This paper presents a systematic approach for analyzing and explaining the nature of socialgroups. I argue against prominent views that attempt to unify all socialgroups or to divide them into simple typologies. Instead I argue that socialgroups are enormously diverse, but show how we can investigate their natures nonetheless. I analyze socialgroups from a bottom-up perspective, constructing profiles of the metaphysical features of groups of specific kinds. We (...) can characterize any given kind of social group with four complementary profiles: its “construction” profile, its “extra essentials” profile, its “anchor” profile, and its “accident” profile. Together these provide a framework for understanding the nature of groups, help classify and categorize groups, and shed light on group agency. (shrink)
Socialgroups, including racial and gender groups and teams and committees, seem to play an important role in our world. This article examines key metaphysical questions regarding groups. I examine answers to the question ‘Do groups exist?’ I argue that worries about puzzles of composition, motivations to accept methodological individualism, and a rejection of Racialism support a negative answer to the question. An affirmative answer is supported by arguments that groups are efficacious, indispensible to (...) our best theories, and accepted given common sense. Then, I turn to an examination of the features of socialgroups. I argue that socialgroups can be divided into two sorts. Groups of Type 1 are organized socialgroups like courts and clubs. Groups of Type 2 are groups like Blacks, women, and lesbians. While groups of both sorts have some features in common, they also have marked differences in features. Finally, I turn to views of the nature of socialgroups. I argue that the difference in features provides evidence that socialgroups do not have a uniform nature. Teams and committees are structured wholes, while race and gender groups are social kinds. (shrink)
Socialgroups—like teams, committees, gender groups, and racial groups—play a central role in our lives and in philosophical inquiry. Here I develop and motivate a structuralist ontology of socialgroups centered on social structures (i.e., networks of relations that are constitutively dependent on social factors). The view delivers a picture that encompasses a diverse range of socialgroups, while maintaining important metaphysical and normative distinctions between groups of different kinds. (...) It also meets the constraint that not every arbitrary collection of people is a social group. In addition, the framework provides resources for developing a broader structuralist view in social ontology. (shrink)
Socialgroups seem to be entities that are dependent on us. Given their apparent dependence, one might adopt Social Creationism—the thesis that all socialgroups are social objects created through (some specific types of) thoughts, intentions, agreements, habits, patterns of interaction, and practices. Here I argue that not all socialgroups come to be in the same way. This is due, in part, to socialgroups failing to share a uniform (...) nature. I argue that some groups (e.g., racial and gender groups) are social kinds. They either falsify Social Creationism or are created as mere byproducts of property instantiation. In contrast, I argue that other groups (e.g., teams and committees) are social objects. When restricted to groups like these, Social Creationism holds. The conclusions have more than just metaphysical import. The differences between groups and how they come to be help to explain why some groups appear to be natural, why some fail to rely on intentions, and why certain sorts of groups are widespread and persistent. (shrink)
Two major questions have dominated work on the metaphysics of socialgroups: first, Are there any? And second, What are they? I will begin by arguing that the answer to the ontological question is an easy and obvious ‘yes’. We do better to turn our efforts elsewhere, addressing the question: “What are socialgroups?” One might worry, however, about this question on grounds that the general term ‘social group’ seems like a term of art—not a (...) well-used concept we can analyze, or can presuppose corresponds to a real kind we can investigate. But while the general notion of ‘social group’ may be a term of art, our terms for clubs and courts, races and genders, are not. It is worth stepping back to ask what function these social group concepts serve. I will argue that individual social group concepts function to give normative structure to our lives together. Paying attention to the role of norms in socialgroups, I will argue, can enable us to provide a unified understanding of the importance of core socialgroups, while still respecting the great differences among socialgroups of different kinds. (shrink)
Abstract Ontological holism is the thesis that socialgroups are best understood as composite material particulars. At a high level of taxonomic classification groups such as mobs, tribes and nations are the same kind of thing as organisms and artefacts. This holism is opposed by ontological individualism, which maintains that in our formal and folk social scientific discourse we only really refer to individuals and the relations in which they stand. The paper begins from the claim (...) that ontological holism is given prima facie plausibility by the apparently ineliminable role of groups in some descriptions and explanations of the social domain. If the individualist accepts the link between indispensabilty and realism, then individualism must show that groups cannot play the role the holist requires. Three arguments are considered which aim to show that groups are indeed unfitted for this ineliminable role: the appeal to reduction-in principle, the claim that groups cannot possess the causal powers attributed to them by holism, and the view that holism is committed to the attribution of mental properties to groups. Each is rejected as a basis for undermining holism. The paper concludes that this leaves holism in a position to be articulated within a framework that supports a broadly naturalist conception of the social sciences. (shrink)
