A Social Ontology

A Social Ontology

by David Weissman

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Overview

Moral and social philosophers often assume that humans beings are and ought to be autonomous. This tradition of individualism, or atomism, underlies many of our assumptions about ethics and law; it provides a legitimating framework for liberal democracy and free market capitalism. In this powerful book, David Weissman argues against atomistic ontologies, affirming instead that all of reality is social. Every particular is a system created by the reciprocal causal relations of its parts, he explains. Weissman formulates an original metaphysics of nature that remains true to what is known through the empirical sciences, and he applies his hypothesis to a range of topics in psychology, morals, sociology, and politics.

The author contends that systems are sometimes mutually independent, but many systems—human ones especially—are joined in higher order systems, such as families, friendships, businesses, and states, that are overlapping or nested. Weissman tests this schematic claim with empirical examples in chapters on persons, sociality, and value. He also considers how the scheme applies to particular issues related to deliberation, free speech, conflict, and ecology.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300206487
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 11/05/2013
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

David Weissman is professor of philosophy at City College of New York. He is the author of Truth’s Debt to Value and the editor of René Descartes’ Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy, both published by Yale University Press.

Table of Contents

Preface xiii
Acknowledgments xv
Introduction I
Systems
23(78)
Systems: Their Inception and Character
24(64)
The constitution of things by their properties
25(1)
Everything is constituted of its properties
26(1)
Fixing property values
27(3)
Objections and clarifications
30(3)
Simple systems
33(1)
Two kinds of system
33(1)
Elementary particles
34(1)
A lowest order of things
34(1)
Autonomy alterability and simplicity
35(6)
The formation of particles
41(1)
Summary
42(1)
The mutual accessibility of things in spacetime
43(3)
Reciprocity
46(1)
The kinds of systems constructed
47(2)
Responsibilities for and to
49(3)
Accessible energy
52(1)
Functions constrasted with structures
53(1)
Higher-order systems
54(1)
Establishing higher-order systems
54(1)
Proper parts
55(1)
Property values fixed within a system or by determinants outside it
55(1)
Aggregates
56(1)
Modularity
57(1)
Dissolution
58(1)
Steady states
58(1)
Kinds of relations among systems
59(3)
A criterion for ascertaining orders of scale
62(1)
Principles for generating systems of successively higher orders
62(1)
Limits on the ascending orders of systems
63(1)
Disparate kinds of higher-order systems
64(4)
Teleology
68(3)
Emergent properties, laws, and rules
71(1)
Properties
71(4)
Laws
75(6)
Properties and rules
81(1)
Determining and facilitating conditions
82(1)
Change
83(3)
Reality as a system of relations
86(2)
Reducing Systems to Other Things
88(6)
Dispositional reductions
89(1)
Generic Law and bridge law reductions
89(4)
Reductions to spatiotemporal structure
93(1)
Aristotle, the Atomists, and Whitehead
94(7)
Aristotle
94(3)
The atomists
97(1)
Whitehead
98(3)
Persons
101(46)
Human Systems
101(3)
Cognitive-Affective Posture
104(6)
Social Systems Established by Their Members
110(33)
Family
111(1)
Developing a psychic posture
111(3)
Some ontological implications of psychic posture
114(6)
Character and role
120(6)
Friendship
126(2)
Work
128(8)
Citizenship
136(5)
Myth
141(2)
Self-Identity
143(4)
Sociality
147(81)
Affiliative Behavior
147(1)
Organizations and Associations
148(6)
Causal reciprocity
149(1)
Purpose
149(1)
Design
150(1)
Role
151(1)
Circumstances
151(1)
Officers
152(1)
Passion
152(1)
Needs
153(1)
Loyalty
154(1)
Access
154(1)
The Work Systems Do
154(4)
Education
158(2)
Being Alone
160(1)
Some Relations Among Human Social Systems
160(2)
Reworking Societies: Their Determinability
162(2)
Regulation
164(33)
Self-control
165(1)
Mutual restraint, or governmental regulation
166(12)
Values
178(7)
Planning
185(5)
Procedural neutrality, minority rights, and inclusion or exclusion
190(6)
Summary
196(1)
Ecology
197(1)
Change
198(8)
Characterizing change
198(2)
Formation
200(1)
Routinization
201(1)
Limiting and sustaining complexity
201(2)
Vulnerability
203(2)
Managing change
205(1)
Ontology
206(22)
The atomists, Aristotle, and Hobbes
206(2)
Systems
208(2)
Independence, reciprocity, nesting, and overlap
210(2)
A system's relations to its nested parts
212(3)
Holism
215(1)
Alternative explanations for conflict
216(2)
Autonomy and constraint
218(3)
The atomist response
221(1)
Acknowledging systems and their interests
222(3)
Freedom
225(1)
Public control, private power
226(2)
Value
228(57)
Self-Affirmation
229(6)
Instrumental Values
235(2)
Two Kinds of Sociality
237(5)
Atomism, Communitarianism, and Holism
242(10)
Contract Law: A Test of Ontological Theories
252(3)
Immanent Norms
255(7)
Laws and Immanent Norms
262(5)
Attitudes
267(4)
Morality and Attitude
271(3)
Morality and Systems
274(3)
Diversity and Tolerance
277(1)
What Systems Owe Their Members
278(2)
Making Laws
280(2)
The Goodness of the Whole
282(1)
Awe
283(1)
Preview
284(1)
Deliberation
285(19)
Deliberation as a Colloquy
286(1)
The Factors Weighed
287(3)
Kantian Objections
290(2)
Self-Awareness
292(1)
Therapy as Deliberation
293(1)
Existential Anxieties
294(3)
Character and Role
297(2)
Social Deliberation
299(4)
Does Deliberation Presuppose a Cartesian Mind?
303(1)
Free Speech
304(23)
Justifications for Free Speech
305(2)
Privacy
307(3)
Ontological Considerations
310(5)
False and Malicious Speech
315(2)
The Benefits and Harms of Free Speech
317(5)
Monopolistic Speech
322(2)
Defending the Victims of Free Speech
324(1)
Using Ontology to Determine the Limits of Speech
325(2)
Conflict
327(9)
Systems
328(1)
Conflicts Exposed by the Three Styles of Dialectic
329(1)
Conflict Within and Among Societies
330(1)
The Dialectic of Conflict
331(2)
Kantian Solutions
333(2)
Repairing Conflict
335(1)
Ecology
336(9)
Afterword 345(2)
Notes 347(16)
Index 363

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