How social ontology is possible from the point of view of epistemology and philosophy of language?

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The article critically examines the project of Brian Epstein's social ontology. The authors propose to interpret a social fact as derived from the appropriate perspective of an observer carrying out a structural reconstruction of a social phenomenon and identify difficulties in the way of analyzing social facts as structurally independent of causally determining factors. The article shows that the determination and foundation of social facts cannot be understood as asymmetric, substantiates the symmetrical nature of the relationship between the determinable complex fact and the ontological foundations that determine them, and suggests that the judgments describing them are equivalent, and also proves the need to involve philosophical and scientific methodology, the resources of the philosophy of language and epistemology to address the issue of the validity of projects “ontological fixation”, which the authors of the article propose to consider as a scientific classification. Understanding the ontology of the social is possible only when going beyond its limits, and any classifications can be idiosyncrasies of individual classifiers or observers, scientifically unequal and requiring epistemological evaluation. The authors note that epistemology allows us to judge the necessity or, on the contrary, artificiality of classification, and the question of the ontological basis of a social fact should be solved by analogy. Accordingly, the search for such ontological foundations is not possible without prior resolution of the epistemological problem: which classifications (fixations) of “natural” or “social species” are structurally necessary (in the sense that their macro-properties properties stem from the internal structure), and which are arbitrarily constructed by the observer, based on his idiosyncrasy or local-historical, cultural or ideological position.

About the authors

Alexander Yu. Antonovskiy

Moscow State University named after M. V. Lomonosov

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4209-8213

Leading Researcher, Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences; Professor, Lomonosov Moscow State University

1 Leninskie Gory St, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation

Raisa Ed. Barash

Russian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5899-973X

Leading Researcher, Institute of Sociology of the Federal Scientific Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Researcher, the Russian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science

building 2, 1/36 Lyalin lane, Moscow, 2105062, Russian Federation


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Copyright (c) 2022 Antonovskiy A.Y., Barash R.E.

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