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Reviewed by: Cheryl LaGuardia, Research Librarian, Widener Library, Harvard University
Published twice a year, the Journal of Social Ontology is a new forum for scholars from diverse disciplines to exchange views about the social world. Perspectives represented here come from such disciplines as anthropology, cognitive science, economics, history, law, morality, political science, psychology, and social and political philosophy, while topics range from “small-scale everyday interactions to encompassing societal institutions, from expert teams to hierarchical organizations, and from unintended consequences to institutional design.” The journal publishes significant articles, discussion articles, review essays, and book reviews.
A look through the table of contents of the premiere issue [Volume 1, Issue 1 (Jan 2015)] gives some context to what this journal is about. The Editorial Note states, “Social Ontology encompasses a wide variety of inquiries into the nature, structure and perhaps essence of social phenomena, and their role and place in our world.” This is followed by a Book Symposium with the articles, “Précis of Shared Agency: A Planning Theory of Acting Together,” “Shared Agency in Modest Sociality,” “Modest Sociality: Continuities and Discontinuities,” “Bratman, Searle, and Simplicity. A comment on Bratman, Shared Agency: A Planning Theory of Acting Together,” “Practical Intersubjectivity and Normative Guidance: Bratman on Shared Agency,” “Shared Agency on Gilbert and deep continuity,” followed by “Shared Agency: Replies to Ludwig, Pacherie, Petersson, Roth, and Smith.”
After the Book Symposium four articles appear: “Human Persons as Social Entities,” “On Commitments and Other Uncertainty Reduction Tools in Joint Action,” “Beyond Supervenience and Construction,” and “Team Reasoning and Intentional Cooperation for Mutual Benefit,” all of which are highly scholarly manuscripts. These are followed by book reviews of Freedom’s Right. The Social Foundations of Democratic Life, Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique, Joint Commitment: How We Make the Social World, Climate Change and the Moral Agent: Individual Duties in an Interdependent World, and Social Ontology: Collective Intentionality and Group Agents.
Given rising interest in individual and collective action and how it may work for good or do harm, it’s quite fascinating to read the works here to see the underpinnings of decisions humans make and how they affect themselves and the world around us. I suspect this will become a widely-read journal across the disciplines – or at least, I hope it will be – it should. Highly recommended for readers in all subject areas.