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  1. Towards a Deflationary Truthmakers Account of Social Groups.Tobias Hansson Wahlberg - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-18.
    I outline a deflationary truthmakers account of social groups. Potentially, the approach allows us to say, with traditional ontological individualists, that there are only pluralities of individuals out there, ontologically speaking, but that there are nevertheless colloquial and social-scientific truths about social groups. If tenable, this kind of theory has the virtue of being both ontologically parsimonious and compatible with ordinary and social-scientific discourse—a virtue which the stock reductive / ontological dependence accounts of social groups arguably lack.
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  2. Social kind realism as relative frame manipulability.Yorgos Karagiannopoulos & Alexios Stamatiadis-Bréhier - 2024 - Philosophical Studies:1-25.
    In this paper we introduce the view that realism about a social kind K entails that the grounding conditions of K are difficult (or impossible) to manipulate. In other words, we define social kind realism in terms of relative frame manipulability (RFM). In articulating our view, we utilize theoretical resources from Epstein’s (Epstein, The ant trap: Rebuilding the foundations of the Social Sciences. Oxford University Press, 2015) grounding/anchoring model and causal interventionism. After comparing our view with causal and principle-based (Tahko, (...)
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  3. Social Inconsistency.Thomas Brouwer - 2022 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 9.
    Though the social world is real and objective, the way that social facts arise out of other facts is in an important way shaped by human thought, talk and behaviour. Building on recent work in social ontology, I describe a mechanism whereby this distinctive malleability of social facts, combined with the possibility of basic human error, makes it possible for a consistent physical reality to ground an inconsistent social reality. I explore various ways of resisting the prima facie case for (...)
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  4. Open Questions in the Metaphysics of Habitable Categories.Axel Barceló - 2021 - EurAmerica 4 (50):669-707.
    My purpose in this text is to offer a general roadmap for navigating most current debates in the metaphysics of social categories regarding what sort of fact it is for a person to inhabit one social category or another—for example, what makes a person Mexican, or gay, or rich. With this goal in mind, I propose classifying the debating positions into three broad camps: common sense theories, socio-historical accounts, and performative theories. I characterise their main differences, identifying the main challenges (...)
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  5. How to Project a Socially Constructed Sexual Orientation.Peter Finocchiaro - 2021 - Journal of Social Ontology 7 (2):173-203.
    Was bisexuality a widespread feature of ancient Greek society? This question is an instance of cross-cultural projection -- of taking the means through which people are categorized in one culture and applying it to members of another. It’s widely held by those who think that sexual orientation is socially constructed that its projection poses a problem. In this paper, I offer a more careful analysis of this alleged problem. To analyze projection, I adapt Iris Einheuser’s substratum-carving model of conventionalism to (...)
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  6. The creation of institutional reality, special theory of relativity, and mere Cambridge change.Tobias Hansson Wahlberg - 2021 - Synthese 198 (6):5835-5860.
    Saying so can make it so, J. L. Austin taught us long ago. Famously, John Searle has developed this Austinian insight in an account of the construction of institutional reality. Searle maintains that so-called Status Function Declarations, allegedly having a “double direction of fit”, synchronically create worldly institutional facts, corresponding to the propositional content of the declarations. I argue that Searle’s account of the making of institutional reality is in tension with the special theory of relativity—irrespective of whether the account (...)
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  7. Social Ontology and Model-Building: A Response to Epstein.Nadia Ruiz - 2021 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 51 (2):176-192.
    Brian Epstein has recently argued that a thoroughly microfoundationalist approach towards economics is unconvincing for metaphysical reasons. Generally, Epstein argues that for an improvement in the methodology of social science we must adopt social ontology as the foundation of social sciences; that is, the standing microfoundationalist debate could be solved by fixing economics’ ontology. However, as I show in this paper, fixing the social ontology prior to the process of model construction is optional instead of necessary and that metaphysical-ontological commitments (...)
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  8. Explaining Ideology: Mechanisms and Metaphysics.Matteo Bianchin - 2020 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 50 (4):313-337.
    Ideology is commonly defined along functional, epistemic, and genetic dimensions. This article advances a reasonably unified account that specifies how they connect and locates the mechanisms at work. I frame the account along a recent distinction between anchoring and grounding, endorse an etiological reading of functional explanations, and draw on current work about the epistemology of delusion, looping effects, and structuring causes to explain how ideologies originate, reproduce, and possibly collapse. This eventually allows articulating how the legitimating function of ideologies (...)
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  9. Against Conventional Wisdom.Alexander W. Kocurek, Ethan Jerzak & Rachel Etta Rudolph - 2020 - Philosophers' Imprint 20 (22):1-27.
