Of Babies and Bathwater. A Review of Tuukka Kaidesoja Naturalizing Critical Realist Social Ontology


  • Dave Elder-Vass Loughborough University


critical realism, real causal powers, Roy Bhaskar, social ontology, transcendental arguments


Tuukka Kaidesoja’s new book is a welcome addition to the literature on critical realism. He shows good judgement in defending Roy Bhaskar’s argument for causal powers while criticising its framing as a transcendental argument. In criticising Bhaskar’s concept of a real-but-not-actual ontological domain, however, he discards an essential element of a realist ontology, even a naturalised one: a recognition of the transfactual aspect of causal power.


Bhaskar, Roy (1975): A Realist Theory of Science. Leeds: Leeds Books.

Bhaskar, Roy (1989 [1979]): The Possibility of Naturalism. London: Routledge.

Bhaskar, Roy and Mervyn Hartwig (2010): The Formation of Critical Realism. Abingdon: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203878088

Cruickshank, Justin (2004): “A Tale of Two Ontologies: An Immanent Critique of Critical Realism”. In: Sociological Review 52. p. 567–585. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-954X.2004.00496.x

Hartwig, Mervyn (2007): Dictionary of Critical Realism. Abingdon: Routledge.

Hartwig, Mervyn, Dave Elder-Vass and Daniel Little (2013): “Replies by Elder-Vass and Hartwig to Cruickshank/Little”. http://understandingsociety.blogspot.com/2013/12/replies-by-elder-vass-and-hartwig-to.html, accessed 17 February 2014.

Kaidesoja, Tuukka (2013): Naturalizing Critical Realist Social Ontology. Abingdon: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203753484

Little, Daniel (2013): “Reply to Elder-Vass, Hartwig, and Groff on critical realism”. http://understandingsociety.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/reply-to-elder-vass-hartwig-and-groff.html, accessed 17 February 2014.






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