The Interactivist Social Ontology of Persons: A Descriptive and Evaluative Synthesis, with Two Suggestions [Book Review]

Axiomathes 21 (1):173-183 (2011)
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Abstract

Within the interactivist, process approach to metaphysics, Bickhard (Social life and social knowledge: toward a process account of development. Lawrence Erlbaum, New York, 2008a; Topoi 27: 139–149, 2008b; New Ideas Psychol, in press) has developed a social ontology of persons that avoids many well-known philosophical difficulties concerning the genesis, development, and application of the rational and moral capabilities and responsibilities that characterize persons. Interactivism positions developing persons inside sets of social conventions within which they participate in their own constitution as rational and moral agents who constantly transform themselves and their world. Following a description of Bickhard’s social ontology and an evaluation of its philosophical merits, two suggestions are offered with the intention of extending the explanatory reach of an interactivist ontology of persons. One of these suggestions concerns a recommended shift from processes of interaction and constructivism to processes of coordination and constitutionism. A second, related recommendation concerns the need for a more precise detailing of processes of coordinated constitution that explain the developing person’s embodied and enactive transformation from a social to a psychological being

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