Social mereology

Katherine Hawley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


What kind of entity is a committee, a book group, or a band? I argue that committees and other such social groups are concrete, composite particulars, having ordinary human beings among their parts. Thus, the committee members are literally parts of the committee. This mereological view of social groups was popular several decades ago but fell out of favor following influential objections from David-Hillel Ruben. Recent years have seen a tidal wave of work in metaphysics, including the metaphysics of parts and wholes. We now have the resources to rehabilitate the mereological view of social groups. I show how this can be done and why we should bother.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-411
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the American Philosophical Association
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2018


  • Social groups
  • Membership
  • Collectives
  • Parthood
  • Social ontology


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