Social metaphysics, situated knowledge, and democracy

Dissertation, University of Birmingham (2021)


This thesis provides three core arguments. The first core argument is a criticism of ‘identity’ views of metaphysics, in particular Haslangerian social constructivist metaphysics. Having made this criticism, I argue in favour of using the notion of ‘habitus’ from Bourdieu to account for the functional signature traditionally associated with identity, and apply this way of thinking about social metaphysics to social class. The second core argument applies social constructivist metaphysics to the issue of situated knowledge. I argue that we can conceive of much of situated knowledge as being knowledge-how, rather than propositional knowledge. I do this by arguing that only knowledge-how can justify the social epistemic norms that are ascribed to situated knowledge. The third core argument applies this view of situated knowledge to political philosophy. I argue against the interpretation of my previous arguments as supporting epistocracy, and in doing so combine Thomas Christiano's instrumentalist argument for democracy with the demographic argument against epistocracy, creating a new 'demographic instrumentalist' argument for democracy. The sum of these three core arguments is an argument for the importance of maintaining a diverse set of decision-makers in political decision making.

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References found in this work

Epiphenomenal Qualia.Frank Jackson - 1982 - Philosophical Quarterly 32 (April):127-136.
Against Democracy: New Preface.Jason Brennan - 2016 - Princeton University Press.

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