The ontology of social groups

Synthese 196 (12):4829-4845 (2019)

Authors
Amie Thomasson
Dartmouth College
Abstract
Two major questions have dominated work on the metaphysics of social groups: first, Are there any? And second, What are they? I will begin by arguing that the answer to the ontological question is an easy and obvious ‘yes’. We do better to turn our efforts elsewhere, addressing the question: “What are social groups?” One might worry, however, about this question on grounds that the general term ‘social group’ seems like a term of art—not a well-used concept we can analyze, or can presuppose corresponds to a real kind we can investigate. But while the general notion of ‘social group’ may be a term of art, our terms for clubs and courts, races and genders, are not. It is worth stepping back to ask what function these social group concepts serve. I will argue that individual social group concepts function to give normative structure to our lives together. Paying attention to the role of norms in social groups, I will argue, can enable us to provide a unified understanding of the importance of core social groups, while still respecting the great differences among social groups of different kinds.
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-016-1185-y
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Social Structures and the Ontology of Social Groups.Katherine Ritchie - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (2):402-424.
Metaphysics and Social Justice.Aaron M. Griffith - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (6).
Replies to Comments on Ontology Made Easy.Amie L. Thomasson - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (1):251-264.
Realizing Race.Aaron M. Griffith - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.

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