Comment on Naturalizing Critical Realist Social Ontology


  • Petri Ylikoski University of Helsinki


critical realism, transcendental arguments, causal power, emergence, social ontology


This comment discusses Kaidesoja (2013) and raises the issue whether his analysis justifies stronger conclusions than he presents in the book. My comments focus on four issues. First, I argue that his naturalistic reconstruction of critical realist transcendental arguments shows that transcendental arguments should be treated as a rare curiosity rather than a general argumentative strategy. Second, I suggest that Kaidesoja’s analysis does not really justify his optimism about the usefulness of causal powers ontology in the social sciences. Third, I raise some doubts about the heuristic value of Mario Bunge’s social ontology that Kaidesoja presents as a replacement for critical realist ontology. Finally, I propose an alternative way to analyze failures of aggregativity that might better serve Kaidesoja’s purposes than the Wimsattian scheme he employs in the book.


Bhaskar, R. (1975): A Realist Theory of Science. London: Verso.

Harré, R. (1970): The Principles of Scientific Thinking. London: Macmillan.

Harré, R. and E. Madden (1975): Causal Powers. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Kaidesoja, T. (2013): Naturalizing Critical Realist Social Ontology. London: Routledge.

Kuorikoski, J. and P. Ylikoski (2013): “How Organization Explains”. In: D. Dieks and V. Karakostas (Eds.): EPSA11 Perspectives and Foundational Problems in Philosophy of Science. Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 69–80.

Mill, J. S. ([1843] 2002): A System of Logic: Ratiocinative and Inductive. Honolulu: University Press of the Pacific.

Wimsatt, W. (2007): Re-engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings: Piecewise Approximations to Reality. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Woodward, J. (2003): Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation. New York: Oxford University Press.

Ylikoski, P. (2013): “Causal and Constitutive Explanation Compared”. In: Erkenntnis, 78, pp. 277–297.






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