Four conceptions of social pathology

European Journal of Social Theory 22 (1):80-102 (2019)
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Abstract

This article starts with the idea that the task of social philosophy can be defined as the diagnosis and therapy of social pathologies. It discusses four conceptions of social pathology. The first two conceptions are ‘normativist’ and hold that something is a social pathology if it is socially wrong. On the first view, there is no encompassing characterization of social pathologies available: it is a cluster concept of family resemblances. On the second view, social pathologies share a structure (e.g. second-order disorder). The last two conceptions are ‘naturalist’ and hold that something is wrong because it is pathological. The third view takes it that society is the kind of substance that can fall ill – an organism. The fourth view operates with the notion of a social life that can degenerate. The four conceptions are compared along six criteria: (1) is the view plausible?; (2) is it informative (if true)?; (3) does it help define the task of social philosophy?; (4) does it take naturalistic vocabulary seriously?; (5) does it hold that pathologies share a structure?; and (6) how does it see the primacy of being wrong and being pathological?

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Author Profiles

Arto Laitinen
Tampere University

References found in this work

Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1953 - New York, NY, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. Edited by G. E. M. Anscombe.
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Natural goodness.Philippa Foot - 2001 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Freedom of the will and the concept of a person.Harry Frankfurt - 2004 - In Tim Crane & Katalin Farkas (eds.), Metaphysics: a guide and anthology. New York: Oxford University Press.

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