What exactly is it to be a social constructivist in Metaphysics? In this brief note I try to introduce a few acclamatory distinctions that I have identified as having generated a lot of confusion in recent literature as well as serving to better frame current debates within metaphysical social constructivism. I also illustrate it with an example from the ontology of disability/.
Moral equality—the idea that ‘we’ all have equal moral worth, our interests ought to count for the same, and we possess the same bundle of basic rights—is one of the most central principles of liberal thought, being regularly drawn on as a presupposition of moral and political inquiry. Perhaps because it is so often relied on as a presupposition, however, moral equality is more often assumed than argued for. When moral equality is argued for, the most common tactic is to (...) appeal to some inherent property. As is well established, however, such property-based defenses of moral equality face two significant challenges: the problem of exclusion and the problem of inequality. In light of these challenges, in this article I put forward a new, revisionist account of moral equality. Taking inspiration from recent work in the social metaphysics of human kinds, I argue that moral equality ought to be seen as a component of a status that we confer on one another, rather than (grounded in) a property inherent in certain individuals. Conceiving of moral equality this way, I argue, side-steps both the problem of exclusion and the problem of natural equality. (shrink)
An increasing number of philosophers argue that indeterminacy is metaphysical (or worldly) in the sense that indeterminacy has its source in the world itself (rather than how the world is represented or known). The standard arguments for metaphysical indeterminacy are centered around the sorites paradox. In this essay, I present a novel argument for metaphysical indeterminacy. I argue that metaphysical indeterminacy follows from the existence of constitutive social construction; there is indeterminacy in the social world because there is indeterminacy in (...) how the social world is constructed. (shrink)
Truthmaking is the metaphysical exploration of the idea that what is true depends upon what exists. Truthmaker theorists argue about what the truthmaking relation involves, which truths require truthmakers, and what those truthmakers are. This Element covers the dominant views on these core issues in truthmaking. It also explores some key metaphysical topics and debates that are usefully approached by employing the tools of truthmaker theory: the debate between presentists and eternalists over the existence of entities from the past, and (...) the debate between actualists and possibilists over merely possible states of affairs. In the final section, the Element explores how to think about truthmakers for truths involving social constructions. (shrink)
One important thesis Ásta defends in Categories We Live By is that social properties and categories are somehow dependent on our thoughts, attitudes, or practices—that they are inventions of the mind, projected onto the world. Another important aspect of her view is that the social properties are related to certain base properties; an individual is placed in a category when the relevant base properties are thought to hold of them. I see the relationship between the social and the base as (...) connected to the problem of explaining how the social properties are sufficiently stable so as to be taken seriously, both in theoretical endeavors as well as in practical matters of how we relate to each other. In this light, I identify stability constraints for an adequate account of social categories. I argue that certain distinctive aspects of Ásta's conferralist view of social categories, such as the radical contextualism in her account of gender, undermine the stability of categories and are at odds with taking social categories seriously. I end with the suggestion that a distinctive “sheltered” form of normativity might help us do justice to Ásta's insights while avoiding some of the destabilizing elements of conferralism. (shrink)
Rejecting or reforming anthropocentrism for the sake of human survival is a central moral challenge in our time. The rejection of anthropocentrism relies on the view that anthropocentrism has pervasively constituted the historical character of humankind and must be replaced in the future as understood by historical theory. This critique arises from new realist ontologies, including neo-materialisms and object-oriented ontology. Their rigid rejection of anthropocentrism requires the view of history and sociality proposed by proponents of object-oriented ontology. It is based (...) on a specialized form of the totalized logic of identity, the concept of antitypy; and by careful examination this is found to be inadequate. The consequence is that rigid rejection of anthropocentrism from any ontologically realist point of view must therefore fail because it is necessarily based on a logic that must be rejected. A better approach relies on the necessity of relatedness in moral and social thought. (shrink)
On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot and killed fifteen people at their high school in Columbine, Colorado. National media dubbed the event a “school shooting.” The term grimly expanded over the next several years to include similar events at army bases, movie theaters, churches, and nightclubs. Today, we commonly use the categories “mass shooter” and “mass shooting” to organize and classify information about gun violence. I will argue that neither category is an effective tool for reducing (...) gun violence and use empirical data to show how these categories perpetuate a moral panic that harms already vulnerable demographics. I conclude that we should instead favor a narrower description of individuals and events, (e.g., “X shot Y people at Z”) because we can talk about all of the relevant cases without contributing the undue harms. (shrink)
Though the social world is real and objective, the way that social facts arise out of other facts is in an important way shaped by human thought, talk and behaviour. Building on recent work in social ontology, I describe a mechanism whereby this distinctive malleability of social facts, combined with the possibility of basic human error, makes it possible for a consistent physical reality to ground an inconsistent social reality. I explore various ways of resisting the prima facie case for (...) social inconsistency. I conclude, however, that the prima facie case survives scrutiny, and draw out some of the ramifications. (shrink)
