May 3 at 10:00am until May 4 at 2:30pm

Humboldt-University of Berlin, main building (Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin), room 2103

In recent years, questions concerning the fundamental structure of social reality have increasingly received attention within analytic philosophy. Building on the work of theorists such as Raimo Tuomela, John Searle, Michael Bratman and Margaret Gilbert, phenomena such as collective agency, group intentions, institutional facts and constitutive relations between different features of social reality have become the subject of a renewed philosophical debate.

This debate is, on the one hand, closely connected to many of the traditional issues of social theory — for example, the question what role individual intentions play in the explanation of social norms and institutions or questions concerning the importance of relations of power and knowledge for institutional facts, are the subject matter of debates within social ontology as well as of discussions on the foundations of social theory. Critical social theories in particular — whether they approach the issue from a Marxist perspective, within the Frankfurt School tradition or departing from the work of theorists such as Foucault, Butler or others — have many reasons to be concerned with these questions as far as they aim at uncovering normatively problematic general features of institutions, practices and socially enforced norms. The validity of such a form of social critique will, however implicitly, depend on an adequate view of the object domain which it aims to evaluate.

On the other hand, however, debates within analytic social ontology and critical social theory alike are often oblivious of the perspectives and insights provided by the respective other approach. Thus, for example, theories of social facts and collective agency within analytic social ontology tend to focus on cases of consensual activity, rather than on real-world examples of institutions that are characterized by profound inequality and domination. Critical theories, in return, often discuss phenomena of power or of problematic social norms without considering the conceptual distinctions deemed fundamentally important by analytical approaches.

For this reason, one can expect that both analytical social ontology and critical social theory (in the broadest sense of the term) will be able to gain new insights by entering into a dialogue with each other and by sharing the results of their respective research paradigms.

The workshop series Critical Theory and Social Ontology aims to provide a platform for such exchanges to take place. It provides researchers with an opportunity to present current projects, paper ideas or even tentative research questions to an audience consisting of scholars working within the many traditions of critical social theory or within analytical social ontology (or both).

We would like to invite you to the second workshop in this series which will focus on the notion of power. It will be concerned with questions such as:

- the analysis of conceptions of power and domination (if any
such analysis is possible)
- the role which specific kinds of power play in the
constitution of social reality
- the relevance of power for different types of social,
epistemological, political and discursive practices
- how different paradigms of critical social theory deal with
the concept of power within their social ontology
- what insights can be drawn from theories and analyses of
power relations with regard to normative questions about
social practices

Friday, 3rd of May, 2013
- 10:15 AM – 11:15 AM: David Strecker (Jena), „The Two Languages of Power“ Response: Robin Celikates (Amsterdam)
- 11:15 AM – 11:30 AM: coffee break
- 11:30 AM – 12:45 PM: Titus Stahl (Frankfurt a. M.), „Social Power, Reasons, and Reason“ Response: Martin Saar (Berlin)
- 12:45 PM – 02:15 PM: lunch break
- 02:15 PM – 03:30 PM: Eva von Redecker (Berlin), „Social Structures as Performative Aggregates of Power“ Response: Estelle Ferrarese (Strasbourg)
- 03:30 PM – 04:45 PM: Dimitri Mader (Jena), „In which Sense are Relations of Power and Domination Objective and/or Dependent on the Subordinated Agents’ Attitudes? Some Puzzles“ Response: Kristina Lepold (Frankfurt a. M)
- 04:45 PM – 05:15 PM: coffee break
- 05:00 PM – 06:30 PM: Frank Hindriks (Groningen), „Freedom, Power, and Oppression: A Social Practice Account“ Response: Aurélien Darbellay (Barcelona)

Saturday, 4th of May, 2013
- 10:00 AM – 11:15 AM: Waltraud Meints-Stender (Hannover), „Power as Critique“ Response: Hannes Kuch (Berlin)
- 11:15 AM – 12:30 AM: Daniel James (Berlin), „Deontic (Dis-)Empowerment“ Response: David Schweikard (Münster)
- 12:30 AM – 01:00 PM: coffee break
- 01:00 PM – 01:45 PM: Heiner Koch (Tübingen/Berlin), „Rationality as Power-Over” Response: Frieder Vogelmann (Bremen)
- 01:45 PM – 02:30 PM: closing discussion

 März 26, 2013  Posted by Heiner Koch at 8:17 pm Uncategorized No Responses »

In analytical philosophy the debates on social ontology are quite often very self-referential and not very interested in critical perspectives. Therefore I’m really  looking forward to a discussion with proponents of Critical Realism and Kritische Soziologie in Jena (1.2.2013-3.2.2013).

You can find the conference announcement and the programme also at:

“Kritische Soziologie meets Critical Realism. A Dialogue between Social Research, Social Theory and Philosophy of Science

Conference – with: Margaret Archer, Robin Celikates, Isabella Crespi, Dave Elder-Vass, Elmar Flatschart, Steve Fleetwood, Georg Gangl, Ina Kerner, Heiner Koch, Urs Lindner, Dimitri Mader, Barbara Muraca, Hans Pühretmayer, Hartmut Rosa, Andrew Sayer, Uwe Schimank, Hartwig Schuck, Clive Spash, David Strecker, Frieder Otto Wolf

Ort: Rosensäle, großer Saal
Zeit: 01.02.2013 17:00 – 03.02.2013 13:00

Download conference programme

Please register at:

Since the 1970s Critical Realism has been developed as a theoretical framework that opens up new directions within the social sciences and social theory. Against the alternatives of positivism and hermeneutics as well as their current ramifications, Critical Realism offers a combination of ontological realism and constructionist epistemology, a non-reductive naturalism that situates the social within the natural realm, a social theory that emphasises the importance of social structures and human agency without neglecting the role of culture, and finally an ethics that is both emancipatory and close to everyday concerns. The goal of the conference is to introduce this primarily Anglo-Saxon approach to German speaking social scientists, set it into communication with local perspectives, and, in doing so, initiate a dialogue between different traditions of critical thinking.

