Social Categories in Context

Journal of the American Philosophical Association 6 (2):171-187 (2020)
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Abstract

Social categories play a central role in inquiry. Some authors have argued that social categories can only play this role because they have a particular metaphysical status, such as a connection to natural kinds or to comparatively joint-carving properties. This reflects the broadly realist idea that categories that play important roles in inquiry do so for metaphysical reasons. In this paper I argue that such metaphysical views of social categories cannot accommodate ‘empty’ social categories, cases in which social categories that cannot have the metaphysical features attributed to them by such accounts still play a central role in inquiry. I defend an alternative approach: context-dependent naturalness, an analogue of metaphysical naturalness that concerns context-dependent, rather than metaphysical, structure.

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Elanor Taylor
Johns Hopkins University

Citations of this work

Substantive Social Metaphysics.Elanor Taylor - 2023 - Philosophers' Imprint 23:1-18.

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References found in this work

New work for a theory of universals.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
Special sciences.Jerry A. Fodor - 1974 - Synthese 28 (2):97-115.
Conceptualizing Epistemic Oppression.Kristie Dotson - 2014 - Social Epistemology 28 (2):115-138.

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