In recent years, many scholars have offered innovative accounts of social categories such as gender, race, and disability. By contrast, comparatively little work has been done on the category of children. The goal of our paper is to offer a new account of what children are. We start by discussing the two main accounts that have been put forward so far in the literature: naturalistic accounts and normative accounts. According to the former, to be a child is a matter of (...) possessing, or lacking, some ‘natural’ and ‘objective’ properties. According to the latter, to be a child is to possess a particular normative status. We argue that both naturalistic and normative accounts are subject to a variety of objections. We then propose our own social constructivist account. According to it, to be a child in any given society is to be regarded by the dominant ideology of that society as the target of a set of broadly paternalistic norms, in virtue of the possession of a cluster of natural properties such that, according to the dominant ideology of that society, it is justified to subject that individual to such norms. We conclude our paper by showing that our account meets the criteria of success for an account of what it is to be a child and by addressing some objections. (shrink)
In this dissertation I develop a philosophical theory of scapegoating that explains the role of blame-shifting and guilt avoidance in the endurance of oppression. I argue that scapegoating masks and justifies oppression by shifting unwarranted blame onto marginalized groups and away from systems of oppression and those who benefit from them, such that people in dominant positions are less inclined to notice or challenge its workings. I first identify a gap in our understanding of oppression, namely how oppression endures despite (...) widespread formal commitments to principles of equality and justice. I argue that prominent theories of oppression do not place enough weight on the question of how oppression is justified and concealed from us through blame-shifting, in ways that enable its persistence without our explicit approval of its systems. Scapegoating, a concept as old as the Bible, offers potential insight into the means through which we shift blame and avoid responsibility. However, my survey of the genealogy of scapegoating shows that existing conceptualizations of scapegoating are limited in their scope and cannot be applied to explain the endurance of oppression. I propose an ameliorative theory of scapegoating that accounts for deficiencies in prevailing theories of both oppression and scapegoating. Distinct from interpersonal theories and psychologistic analyses of scapegoating, my theory characterizes scapegoating according to its social function in oppression, thereby explaining structural dimensions that are not already captured by other accounts.With the motivation and ingredients in place, I develop my theory of scapegoating as made up of three sub-mechanisms: essentialization of marginalized groups as blameworthy, collective interest in protection against a threat, and social exclusion of the blamed. These sub-mechanisms work together to construct certain groups as scapegoats and encourage us to treat them accordingly through various structural and interpersonal means. I argue that scapegoating has important implications for the formation of social identities; namely, scapegoating constructs social identities in an oppressive arrangement that is largely hidden from us but informs our social and affective relations. By constructing some identities as essentially blameworthy and threatening, dominantly situated identity groups are encouraged to internalize a protected status, act together in defense of their status, and maintain systems of oppressive exclusion. Finally, I elaborate the epistemic dimensions of my theory of scapegoating to argue that scapegoating functions within our social imaginaries and structural epistemic practices. In particular, I focus on the ways that ignorance functions to maintain the scapegoat mechanism, and how scapegoating helps insulate structural forms of ignorance. I end by considering the potential for resistance to scapegoating. (shrink)
There is no specific trans perspective on romantic love. Trans people love and do not love, fall in love and fall out of love, just like everyone else. Trans people inhabit different sexual identities, different relationship types, and different kinds of loving. When it comes to falling in love as or with a trans person, however, things can get more complicated, as questions of gender and sexual identity emerge. In a study by Blair & Hoskin from 2018, 87.5% of the (...) interviewed participants said they would not consider dating a trans person (Blair & Hoskin, 2018). Among those who were open to dating trans people, a pattern emerged: the subjects were disproportionately willing to date trans men but not trans women, even if this preference did not match their own sexual identity; for example, a woman who identifies as a lesbian may be open to dating a trans man but not a trans woman. This seems like a clash of sexual and gender identities: why are women who identify as lesbians willing to date men? This chapter aims to analyze this phenomenon: love between clashing sexual and gender identities – e.g., the love between a man, who identifies as being romantically interested in men, and a trans woman, – and thereby evaluates the limits of romantic love for trans people. Limits of love, in this chapter, are conceived of as normative restrictions on whom and how we love. By exploring cases of clashing sexual and gender identities in romantic love, this chapter analyzes how trans people’s opportunities for love are often limited. (shrink)
The theme of this year’s Spindel Conference was Social Ontologies of Race. This editorial introduction serves as both a general introduction to the topic of racial ontology and an introduction to this volume’s contributions. I will first explain some central ideas for discussions of ontology in general. I will then make some basic taxonomic distinctions common to discussions of racial ontology and suggest some clarifications. I will then go on to discuss the five contributions to this volume.