ABSTRACT This article applies Deleuze's metaphysics of multiplicities to groups of people, arguing that organized groups can be said to have mental states in the same sense as individuals. I begin by outlining the genealogy of Deleuze's use of the concept of multiplicity, beginning with Riemann and continuing through Bergson. Deleuze's transformation of these two thinkers' ideas results in a concept of any individual as a conjunction of two types of multiplicity, one relating to its material parts and (...) one relating to its ideal or virtual parts. I then turn to Deleuze's theory of the mental faculties and argue that it describes a virtual multiplicity that, for Deleuze, is instantiated in human beings and other entities that can be said to think or have minds. I argue that many organized socialgroups have these mental faculties in the same way that individual people do and that therefore they can be said to have minds and mental states of their own, independent of the mental states of their members. (shrink)
In social justice theory, it seems both important, but also potentially normatively and metaphysically suspect, to treat socialgroups as units of normative concern. This is also the source of much current controversy surrounding social justice politics. I argue that normative individualism is a metaethical clarification, but not necessarily a binding guide for all other normative theory or practice in the way we might assume. Supra-individual social entities can, in fact, be the irreducible subjects of (...) concern in valid normative evaluations or prescriptions, owing to future-relevant causal properties. However, this idea is complex and requires careful elucidation. I address likely objections pertaining to group definitions, social ontology, conceptions of causation, counterfactuals, and the non-identity problem. (shrink)
The contemporary social world is one in which, in addition to interacting regularly with a variety of different individual people, we find ourselves more and more often interacting with entities that we more naturally think of as groups. Thus, in addition to my friends, my co-workers, and members of my family, I also have regular meaningful interactions with my bank, my employer, and my government. It seems correct to call corporations and similar entities groups of people rather (...) than individuals, but in our everyday practices we talk about them as having beliefs, motivations, and goals and as carrying out activities such as thinking, planning, and deciding. We frequently say things like “Airbus and Boeing are... (shrink)
This paper complicates, extends, and modifies Pinch and Bijker's original social construction of technology, specifically their concepts of relevant socialgroups, closure, and stabilization, in order to gain insight into long-term processes of how we use and understand technology. First, this paper identifies four broad categories of relevant socialgroups in the social construction of technology based on stake holdings and compares them according to their activities, resources, and directionality. Second, the paper discusses the (...) distinctions between closure and stabilization of technological artifacts, introducing temporary closure and structural flexibility as a means of understanding how different technologies can relate to each other. Third, using Rosch's cognitive approach to categorization, the paper suggests structural flexibility as a means of operationalizing stabilization. These reconceptualizations offer researchers a broader scale with which to understand the social construction of technology. (shrink)
Background: The conditions of the emergency create an unprecedented, but legitimate approach, when the rights and freedoms of the individual can be limited in the public interest. From the first days of the pandemic, a special social group of the population began to stand out, with the code name "65+". Aim: to give an ethical assessment of the attitude of society to the population group "65+", to show the contradiction between medical and bioethical approaches to the criteria for selecting (...) a group. Materials and methods: The review of fundamental and modern works in the problem field was carried out. The empirical basis of the work was the materials of a sociological survey using Google forms. Results: According to the analysis of statistical indicators of employment in the Russia before the pandemic, the share of employees aged 60–64 years was 32,4 %, in the range of 65–69 years – 13,7% of the size of the age group, which indicates the high social activity of the 65+ group and demonstrates the labor potential of the group. At the same time, anti-epidemic measures related to restrictions on labor and social activity primarily affected this group, which led to stigmatization based on the age criterion. The long-term confrontation with the pandemic has weakened the psychological tactics of treating older patients that have not been fully developed in the national health care, based on the ethics of care. A survey of medical students conducted in March 2021 showed that the majority of respondents viewed restrictions as unacceptable discrimination. Conclusion: The review of updated research and the analysis of the current situation have shown that the phenomenon of the aging of the nation and the vulnerability of the older age group of the population to a new coronavirus infection have led to a contradiction in approaches to the considered age group from the standpoint of medicine and bioethics. The inherently humane measure of protection for a group that is especially vulnerable in terms of medical indicators began to be perceived by the society as a reason for stigmatization. The solution to the dilemma is possible in the context of the convergence of medical and human sciences in the interdisciplinary problem field of gerontology and geriatrics. (shrink)
