Social philosophy is the study of questions about social behavior and interpretations of society and social institutions in terms of ethical values rather than empirical relations. Social philosophers place new emphasis on understanding the social contexts for political, legal, moral, and cultural questions, and to the development of novel theoretical frameworks, from social ontology to care ethics to cosmopolitan theories of democracy, human rights, gender equity and global justice.
There is often a considerable overlap between the questions addressed by social philosophy and ethics or value theory. Other forms of social philosophy include political philosophy and jurisprudence, which are largely concerned with the societies of state and government and their functioning.
Social philosophy, ethics, and political philosophy all share intimate connections with other disciplines in the social sciences. In turn, the social sciences themselves are of focal interest to the philosophy of social science.
Some topics dealt with by social philosophy are:
A list of philosophers that have concerned themselves, although most of them not exclusively, with social philosophy:
Antimilitarism (also spelt anti-militarism) is a doctrine that opposes war, relying heavily on a critical theory of imperialism and was an explicit goal of the First and Second International. Whereas pacifism is the doctrine that disputes (especially between countries) should be settled without recourse to violence, Paul B. Miller defines anti-militarism as "ideology and activities...aimed at reducing the civil power of the military and ultimately, preventing international war". Cynthia Cockburn defines an anti-militarist movement as one opposed to "military rule, high military expenditure or the imposition of foreign bases in their country". Martin Ceadel points out that anti-militarism is sometimes equated with pacificism—general opposition to war or violence, except in cases where force is deemed absolutely necessary to advance the cause of peace.Discourse
Discourse (from Latin discursus, "running to and from") denotes written and spoken communications:
In semantics and discourse analysis: Discourse is a conceptual generalization of conversation within each modality and context of communication.
The totality of codified language (vocabulary) used in a given field of intellectual enquiry and of social practice, such as legal discourse, medical discourse, religious discourse, et cetera.
In the work of Michel Foucault, and that of the social theoreticians he inspired: discourse describes "an entity of sequences, of signs, in that they are enouncements (énoncés)", statements in conversation.As discourse, an "enouncement" (statement) is not a unit of semiotic signs, but an abstract construct that allows the semiotic signs to assign meaning, and so communicate specific, repeatable communications to, between, and among objects, subjects, and statements. Therefore, a discourse is composed of semiotic sequences (relations among signs that communicate meaning) between and among objects, subjects, and statements.
The term "discursive formation" (French: formation discursive) conceptually describes the regular communications (written and spoken) that produce such discourses, such as informal conversations. As a philosopher, Michel Foucault applied the discursive formation in the analyses of large bodies of knowledge, such as political economy and natural history.In the first sense-usage (semantics and discourse analysis), the term discourse is studied in corpus linguistics, the study of language expressed in corpora (samples) of "real world" text. In the second sense (the codified language of a field of enquiry) and in the third sense (a statement, un énoncé), the analysis of a discourse examines and determines the connections among language and structure and agency.
Moreover, because a discourse is a body of text meant to communicate specific data, information, and knowledge, there exist internal relations in the content of a given discourse; likewise, there exist external relations among discourses. As such, a discourse does not exist per se (in itself), but is related to other discourses, by way of inter-discursivity. Discourses are also perpetually differentiating toward each other in time. Therefore, in the course of intellectual enquiry, the discourse among researchers features the questions and answers of What is ...? and What is not. ..., conducted according to the meanings (denotation and connotation) of the concepts (statements) used in the given field of enquiry, such as anthropology, ethnography, and sociology; cultural studies and literary theory; the philosophy of science and feminism.Journal of Social Philosophy
The Journal of Social Philosophy is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal of social philosophy covering work of normative and practical significance concerning social and political life. It was established in 1970 and is published by John Wiley & Sons. It is an official journal of the North American Society for Social Philosophy. The editor-in-chief is Carol Gould (Hunter College and City University of New York).Mandeville's paradox
Mandeville's paradox is named after Bernard Mandeville, who posits that actions which may be qualified as vicious with regard to individuals have benefits for society as a whole. This is alluded to in the subtitle of his most famous work, The Fable of The Bees: ‘Private Vices, Public Benefits’. He states that "Fraud, Luxury, and Pride must live; Whilst we the Benefits receive.") (The Fable of the Bees, ‘The Moral’).
