Elder-Vass on the Causal Power of Social Structures

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In this review essay I examine the central tenets of sociologist Dave Elder-Vass’s recent contribution to social ontology, as put forth in his book The Causal Power of Social Structures: Emergence, Structure and Agency (2010). Elder-Vass takes issue with ontological individualists and maintains that social structures exist and have causal powers in their own right. I argue that he fails to establish his main theses: he shows neither that social structures have causal powers “in their own right” (in any sense of this expression) nor that they exist.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)774-791
JournalPhilosophy of the Social Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Philosophy


  • causal power
  • critical realism
  • emergence
  • mereology
  • ontological individualism
  • social ontology
  • structure


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