    Conventional wisdom has it that truth is always evaluated using our actual linguistic conventions, even when considering counterfactual scenarios in which different conventions are adopted. This principle has been invoked in a number of philosophical arguments, including Kripke’s defense of the necessity of identity and Lewy’s objection to modal conventionalism. But it is false. It fails in the presence of what Einheuser (2006) calls c-monsters, or convention-shifting expressions (on analogy with Kaplan’s monsters, or context-shifting expressions). We show that c-monsters naturally (...)
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  10. Replies to Hawley, Mikkola, and Hindriks.Brian Epstein - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (2):230-246.
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  11. Comments on Brian Epstein’s The Ant Trap.Katherine Hawley - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (2):217-229.
    ABSTRACTThe Ant Trap is a terrific book, which opens up new opportunities to use philosophical methods in the social realm, by drawing on the tools and techniques of contemporary metaphysics. Epstein uses concepts of dependence, constitution, and grounding, of parts and whole, of membership and kindhood, both to clarify existing accounts of social reality and to develop an account of his own. Whilst I admire the general strategy, I take issue with some aspects of Epstein’s implementation, notably his distinction between (...)
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  12. Epstein on groups: virtues of the status account.Frank Hindriks - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (2):185-197.
    ABSTRACTEpstein compares models of group agents that focus on their internal organization to models that focus on the statuses they have. He argues that status models are inadequate because agency is not something that can be attributed by fiat. Even if this is true, however, certain agential powers can be attributed to group agents. I argue that Epstein’s arguments stand to benefit a lot from recognizing that some group agents have statuses and constitute corporate agents. For instance, only corporate agents (...)
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  13. Grounding and anchoring: on the structure of Epstein’s social ontology.Mari Mikkola - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (2):198-216.
    ABSTRACTBrian Epstein’s The Ant Trap is a praiseworthy addition to literature on social ontology and the philosophy of social sciences. Its central aim is to challenge received views about the social world – views with which social scientists and philosophers have aimed to answer questions about the nature of social science and about those things that social sciences aim to model and explain, like social facts, objects and phenomena. The received views that Epstein critiques deal with these issues in an (...)
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  14. Book Review: Epstein Brian The Ant Trap : Rebuilding the Foundations of the Social Sciences. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. 298 pp. $36.04. ISBN 978-0-19-938110-4. [REVIEW]Francesco Di Iorio & Catherine Herfeld - 2018 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 48 (1):105-128.
  15. Social construction: big-G grounding, small-g realization.Aaron M. Griffith - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (1):241-260.
    The goal of this paper is to make headway on a metaphysics of social construction. In recent work, I’ve argued that social construction should be understood in terms of metaphysical grounding. However, I agree with grounding skeptics like Wilson that bare claims about what grounds what are insufficient for capturing, with fine enough grain, metaphysical dependence structures. To that end, I develop a view on which the social construction of human social kinds is a kind of realization relation. Social kinds, (...)
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  16. Social Construction and Grounding.Aaron M. Griffith - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 97 (2):393-409.
    The aim of this paper is to bring recent work on metaphysical grounding to bear on the phenomenon of social construction. It is argued that grounding can be used to analyze social construction and that the grounding framework is helpful for articulating various claims and commitments of social constructionists, especially about social identities, e.g., gender and race. The paper also responds to a number of objections that have been leveled against the application of grounding to social construction from Elizabeth Barnes, (...)
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  17. Brian Epstein, The Ant Trap: Rebuilding the Foundations of the Social Sciences: New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. Hardcover € 32,04, 298 pp.Andrés Alonso Martos - 2017 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (3):689-691.
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  18. Précis of The Ant Trap.Epstein Brian - 2016 - Journal of Social Ontology 2 (1):125-134.
    This article summarizes The Ant Trap: Rebuilding the Foundations of the Social Sciences. The book develops a new model for social ontology, applies it to groups and collective intentionality, and criticizes various forms of individualism. Part One of the book presents two traditional approaches to social ontology and unifies them into the “grounding–anchoring model” for the building of the social world. Part Two shows that individualism is mistaken even for basic facts about groups of people, challenges prevailing views of group (...)
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  19. Replies to Guala and Gallotti.Epstein Brian - 2016 - Journal of Social Ontology 2 (1):159-172.
    This article responds to comments by Francesco Guala and Mattia Gallotti on The Ant Trap. In the replies, I address the relation of new advances in cognitive science to the study of collective attitudes, clarify distinct questions we might ask about grounding and about anchoring in social ontology, defend various forms of pluralism about grounds and about anchors, and discuss the type-token distinction as it applies to social entities.
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  20. Epstein on Anchors and Grounds.Guala Francesco - 2016 - Journal of Social Ontology 2 (1):135-147.
    The distinction between anchors and grounds is one of the most innovative contributions of The Ant Trap. In this commentary I will argue that the distinction suffers from an ambiguity between tokens and types. This leads Epstein to endorse pluralism about anchors and grounds, a position that is not justified in the book and to which there are plausible alternatives.
