The Social Ontology of Persons


Persons are biological beings who participate in social environments. Is human sociality different from that of insects? Is human sociality different from that of a computer or robot with elaborate rules for social interaction in its program memory? What is the relationship between the biology of humans and the sociality of persons? I argue that persons constitute an emergent ontological level that develops out of the biological and psychological realm, but that is largely social in its own constitution. This requires a characterization of the relationships between the bio/psychological and the social, and of the developmental process of emergence. It also requires a framework for modeling the bio/psychological level that makes any such emergence possible. Neither attachment theory nor information processing frameworks, for example, will do — the major orientations toward human sociality today make understanding that sociality ultimately impossible. Only an action framework, such as that of Peirce or Piaget2, suffices.



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