Social philosophy

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Social philosophy is the study of questions about social behavior and interpretations of society and social institutions in terms of ethical values rather than empirical relations. [1] Social philosophers place new emphasis on understanding the social contexts for political, legal, moral, and cultural questions, and to the development of novel theoretical frameworks, from social ontology to care ethics to cosmopolitan theories of democracy, human rights, gender equity and global justice. [2]



There is often a considerable overlap between the questions addressed by social philosophy and ethics or value theory. Other forms of social philosophy include political philosophy and jurisprudence, which are largely concerned with the societies of state and government and their functioning.

Social philosophy, ethics, and political philosophy all share intimate connections with other disciplines in the social sciences. In turn, the social sciences themselves are of focal interest to the philosophy of social science.

The philosophy of language and social epistemology are subfields which overlap in significant ways with social philosophy. [3]

Relevant issues

Some topics dealt with by social philosophy are:

Social philosophers

A list of philosophers that have concerned themselves, although most of them not exclusively, with social philosophy:

See also

Related Research Articles

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Jürgen Habermas German sociologist and philosopher

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Philosopher Practitioner of philosophy

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Karl Mannheim Hungarian-German philosopher and sociologist

Karl Mannheim was an influential German sociologist during the first half of the 20th century. He is a key figure in classical sociology, as well as one of the founders of the sociology of knowledge. Mannheim is best known for his book Ideology and Utopia (1929/1936), in which he distinguishes between partial and total ideologies, the latter representing comprehensive worldviews distinctive to particular social groups, and also between ideologies that provide outdated support for existing social arrangements, and utopias, which look to the future and threaten to transform a society.

Frankfurt School A school of social theory and critical philosophy associated with the Institute for Social Research, at Goethe University Frankfurt

The Frankfurt School is a school of social theory and critical philosophy associated with the Institute for Social Research, at Goethe University Frankfurt. Founded in the Weimar Republic (1918–33), during the European interwar period (1918–39), the Frankfurt School comprised intellectuals, academics, and political dissidents who were ill-fitted to the contemporary socio-economic systems of the 1930s. The Frankfurt theorists proposed that social theory was inadequate for explaining the turbulent political factionalism and reactionary politics occurring in ostensibly liberal capitalist societies in the 20th century. Critical of capitalism and of Marxism–Leninism as philosophically inflexible systems of social organisation, the School's critical theory research indicated alternative paths to realising the social development of a society and a nation.

Social theories are analytical frameworks, or paradigms, that are used to study and interpret social phenomena. A tool used by social scientists, social theories relate to historical debates over the validity and reliability of different methodologies, the primacy of either structure or agency, as well as the relationship between contingency and necessity. Social theory in an informal nature, or authorship based outside of academic social and political science, may be referred to as "social criticism" or "social commentary", or "cultural criticism" and may be associated both with formal cultural and literary scholarship, as well as other non-academic or journalistic forms of writing.

Wilhelm Dilthey German historian, psychologist, sociologist, student of hermeneutics, and philosopher

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George E. McCarthy is a professor of sociology at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, USA.

Articles in social and political philosophy include:

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This is a list of articles in modern philosophy.

This is a list of articles in continental philosophy.

Critical theory Philosophy that sociological understandings primary use should be social reform

Critical theory is a social philosophy pertaining to the reflective assessment and critique of society and culture in order to reveal and challenge power structures. With origins in sociology as well as in literary criticism, it argues that social problems are influenced and created more by societal structures and cultural assumptions than by individual and psychological factors. Maintaining that ideology is the principal obstacle to human liberation, critical theory was established as a school of thought primarily by the Frankfurt School theoreticians Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Erich Fromm, and Max Horkheimer. The latter sociologist described a theory as critical insofar as it seeks "to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them."


  1. "Definition of SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY".
  2. "Overview - Journal of Social Philosophy - Wiley Online Library". doi:10.1111/(issn)1467-9833/homepage/productinformation (inactive 2020-05-13).
  3. "Social Philosophy". Cavite State University Main Campus.