Defining and defending social holism

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23 Scopus citations


This paper offers a definition of social holism that makes the doctrine non-trivial but possibly true. According to that definition, the social holist maintains that people depend non-causally on interaction with one another for possession of the capacity to think; the thesis is meant to be a contingent truth but one, like physicalism, that is plausible in the light of some a priori argument and some plausible empirical assumptions. The paper also sketches an argument in support of social holism, which connects with themes in a number of traditions, philosophical and sociological. The key idea is that people depend on socially shared dispositions and responses for the ability to identify – identify fallibly – the properties and other entities that they consider in each individual has to the course of thinking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-184
Number of pages16
JournalPhilosophical Explorations
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


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