This thesis explores Officer Cadets' social construction of leadership at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS). It addresses calls for more research into leadership behaviours. Taking a social constructionist perspective, the thesis focuses on unmasking the social construction of Leadership amongst Officer Cadets. This study adopts a reflexive approach, acknowledging the centrality of the researcher in the co-construction of the data. The thesis develops interdisciplinary links between the theoretical areas of Dark Leadership to problematize and inform contemporary understandings of Officer (...) Cadets' social construction of leadership through the emergent findings of the study. This qualitative study employed a mono-method research design consisting of semistructured interviews. Through these, participants shared their lived experiences and gave descriptions and understandings of their past leadership experiences before and current experiences within Sandhurst with a reflexive interview approach. The thesis utilises Reflexive Thematic analysis to interpret the data, with the results presented thematically. The thesis uses reflexive thematic analysis to explore dark leadership through a social constructionist lens; the research has evidenced functional changes to practices within Sandhurst and developed a model of what dark leadership at Sandhurst is from an Officer Cadets view. This approach highlights the importance of contextuality, the person and the situation through a holistic Leadership approach. The thesis proposes a holistic framework for leadership, which would advance toward de-coupling the dichotomies of leadership. (shrink)
What exactly do we mean when we refer to disability as a social construction? How viable are the justifications for this? These questions are explored in this paper. To this end, various theories that are influential in German-language disability studies are examined and criticised. These include Oliver's social model, furthermore the "Thomas theorem", Berger and Luckmann's sociology of knowledge, Foucault's discourse theory and Waldschmidt's theory. Subsequently, social constructivist approaches of Watzlawick and Gergen and Gergen are discussed. It is shown that (...) a relativistic understanding of social construction can be used to deny facticity and thus undermines the foundations of scientific knowledge. This danger must be taken seriously when defending the scientificity of disability studies. (shrink)
My purpose in this text is to offer a general roadmap for navigating most current debates in the metaphysics of social categories regarding what sort of fact it is for a person to inhabit one social category or another—for example, what makes a person Mexican, or gay, or rich. With this goal in mind, I propose classifying the debating positions into three broad camps: common sense theories, socio-historical accounts, and performative theories. I characterise their main differences, identifying the main challenges (...) and achievements of each. I show that for persons well integrated into their categories, the differences between these three broad camps are minuscule, yet become crucial when we try to account for people not so well integrated. Then, I sketch a pluralist proposal that reconciles the three camps I have identified, while doing justice to the challenges presented by interstitial phenomena such as mestizaje, transition, passing, migration, etc. (shrink)
Saying so can make it so, J. L. Austin taught us long ago. Famously, John Searle has developed this Austinian insight in an account of the construction of institutional reality. Searle maintains that so-called Status Function Declarations, allegedly having a “double direction of fit”, synchronically create worldly institutional facts, corresponding to the propositional content of the declarations. I argue that Searle’s account of the making of institutional reality is in tension with the special theory of relativity—irrespective of whether the account (...) is interpreted as involving causal generation or non-causal grounding of worldly institutional facts—and should be replaced by a more modest theory which interprets the results of Status Function Declarations in terms of mere Cambridge change and institutional truth. I end the paper by indicating the import of this more modest theory for theorizing about the causal potency of institutional phenomena generated by declarations. (shrink)
Claims that science may become 'self-fulfilling' through its impact on objects of study have recently risen to prominence. Despite radical statements about the supposed consequences of such accounts, however, the central notion of scientific self-fulfillment has remained obscure, leading to skewed views of its actual prevalence and significance. -/- Self-Fulfilling Science illuminates this underexplored phenomenon, drawing on insights from philosophy of science to address questions of its conceptualization, prevalence, and significance. The book critically engages with the popular notion that economic (...) theories of homo economicus exhibit self-fulfillment, and explores its relevance to various metaphysical, ethical, and epistemic issues. Extreme claims of fundamental incompatibility with our usual notions of scientific success are ill-founded. Instead, self-fulfillment’s true epistemic significance lies in more local, nuanced philosophical issues such as theory evaluation and the thesis of underdetermination. -/- In presenting a novel framework, this book facilitates deeper engagement with the developing field of self-fulfilling science and is of interest to philosophers of science, social scientists, and social constructionists. (shrink)