Members of some socialgroups hold other members to have special obligations in virtue of their membership. But is this justified? And if so, how? I argue that there is a deep connection between the structure of certain socialgroups and some special obligations. The issue, then, is to determine how one might have obligations in virtue of one's membership in a particular group. In this dissertation I argue that groups capable of collective action have, (...) as elements of their structure, interpersonal relations that generate commitments and these commitments, in turn, constitute special obligations. ;I begin by arguing that groups capable of collective action must be able to coordinate or monitor the coordination of the members, and to do so within certain normative constraints. To coordinate members according to these constraints, groups must implement some form of decision procedure, a scheme by which the intentions and actions of individual members of a group are coordinated toward some collective purpose or goal. This coordination requires that in groups capable of collective action, there must be some authority system by which the members are coordinated. This authority system must be able to authorize the implementation of norms through members' practices, endorsements, or sanctions, and to adjudicate conflicts that might arise between constraints. I argue that these authority systems may be largely tacit. ;Members of groups capable of collective action do not, however, acquire obligations because of their commitments to the group per se. Rather, members of such groups acquire obligations because of the nature of the relationships they cannot help but form with one another. Their obligations form because of the commitments they have to one another in virtue of being a part of a group capable of collective action. While these obligations may not constitute all-things-considered normative requirements, they do constitute normative considerations that members of groups need to acknowledge when they determine what they ought or ought not to do. I conclude that insofar as a group is capable of collective action, members of those groups have at least these limited obligations toward one another. (shrink)
In this short discussion note, I cast doubt upon the common view that socialgroups persist throughout changes in their membership, by virtue of the maintenance of their structure and/or function. I offer two counterexamples, and consider two possible responses to a natural objection to them, neither of which support the view that it is a metaphysical truth that socialgroups persist through changes in their membership, or persist by virtue of the maintenance of their structure (...) and/or function. (shrink)
Social data mining has become an emerging area of research in information and communication technology fields. The scope of social data mining has expanded significantly in the recent years with the advance of telecommunication technologies and the rapidly increasing accessibility of computing resources and mobile devices. People increasingly engage in and rely on phone communications for both personal and business purposes. Hence, mobile phones become an indispensable part of life for many people. In this article, we perform (...) class='Hi'>social data mining on mobile social networking by presenting a simple but efficient method to define social closeness and social grouping, which are then used to identify social sizes and scaling ratio of close to “8”. We conclude that social mobile network is a subset of the face-to-face social network, and both groupings are not necessary the same, hence the scaling ratios are distinct. Mobile social data mining. (shrink)
Even though Pietraszewski acknowledges the tentative nature of the theory and the multiple lines of adjacent research needed to flesh it out, he insists that the finite set of primitives he identified is necessary and sufficient for defining socialgroups in the context of conflict. In this commentary I expose three interrelated conundrums that cast doubt on this simplistic presumption.
This volume presents a systematic philosophical theory related to the collectivism-versus-individualism debate in the social sciences. A weak version of collectivism (the "we-mode" approach) that depends on group-based collective intentionality is developed in the book. The we-mode approach is used to account for collective intention and action, cooperation, group attitudes, social practices and institutions as well as group solidarity.
In this paper I critique the concept of socialgroups deployed by Iris Marion Young in her well-known theory of the five faces of oppression. I contend that Young’s approach to conceptualizing socialgroups creates arbitrary and inconsistent categories, essentializes certain groups, and fails to take seriously the complexity of pluralism. I propose that Margaret Gilbert’s work in social metaphysics provides a more philosophically robust account of socialgroups that serves as a (...) helpful corrective to Young’s approach. Gilbert’s account of “we”-ness, as well as her theory of the nature of individuals and collectivities, provides a helpful vantage point for critiquing Young’s project and its emphasis on the social process of differentiation in the formation of socialgroups. (shrink)
This paper deals with the question of whether and when it is appropriate or inappropriate to say that a social group performs an action. After some remarks on the concept of action three kinds of groups are distinguished, i.e. assemblies, institutions, and classes. It is found that in the first two of these cases predication of action is possible: an assembly can act in that all its members act, or some of them do who are interchangeable with any (...) others; and an institution can act because it has a structure and some individuals can act on its behalf. A class, however, cannot be said to act, for its concept may be freely formed, its members cannot be assembled, and it has no organs through which actions could be performed. (shrink)
In her recent article “The Ontology of SocialGroups”, Thomasson (Synthese 196:4829–4845, 2019) argues that socialgroups can be characterized in terms of the norms that surround them. We show that according to Thomasson’s normativity-based criterion, the dead constitute a social group, since there are widespread and well-defined social norms as to how to treat the dead, such as the norm expressed in the title (“Speak no ill of the dead”). We argue that the (...) example of the dead must not be interpreted as a counterexample to this criterion, and that, rather, there are good reasons to think of the dead as a genuine social group. Furthermore, the dead as a social group exist, regardless of whether or not the dead (i.e. the members of this social group) exist as persons. This view is clearly incompatible with the idea that socialgroups can be explained by citing features of their members, which is why we take the case of the dead to pose a challenge for the thesis of individualism. We consider the ontological implications of this example and suggest that socialgroups ought to be seen as reifications of social norms. Another implication of taking the dead to be a social group is that the presence of external norms is sufficient for the existence of a social group, and therefore internal norms are not necessary. We defend this implication against some potential theoretical and moral problems. (shrink)
