The metaphysical issues in the social sciences and how social scientists debate them

Synthese 200 (6):1-20 (2022)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Most philosophical work on social ontology continues to be done without much connection to social scientific concerns. This special issue, however, calls for attention to a naturalized metaphysics, one based on the best science we have. It follows that a naturalized social metaphysics should begin with the best social science available. In contrast with the physical sciences, however, the best social science is not so clear. Thus, this paper acquaints professional philosophers with some of the prominent metaphysical views extant in the social sciences; the ways that more philosophically oriented social scientists engage them; and how professional philosophers might contribute.In particular, the paper covers several arguments especially relevant to a naturalized social metaphysics. One argument suggests that folk intuitions cannot be excluded from consideration. In fact, in the social sphere, it may be that scientific concepts not only cannot always trump folk conceptions but actually must be constrained by them. The paper further introduces arguments defending not only metaphysically real levels of being but also the metaphysical reality of the categories of social science. Finally, the paper will introduce an argument that beyond culture and individual agency, social being also includes structure as a distinct category.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,069

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Social Ontology and Model-Building: A Response to Epstein.Nadia Ruiz - 2021 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 51 (2):176-192.
Debating the Reality of Race, Caste, and Ethnicity.Harold Kincaid - 2018 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 48 (2):139-167.
Social reality.Finn Collin - 1997 - New York: Routledge.
Grounding and anchoring: on the structure of Epstein’s social ontology.Mari Mikkola - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (2):198-216.
Concepts and society.Ian Charles Jarvie - 1972 - London,: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Reconceptualizing social sciences.Dr Moonis Ahmar - 2015 - Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities 54 (1):17-26.
Are debatable scientific questions debatable?John Ziman - 2000 - Social Epistemology 14 (2 & 3):187 – 199.


Added to PP

35 (#403,988)

6 months
20 (#105,848)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Douglas Porpora
Drexel University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

What do philosophers believe?David Bourget & David J. Chalmers - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 170 (3):465-500.
What is a (social) structural explanation?Sally Haslanger - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):113-130.
Real patterns.Daniel C. Dennett - 1991 - Journal of Philosophy 88 (1):27-51.
Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized.James Ladyman & Don Ross - 2007 - In James Ladyman, Don Ross, David Spurrett & John Collier (eds.), Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized. Oxford University Press.

View all 28 references / Add more references