Real kinds, both natural and social categories, are characterized by rich inductive potential. They have relatively stable sets of conceptually independent projectable properties. Somewhat surprisingly, even some purely social categories show such multiple projectability. The article explores the origin of the inductive richness of social categories and concepts. I argue that existing philosophical accounts provide only a partial explanation, and mechanisms of boundary formation and stabilization must be brought into view for a more comprehensive account of inductively rich social categories.
The paper argues for the necessity of building up a philosophy of the internet and proposes a version of it, an ‘Aristotelian’ philosophy of the internet. First, a short overview of some recent trends in the internet research is presented. This train of thoughts leads to a proposal of understanding the nature of the internet in the spirit of the Aristotelian philosophy i.e., to conceive “the internet as the internet”, as a totality of its all aspects, as a whole entity. (...) For this purpose, the internet is explained in four – easily distinguishable, but obviously connected – contexts: we regard it as a system of technology, as an element of communication, as a cultural medium and as an independent organism. Based on these investigations we conclude that the internet is the medium of a new mode of human existence created by late modern man; a mode that is built on earlier (i.e., natural, and social) spheres of existence and yet it is markedly different from them. We call this newly formed existence web-life. (shrink)
In this article, I explain and defend the concept of multicultural nationhood. Multicultural nationhood accounts for how a nation can have a cohesive identity despite being internally diverse. In Canada, the challenge of nation-building despite the country’s diversity has prompted reflection on how to conceive of the national identity. The two most influential theories of multiculturalism to come from Canada, those of Charles Taylor and Will Kymlicka, emerged through consideration of Canada’s diversity, particularly the place of Québécois, Indigenous peoples, and (...) immigrants in society. I begin by synthesizing Taylor’s and Kymlicka’s theories. I then propose a new subjective definition of nation, wherein the character of a nation is determined by how its members conceive of themselves. Once these concepts are explained, they are combined in an account of multicultural nationhood. Multicultural nationhood involves the cultivation of a national identity wherein various cultural groups are recognized as constitutive of the nation. (shrink)
No presente trabalho, vamos abordar algumas das questões essenciais sobre o imaginário coletivo e suas relações com a realidade e a verdade. Devemos encarar esse assunto em uma estrutura conceptual, seguida pela análise factual correspondente às realidades comportamentais demonstráveis. Adotaremos não apenas a metodologia, mas principalmente os princípios e proposições da filosofia analítica, que com certeza serão evidentes ao longo do estudo e podem ser identificados pelos recursos descritos por Perez : Rabossi (1975) defende a ideia de que a filosofia (...) analítica pode ser identificada considerando-se certas semelhanças familiares. Ele sugere os seguintes traços familiares: uma atitude positiva em relação ao conhecimento científico; uma atitude cautelosa em relação à metafísica; uma concepção da filosofia como uma tarefa conceptual, que toma a análise conteudo como um método; uma estreita relação entre linguagem e filosofia; uma preocupação em buscar respostas argumentativas para problemas filosóficos, e procura de clareza conceptual. Esses conceitos centrais envolvem conteúdos culturais, sociais, religiosos, científicos, filosóficos, morais e políticos, pertencentes à existência individual e coletiva de cada um de nós. Neste artigo, não discutiremos nem demonstraremos. Nosso objetivo não é o de sistematicamente criticar ou evidenciar qualquer coisa, de qualquer maneira. O presente trabalho se baseia na reflexão analítica. Apenas especularemos da maneira mais abrangente e profunda que pudermos e expressaremos os resultados de nossos pensamentos. Não obstante a natureza multidisciplinar do assunto e a abertura metodológica para aceitar contribuições de qualquer campo da ciência, este trabalho pertence ao objetivo da psicologia e ontologia ou, em outros termos, da psicologia social e ontológica. A metodologia livre que norteia tais reflexões abrange e leva em consideração tudo o que se aproxima da coerência com a epistemologia filosófica e psicológica. Essa metodologia não busca alcançar