Social Metaphysics

Course Level: 
Master’s
Doctoral
Campus: 
Vienna
Course Open to: 
Students on-site
Academic Year: 
2021-2022
Term: 
Winter
US Credits: 
4
ECTS Credits: 
8
Course Description: 

This course will center around one central topic in the emerging field of social metaphysics—namely, social construction. The course will be in three parts. The first part will examine some of the main rival accounts of social construction in the social ontology and feminist philosophy literature. Themes to be discussed include inevitability, interactive kinds, causal versus constitutive construction, mind-dependence, and naturalism. In the second part of the course, we will consider recent attempts to elucidate social construction using tools and concepts from analytic metaphysics. Topics to be covered include ground-theoretic and essence- theoretic accounts of social construction, as well as the grounding-anchoring model. The third part of the course will explore the difference between descriptive and ameliorative social constructionist projects. Readings will be drawn from contemporary sources and may include works by Ásta, Barnes, Díaz-León, Epstein, Hacking, Haslanger, Mallon, Mikkola, Passinsky, Raven, Schaffer, Searle, and Witt.

Learning Outcomes: 

Upon completing the course, students will gain an understanding of the main rival accounts of social construction in the social ontology and feminist philosophy literature, as well as recent attempts to analyze social construction using tools from analytic metaphysics. Students will also gain an understanding of the difference between ameliorative and descriptive constructionist projects. This knowledge will put students in a good position to pursue original research in the emerging field of social metaphysics.

Assessment: 

For students taking the course for a Grade:

-          First in-class presentation, approximately 10-15 minutes in length: 10%. Over the course of the term, students will give a presentation on one of the course readings, or on their own work in progress (if it pertains to the topic of the course). The presentation should focus on critically evaluating an author’s argument and/or advancing one’s own argument. Students will sign up for a presentation slot at the beginning of the term.

-          Second in-class presentation, approximately 10-15 minutes in length: 10%. During Week 12, students will give a presentation on their final paper. The presentation should summarize the main thesis and argument of the paper.

-          Final paper, 4000 words in length: 80%. The final paper will be due on the first day of the Spring term. Students will be required to submit a 1-page paper proposal in Week 9.

-          Excellent class participation will boost the final grade in borderline cases.

 

For students taking the course for an Audit:

-          Regular class attendance and participation.

Prerequisites: 

Some background in metaphysics will be useful, but it is not essential. 

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