The philosopher and economist Adam Smith opposes this (although he defends a moderated version of this line of thought in his theory of the invisible hand), since Mandeville fails, in his opinion, to distinguish between vice and virtue (The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part VII, Section II, Chapter 4 (‘Of licentious systems’)).Neo-Capitalism
Neo-capitalism is an economic ideology which blends some elements of capitalism with other systems. The new capitalism was new compared to the capitalism in the era before World War II.Social and economic ideology that arose in the second half of the 20th century and in which the capitalist doctrine becomes deeper, being based on the technological revolution and on the internationalization of the markets.
It is a term used to designate a new form of capitalism that is characterized for correcting its excesses by means of the application of measures that guard over the social well-being.
The important aspects include a great economic freedom, attaching the private property of the industries and companies, moderated with a centralized economic planning, which can include that the state is an owner of some means of production.
It tries to support a balance between the economic growth, lower inflation, low levels of unemployment, good conditions of work, social assistance and good public services, across the intervention of the state in the economy.
It arises in the technological companies reconstructed in the postwar period.
One of its more outstanding representatives is the Keynesian economist Paul Samuelson.Objectification
In social philosophy, objectification is the act of treating a person, or sometimes an animal, as an object or a thing. It is part of dehumanization, the act of disavowing the humanity of others. Sexual objectification, the act of treating a person as a mere object of sexual desire, is a subset of objectification, as is self-objectification, the objectification of one's self. In Marxism, the objectification of social relationships is discussed as "reification".Philosophy of culture
Philosophy of culture is a branch of philosophy that examines the essence and meaning of culture.Philosophy of law
Philosophy of law is a branch of philosophy that examines the nature of law and law's relationship to other systems of norms, especially ethics and political philosophy. It asks questions like "What is law?", "What are the criteria for legal validity?", and "What is the relationship between law and morality?" Philosophy of law and jurisprudence are often used interchangeably, though jurisprudence sometimes encompasses forms of reasoning that fit into economics or sociology.Philosophy of law can be sub-divided into analytical jurisprudence and normative jurisprudence. Analytical jurisprudence aims to define what law is and what it is not by identifying law's essential features. Normative jurisprudence investigates both the non-legal norms that shape law and the legal norms that are generated by law and guide human action.Philosophy of social science
The philosophy of social science is the study of the logic, methods, and foundations of social sciences such as psychology, economics, and political science. Philosophers of social science are concerned with the differences and similarities between the social and the natural sciences, causal relationships between social phenomena, the possible existence of social laws, and the ontological significance of structure and agency.Pirate utopia
Pirate utopias were defined by anarchist writer Peter Lamborn Wilson, who coined the term in his 1995 book Pirate Utopias: Moorish Corsairs & European Renegadoes as secret islands once used for supply purposes by pirates. Wilson's concept is largely based on speculation, although he admits to adding a bit of fantasy to the idea. In Wilson's view, these pirate enclaves were early forms of autonomous proto-anarchist societies in that they operated beyond the reach of governments and embraced unrestricted freedom.Plutocracy
A plutocracy (Greek: πλοῦτος, ploutos, 'wealth' + κράτος, kratos, 'power') or plutarchy is a society that is ruled or controlled by people of great wealth or income. The first known use of the term in English dates from 1631. Unlike systems such as democracy, capitalism, socialism or anarchism, plutocracy is not rooted in an established political philosophy. Plutocracy is linked to the term dynastic wealth. The concept of plutocracy may be advocated by the wealthy classes of a society in an indirect or surreptitious fashion, though the term itself is almost always used in a pejorative sense.Political philosophy
Political philosophy, also known as political theory, is the study of topics such as politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of laws by authority: what they are, if they are needed, what makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect, what form it should take, what the law is, and what duties citizens owe to a legitimate government, if any, and when it may be legitimately overthrown, if ever.
In a vernacular sense, the term "political philosophy" often refers to a general view, or specific ethic, political belief or attitude, about politics, synonymous to the term "political ideology".
