The Ant Trap: Rebuilding the Foundations of the Social Sciences

Oxford University Press (2015)

Authors
Brian Epstein
Tufts University
Abstract
We live in a world of crowds and corporations, artworks and artifacts, legislatures and languages, money and markets. These are all social objects — they are made, at least in part, by people and by communities. But what exactly are these things? How are they made, and what is the role of people in making them? In The Ant Trap, Brian Epstein rewrites our understanding of the nature of the social world and the foundations of the social sciences. Epstein explains and challenges the three prevailing traditions about how the social world is made. One tradition takes the social world to be built out of people, much as traffic is built out of cars. A second tradition also takes people to be the building blocks of the social world, but focuses on thoughts and attitudes we have toward one another. And a third tradition takes the social world to be a collective projection onto the physical world. Epstein shows that these share critical flaws. Most fundamentally, all three traditions overestimate the role of people in building the social world: they are overly anthropocentric. Epstein starts from scratch, bringing the resources of contemporary metaphysics to bear. In the place of traditional theories, he introduces a model based on a new distinction between the grounds and the anchors of social facts. Epstein illustrates the model with a study of the nature of law, and shows how to interpret the prevailing traditions about the social world. Then he turns to social groups, and to what it means for a group to take an action or have an intention. Contrary to the overwhelming consensus, these often depend on more than the actions and intentions of group members.
Keywords social ontology  social science  ontology  individualism  holism  grounding  anchoring  groups  intention
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2018
ISBN(s) 9780190871758
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Explaining Essences.Michael J. Raven - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.
Collective Responsibility in a Hollywood Standoff.Sara Rachel Chant - 2015 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 4 (2):83-92.
Scholarship as a Vocation: Reflections on the Past and Future of Social Science.Zhasmina Tacheva - 2016 - Emerging Perspectives: School of Management Review 1 (1):5-19.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Ontological Individualism Reconsidered.Brian Epstein - 2009 - Synthese 166 (1):187-213.
When Local Models Fail.Brian Epstein - 2008 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 38 (1):3-24.
A New Societist Social Ontology.Theodore R. Schatzki - 2003 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 33 (2):174-202.
On the Possibility of Naturalised Anti-Individualism in Social Ontology.Antti Saaristo - 2007 - The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 5:115-121.
Agent-Based Modeling and the Fallacies of Individualism.Brian Epstein - 2011 - In Paul Humphreys & Cyrille Imbert (eds.), Models, Simulations, and Representations. Routledge. pp. 115444.
Collective Acceptance and Social Reality.Raimo Tuomela - 2001 - The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 11:161-171.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2014-07-17

Total views
606 ( #4,972 of 2,325,390 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
59 ( #8,268 of 2,325,390 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature