Critical Theory and Social Ontology II: Power

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

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

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 Lunch

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?


Workshop: Dependence in Social Ontology

7./8. December


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


Humboldt Universität Berlin
Unter den Linden 6
10117 Berlin

 Leave a Reply



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

© 2011 Critical Social Ontology Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha