Syllabi

Syllabi

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Nonideal Social Ontology

Lecturer: Åsa Burman (Stockholm)

Contemporary social ontology is a rapidly growing but divided area of study. This course provides a systematic overview and synthesis of core ideas in social ontology by showing that its key questions and central dividing lines can be fruitfully reconstructed as a clash between ideal and nonideal social ontology. I will argue for the use of nonideal theory in social ontology, claiming that a paradigm shift from ideal to nonideal social ontology is underway, and that this shift should be fully followed through. I will also offer a new theory, called the Power View, of nonideal social ontology. The Power View replaces the flat and narrow conception of social power in ideal social ontology with a richer and more extensive conception. In addition, it rectifies a shortcoming in other theories of nonideal social ontology by attending to economic class, which has been notably overlooked.

Topic 1. The two worlds of contemporary social ontology: Ideal and nonideal social ontology

  1. Ásta. (2018). Categories we live by: The construction of sex, gender, race, and other social categories. Oxford University Press. Introduction
  2. Burman, Å. (2023). Nonideal social ontology: The power view. Oxford University Press. Introduction and chapter 1 (esp. sections 1.6-1.7)
  3. Jenkins, K. (2020). Ontic Injustice. Journal of the American Philosophical Association, 6(2), 188–205. https://doi.org/10.1017/apa.2019.27
  4. Searle, J. R. (2006). Social ontology: Some basic principles. Anthropological Theory, 6(1), 12–29. https://doi.org/10.1177/1463499606061731

Topic 2. Critique of ideal social ontology

  1. Burman, Å. (2023). Nonideal social ontology: The power view. Oxford University Press. Chapters 1 & 2
  2. Guala, F. (2007). The Philosophy of Social Science: Metaphysical and Empirical. Philosophy Compass, 2(6), 954–980. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1747-9991.2007.00095.x

Topic 3. Critique of nonideal social ontology

  1. Ásta. (2018). Categories we live by: The construction of sex, gender, race, and other social categories. Oxford University Press. Chapters 1 & 2
  2. Burman, Å. (2023). Nonideal social ontology: The power view. Oxford University Press. Chapters 3 & 4

Topic 4. The Power View

  1. Burman, Å. (2023). Nonideal social ontology: The power view. Oxford University Press. Chapters 5 & 6
  2. Brännmark, J. (2019). Contested Institutional Facts. Erkenntnis, 84(5), 1047–1064. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-018-9994-7

The Ontology of Institutions

Lecturer: Francesco Guala (Milan)

There is general agreement that institutions are fundamental building blocks of our societies. According to many social scientists, they are a major determinant of human welfare, and according to ethologists they distinguish homo sapiens from other animal species. Yet, there is remarkable disagreement about the nature of institutions – what they are and how they function. This course will review the main accounts proposed by scientists and philosophers, with the aim of building a general theory of institutions. Along the way, it will introduce some basic tools and concepts for the analysis of social behaviour that play a central role in current debates in the field of social ontology.

Topic 1. Game theory for social ontology

  1. Guala, F. (2016). Understanding institutions: The science and philosophy of living together. Princeton University Press. Chapter 2: “Games”
  2. Lewis, D. K. (1969). Convention: A philosophical study. Blackwell. Chapter 1, pp. 5-10 and pp. 24-51
  3. Peterson, M. (2015). Introduction. In M. Peterson (Ed.), The Prisoner’s Dilemma (pp. 1–15). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107360174.001

Topic 2. Institutions as rules

  1. Bicchieri, C. (2006). The grammar of society: The nature and dynamics of social norms. Cambridge University Press. Chapter 1: “The rules we live by”
  2. Searle, J. R. (2005). What is an institution? Journal of Institutional Economics, 1(1), 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1744137405000020
  3. Guala, F. (2016). Understanding institutions: The science and philosophy of living together. Princeton University Press. Chapter 1: “Rules”

Topic 3. Institutions as equilibria

  1. Smit, J. P., Buekens, F., & du Plessis, S. (2011). What Is Money? An Alternative to Searle’s Institutional Facts. Economics and Philosophy, 27(1), 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0266267110000441
  2. Calvert, R. (1996). Rational Actors, Equilibrium, and Social Institutions. In J. Knight & I. Sened (Eds.), Explaining Social Institutions. University of Michigan Press. https://doi.org/10.3998/mpub.14827
  3. Guala, F. (2016). Understanding institutions: The science and philosophy of living together. Princeton University Press. Chapter 3: “Money”

Topic 4. Institutions as rules in equilibrium

  1. Guala, F., & Hindriks, F. (2015). A Unified Social Ontology. The Philosophical Quarterly, 65(259), 177–201. https://doi.org/10.1093/pq/pqu072
  2. Searle, J. R. (2015). Status functions and institutional facts: Reply to Hindriks and Guala. Journal of Institutional Economics, 11(3), 507–514. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1744137414000629
  3. Hindriks, F., & Guala, F. (2015). Understanding institutions: Replies to Aoki, Binmore, Hodgson, Searle, Smith, and Sugden. Journal of Institutional Economics, 11(3), 515–522. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1744137415000120

Topic 5. The cognitive basis of institutions

  1. Sugden, R., & Gold, N. (2007). Theories of team agency. In F. Peter & H. B. Schmid (Eds.), Rationality and Commitment. Oxford University Press.
  2. Searle, J. R. (1990). Collective Intentions and Actions. In P. R. Cohen, J. Morgan, & M. E. Pollack (Eds.), Intentions in communication (pp. 401–415). MIT Press.
  3. Colombo, C., & Guala, F. (2021). Institutions, Rationality and Coordination. In C. Heilmann & J. Reiss (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of the philosophy of economics (pp. 113–124). Routledge.

How to finish your academic work on time and feel good along the way

Lecturer: Åsa Burman (Stockholm)

As academics, we spend a great deal of time focusing on the content of our work, but sometimes we forget to pay attention to the work process, or how we work, think, and act. However, the process is important to finishing our academic work and managing stress levels. As individuals, we often have one main strategy, or a certain way of thinking and acting, for dealing with a variety of situations. For many doctoral students, the main strategy is to work harder. Our main strategy often works perfectly well, but as we encounter new situations we may need a greater variety of strategies.

This workshop shifts focus from what to how and provides you with strategies and hands-on techniques to finish your dissertation or other academic work on time and feel good along the way. You will learn about units, the weekly schedule and the 80/20 principle, and apply these concepts to your own work situation.

  1. Burman, Å. (2018). Finish on Time—The Doctoral Student Handbook (Finish on Time Publications). Introduction and chapters 1 & 2.