Philosophical Studies

, Volume 149, Issue 2, pp 251–267 | Cite as

The metaphysics of groups

  • Nikk Effingham


If you are a realist about groups (e.g. religious institutions, football teams, the Mafia etc.) there are three main theories of what to identify groups with. I offer reasons for thinking that two of those theories (groups as sui generis entities and groups as mereological fusions) fail to meet important desiderata. The third option is to identify groups with sets, which meets all of the desiderata if only we take care over which sets they are identified with. I then canvass some possible objections to that third theory, and explain how to avoid them.


Metaphysics of social science Sets Ontology 



I’d like to thank Jake Chandler, Ross Cameron, Philip Goff, Jon Robson, Duncan Watson and an anonymous referee of this journal for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BirminghamBirminghamUK

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