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  21. Theorizing with a purpose: The many kinds of sex.Sally Haslanger - 2016 - In Catherine Kendig (ed.), Natural Kinds and Classification in Scientific Practice. London: Routledge. pp. 129-144.
    The paper indicates how social kinds may be internally and objectively unified in a way continuous with physical kinds. It argues that the practice of theorizing is continuous with other practices to the extent that theorists, like anyone engaged in a practice, needs to make choices that are responsive to purposes (and corresponding values) guiding the practice. The paper discusses Epstein's theory of anchoring, and argues for a theory of scaffolding social kinds.
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  22. The Ant Trap: Rebuilding the Foundations of the Social Sciences, Brian Epstein. Oxford University Press, 2015, viii + 298 pages. [REVIEW]Mantas Radzvilas - 2016 - Economics and Philosophy 32 (3):553-560.
  23. Brian Epstein, The Ant Trap: Rebuilding the Foundations of the Social Sciences. Reviewed by.James K. Swindler - 2016 - Philosophy in Review 36 (3):103-108.
    In The Ant Trap, Brian Epstein proposes a bold new systematic strategy for developing social ontology. He explores the history and current state of the art and provides pointed critiques of leading theories in the field. His framework, incompassing frames that provide principles for grounding social facts, is developed in some detail across a variety of social practices and applied to revealing real world as well as hyporthetical examples. If Epstein's account holds, it should provide new directions and standards of (...)
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  24. A Framework for Social Ontology.Brian Epstein - 2015 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 46 (2):147-167.
    This paper sets out an organizing framework for the field of social ontology, the study of the nature of the social world. The subject matter of social ontology is clarified, in particular the difference between it and the study of causal relations and the explanation of social phenomena. Two different inquiries are defined and explained: the study of the grounding of social facts, and the study of how social categories are “anchored” or set up. The distinction between these inquiries is (...)
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  25. The Ant Trap: Rebuilding the Foundations of the Social Sciences.Brian Epstein - 2015 - New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
    We live in a world of crowds and corporations, artworks and artifacts, legislatures and languages, money and markets. These are all social objects — they are made, at least in part, by people and by communities. But what exactly are these things? How are they made, and what is the role of people in making them? In The Ant Trap, Brian Epstein rewrites our understanding of the nature of the social world and the foundations of the social sciences. Epstein explains (...)
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  26. The social ontology trap: Brian Epstein: The ant trap: rebuilding the foundation of the social sciences. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015, pp 298 HB.Mark Risjord - 2015 - Metascience 25 (1):135-137.
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  27. What is Individualism in Social Ontology? Ontological Individualism vs. Anchor Individualism.Brian Epstein - 2014 - In Finn Collin & Julie Zahle (eds.), Rethinking the Individualism/Holism Debate: Essays in the Philosophy of Social Science.
    Individualists about social ontology hold that social facts are “built out of” facts about individuals. In this paper, I argue that there are two distinct kinds of individualism about social ontology, two different ways individual people might be the metaphysical “builders” of the social world. The familiar kind is ontological individualism. This is the thesis that social facts supervene on, or are exhaustively grounded by, facts about individual people. What I call anchor individualism is the alternative thesis that facts about (...)
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  28. How Many Kinds of Glue Hold the Social World Together.Brian Epstein - 2014 - In Mattia Gallotti & John Michael (eds.), Social Ontology and Social Cognition.
    In recent years, theorists have debated how we introduce new social objects and kinds into the world. Searle, for instance, proposes that they are introduced by collective acceptance of a constitutive rule; Millikan and Elder that they are the products of reproduction processes; Thomasson that they result from creator intentions and subsequent intentional reproduction; and so on. In this chapter, I argue against the idea that there is a single generic method or set of requirements for doing so. Instead, there (...)
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  29. Social Objects Without Intentions.Brian Epstein - 2013 - In Anita Konzelmann Ziv & Hans Bernhard Schmid (eds.), Institutions, Emotions, and Group Agents: Contributions to Social Ontology. pp. 53-68.
    It is often seen as a truism that social objects and facts are the product of human intentions. I argue that the role of intentions in social ontology is commonly overestimated. I introduce a distinction that is implicit in much discussion of social ontology, but is often overlooked: between a social entity’s “grounds” and its “anchors.” For both, I argue that intentions, either individual or collective, are less essential than many theorists have assumed. Instead, I propose a more worldly – (...)
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  30. Agent-based modeling and the fallacies of individualism.Brian Epstein - 2011 - In Paul Humphreys & Cyrille Imbert (eds.), Models, Simulations, and Representations. Routledge. pp. 115444.
    Agent-​​based modeling is showing great promise in the social sciences. However, two misconceptions about the relation between social macroproperties and microproperties afflict agent-based models. These lead current models to systematically ignore factors relevant to the properties they intend to model, and to overlook a wide range of model designs. Correcting for these brings painful trade-​​offs, but has the potential to transform the utility of such models.
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