Andrew Buskell
Georgia Institute of Technology
A number of approaches in the social sciences appeal to demographic cultures in their comparative explanations. Though varied, accounts of demographic cultures function both to classify cultural groups and to explain differences between those groups. Yet demographic cultures have long been subject to scrutiny. Here I isolate and respond to a set of arguments I call demographic scepticism. This sceptical position denies that demographic cultures can factor into metaphysically plausible and empirically principled research projects. Against this position, I claim that the sceptics overinflate the claims of empirical researchers and rely on a restricted understanding of metaphysics. Nearby metaphysical positions—notably, relational essentialism—can do the work of classifying different cultural groups, and leave open the possibility for multiple ontological operationalizations and causal-mechanical explanations of inter-group differences.
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