Reasoning about socialgroups and their associated markers was investigated as a particular case of human reasoning about cue-category relationships. Assertions that reasoning involving cues and associated categories elicits specific probabilistic assumptions are supported by the results of three experiments. This phenomenon remains intact across the use of categorical syllogisms, conditional syllogisms, and the use of socialgroups that vary in their perceived cohesiveness, or entitativity. Implications are discussed for various theories of reasoning, and additional aspects (...) of social group/coalitional reasoning are also discussed. (shrink)
For the contemporary reader of Psychoanalysis: Its Image and Its Public the analyses of communicative systems in the book provides a challenging occasion for reconsidering current social psychological thinking about the character of socialgroups. In Moscovici's careful delineation of the communicative systems of diffusion, propagation and propaganda through his content analysis of the French press, one can also see the description of different types of group structured through distinctive social psychological organisations. Moscovici himself suggests that (...) the genres of diffusion, propagation and propaganda are each linked to the construction of a specific type of social-psychological object, opinion, attitude and stereotype respectively. But one can also identify different forms of affiliation corresponding to each communicative genre, and consequently also different representations of the people who constitute both the in-group and the out-group in each instance. The affiliative bonds might be described as forms of sympathy, communion and solidarity. (shrink)
It is usually accepted that whether or not indirect discrimination is a form of immoral discrimination, it appears to be structurally different from direct discrimination. First, it seems that either one involves the agent focusing on different things while making a decision. Second, it seems that the victim’s group membership is relevant to the outcomes of either sort of action in different ways. In virtue of these two facts, it is usually concluded that indirect discrimination is structurally different from direct (...) discrimination. I argue against the notion that indirect discrimination and direct discrimination have significantly different structures. I first argue that both kinds of discrimination involve similar decision-making processes. Second, I analyze how being in a social group affects personal identity, and from there argue that indirect discrimination and direct discrimination are about group membership similarly. In virtue of these two arguments, I conclude that direct and indirect discrimination are structurally similar. (shrink)
In this article we present an engineering approach for the integration of social group dynamics in the behavior modeling of multiagent systems. To this end, a toolbox was created that brings together several theories from the social sciences, each focusing on different aspects of group dynamics. Due to its modular approach, the toolbox can either be used as a central control component of an application or it can be employed temporarily to rapidly test the feasibility of the incorporated (...) theories for a given application domain. This is exemplified by applying the toolbox to different applications. (shrink)
In responding to Anderson, Tobin, and Mills, I focus on questions about non-ideal theory, normative individualism, and standpoint theory. In particular, I ask whether feminist theorizing can be "liberal" and yet not embody the problematic forms of abstraction and individualism described in "Challenging Liberalism". Ultimately, I call for methods of theorizing that illuminate and challenge oppressive social hierarchies.
In this dissertation I argue for a theory of rectificatory justice, and apply that theory to circumstances involving two socialgroups generally thought to have been historically wronged, viz., Native Americans and African Americans. ;Development of a conception of rectificatory justice is begun in Chapter 1 by examining the distinction between distributive justice and rectificatory justice, and by suggesting a theory of compensation. It is argued that the notion of compensation cannot provide an adequate ground for a species (...) of justice. ;I argue in Chapter 2 that a taxonomy of justice ought to consist of only two species, viz., distributive justice and rectificatory justice. In addition to compensation, the view of rectification argued for includes accounts of restoration, apology, and punishment. Some theories of so-called corrective justice are examined, and are found to be morally inadequate. ;In Chapter 3, I examine several views of a right to compensation, including those of Joel Feinberg and Judith Jarvis Thomson. Jules Coleman's claim that a requirement in justice for compensation can arise without the transgression of rights is examined and then rejected. ;After suggesting a theory of socialgroups, and adopting Allen Buchanan's account of groups rights, I argue in Chapter 4 that rectification rights can be legitimately ascribed to socialgroups. I assess the practical implications of my theory of rectificatory justice by applying it to two cases. In the first case, I argue that the fishing rights that were restored to Native American tribes of the Northwest as a result of U.S. v. Washington are justified when grounded on their right to rectification; hence, the claim that the restoration of these rights constituted an injustice to non-Native American fishing interests is mistaken. In the second case, I show how a right to rectification can legitimately be ascribed to African Americans as a group. ;The dissertation concludes with Chapter 5, where I consider several justificatory arguments for a moral statute of limitations on injustice. I conclude that a significant part of any such argument must ultimately rest on our judgements about competing claims. (shrink)
A crucial factor in how we perceive socialgroups involves the signals and cues emitted by them. Groups signal various properties of their constitution through coordinated behaviors across sensory modalities, influencing receivers' judgments of the group and subsequent interactions. We argue that group communication is a necessary component of a comprehensive computational theory of socialgroups.
