The stability of social categories

European Journal of Philosophy 31 (1):297-309 (2023)
  Copy   BIBTEX


One important thesis Ásta defends in Categories We Live By is that social properties and categories are somehow dependent on our thoughts, attitudes, or practices—that they are inventions of the mind, projected onto the world. Another important aspect of her view is that the social properties are related to certain base properties; an individual is placed in a category when the relevant base properties are thought to hold of them. I see the relationship between the social and the base as connected to the problem of explaining how the social properties are sufficiently stable so as to be taken seriously, both in theoretical endeavors as well as in practical matters of how we relate to each other. In this light, I identify stability constraints for an adequate account of social categories. I argue that certain distinctive aspects of Ásta's conferralist view of social categories, such as the radical contextualism in her account of gender, undermine the stability of categories and are at odds with taking social categories seriously. I end with the suggestion that a distinctive “sheltered” form of normativity might help us do justice to Ásta's insights while avoiding some of the destabilizing elements of conferralism.

Similar books and articles

Inherence-based views of social categories.Marjorie Rhodes - 2014 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37 (5):501-502.
Social and economic indicators of political stability.A. Panarin - 2014 - Epistemological studies in Philosophy, Social and Political Sciences 2 (24):231-240.
What is stability?S. Hansson & G. Helgesson - 2003 - Synthese 136 (2):219 - 235.
Précis: Categories We Live By. Ásta - 2019 - Journal of Social Ontology 5 (2):229-233.
Social Categories in Context.Elanor Taylor - 2020 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 6 (2):171-187.
Rethinking Order: Idioms of Stability and de-Stabilization.Nicole Falkenhayner (ed.) - 2014 - Bielefeld: Cambridge University Press.
The construction of ontological categories.Jan Westerhoff - 2004 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 82 (4):595 – 620.
What good are our intuitions: Philosophical analysis and social kinds.Sally Haslanger - 2006 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 80 (1):89-118.


Added to PP

257 (#58,249)

6 months
90 (#17,352)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Abe (Abraham) Roth
Ohio State University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

The social construction of what?Ian Hacking - 1999 - Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40).David Hume - 1969 - Mineola, N.Y.: Oxford University Press. Edited by Ernest Campbell Mossner.
The Construction of Social Reality.John Searle - 1995 - Philosophy 71 (276):313-315.

View all 21 references / Add more references