not a variant of Lewis’s. It was arrived at in part as the result of a detailed critique of Lewis’s account in relation to a central everyday concept of a social convention. An account of convention need (...) not be judged by that standard. Perhaps it reveals the nature of an important phenomenon. Looked at in that light, these very different accounts are not incompatible. Indeed, neither should be ignored if one is seeking to understand the way in which human beings arrive at some degree of social order. (shrink)
This paper examines how experimental scientists choose theoretical frameworks as well as their experimental systems for doing research. I start out with Kuhn's claim that there are no (single) algorithms that could determine the choices made by individual scientists. Samir Okasha has recently provided an argument for this claim in terms of social choice theory, which I briefly discuss. Then, I show why this problem is not relevant in an experimental science. There are social mechanisms in place that make sure (...) the community chooses the best framework and a matching experimental system. As historical evidence for this claim, I present the case of classical genetics. (shrink)
Through a comparative analysis of the key ontological notions in Merleau-Ponty and Nagarjuna, I develop a relational social ontology that is grounded in their respective implicit and explicit ethics. Both thinkers take heed of our being-in-the-world; this is evident in their views on intersubjective sociality and language. Recognizing the limitations in these views points us toward a greater understanding of the meaningfulness of our situated existences. In this vein, I propose a number of ideas to guide the work of (...) comparative philosophy. (shrink)
Is an individual agent constitutive of or constituted by its social interactions? This question is typically not asked in the cognitive sciences, so strong is the consensus that only individual agents have constitutive efficacy. In this article we challenge this methodological solipsism and argue that interindividual relations and social context do not simply arise from the behavior of individual agents, but themselves enable and shape the individual agents on which they depend. For this, we define the notion of autonomy as (...) both a characteristic of individual agents and of social interaction processes. We then propose a number of ways in which interactional autonomy can influence individuals. Then we discuss recent work in modeling on the one hand and psychological investigations on the other that support and illustrate this claim. Finally, we discuss some implications for research on social and individual agency. (shrink)
The purpose of this book -- Intentionality -- Collective intentionality and the assignment of function -- Language as biological and social -- The general theory of institutions and institutional facts: -- Language and social reality -- Free will, rationality, and institutional facts -- Power : deontic, background, political, and other -- Human rights -- Concluding remarks : the ontological foundations of the social sciences.
Social reality is a key problem in the philosophy of social science. Outlining the major historical and contemporary issues raised by the social reality and social facts, this book has something to offer both philosophers and social scientists. To the former is shows how the well-worn topic of realism versus anti-realism assumes new and interestingly varied forms when social reality is substituted for physical reality. For the social scientist, the book offers conceptual clarification of key issues in recent social science (...) which are really philosophical issues. (shrink)
In what follows, I appeal to Charles Babbage’s discussion of the division of mental labor to provide evidence that—at least with respect to the social acquisition, storage, retrieval, and transmission of knowledge—epistemologists have, for a broad range of phenomena of crucial importance to actual knowers in their epistemic practices in everyday life, failed adequately to appreciate the significance of socially distributed cognition. If the discussion here is successful, I will have demonstrated that a particular presumption widely held within the contemporary (...) discussion of the epistemology of testimony—a presumption that I will term the personalist requirement—fails to account for those very practices of knowers that I detail here. I will then conclude by suggesting that an alternate account of testimonial warrant, one that has heretofore been underappreciated, ought to be given more serious consideration—in particular because it is well suited to account for those actual practices of knowers that the personalist requirement leaves unrecognized. (shrink)
