Social Kinds: A User's Manual

Dissertation, University at Buffalo (2022)
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This is a dissertation in social ontology, whose goal is to defend a constructivist account of social kinds. First, I show how there is no fully satisfactory characterization or definition of the social, but that we can rely on an intuitive understanding on which entities count as social entities. Second, I clarify what I mean by ‘social category’ or ‘social kind,’ which I define as a partition of entities that bear and share certain social properties. Third, I argue against what I call ‘Natural Boundaries Realism,’ the view according to which there are at least some social kinds that are not constructed. Fourth, I develop my constructivist account, claiming that social kinds are concepts, and showing several ways in which they are created. Fifth, I argue that social kinds may be natural kinds, and that the Stable Property Cluster account of natural kinds is the one that best accommodates the existence of social kinds that are also natural kinds. Finally, I show how values may play a role in the making of social kinds, and how my constructive account accommodates these normative inputs.



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Francesco Franda
Université de Neuchâtel

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