Tag: ontology

Reading Immaterialism by Graham Harman, I’m struck by the overlap between his account of ‘duomining’ and Margaret Archer’s critique of conflation. As he writes on pg 27-28, “If we reduce an object downward to its pieces, we cannot explain emergence; if we reduce it upwards to its effects, we cannot explain change.” While Archer’s argument […]

Well over a decade ago, I was due to start a PhD in Political Philosophy looking at ideas of the individual within liberal thought. There are many reasons why I ultimately moved into a Sociology department instead, though my lack of regrets about this choice hasn’t stopped me occasionally wondering what might this thesis might […]

There’s an interesting section of In The Plex which details quite how much Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer hated Google. From pg 282-283: Just how intensely Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, despised his competitor to the south became clear in depositions that would be filed in the Lee lawsuit. The year before, in November 2004, a top Microsoft […]

From To Save Everything, Click Here by Evgeny Morozov. For a talk about dystopias I’m doing next month, I’m trying to consider the implications of this technology at the level of social ontology. What does it mean to see sinister possibilities inherent in ‘innovations’ like this? Is there anything we can say in the abstract […]

Centre for Social Ontology PhD/ECR Conference June 23rd, University of Warwick, 10am – 4pm Social ontology is integral to the study of society. It is impossible to inquire into the social world without some understanding, at least tacitly, concerning the entities which make up that world and their properties and powers. However social ontology remains […]

In their Webcam, Daniel Miller and Jolynna Sinanan offer what they describe as a theory of attainment. While I’m not sure they’d accept my terminology, I read this as an attempt to theorise the causal powers of technology in relation to the causal powers of human beings. They start by recognising that “people have relationships with people and they have […]

Any social researcher has a finite set of beliefs, whether implicit or explicit, concerning the properties of the phenomena they’re investigating. Give the manifold ways in which these beliefs can influence the investigation, it’s valuable to work towards rendering them in a maximally consistent and explicit way. The absence of this doesn’t mean that good social […]

At last year’s International Association for Critical Realism conference, I saw perhaps the most impressive conference presentation I’d witnessed in my five or six years of going to conferences regularly. Jamie Morgan demolished the notion of ‘norm circles’ offered by Dave Elder-Vass and he did so in a way which made a whole host of important meta-theoretical […]

What’s the Point of Ontology? PhD Workshop at the University of Warwick 18th June 2014, 10am – 5:30pm Ontology can often prove a contested and confusing issue within social research. Everyone has an ontology, explicit or otherwise, but the process of drawing this out and thinking through its implications for research can often be a […]

Groups: Challenges for Contemporary Political Philosophy University of Rennes 1, November 19-21, 2014  Call for Papers Groups matter in political philosophy, most would now agree – but precisely how they matter is contentious. Group-related issues emerge in various contexts of debate: the redressing of past or current injustices suffered by ethnic or cultural minorities; the nature and scope […]

I read a book a decade ago and struggle with it. I read it again now and find it astonishingly thought-provoking. How do you explain this? It seems I bring something different to the book on the second reading: concepts, experiences and knowledge which I lacked at the time of the first reading. But what […]

Ontology itself, or what we might more accurately describe as the practice of ontological reasoning within sociology, remains contested. As Wan (2012: 20) observes “the (mostly legitimate) distrust in ontology has led researchers to abstain from ontological commitments and interrogations”. The degree of convergence which does exist in the conceptual vocabulary of sociology (‘structures’, ‘institutions’, […]

The ostensibly revolutionary transition from consciousness to language still leaves humans in absolute command as the primary subject matter of philosophy. All that happens is that the lucid, squeaky-clean ego of phenomenology is replaced by a more troubled figure- a drifter determined by his context, unable to fully transcend the structures of his environment. In […]