Social structural explanation

Philosophy Compass 16 (10):e12782 (2021)
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Social problems such as racism, sexism, and inequality are often cited as structural rather than individual in nature. What does it mean to invoke a social structural explanation, and how do such explanations relate to individualistic ones? This article explores recent philosophical debates concerning the nature and usages of social structural explanation. I distinguish between two central kinds of social structural explanation: those that are autonomous from psychology, and those that are not. This distinction will help clarify the explanatory power that each type of SSE has, points of convergence with methodological traditions such as critical theory and rational choice theory, and the difficulties that each type of SSE faces.


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Valerie Soon
Stanford University

Citations of this work

Culture and Cognitive Science.Andreas De Block & Daniel Kelly - 2022 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Against ‘institutional racism’.D. C. Matthew - 2024 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 50 (6):971-996.
Artificial Knowing Otherwise.Os Keyes & Kathleen Creel - 2022 - Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 8 (3).
Culture and cognitive science.Jesse Prinz - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Critiquing racist ideology as harmful social norms.Keunchang Oh - forthcoming - Philosophy and Social Criticism.

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References found in this work

Causation.David Lewis - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (17):556-567.
What is a (social) structural explanation?Sally Haslanger - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):113-130.
Oppressive Things.Shen-yi Liao & Bryce Huebner - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 103 (1):92-113.
Explanatory unification.Philip Kitcher - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (4):507-531.
Justice, Gender and the Family.Susan Moller Okin - 1989 - Hypatia 8 (1):209-214.

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