How to theorize about social construction
Brian Epstein (Tufts University)

March 8, 2024, 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Department of Philosophy and Monash Bioethics Centre, Monash University

Menzies E561
Monash Clayton Campus
Melbourne 3800

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The claim that basic kinds and categories in the world are “socially constructed” is perennially debated in philosophy and social theory. Over the years, lots of categories—races, genders, sexes, morality, commodities, corporations, and many more—have been put forward as cases of social construction. But what is social construction, and how is a theory of social construction to be developed and assessed? I propose a framework for understanding the metaphysics of social entities by distinguishing questions of social construction (i.e., what socially constructs the entity to be what it is) from questions about the characteristics of the entity (i.e., what is the product of social construction). Focusing on the former, I consider families of theories of social construction and argue for the demands that a theory of social construction should meet.

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