Just What is Social Ontology?


  • Lynne Rudder Baker University of Massachusetts Amherst


ontology, social phenomena, social individuals, social complexes, John Searle


Construing ontology as an inventory of what genuinely and nonredundantly exists, this paper investigates two questions: (i) Do all – or any – social phenomena belong in ontology? and (ii) What difference does it make what is, and is not, in ontology? First, I consider John Searle’s account of social ontology, and make two startling discoveries: Searle’s theory of social reality conflicts with his ontological conditions of adequacy; and although ontology concerns existence, Searle’s theory of social reality is wholly epistemic. Then, I offer my own view of social reality, on which social phenomena are ontologically significant. Since ontology concerns what genuinely and nonredundantly exists, anyone interested in what there is ought to care about ontology.


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How to Cite

Baker, Lynne Rudder. 2019. “Just What Is Social Ontology?”. Journal of Social Ontology 5 (1). Vienna, Austria:1-12. https://journalofsocialontology.org/index.php/jso/article/view/6797.