The Metaphysics of Social Groups

Philosophy Compass 10 (5):310-321 (2015)
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Abstract

Social groups, including racial and gender groups and teams and committees, seem to play an important role in our world. This article examines key metaphysical questions regarding groups. I examine answers to the question ‘Do groups exist?’ I argue that worries about puzzles of composition, motivations to accept methodological individualism, and a rejection of Racialism support a negative answer to the question. An affirmative answer is supported by arguments that groups are efficacious, indispensible to our best theories, and accepted given common sense. Then, I turn to an examination of the features of social groups. I argue that social groups can be divided into two sorts. Groups of Type 1 are organized social groups like courts and clubs. Groups of Type 2 are groups like Blacks, women, and lesbians. While groups of both sorts have some features in common, they also have marked differences in features. Finally, I turn to views of the nature of social groups. I argue that the difference in features provides evidence that social groups do not have a uniform nature. Teams and committees are structured wholes, while race and gender groups are social kinds

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Katherine Ritchie
University of California, Irvine

Citations of this work

Social Structures and the Ontology of Social Groups.Katherine Ritchie - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (2):402-424.
The Ontology of Social Groups.Amie Thomasson - 2019 - Synthese 196 (12):4829-4845.
Social Ontology.Brian Epstein - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Metaphysics of Social Kinds.Rebecca Mason - 2016 - Philosophy Compass 11 (12):841-850.

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