1st Edition

Social Functions in Philosophy Metaphysical, Normative, and Methodological Perspectives

Edited By Rebekka Hufendiek, Daniel James, Raphael van Riel Copyright 2020
    264 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    262 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Social functions and functional explanations play a prominent role not only in our everyday reasoning but also in classical as well as contemporary social theory and empirical social research. This volume explores metaphysical, normative, and methodological perspectives on social functions and functional explanations in the social sciences. It aims to push the philosophical debate on social functions forward along new investigative lines by including up-to-date discussions of the metaphysics of social functions, questions concerning the nature of functional explanations within the social domain, and various applications of functionalist theorising. As such, this is one of the first collections to exclusively address a variety of philosophical questions concerning the nature and relevance of social functions.


    Rebekka Hufendiek, Daniel James, and Raphael van Riel

    1. The Empirical Issues in Functional Explanations in the Social Sciences

    Harold Kincaid

    2. Do Organizations Adapt?

    Daniel Little

    3. Social Dysfunctions

    Heiner Koch

    4. In Search for Missing Mechanisms. Functional Explanation in Social Science

    Raphael van Riel

    5. From Natural Hierarchy-Signals to Social Norm Enforcers. What Good Are Functional Explanations of Shame and Pride?

    Rebekka Hufendiek

    6. What Grounds Social Role Normativity?

    Charlotte Witt

    7. The Social Function of Morality

    Andreas Müller

    8. The Function of Gender as a Historical Kind

    Mari Mikkola

    9. Function Without Intention? A Practice-Theoretical Solution to Challenges of the Social Domain

    Amrei Bahr

    10. Revealing Social Functions through Pragmatic Genealogies

    Matthieu Queloz

    11. Social Organisms. Hegel’s Organizational Theory of Social Functions

    Daniel James


    Rebekka Hufendiek is an Assistant Professor at the University of Basel. Her research interests lie in philosophy of mind and philosophy of science, particularly in empirical and ideological dimensions of research on cognitive and behavioral features. Her book Embodied Emotions: A Naturalist Approach to a Normative Phenomenon (Routledge 2015) provides a noncognitivist theory of emotions.

    Daniel James’ historical research concerns the intersection of Hegel’s metaphysics with his political philosophy. With a view to contemporary debates in social philosophy, he is interested in the concept of social power and its fruitfulness for social-scientific inquiry, as well as in social dispositions and their connection to social-structural explanation,

    Raphael van Riel holds a position as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Duisburg-Essen, where he directs a research group which focuses on theories of explanation. In his book The Concept of Reduction (2014), he offers a novel explication of reduction claims in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of science.