How can social philosophy deviate from mere opinions/views?

Can one prove/demonstrate social philosophies somehow?

What about, are social philosophies also supposed to exist as "social truths", not necessarily "hard truths"? That is, would it in some cases be enough that some people believe to the ideas, regardless of whether they have been or can be proved somehow more objectively? For example, if a group claims that they're being exploited, then does one need to demonstrate that it's "in fact" exploitation or is it enough that the group believes so?

  • We can demostrate a social theory's statement proving it by logical inferences from social theory's axioms. Do we have currently accepted social theory axioms ? – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Aug 28 '18 at 11:24
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA Wait, how does a priori argumentation prove anything about the reality? – mavavilj Aug 28 '18 at 11:25
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA Axioms + logical deduction is a priori. Or are you also suggesting that there does not exist axioms? – mavavilj Aug 28 '18 at 11:28
  • We axioms in physics; Spinoza traied to "axiomatize" metaphysics. In order to have a proof in science we have to assume something (i.e.axioms) and then use inference to draw conclusion. Then we can test them against facts. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Aug 28 '18 at 11:38
  • What other kind of "proof/demonstration" are you thinking about ? – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Aug 28 '18 at 11:39

Proving something is social is a little difficult, first, because it's very subjective. Like Mauro AlleGranza said, you can try to prove something using axioms, but it has to be accepted by any normal person.

In your example, what does "being exploited" mean? You have to think about universal human rights, too, and then observe the problem and make a conclusion.

| improve this answer | |
  • I made some edits. You may roll these back or continue editing. You can see the versions by clicking on the "edited" link above. One thing you might add are any references to authors who take similar views. This would strengthen your answer and give the reader a place to go for more information. Welcome! – Frank Hubeny Aug 30 '18 at 12:53

A social philosophy could well be based on truths about human nature, if there are any. I think there are : we have limited knowledge, limited rationality, we have shared vulnerabilities to one another. This list looks sound to me and could probably be extended.

Far more doubtful in my view is a social philosophy based on moral or other axiological truths. Even if there are such truths, there is widespread and intractable disagreement about what they are. This severely curtails their practical relevance even if they exist.

However, there can be objectivity without truth, Rational interpersonal agreement can take its place. Consider a very simple (and simplified) example.

Suppose we have a society of just two people, X and Y. The point I'm going to make is unaffected by the numbers involved.

X has equally strong preferences for A, B, C, D, E (these can be institutions, practices, goods and services or whatever).

Y has equally strong preferences for A, B, C, F, G.

None of these preferences can be fulfilled without the joint co-operation of X and Y.

Resources allow for only three preferences to be fulfilled. Isn't it rational for X and Y to agree on a social philosophy that endorses and fulfils A, B, and C, which they share, rather than to abort discussion because neither can have all they want - with the result, in face of the need for joint co-operation, that neither X nor Y gets anything they want ?

Truth doesn't come into the picture - moral or axiological truth.

This kind of approach to objectivity through rationality rather than truth is clear (and far more elaborately developed) in the ethical theory of Kant (1724-1804) and in the social philosophy of John Rawls in A Theory of Justice, 1971.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.