evidências, mas apenas procura a inter-relação entre evidências já existentes, de qualquer natureza e magnitude, inferindo um significado coerente para as coisas reais. Muitos dos grandes pensadores, a qualquer momento, nunca procuraram demonstrações, teorizações ou sistematizações. Esses pensadores apenas pensavam, meditavam e com a iluminação de sua humildade podiam se aproximar da verdade. Eles serão nossa referência e o exemplo a ser seguido. Com certeza, não encontraremos a verdade, mas podemos ter certeza de alguma coisa: em muitos momentos, chegaremos perto da verdade e, em todos os momentos, estaremos nos afastando da inverdade e da mentira. O escopo principal deste estudo é observar como alguns dos atributos evolutivos essenciais da humanidade, como criatividade, imaginação e associação, podem se tornar uma doença perigosa, abrigada nas sombras enevoadas da inteligência. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to develop an understanding-based argument for an explicitly political specification of the concept of race. It is argued that a specification of race in terms of hierarchical social positions is best equipped to guide causal reasoning about racial inequality in the public sphere. Furthermore, the article provides evidence that biological and cultural specifications of race mislead public reasoning by encouraging confusions between correlates and causes of racial inequality. The article concludes with a more general (...) case for incorporating empirical evidence about public reasoning into philosophical debates about competing specifications of the concept of race. (shrink)
What kind of thing, as it were, is power and how does it fit into our understanding of the social world? I approach this question by exploring the pragmatic character of power ascriptions, arguing that they involve fictional expectations directed at an open future. When we take an agent to be powerful, we act as if that agent had a robust capacity to make a difference to the actions of others. While this pretense can never fully live up to a (...) social reality whose future is open, acting on such expectations helps constitute social order. Fictional expectations are thus built into the material practices that constitute power. This account, I argue, helps us make sense of some of the deep disagreements about the nature of power. I develop the account by drawing on Thomas Hobbes’s myth of an original institution of sovereign power before expanding it to other forms of power. (shrink)
In recent years there has been an increased interest in applying the tools and methods of analytic metaphysics to the study of social phenomena. This essay examines how one such tool—the notion of metaphysical ground—may be used to elucidate some central notions, debates, and positions in the philosophy of race and gender, social ontology, and the philosophy of social science. Three main applications are examined: how the notion of social construction may be analyzed in ground-theoretic terms (§1); how debates over (...) the nature of social facts may be recast as grounding debates (§2); and how the doctrine of ontological individualism may be formulated using the notion of ground (§3). The essay concludes by considering a skeptical challenge concerning the usefulness of the grounding framework for social metaphysics (§4). (shrink)
In the social constructionist literature, little has been said about what it means for social factors to cause X in such a way that X would count as causally socially constructed. In this paper, I argue that being caused by social factors – and thus being causally socially constructed – is best defined in terms of a contrastive counterfactual notion of causation. Unlike some plausible alternatives, this definition captures what is at stake in actual social constructionist debates. It makes transparent (...) which factors the truth of a causal constructionist claim may depend on. By doing so, it sheds light on what the disagreements over whether X is causally socially constructed may turn on. It also helps us to see under which condition the claim that X is socially causally constructed is compatible with the claim that X is caused by biological factors. (shrink)
An important question in the debate regarding the nature of politically significant human kinds, such as gender, race, and sexual orientations, is concerned with the question of whether these human kinds are socially constructed (Stein 1999; Root 2000; Haslanger 2012; and Ásta 2013). In order to settle this debate, a more fundamental question needs to be answered: what does it mean to say that a category is socially constructed? -/- Recently, many philosophers have become interested in this issue (Hacking 1999; (...) Stein 1999; Haslanger 2003; Mallon 2007; Diaz-Leon 2015; Ásta 2015). They all seem to agree that there is not a single notion of social construction, but rather, there are different notions of social construction for different purposes. The important question in order to formulate a useful notion of social construction, then, is which project is at issue, and which notion of social construction is more useful for the purposes of that project. In this chapter I will focus