Can social groups be units of normative concern? Normative individualism, futurity, causality, social ontology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In social justice theory, it seems both important, but also potentially normatively and metaphysically suspect, to treat social groups as units of normative concern. This is also the source of much current controversy surrounding social justice politics. I argue that normative individualism is a (correct) metaethical clarification, but not necessarily a binding guide for all other (non-metaethical) normative theory or practice in the way we might assume. Supra-individual social entities can, in fact, be the irreducible subjects of concern in valid normative evaluations or prescriptions, owing to future-relevant causal properties. However, this idea is complex and requires careful elucidation. I address likely objections pertaining to group definitions, social ontology, conceptions of causation, counterfactuals, and the non-identity problem.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-581
Number of pages29
JournalSocial Theory and Practice
Volume48
Issue number3
Early online date4 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Keywords

  • social justice
  • social ontology
  • normative individualism
  • relational egalitarianism
  • groups
  • collectives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science

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