In this paper, we consider the relative significance of concrete and abstract features for the identity and persistence of a group. The theoretical background for our analysis is the position according to which groups are realizations of structures. Our main argument is that the relative significance of the abstract features with respect to the significance of concrete features can vary across different types of groups. The argumentation will be backed by introducing the examples in which we show that (...) this difference in significance can affect the identity and persistence of the group. (shrink)
Taking ontological realism about socialgroups as the thesis that groups are composite material objects constituted by their members, this paper considers a challenge to the very possibility that groups be regarded as material entities. Ordinarily we believe that two groups can have synchronic co-extensive membershipsfor example, the choir and the rugby teamwhile preserving their distinctive identity conditions. We also doubt that two objects of the same kind can be in the same place at the (...) same time, which would appear to be the case when groups have identical memberships. I explain that the principle denying the synchronic co-location of objects of the same kind need not apply universally to material objects and that it is a mistake to take resistance to penetrability as a necessary feature of materiality. Therefore, initial appearances notwithstanding, groups can be in the same place at the same time. Key Words: identity materiality location social group. (shrink)
What is the origin of individual differences in ideology and personality? According to the parasite stress hypothesis, the structure of a society and the values of individuals within it are both influenced by the prevalence of infectious disease within the society's geographical region. High levels of infection threat are associated with more ethnocentric and collectivist social structures and greater adherence to social norms, as well as with socially conservative political ideology and less open but more conscientious personalities. Here (...) we use an agent-based model to explore a specific opportunities-parasites trade-off hypothesis, according to which utility-maximizing agents place themselves at an optimal point on a trade-off between the gains that may be achieved through accessing the resources of geographically or socially distant out-group members through openness to out-group interaction, and the losses arising due to consequently increased risks of exotic infection to which immunity has not been developed. We examine the evolution of cooperation and the formation of socialgroups within social networks, and we show that the groups that spontaneously form exhibit greater local rather than global cooperative networks when levels of infection are high. It is suggested that the OPTO model offers a first step toward understanding the specific mechanisms through which environmental conditions may influence cognition, ideology, personality, and social organization. (shrink)
We don't yet have adequate theories of what the human mind is representing when it represents a social group. Worse still, many people think we do. This mistaken belief is a consequence of the state of play: Until now, researchers have relied on their own intuitions to link up the concept social group on the one hand and the results of particular studies or models on the other. While necessary, this reliance on intuition has been purchased at a (...) considerable cost. When looked at soberly, existing theories of socialgroups are either literal, but not remotely adequate, or simply metaphorical. Intuition is filling in the gaps of an explicit theory. This paper presents a computational theory of what, literally, a group representation is in the context of conflict: It is the assignment of agents to specific roles within a small number of triadic interaction types. This “mental definition” of a group paves the way for a computational theory of socialgroups – in that it provides a theory of what exactly the information-processing problem of representing and reasoning about a group is. For psychologists, this paper offers a different way to conceptualize and study groups, and suggests that a non-tautological definition of a social group is possible. For cognitive scientists, this paper provides a computational benchmark against which natural and artificial intelligences can be held. (shrink)
In this paper, I draw a distinction between two fundamentally different kinds of commitments by highlighting some previously unnoticed subtleties in the pragmatics of "commissive" utterances. I argue that theories which seek to model all commitments on promises, or to ground them all on voluntary consent, can account only for one sort of obligation and not for the other. Since socialgroups are most perspicuously categorized in terms of the sorts of commitments that bind their members together, this (...) puts me in a position to distinguish two importantly different kinds of socialgroups, which I call aggregations and associations. I try to show that this position can account for features of the normative structure of socialgroups that are overlooked by those theorists (e.g. Margaret Gilbert) who have attempted to offer a unitary, voluntarist account of the phenomena under investigation. (shrink)