on two projects that social constructivists are often interested in, namely, (i) the project of arguing against the inevitability of a trait, that is, to show that those features are not determined by human nature; and (ii) the project of arguing against the universality of a trait, that is, to show that a certain human category or kind is not a universal, transcultural, culture-independent property and that it cannot be applied to other cultures, places, and times; and I will discuss which notion of social construction is more useful with respect to each project. -/- My main questions, then, will be the following: (a) Is there any notion of social construction that entails that if X is socially constructed, then X is not inevitable, that is, X is not determined by human nature? (b) Is there any notion of social construction that entails that if X is socially constructed, then X is not transcultural or universal? (shrink)
The Eurozone crisis has brought the imperative of democratic autonomy within the EU to the forefront, a concern at the core of demoicratic theory. The article seeks to move the scholarship on demoicratic theory a step further by exploring what we call the social construction of demoicratic reality. While the EU’s legal-institutional infrastructure may imperfectly approximate a demoicratic structure, we need ask to what extent the ‘bare bones’ demoicratic character of a polity can actually be grounded in a full-flesh social (...) construct that is or could be acted out in the democratic experience and the self-awareness of its peoples. Ultimately, such an enquiry should help us understand whether a polity like the EU is actually and potentially a stable or unstable political form. We develop a consistent theory of popular sovereignty drawing on John Searle and HLA Hart to conceive the constitutionalised people (dêmos) as a social fact and the sovereignty of the people as a status ascribed to the people. We use this construction of demoicratic reality as a conceptual framework to understand the possibility of popular sovereignty being exercised concurrently by several rather than just one dêmos. (shrink)
Kirk Ludwig presents a philosophical account of institutional action, such as action by corporations and nation states, arguing that it can be understood exhaustively in terms of the agency of individuals and concepts constructed out of materials that are already at play in our understanding of individual action. He thus argues for a strong form of methodological individualism. The book provides a new account of the logical form of grammatically singular group action sentences (e.g. 'Company laid off 10,000 workers'), and (...) features new analyses of the concepts of a constitutive rule, status function, status role, collective acceptance, and proxy agency. He also provides an analysis of the structure of corporate action, including the status of corporations as legal persons, and of the nature of state action in relation to its citizens. This is the companion volume to From Individual to Plural Agency (OUP 2016), extending the multiple-agents account of collective action set out in the earlier volume. (shrink)
Generally, public opinion is measured via polls or survey instruments, with a majority of responses in a particular direction taken to indicate the presence of a given ‘public opinion’. However, discursive psychological and related scholarship has shown that the ontological status of both individual opinion and public opinion is highly suspect. In the first part of this article I draw on this body of work to demonstrate that there is currently no meaningful theoretical foundation for the construct of public opinion (...) as it is typically measured in surveys, polls, or focus groups. I then argue that there is a particular sense in which the construct of public opinion does make sense. In deliberative democratic forums participants engage in dialogue with the aim of coming to collective positions on particular issues. Here I draw on examples of deliberative democratic forums conducted on the social and ethical implications of science and technology. Conversation between participants in deliberative democratic forums is ideally characterized by individuals becoming informed about the issues being discussed, respectful interactions between participants, individuals being open to changing their positions, and a convergence towards collective positions in the interest of formulating civic solutions. The end-product of deliberation on a given issue might thus be termed a deliberative public opinion. ‘Deliberative public opinion’ is neither a cognitive nor an aggregate construct, but rather a socio-historical product. Criteria for its legitimacy rely on the inclusiveness of diversity of perspectives and the degree to which collective positions are defensible to a larger society. (shrink)