In this article I challenge the widely held assumption that human culture is inherited by means of social learning. First, I address the distinction between “social” learning and “individual” learning. I argue that most cultural ideas are not acquired by one form of learning or the other, but from a hybrid of both. Second, I discuss how individual learning can interact with niche construction. I argue that these processes collectively provide a non-social route for learned ideas to be inherited and (...) cumulatively modified. I conclude that human culture is not inherited by social learning alone; the capacities to learn from and modify our environments also play a significant role. (shrink)
A commonplace in contemporary philosophy is that mental content has normative properties. A number of writers associate this view to the idea that the normativity of content is essentially connected to its social character. I agree with the first thesis, but disagree with the second. The paper examines three kinds of views according to which the norms of thought and content are social: Wittgensteinâs rule following considerations, Davidsonâs triangulation argument, and Brandomâs inferential pragmatics, and criticises each. It is argued that (...) there are objective conceptual norms constitutive of mental content, but that these are not essentially social. (shrink)
The emergence of queer theory represents a huge leap in our understanding of lesbian and gay peoples. It embodies a context for treating these people as worthy of consideration in their own rights and not as an appendage to general cultural theory. Max Kirsch argues that the current development of this area is in danger of repeating past mistakes in the construction of analyses, and ultimately, social movements. In this way, the book presents an alternative to the current fascination with (...) the abstract categories of identity, culture and difference, and emphasizes the need for a discussion of the importance of communities and role of globalization on queer movements. (shrink)
Tyler Burge has argued that a necessary condition for individual's having many of the thoughts he has is that he bear certain relations to other language users. Burge's conclusion is based on a thought experiment in which an individual's social relations are imagined, counterfactually, to differ from how they are actually. The result is that it seems, counterfactually, the individual cannot be attributed many of the thoughts he can be actually. In the article, an alternative interpretation of Burge's thought experiment (...) is offered on which the intuitions Burge evokes can be accepted while his conclusion about the social character of thought is denied. The alternative interpretation given, it is then argued that it is preferable to Burge's. (shrink)
In this paper I criticize Popper's conception of the rationality principle in the social sciences. First, I survey Popper's outlook on the role of a principle of rationality in theorizing in the social sciences. Then, I critically examine his view on the status of the principle of rationality concluding that the arguments supporting it are quite weak. Finally, I contrast his standpoint with an alternative conception. This, I show, helps us understand better Popper's reasons for adopting his perspective on rationality.
This textbook by Martin Hollis offers an exceptionally clear and concise introduction to the philosophy of social science. It examines questions which give rise to fundamental philosophical issues. Are social structures better conceived of as systems of laws and forces, or as webs of meanings and practices? Is social action better viewed as rational behaviour, or as self-expression? By exploring such questions, the reader is led to reflect upon the nature of scientific method in social science. Is the aim to (...) explain the social world after a manner worked out for the natural world, or to understand the social world from within? (shrink)
Akrasia is not always --or only-- a solitary failure to act on a person's judgment of what is, all things considered, best. Nor is it always a species of moral or ethical failure prompted by a form of irrationality. It is often prompted by social support and sustained by structuring political institutions.
In her recent book Persons and Bodies1, Lynne Rudder Baker has defended what she calls the constitution view of persons. On this view, persons are constituted by their bodies, where “constitution” is a ubiquitous, general metaphysical relation distinct from more familiar relations, such as identity and part-whole composition.
