The Mind-Society Problem

  • Riccardo Viale


In most methodologies of social sciences one of the crucial problems is the relationship between mental and social phenomena. Often the problem is mediated by concepts like individual action or decision. In other cases the problem is implicit or even hidden. Nevertheless, every methodology of social sciences must, sooner or later, “cross the street” that connects mind and society. In the same way as the parallel mind–body problem, the mind-society problem concerns a number of variegated fundamental philosophical questions. These are metaphysical when they deal with the existence of one or more ontological levels of reality between mind and society; with the efficacy of social causation as distinct from individual mental causation; with the feature of social properties as second order properties compared to the first order mental properties; with supervenience, epiphenomenalism or realizationism between the mental and social dimensions; and so on. They are epistemological when they privilege the problem of explanation and representation. Can we explain social phenomena by connection with other social events or only by reduction to individual mental phenomena? Can we establish genuinely autonomous scientific laws at the social level or should they only be derived from the laws that represent the psychological dimension?


Causal Relation Social Phenomenon Prospect Theory Mental Property Rational Choice Theory 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rosselli FoundationTorinoItaly

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