Many philosophers take mind-independence to be criterial for realism about kinds. This is problematic when it comes to psychological and social kinds, which are unavoidably mind-dependent. But reflection on the case of artificial or synthetic kinds shows that the criterion of mind-independence needs to be qualified in certain ways. However, I argue that none of the usual variants on the criterion of mind-dependence is capable of distinguishing real or natural kinds from non-real kinds. Although there is a way of modifying (...) the criterion of mind-independence in such a way as to rule in artificial kinds but rule out psychological and social kinds, this does not make the latter non-real. I conclude by proposing a different way of distinguishing real from non-real kinds, which does not involve mind-independence and does not necessarily exclude psychological and social kinds. (shrink)
The thesis of social constructionism is that emotions are shaped by culture and society. I build on this insight to show that existing social constructionist views of emotions, while providing valid research methods, overly restrict the scope of the social constructionist agenda. The restriction is due to the ontological assumption that social construction is indissociable from language. In the first part, I describe the details of the influential social constructionist views of Averill and Harré. Drawing on recent theorizing in psychology, (...) I suggest that their fixation on language makes these approaches inadequate to the analysis of the social construction of human emotional experience. In the second part, I extend the argument to other species, suggesting that these social constructionist views are incapable of accommodating the fact, ascertained by primatologists, that animals have cultures, and that part of animal culture concerns the social molding of their emotions. I conclude that a reconstructed social constructionism should be regarded not as inimical to, but as part and parcel of, a nonreductive biology of emotions. (shrink)
The starting point of the following inquiry addresses John Searle’s and Ian Hacking’s most prominent critique of contemporary “constructionism” in the 1990s. It is stimulated by the astonishing fact that neither Hacking nor Searle take into account Peter Berger’s and Thomas Luckmann’s classical essay and sociological masterpiece The Social Construction of Reality in their contributions. Critically revisiting Searle’s and Hacking’s critique on the so-called constructivist approach, the article demonstrates that both authors have failed to put forth a sociologically valid understanding (...) of the approach in question. The following analysis aims to deconstruct the conceptualizations offered by Searle and Hacking, and to reconstruct and defend the original sense of the term “social construction” as most prominently introduced by Berger and Luckmann to sociology, and social sciences in general. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss the question of what it means to say that a property is socially constructed. I focus on an influential project that many social constructivists are engaged in, namely, arguing against the inevitability of a trait, and I examine several recent characterizations of social construction, with the aim of assessing which one is more suited to the task.
This article will begin by outlining influential attempts by historians and sociologists to develop a more adequate theoretical understanding of past and contemporary childhoods, focusing on the major problems that stem from the pivotal role that ‘developmentalism’ plays in their arguments. I will argue that sociologists can overcome some of their deepest fears about the role of developmental psychology by developing a relational approach that integrates the biological and social aspects of children’s development. In the development of a relational sociology (...) of early childhood we need to make important connections with closely related disciplines, but at the same time draw on and integrate research findings from relevant areas within the social and natural sciences. An alternative perspective drawn from the writings of Norbert Elias will be put forward and illustrated by discussing some of the key concepts that Elias and Vygotsky used to explain the language development of young children. (shrink)
This article examines three key aetiological theories of autism, which emerged within cognitive psychology in the latter half of the 1980s. Drawing upon Foucault’s notion of ‘forms of possible knowledge’, and in particular his concept of savoir or depth knowledge, two key claims are made. First, it is argued that a particular production of autism became available to questions of truth and falsity following a radical reconstruction of ‘the social’ in which human sociality was taken both to exclusively concern interpersonal (...) interaction and to be continuous with non-social cognition. Second, it is suggested that this reconstruction of the social has affected the contemporary cultural experience of autism, shifting attention towards previously unacknowledged cognitive aspects of the condition. The article concludes by situating these claims in relation to other historical accounts of the emergence of autism and ongoing debates surrounding changing articulations of social action in the psy disciplines. (shrink)
