Existence, really? Tacit disagreements about “existence” in disputes about group minds and corporate agents
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A central dispute in social ontology concerns the existence of group minds and actions. I argue that some authors in this dispute rely on rival views of existence without sufficiently acknowledging this divergence. I proceed in three steps in arguing for this claim. First, I define the phenomenon as an implicit higher-order disagreement by drawing on an analysis of verbal disputes. Second, I distinguish two theories of existence—the theory-commitments view and the truthmaker view—in both their eliminativist and their constructivist variants. Third, I examine individual contributions to the dispute about the existence of group minds and actions to argue that these contributions have an implicit higher-order disagreement. This paper serves two purposes. First, it is a study to apply recent advances in meta-ontology. Second, it contributes to the debate on social ontology by illustrating how meta-ontology matters for social ontology.
KeywordsSocial ontology Group minds Group actions Existence Verbal disputes Group agents Metaontology
In writing this paper I benefitted from an early conversation with Daniel Nolan, discussions with Jesse Saloom, Sebastian Köhler and Ryan Cox, comments from two anonymous referees for this journal, and discussions at the European Congress of Analytic Philosophy (ECAP9).
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