One of Roy Bhaskar’s central ontological claims is that in addition to the actual – the things and events that occur in the material universe – our ontology must also recognise a domain of the real, which includes the actual, but extends beyond it. In his first book, A Realist Theory of Science, he argued that the non-actual includes real causal powers, a very strong argument that I explained towards the end of my last blog post. However, if we accept this argument this opens up rather a large question: what else could be real but not actual?
In the first couple of substantive posts on this blog I pinned my colours firmly to a materialist perspective on the social sciences. But what does this ‘materialism’ actually mean?
I’ve called this blog ‘Materially Social’ because the phrase links together the original motivations for my research programme with some recent developments in it. Today I’m going to focus on the original motivations and where they’ve led me – I’ll post about the recent developments later.