Category Archives: News

Conference: Marking 25 Years of the Cambridge Realist Workshop

From our affiliated centre at Cambridge:

A reunion conference, generously sponsored by the Cambridge Journal of Economics, is to be held in Newnham College, Cambridge, 7-9 September 2015, marking 25 Years of the Cambridge Realist Workshop.

Conference Themes

The Conference Theme is ‘Social Ontology and Modern Economics’.

There will be no parallel streams, just a series of single sessions.  To allow maximum participation of everyone present the sessions will be mostly round tables on specific sub themes, with two or three individuals giving short introductions.

Those already agreeing to introduce various themes or otherwise participate include: Richard Arena, Bruce Caldwell, Steve Fleetwood, Tony Lawson, John Latsis, Paul Lewis, Nuno Martins, Dimitris Milonakis, Leon Montes, Jamie Morgan and Stephen Pratten.

Likely sub themes include (but are not exhausted by):

  • Philosophical Ontology (emergence; causal reduction and downward causation; process and evolution; entities and stability; order and co-ordination; practice including language; comparing competing conceptions);
  • Ontology and Heterodox Economics;
  • Ontology in the History of Economic Thinking;
  • Topics in Scientific Ontology (money, technology, gender, the corporation, social relations, institutions, communities, power, trust, rules, collective practices; method for scientific ontology);
  • Ontology and Methodology (dialectics/contrast explanation; abstraction; methods of isolation; internal critique; transcendental reasoning);
  • Ontology, Ethics, and Moral Conduct.

Conference structure

The conference will start late afternoon on Monday September 7 and most likely end around lunchtime on Wednesday September 9th.  There will be conference dinners on both the Monday and the Tuesday evening, with a reception on the Monday.

Registration and other administrative stuff. 

A conference fee of £24 (£20 +VAT) will be charged.  However this is merely nominal. Participants will thereafter be invited to participate in both the conference dinners plus lunches, etc., without additional charge. Numbers though are limited to about 70 participants, and we do need you to register. In order to register please go to:


Basic (non en-suite) accommodation is available at Newnham College at very reasonable rates (about £48 per night inclusive of VAT). To book a Newnham College room please contact Marilyn Dowling, the Conference and Events Co-ordinator at Newnham College (Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DF) by email:  (telephone : +44 (0) 1223 335803).

Other Cambridge accommodation can be located here (though please check you are not further than you would like to be from Newnham College [CB3 9DF]):

Whether you stay in College or elsewhere in Cambridge, do please register above first, and make sure you have a confirmation of registration. We are restricted to accepting only the first 70 so to register.

Hardship Fund

We do have a small amount of funding to help those whose situations make it difficult to raise the total costs themselves. Applicants for this should get in touch as soon as possible. Apply, sending details, to with subject heading ‘CSOG funding’.

Roy Bhaskar, 1944-2014


Roy Bhaskar died at his home in Leeds at about 6 pm GMT on Wednesday 19 November 2014.

‘It is not that there are the starry heavens above and the moral law within, as Kant would have it; rather, the true basis of your virtuous existence is the fact that the starry heavens are within you, and you are within them.’  (Roy Bhaskar, The Philosophy of MetaReality, p. 351)

The International Association for Critical Realism has established an online condolence book here:

Daniel Little reviews Social Morphogenesis volume 1 and volume 2

The philosopher Daniel Little has written about volume 1 and volume 2 of the Social Morphogenesis book series on his Understanding Society blog:

“Margaret Archer’s contribution to critical realism has been an important part of the recent progress of the field, and her theory of morphogenesis is key to this progress. Her recent volume, Social Morphogenesis, represents a rigorous and serious step forward in the project of articulating this theory as both a meta-theory for the social sciences and a potential contribution to sociological theory. The volume includes two good essays by Archer, as well as contributions by Douglas Porpora, Andrea Maccarini, Tony Lawson, Colin Wight, Kate Forbes-Pitt, Wolfgang Hofkirchner, Emmanuel Lazega, Ismael Al-Amoudi, and Pierpaolo Donati.”

– Daniel Little on volume 1

“This volume, like its companion, Social Morphogenesis, is an impressive demonstration of the value of collaborative research in social theory and the philosophy of social science. It is evident that the contributors to the two volumes have developed their ideas in interaction with each other, and the framework has acquired a great deal of substance and coherence as a result.”

– Daniel Little on volume 2

PhD Workshop: What’s the point of social ontology?

What’s the Point of Social Ontology?
PhD Workshop at the University of Warwick
18th June 2014, 10am – 5:30pm

Ontology can often prove a contested and confusing issue within social research. Everyone has an ontology, explicit or otherwise, but the process of drawing this out and thinking through its implications for research can often be a confusing part of the PhD process. This participatory workshop explores the practical significance of ontological questions for social research, inviting participants to reflect on their own research projects in a collaborative and supportive context. It aims to help participants negotiate the sometimes abstruse matter of social ontology, linking theory to practice in the context of their own research projects. The main focus throughout the day will be on how ontological questions are encountered in social research, the questions posed by such encounters and how engaging explicitly with social ontology can often help resolve such issues.

All participants will offer a brief (5 minute) presentation of their research project and the ontological questions which have been or are expected to be encountered within it. Those still early in the PhD process are welcome to substitute this for a discussion of their research interests and potential project. We’d like to ask all participants to reflect in advance on their own social ontology and how it pertains to their project. Uncertainty here is not a problem, in fact it will be a useful contribution to discussions on the day!

We also invite two more substantial presentations (10 mins) for the first afternoon session, reflecting on your engagement with ontological questions in your own project in order to help begin a practical engagement which encompasses the entire group. If you would be interested in leading the discussion in this way then please make this known when registering.

To register please contact with a brief description of your research and your interest in social ontology (500 words or less) by May 15th. The event is free but places are limited. Travel bursaries are available, please ask for more details.