Qua Objects and Their Limits

Mind 130 (518):617-638 (2021)
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It is both a matter of everyday experience and a tenet of sociological theory that people often occupy a range of social roles and identities, some of which are associated with mutually incompatible properties. But since nothing could have incompatible properties, it is not clear how this is possible. It has been suggested, notably by Kit Fine (1982, 1999, 2006), that the puzzling relation between a person and their various social roles and identities can be explained by admitting an ontology of social qua objects—objects constituted by, yet distinct from, the persons on which they are based. This article argues that admitting even a rich ontology of such qua objects does not suffice to explain the puzzle cases of interest. Instead, alternative resources are required which, once available, diminish the motivation for adopting an ontology of social qua objects in the first place. The paper concludes by considering whether there remains work for social qua objects in explaining differences in persistence conditions between a person and the social individuals to which they may give rise, but reaches a negative verdict. Social qua objects, if they exist, have little work to do in our theorizing about the relation between a person and their various social roles and identities.



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Annina J. Loets
Humboldt-University, Berlin

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Things and Their Parts.Kit Fine - 1999 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 23 (1):61-74.
Metaphysical essays.John Hawthorne - 2006 - New York: Clarendon Press. Edited by John Hawthorne.
Hylomorphism.Mark Johnston - 2006 - Journal of Philosophy 103 (12):652-698.

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