Contributions to Social Ontology (Hardback) book cover

Contributions to Social Ontology

Edited by Clive Lawson, John Spiro Latsis, Nuno Martins

© 2007 – Routledge

352 pages | 6 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780415442381
pub: 2007-05-08
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pub: 2006-12-07
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pub: 2013-01-11
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Recent years have seen a dramatic re-emergence of interest in ontology. From philosophy and social sciences to artificial intelligence and computer science, ontology is gaining interdisciplinary influence as a popular tool for applied research. Contributions to Social Ontology focuses specifically on these developments within the social sciences. The contributions reveal that this revived interest in social ontology involves far more than an unquestioning acceptance or application of the concepts and methods of academic philosophers. Instead as ontology permeates so many new areas, social ontology itself is evolving in new and fascinating ways. This book engages with these new developments, pushing it forward with cutting-edge new material from leading authors in this area, from Roy Bhaskar to Margaret Archer. It also explicitly analyzes the relationship between the new ontological projects and the more traditional approaches.

This book will be of great interest to students and researchers alike across the social sciences and particularly in philosophy, economics and sociology.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction – Ontology, Philosophy and the Social Science Part 1 Ontology and Social Theory 2. The Ontological Status of Subjectivity 3. Technology, Technological Determinism and the Transformational Model of Technical Activity 4. Ontological Theorising and the Assumptions Issue in Economics 5. Wittgenstein and the Ontology of the Social: Some Kripkean Reflections on Bourdieu’s ‘Theory of Practice’ 6. Deducing Natural Necessity from Purposive Activity: The Scientific Realist Logic of Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action and Luhmann’s Systems Theory 7. Underlabouring for Ethics: Lukács’s Critical Ontology Part 2 - Ontology and Philosophy 8. Quine and the Ontological Turn in Economics 9. Tracking Down the Transcendental Argument and the Synthetic a priori Chasing Fairies or Serious Ontological Business 10. Re-Examining Bhaskar’s Three Ontological Domains: the Lessons from Emergence 11. Real, Invented or Applied? Some Reflections on Scientific Objectivity and Social Ontology 12. Theorising Ontology Part 3 – Ontology and Applied Research 13. Freedom, Possibility and Ontology – Rethinking the Problem of ‘Competitive Ascent’ in the Caribbean 14. On the Ontology of International Norm Diffusion 15. Realist Social Theorising and the Emergence of State Educational Systems 16. The Educational Limits of Critical Realism? Emancipation and Rational Agency in the Compulsory Years of Schooling 17. Economics and Autism: Why the Drive Towards Closure? 18. Applying Critical Realism: Re-conceptualising the Emergent Early Music Performer Labour Market

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Critical Realism (Routledge Critical Realism)

Critical Realism is a broad movement within philosophy and social science. It is a movement that began in British philosophy and sociology following the founding work of Roy Bhaskar, Margaret Archer and others. Critical Realism emerged from the desire to realise an adequate realist philosophy of science, social science, and of critique. Against empiricism, positivism and various idealisms (interpretivism, radical social constructionism), Critical Realism argues for the necessity of ontology. The pursuit of ontology is the attempt to understand and say something about ‘the things themselves’ and not simply about our beliefs, experiences, or our current knowledge and understanding of those things. Critical Realism also argues against the implicit ontology of the empiricists and idealists of events and regularities, reducing reality to thought, language, belief, custom, or experience. Instead Critical Realism advocates a structural realist and causal powers approach to natural and social ontology, with a focus upon social relations and process of social transformation.

Important movements within Critical Realism include the morphogenetic approach developed by Margaret Archer; Critical Realist economics developed by Tony Lawson; as well as dialectical Critical Realism (embracing being, becoming and absence) and the philosophy of metaReality (emphasising priority of the non-dual) developed by Roy Bhaskar.

For over thirty years, Routledge has been closely associated with Critical Realism and, in particular, the work of Roy Bhaskar, publishing well over fifty works in, or informed by, Critical Realism (in series including Critical Realism: Interventions; Ontological Explorations; New Studies in Critical Realism and Education). These have all now been brought together under one series dedicated to Critical Realism.

The Centre for Critical Realism is the advisory editorial board for the series. If you would like to know more about the Centre for Critical Realism, or to submit a book proposal, please visit

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / Theory
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General