Nonideal Social Ontology: The Power View

New York, NY: Oxford University Press (2023)
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Abstract

This book argues for the use of nonideal theory in social ontology. The central claim is that a paradigm shift is underway in contemporary social ontology, from ideal to nonideal, and that this shift should be fully followed through. To develop and defend this central claim, the first step is to show that the key questions and central dividing lines within contemporary social ontology can be fruitfully reconstructed as a clash between two worlds, referred to as ideal and nonideal social ontology. Ideal social ontology is characterized by consensus and cooperation, while nonideal social ontology is characterized by conflict and contestation. The second step is to show that, when taken together, objections to the standard model of ideal social ontology (the dominant version of ideal social ontology) imply that this model needs to be given up in favor of nonideal social ontology. In other words, we should look to nonideal rather than ideal social ontology for core concepts. The third step is to offer a positive account, called the power view, of nonideal social ontology. This account places the concept of social power at the core of a general theory of the social world and replaces the flat and narrow conception of power in ideal social ontology with a richer and more extensive conception. In addition, it rectifies a shortcoming in nonideal social ontology by attending to class, which has been notably and oddly overlooked in the literature.

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Åsa Burman
Stockholm University

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Critical social ontology.Kevin Richardson - 2023 - Synthese 201 (6):1-19.

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