Friday, February 1st

17h – 18h

Introduction: Promoting Critical Realism in the German Speaking Academia – Basic Interventions, Developments and the Idea of the Conference

Urs Lindner (Zurich), Dimitri Mader (Jena) and Hans Pühretmayer (Vienna)

18h – 19h30

Dialogue: Social Morphogenesis and Acceleration

Margaret S. Archer (Lausanne): Why Realism needs Reflexivity

Hartmut Rosa (Jena): The Speed of Social Change and the Forms of Human Reflexivity. A Three-Stage-Model


Saturday, February 2nd

09h30 – 11h

Dialogue: Philosophy of Science and Ecological Economics

Clive Spash (Vienna): New Foundations for Ecological Economics

Barbara Muraca (Jena): Whitehead’s Philosophy as a Foundation for Ecological Economics?

11h – 11h30

Coffee Break

11h30 – 13h

Dialogue: Social Ontology, Gender and Intersectionality

Isabella Crespi (Macerata): Contributions of the Morphogenetic Approach to the Perspective of Intersectionality

Ina Kerner (Berlin): Differences and Power. A Foucauldian Perspective on Intersectionality

13h – 14h30


14h30 – 17h

Individual Presentations

Hartwig Schuck (Berlin): Power and Domination. A Realist View

Heiner Koch (Tübingen): Intentionality and the Social Ontology of Domination

Georg Gangl (Leiden): Critical Realism and Historical Theory

Elmar Flatschart (Vienna): Dialectical Traditions and Critical Realism

David Strecker (Jena): Reflexive Habitus. Making Sense of an Oxymoron

17h – 17h30

Coffee Break

17h30 – 19h

Dialogue: Social Science, Ethics and Critique

Andrew Sayer (Lancaster): Normativity and the Importance of Naturalism

Robin Celikates (Amsterdam): Immanent Critique and the Normative Foundations of Critical Theory


Sunday, February 3rd

9h30 – 11h

Dialogue: Critical Realism, Political Economy and the Current Crisis of Capitalism

Steve Fleetwood (Lancaster): Ontology and the Current Crisis

Frieder Otto Wolf (Berlin): How can Marx’s Critique of Political Economy and Critical Realism help us to understand the Present Crisis?

11h – 11h30

Coffee Break

11h30 – 13h

Dialogue: The Emergence of Social Structures and Agencies

Dave Elder-Vass (Loughborough): Critical Realism and the Causal Power of Social Structures

Uwe Schimank (Bremen): How can Social Structures cause Something?”


 Januar 17, 2013  Posted by Heiner Koch at 5:24 pm Uncategorized No Responses »


The event will take place in the “Senatssaal”, on the first floor of the Humboldt main building at Unter den Linden 6.  The closest underground/train stations are “Französische Straße” ( and “Friedrichstraße” (

We have reserved a table for 1 pm at the university restaurant “Cum Laude” (the entrance to the restaurant is at Universitätsstraße 4 — see, if you wish to have lunch and get to know some of the other workshop participants before the workshop begins.

Finally, the conference dinner will take place at ‘de Noantri’, a nice and affordable Italian Restaurant at Görlitzer Straße 63 from 7 pm on. The closest underground station is “Görlitzer Bahnhof” ( If you wish to participate and have not yet registered, please contact Daniel James (danjel.james[at]

 Dezember 6, 2012  Posted by Heiner Koch at 11:04 am Uncategorized No Responses »

Current metaphysics is in no small part concerned with investigating the various ways in which things and phenomena may depend on more fundamental things and phenomena – by learning about these relations of dependence we learn about the metaphysical structure of the world. One area in which it is natural to suppose that some kind of dependence must play a pivotal role is the social realm. There is widespread agreement that such things as money, marriages, or nation states depend for their existence on the attitudes and activities of social beings like us. However, both the extent and the nature of this dependence are controversial. This workshop aims to contribute to a clarification of the pertinent notion of dependence and to examine some of its possible applications.

At the first day before the official part of the workshop starts we will have a short time slot to talk about critical perspectives in the context of social ontology. If you should be interested you can contact Daniel James (danjel.james[at]

Participation in the workshop is free of charge and everyone is welcome to attend. Please register with if you wish to attend and also if you would like to join us for the conference dinner on Saturday.


Friday, December 7
3pm – Frank Hindriks (Groningen): Three Concepts of Rules
4:30pm – Daniel James (Berlin) & Mathias Böhm (Berlin): What Makes
Constitutive Rules Constitutive?
6pm – Miguel Hoeltje (Essen): Response Dependence, Social Ontology, and
Missing Explanations

Saturday, December 8
9:30am – Mari Mikkola (Berlin): Quasi-Essentialism, Sex, and Gender
11am – Heiner Koch (Tübingen): Acceptance Dependence
1:40pm – Al Prescott-Couch (Harvard): Social Reality and Collective
3:10pm – Raphael van Riel (Bochum): Construction Failures
4:40pm – Final Panel Discussion

 November 12, 2012  Posted by Heiner Koch at 7:42 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
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