Although the enactive approach has been very successful in explaining many basic social interactions in terms of embodied practices, there is still much work to be done when it comes to higher forms of social cognition. In this article, we discuss and evaluate two recent proposals by Shaun Gallagher and Daniel Hutto that try to bridge this ‘cognitive gap’ by appealing to the notion of narrative practice. Although we are enthusiastic about these proposals, we argue that (i) it is difficult (...) to see them as continuous with the enactivist notion of direct coupling, and (ii) the failure to account for folk psychological action interpretation suggests that the enactive approach should adopt a broader notion of coupling. (shrink)
In this paper I argue against Brandom's two-ply theory of action. For Brandom, action is the result of an agent acknowledging a practical commitment and then causally responding to that commitment by acting. Action is social because the content of the commitment upon which one acts is socially conferred in the game of giving and asking for reasons. On my proposal, instead of seeing action as the coupling of a rational capacity to acknowledge commitments and a non-rational capacity to reliably (...) respond to these commitments, we should see action as the coupling, or potential coupling, of a capacity to reason practically and a capacity to act on habits and bodily skills. In putting forward this alternative model of action, I aim to replace Brandom's rationalist brand of Pragmatism with a more classical kind, one that will let us see action as social not only at the level of reasons but also at the level of bodily habits and skills. (shrink)
Communitarians like Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, and Michael Sandel, defend what we may call the ‘social constitution thesis.’ This is the view that participation in society makes us what we are. This claim, however, is ambiguous. In an attempt to shed some light on it and to better understand the impact its truth would have on our beliefs regarding autonomy, I offer four possible ways it could be understood and four corresponding senses of individual independence and autonomy. I also indicate (...) what senses liberals can accept that we are socially constituted and in what sense I take communitarians to argue we are socially constituted. (shrink)
My goal here is to come to terms with the Enlightenment as the horizon of critical social science. First, I consider in more detail the understanding of the Enlightenment in Critical Theory, particularly in its conception of the sociality of reason. Second, I develop an account of freedom in terms of human powers, along the lines of recent capability conceptions that link freedom to the development of human powers, including the power to interpret and create norms. Finally, I show (...) the ways in which the social sciences can be moral sciences in the Enlightenment sense. This account provides us with a coherent Enlightenment standard by which to judge institutions as promoting development, understood in terms of the capabilities necessary for freedom. The relevant social science in this area might include the robust generalization that there has never been a famine in a democratic society. (shrink)
Embodied social cognition (ESC) aims to explicate how our embodiment shapes our knowledge of others, and in what this knowledge of others consists. Although there is much diversity amongst ESC accounts, common to all these accounts is the idea that our normal everyday interactions consist in non-mentalistic embodied engagements. In recent years, several theorists have developed and defended innovative and controversial accounts of ESC. These accounts challenge, and offer deflationary alternatives to, the standard cognitivist accounts of social cognition. As ESC (...) accounts grow in number and prominence, the time has come for a dedicated, sustained debate on ESC and its most controversial and innovative elements. The goal of this special issue is to host such a debate with the aim of bringing clarity to the discussion of social cognition. (shrink)
Since the 1950s, Donald T. Campbell has been one of the most influential contributors to the methodology of the social sciences. A distinguished psychologist, he has published scores of widely cited journal articles, and two awards, in social psychology and in public policy, have been named in his honor. This book is the first to collect his most significant papers, and it demonstrates the breadth and originality of his work.
Critical theory has left an indelible mark on postwar social thought. But what are the relations between critical theory and 'the cultural turn' ? How did critical theory inform later French critical theorists, such as Lefebvre, Barthes and Baudrillard? This accomplished and accessible book: - Demonstrates the origins of critical theory in the Marxian analysis of the capitalist mode of production and Freudian psychoanalysis - Clearly explains the main achievements of critical theory - Elucidates how critical theory defines culture as (...) a system that constrains and alienates the individual - Explores the potential for social change and personal emancipation in the critical heritage. The author locates the importance of myth and reason, the significance of sexuality, the place of work, the difference between art and entertainment, the nature of everyday life and the relationship between knowledge and action. The result is a lucid and informative text which will appeal to all students interested in the critical traditions of social thought. (shrink)
This book explores the various aspects of social justice--to each according to his rights, to each acording to his desert, and to each according to his need--comparing the writings of Hume, Spencer, and Kropotkin. Miller demonstrates that there are radical differences in outlook on social justice between societies, and that these differences can be explained by reference to features of the social structure.