Political philosophy is a branch of philosophy. Within political science, a strong focus has historically been placed on the role of political philosophy (also known as normative theory), moral philosophy and the humanities, although in recent years there has been increased focus to political theory based on quantitative methodological approaches as well as economic theory, the natural sciences and behaviouralism.Postgenderism
Postgenderism is a social, political and cultural movement which arose from the eroding of the cultural, biological, psychological and social role of gender, and an argument for why the erosion of binary gender will be liberatory.Postgenderists argue that gender is an arbitrary and unnecessary limitation on human potential, and
foresee the elimination of involuntary biological and psychological gendering in the human species
as a result of social and cultural evolution and through the application of neurotechnology, biotechnology and assistive reproductive technologies.Advocates of postgenderism argue that the presence of gender roles, social stratification, and cogno-physical disparities and differences are generally to the detriment of individuals and society. Given the radical potential for advanced assistive reproductive options, postgenderists believe that sex for reproductive purposes will either become obsolete, or that all post-gendered humans will have the ability, if they so choose, to both carry a pregnancy to term and 'father' a child, which, postgenderists believe, would have the effect of eliminating the need for definite genders in such a society.Significant other
Significant other (SO) is colloquially used as a gender-neutral term for a person's partner in an intimate relationship without disclosing or presuming anything about marital status, relationship status, or sexual orientation. Synonyms with similar properties include sweetheart, better half, other half, spouse, domestic partner, lover, soulmate, or life partner.
In the United States, the term is sometimes used in invitations, such as to weddings and office parties. This use of the term has become common in the UK in correspondence from hospitals, e.g., "you may be accompanied for your appointment by a significant other".Social interventionism
Social interventionism is an action which involves the intervention of a government or an organization in social affairs. Such policies can include provision of charity or social welfare as a means to alleviate social and economic problems of people facing financial difficulties; provision of health care; provision of education; provision of safety regulations for employment and products; delivery of food aid, food bank or recovery missions to regions or countries negatively affected by an event; adoption programs; maintaining and protecting natural biodiversity; securing workers rights through gradualism in institutions, private education and unions; subsidizing women's healthcare programs; improving educational opportunities, open-source and open-access; standardizing basic income and nationalization compensation etc.
Some social interventionist policies have been labelled by critics as social authoritarianism due to views that the policies violate individual freedom or human rights. Such policies include conscription; state-forced abortions like in China's One child policy or bans on abortion and birth control; bans on associations and organizations; forced sterilization programs; mandatory institutionalization of people with mental or physical disabilities; prohibition of drugs or items; bans on homosexual relationships; segregation policies; state-sponsored discrimination or persecution of people based on age, cultural identity, ethnicity, gender, people with mental or physical disabilities, race, social position, political affiliation, religion, and sexual orientation. This criticism also arises from the use of social interventionism by authoritarian or totalitarian governments such as in the Soviet Union, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany.Academic research of Social Interventions occurs in many public policy schools around the world. Some universities also have dedicated research centres or clusters covering Social Intervention, for example the Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford.Social medicine
The field of social medicine seeks to implement social care through
understanding how social and economic conditions impact health, disease and the practice of medicine and
fostering conditions in which this understanding can lead to a healthier society.Social medicine as a scientific field gradually began in the early 19th century, the Industrial Revolution and the subsequent increase in poverty and disease among workers raised concerns about the effect of social processes on the health of the poor. The field of social medicine is most commonly addressed today by public health efforts to understand what are known as social determinants of health.Social phenomenon
Social phenomena include all behavior that influences or is influenced by organisms sufficiently alive to respond to one another.Statolatry
Statolatry, which combines idolatry with the state, first appeared in Giovanni Gentile's Doctrine of Fascism, published in 1931 under Mussolini's name, and was also mentioned in Gramsci's Prison Notebooks (1971) sometime between 1931-1932, while he was imprisoned by Mussolini. The same year, the encyclical Non abbiamo bisogno by Pope Pius XI criticized Fascist Italy as developing "a pagan worship of the state" which it called "statolatry".The term politiolatry was used to describe reason of state doctrine in the 17th century with similar intent.Tabula rasa
Tabula rasa () is the epistemological theory that individuals are born without built-in mental content and that therefore all knowledge comes from experience or perception. Proponents of tabula rasa disagree with the doctrine of innatism which holds that the mind is born already in possession of certain knowledge. Generally, proponents of the tabula rasa theory also favour the "nurture" side of the nature versus nurture debate when it comes to aspects of one's personality, social and emotional behaviour, knowledge and sapience.
Social and political philosophy