Philosophical Studies

, Volume 175, Issue 1, pp 241–260 | Cite as

Social construction: big-G grounding, small-g realization

  • Aaron M. GriffithEmail author


The goal of this paper is to make headway on a metaphysics of social construction. In recent work (forthcoming), I’ve argued that social construction should be understood in terms of metaphysical grounding. However, I agree with grounding skeptics like Wilson (Inquiry 1–45, 2014) that bare claims about what grounds what are insufficient for capturing, with fine enough grain, metaphysical dependence structures. To that end, I develop a view on which the social construction of human social kinds (e.g., race) is a kind of realization relation. Social kinds, I argue, are multiply realizable kinds. I depart from the Wilson by further arguing that an appeal to grounding is not otiose when it comes to social construction. Social construction, I claim, belongs to the “big-G” Grounding genus, but it is the specific “small-g” relation of realization at work in cases of human kind social construction.


Social construction Grounding Realization Social kinds Social ontology Race Gender 



I thank an anonymous referee for the journal, Kelly Trogdon, Matthew Haug, Christopher Tucker, Jonah P.B. Goldwater, Chad Vance, and Joshua Gert for their comments on earlier versions of the paper. Financial support was provided by a Faculty Summer Research Grant from the College of William & Mary.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The College of William & MaryWilliamsburgUSA

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