This book questions the value of the concept of 'agency', a term used in sociological and philosophical literature to refer to individual free will in archaeology. On the one hand it has been argued that previous generations of archaeologists, in explaining social change in terms of structural or environmental conditions, have lost sight of the 'real people' and reduced them to passive cultural pawns, on the other, introducing the concept of agency to counteract this can be said to perpetuate a (...) modern, Western view of the autonomous individual who is free from social constraints. This book discusses the balance between these two opposites, using a range of archaeological and historical case studies, including European and Asian prehistory, classical Greece and Rome, the Inka and other Andean cultures. While focusing on the relevance of 'agency' theory to archaeological interpretation and using it to create more diverse and open-ended accounts of ancient cultures, the authors also address the contemporary political and ethical implications of what is essentially a debate about the definition of human nature. (shrink)
Researchers in the enactivist tradition have recently argued that social interaction can constitute social cognition, rather than simply serve as the context for social cognition. They contend that a focus on social interaction corrects the overemphasis on mechanisms inside the individual in the explanation of social cognition. I critically assess enactivism’s claims about the explanatory role of social interaction in social cognition. After sketching the enactivist approach to cognition in general and social cognition in particular, I identify problems with an (...) enactivist taxonomy of roles for social interaction in the explanation of social cognition (contextual, enabling, and constitutive). In particular, I show that this enactivist taxonomy does not clearly distinguish between enabling conditions and constitutive elements, which would make them in danger of committing the coupling-constitution fallacy found in some attempts to extend cognition. I explore resources enactivism has to more clearly demarcate constitutive parts of a cognitive system, but identify problems in applying them to some of the main cases of social cognition enactivists characterize as being constituted by social interaction. I offer the mechanistic approach to explanation as an alternative that captures much of what enactivists want to say about the relations between social and individual levels, but views social interactions from the perspective of embedded cognition rather than as being constitutive of social cognition. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Introduction; Part I. Revolutions, Paradigms, and Incommensurability: 2. Scientific revolutions as lexical changes; 3. The Copernican revolution revisited; 4. Kuhn and the discovery of paradigms; 5. The epistemic significance of incommensurability; Part II. The Evolutionary Perspective: 6. Kuhn's historical perspective; 7. Truth and the end of scientific inquiry; 8. Scientific specialization: taking stock of the evolutionary dimensions of Kuhn's epistemology; Part III. Kuhn's Social Epistemology: 9. Kuhn's constructionism; 10. What makes Kuhn's epistemology a social epistemology?; (...) 11. How does a new theory come to be accepted?; 12. Where the road has taken us - a synthesis. (shrink)
One hundred years of French social theory : from structuralism to pragmatism -- The biological metaphor : functionalism and neo-functionalism -- The enigma of everyday life : symbolic interactionism, the dramaturgical approach and ethnomethodology -- The invasion of economic man : from rational choice theory to the new institutionalism -- Sociology meets history : Giddens's theory of modernity -- The history and the present : Foucault's archaeology and genealogy -- The spread of reason : Habermas's critical theory and beyond -- (...) A brave new world? : the empirical turn in social theory -- Conclusion : social theory for the twenty-first century. (shrink)
Proponents of evolutionary psychology take the existence of humanuniversals to constitute decisive evidence in favor of their view. Ifthe same social norms are found in culture after culture, we have goodreason to believe that they are innate, they argue. In this paper Ipropose an alternative explanation for the existence of humanuniversals, which does not depend on them being the product of inbuiltpsychological adaptations. Following the work of Brian Skyrms, I suggestthat if a particular convention possesses even a very small advantageover (...) competitors, whatever the reason for that advantage, we shouldexpect it to become the norm almost everywhere. Tiny advantages aretranslated into very large basins of attraction, in the language of gametheory. If this is so, universal norms are not evidence for innatepsychological adaptations at all. Having shown that the existence ofuniversals is consistent with the so-called Standard Social ScienceModel, I turn to a consideration of the evidence, to show that thisstyle of explanation is preferable to the evolutionary explanation, atleast with regard to patterns of gender inequality. (shrink)
