Stance: An International Undergraduate Philosophy Journal

Volume 11, April 2018

Daniel Saunders
Pages 35-45

Durkheim’s Relational Account Of Social Ontology

Secondary commentators on Emile Durkheim have interpreted his ontology in conflicting and contradictory ways. Some have claimed that he treats social entities as mysterious substances which exist over and above individuals. Others claim he is ontologically committed to exactly nothing more than individuals. Few studies have carefully analyzed his ontological commitments in detail, and the conventional wisdom on the issue leaves much to be desired. I argue Durkheim holds neither a substance nor an individualist view of social ontology. Instead, he is committed to the reality of emergent social relations which form the proper subject matter of sociology