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The University of Southampton

Cultural and Social Ontology: Group Belief and Action Event

9 July 2015
Building 07, Room 3027 Highfield Campus University of Southampton

For more information regarding this event, please email Lee Walters at .

Event details

Philosophers have tended to study the ontology of cultural artefacts (e.g., works of art) and the ontology of social objects and constructions (e.g., institutions and money) independently. With a few rare exceptions, there has been almost no attempt to bring these topics under a single theoretical umbrella. Indeed, people working in one area often seem entirely unaware of research in the other. Yet it is easy to see that many of the puzzles raised in the two areas are fundamentally similar, and might admit of similar solutions. With that in mind, the goal of our project will be to bridge these two areas, paving the way for a unified ontology of social and cultural objects.

Workshop 1: Group Belief and Action


This workshop considers how the theory of collective intentionality—the nature of collective belief and action—bears on the ontology of social and cultural objects? How is it that corporations and groups come into existence? Apparently through the collective agency and beliefs of the individuals that comprise them. But notice that arguably the very same mechanisms underwrite the existence of other social and cultural artefacts, explaining, for example, how it is that a piece of paper can be a bank note, the signing of a document can be legally binding, and a piece of music can be performed by the myriad artists who make up an orchestra. This workshop will explore how leading theories of collective belief and action can be brought to bear on puzzles about the ontology of other social and cultural artefacts.



Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern University)

Kurt Sylvan (University of Southampton)

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