This accessible and user-friendly text will prove invaluable to any student coming to social and political philosophy for the first time. It provides a broad survey of fundamental social and political questions in modern society, as well as clear, accessible discussions of the philosophical issues central to political thought. Topics covered include: the foundations of political authority, the nature and grounds of economic justice, the limits of tolerance, considerations of community, race, gender, and culture in questions of justice, and radical (...) critiques of current political theories. (shrink)
This book explores both the embodied nature of social life and the social nature of human bodily life. It provides an accessible review of the contemporary social science debates on the body, and develops a coherent new perspective. Nick Crossley critically reviews the literature on mind and body, and also on the body and society. He draws on theoretical insights from the work of Gilbert Ryle, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, George Herbert Mead and Pierre Bourdieu, and shows how the work of these (...) writers overlaps in interesting and important ways which, when combined, provide the basis for a persuasive and robust account of human embodiment. The Social Body provides a timely review of the theoretical approaches to the sociology of the body. It offers new insights, and a coherent new perspective on the body. It will be valuable reading for students and academics in sociology, philosophy, anthropology, psychology, and cultural studies. (shrink)
Greg Kavka (1947-1994) was a prominent and influential figure in contemporary moral and political philosophy. The new essays in this volume are concerned with fundamental issues of rational commitment and social justice to which Kavka devoted his work as a philosopher. The essays take Kavka's work as a point of departure and seek to advance the respective debates. The topics include: the relationship between intention and moral action as part of which Kavka's famous 'toxin puzzle' is a focus of discussion, (...) the nature of deterrence, the rationality of morals, contractarian ethics, and the contemporary relevance of Hobbes' political thought. Incorporating important new philosophical statements of problems and fresh contributions to the ongoing debate about rational intention this volume will interest not just philosophers but also political scientists and economists. (shrink)
"A book well worth reading as its expose of postmoderism has a clarity others would do well to imitate." --Tim Gay in NATFHE Journal Blue Velvet, sex, lies and videotape, Do the Right Thing, and Wall Street are just some of the provocative films that Denzin explores for their portrayal of the postmodern self. He examines the basic thesis that members of the contemporary world are voyeurs who, adrift in a sea of symbols, recognize and anchor themselves through cinema and (...) television. He skillfully weaves this idea back and forth between two kinds of texts: social theory, including poststructuralism, postmodernism, feminism, and marxism; and cinematic representations of life in modern America. The result is a solid assertion that postmodernism has shaped a dramaturgical society where the image has tragically replaced reality. Denzin offers a powerful reading of postmodern American society and the cinematic selves, however distorted, that inhabit this fantasy world. At the same time, he outlines the main contours of postmodern sociology and a postmodern sociological imagination that is responsive to the current historical moment. Images of Postmodern Society will play a key role in understanding the powerful relationship between postmodernism and the cinema for upper level graduates, gradate students, and contemporary scholars of cultural studies, communications, political science, anthropology, sociology, education, history, literary and cinema studies. "The book could be usefully incorporated into undergraduate sociology courses, particularly those that consider media and society, where it might serve as a basis for further discussion and examination of some important issues." --Journal of Communication "Images of Postmodern Society is a good book on two different levels. First, Denzin advances his own theory of postmodernism and, more specifically, of what he calls the "postmodern self," that is interesting and provocative. Second, this is one of the few books on postmodernity that is truly practical, in the sense that the book would be quite a good text to use in courses on the subject, whether they be in philosophy, sociology, film and media studies, cultural studies, and perhaps even anthropology. . . . I would certainly like to use the book for this purpose myself, and I would recommend the book for that purpose to colleagues in the departments mentioned." --Bill Martin, Philosophy Department, DePaul University "Denzin uncovers a profoundly important tension in postmodern culture . . . His work, then, demonstrates that the 'abundance of meaning' found in these films lies in the collision of modernist and postmodernist depictions of cultural practice." --Contemporary Sociology "Norman Denzin, one of the most interesting theorists and ethnographers in American sociology, has turned his critical eye to postmodern theory and contemporary American culture and society. Revitalizing Mills' sociological imagination, Denzin addresses the relations between Hollywood films of the 1980s, their constructions of self, and the structures of lived experience. He offers a postmodern sociology which addresses the increasingly conservative basis of postmodern ideologies of race, class, and gender. It offers an original postmodern critique of the postmodern. Images of Postmodern Society should be and will be widely read and discussed." --Larry Grossberg, University of Illinois. (shrink)