In The Social Construction of Sexuality, Steven Seidman investigates the political and social consequences of privileging certain sexual practices and identities while stigmatizing others. Addressing a range of topics from gay and lesbian identities to sex work, Seidman delves into issues of social control that inform popular beliefs and moral standards. The new Third Edition features three new chapters that focus on the changing cultures of intimacy, the promise and perils of cyber intimacies, and youth struggles to negotiate independence and (...) intimate solidarity. (shrink)
Could some social kinds be natural kinds? In this paper, I argue that there are three kinds of social kinds: 1) social kinds whose existence does not depend on human beings having any beliefs or other propositional attitudes towards them ; 2) social kinds whose existence depends in part on specific attitudes that human beings have towards them, though attitudes need not be manifested towards their particular instances ; 3) social kinds whose existence and that of their instances depend in (...) part on specific attitudes that human beings have towards them . Although all three kinds of social kinds are mind-dependent, this does not make them ontologically subjective or preclude them from being natural kinds. Rather, what prevents the third kind of social kinds from being natural kinds is that their properties are conventionally rather than causally linked. (shrink)
This paper examines the phenomenon of ‘interactive kinds’ first identified by Ian Hacking. An interactive kind is one that is created or significantly modified once a concept of it has been formulated and acted upon in certain ways. Interactive kinds may also ‘loop back’ to influence our concepts and classifications. According to Hacking, interactive kinds are found exclusively in the human domain. After providing a general account of interactive kinds and outlining their philosophical significance, I argue that they are not (...) confined to the human realm, but that they can also occur elsewhere. Hence, I conclude by arguing that interactive kinds pose a challenge to scientific realism about kinds by making it difficult to make a distinction between real and non-real kinds. (shrink)
Nancy J. Hirschmann presents a feminist, social constructionist account of women's freedom. Friedman's discussion of Hirschmanns account deals with some conceptual problems facing a thoroughgoing social constructionism; three ways to modify social constructionism to avoid those problems; and an assessment of Hirschmann's version of social constructionism in light of the previous discussion.
Here, Hirschmann responds to Marilyn Friedman and Susan]. Brison's comments on The Subject of Liberty: Toward a Feminist Theory of Freedom. She clarifies some aspects of her social construction argument, articulates the role of discourse and its relation to material reality, and explicates the potentially paradoxical case of support for women's choices when those choices produce harm.
Although others have focused on Catharine MacKinnon's claim that pornography subordinates and silences women, I here focus on her claim that pornography constructs women's nature and that this construction is, in some sense, false. Since it is unclear how pornography, as speech, can construct facts and how constructed facts can nevertheless be false, MacKinnon's claim requires elucidation. Appealing to speech act theory, I introduce an analysis of the erroneous verdictive and use it to make sense of MacKinnon's constructionist claims. I (...) also show that the erroneous verdictive is of more general interest. (shrink)
Ian Hacking, Hacking and Latour on science studies and metaphysics: The Social Construction of What?Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-81200-X Bruno Latour, Pandora's Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science StudiesHarvard University Press, ISBN0-67-465336-X.
The ontology of marketing, particularly the question of what products and brands are, is still largely unexplored. The ontological status of brands hinges on their relationship with products. Idealists about brands see perceptual or cognitive acts of consumers grouped under the heading ‘brand awareness’ or ‘brand image’ as constitutive for the existence of brands so that, in their view, tools of the marketing mix can influence relevant mental dispositions and attitudes. Brand realists, on the other hand, reject the view of (...) brands as mere marks or names and interpret them as emergent products with properties that afford branding in the sense of Gibson’s ecological psychology. Brand strength is a function of the degree to which brands occupy defensible niches in product space. Branding as a process involves changing external or internal boundaries of products. Several arguments are proposed in favor of brand realism. The fragments of an ontology of marketing are developed in a broadly Aristotelian framework. Brand realism has significant implications for a new understanding of issues ranging from the effects of advertising to financial brand valuation, the nature of trademarks, and marketing strategy in general. It permits one to treat brand equity as a real phenomenon not dependent on associations, attitudinal states such as brand loyalty, or spurious constructs such as brand character or personality. (shrink)