Elder-Vass on the Causal Power of Social Structures

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Abstract

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.

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  • Philosophy

Keywords

  • causal power, critical realism, emergence, mereology, ontological individualism, social ontology, structure
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)774-791
JournalPhilosophy of the Social Sciences
Volume44
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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