In this compelling book, Anthony Elliott traces the rise of psychoanalysis from the Frankfurt School to postmodernism, exploring in detail the social and political factors that have led intellectuals to draw from the insights of Freud. Examining how pathbreaking theorists such as Adorno, Marcuse, Lacan and Lyotard have deployed psychoanalysis to politicize issues like desire, sexuality, repression and identity, Elliott develops a powerful assessment of the gains and losses arising from this appropriation of psychoanalysis in social theory and cultural studies. (...) Moving from the impact of the Culture Wars and recent Freud-bashing to contemporary debates in social theory, feminism and postmodernism, Elliott argues for a new alliance between social-theoretical and psychoanalytic perspectives. (shrink)
Social participation requires certain abilities: communication with other members of society; social understanding which enables planning ahead and dealing with novel circumstances; and a theory of mind which makes it possible to anticipate the mental state of another. In childhood play we learn how to pretend, how to put ourselves in the minds of others, how to imagine what others are thinking and how to attribute false beliefs to them. Without this ability we would be unable to deceive and detect (...) deception in the actions of others, and our ability to interact within our social group would be greatly impaired. In this paper I claim that the capacity for deception is necessary for a theory of mind, and a theory of mind is necessary for complex social interaction. (shrink)
In the past twenty years, the field of science and technology studies (S&TS) has made considerable progress toward illuminating the relationship between scientific knowledge and political power. These insights have not yet been synthesized or presented in a form that systematically highlights the connections between S&TS and other social sciences. This timely collection of essays by some of the leading scholars in the field attempts to fill that gap. The book develops the theme of "co-production", showing how scientific knowledge both (...) embeds and is embedded in social identities, institutions, representations and discourses. Accordingly, the authors argue, ways of knowing the world are inseparably linked to the ways in which people seek to organize and control it. Through studies of emerging knowledges, research practices and political institutions, the authors demonstrate that the idiom of co-production importantly extends the vocabulary of the traditional social sciences, offering fresh analytic perspectiveson the nexus of science, power and culture. (shrink)
"You are really getting under my skin!" This exclamation suggests a series of psychological, philosophical, and metaphysical questions: What is the nature and development of human emotion? How does emotion arise in social interaction? To what extent can interactive situations shape our embodied selves and intensify particular affective states? With these questions in mind, William James begins to investigate the character of emotions and to develop a model of what he terms the social self. James's studies of mimicry and his (...) interest in phenomena now often investigated using biofeedback begin to explain how affective states develop and how it might be possible for something to "get under one's skin." I situate these studies in the history of psychology between the psychological schools of structuralism and behaviorism. More important, I suggest continuity between James's Psychology and recent research on mirror neurons, reentrant mapping, and emotional mimicry in the fields of clinical psychology and cognitive neuroscience. This research supports and extends James's initial claims in regard to the creation of emotions and the life of the social self. I propose that James's work in the empirical sciences should be read as a prelude to his metaphysical works that speak of a coordination between embodied selves and wider environmental situations, and his psychological studies should be read as a prelude to his reflections on spiritual transcendence. (shrink)
Ulrich Beck's best selling Risk Society established risk on the sociological agenda. It brought together a wide range of issues centering on environmental, health and personal risk, provided a rallying ground for researchers and activists in a variety of social movements and acted as a reference point for state and local policies in risk management. The Risk Society and Beyond charts the progress of Beck's ideas and traces their evolution. It demonstrates why the issues raised by Beck reverberate widely throughout (...) social theory and covers the new risks that Beck did not foresee, associated with the emergence of new technologies, genetic and cybernetic. The book is unique because it offers both an introduction to the main arguments in Risk Society and develops a range of critical discussions of aspects of this and other works of Beck. (shrink)
This paper discusses the concept of Dána or charity as the foundation of Indian Social life. Dána has been in vogue in India since the Vedic times, but it was codified by the smritis which prescribe do’s and don’ts of the life of the individual. Limiting its scope to Yagnavalkya smriti the paper analyses the significance of Dána as a regulative principle of accumulation of wealth.