chapter  6
The subject of structure
ByChristopher W. Haley
Pages 25

Chapter six, “The subject of structure,” engages with the nature of social forms in general and the agent-structure problem in particular. Dialectical critical realism argues agents and social forms are ontologically and analytically distinct because they both have intrinsic emergent causal powers. However, their powers are different. Aristotle’s distinction between efficient and material causation, borne out by his famous sculpture analogy, maps onto the different forms of causal powers associated with agency and structure. Consequently, other answers to the agent-structure problem—ontological individualism, ontological structuralism, and what Margaret Archer calls “conflationism”—are repudiated. This chapter also draws on Donati and Archer’s work on the “relational subject” in pursuance of collective projects, out of which emerge “relational goods.”