Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2017

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Bhandary, Asha

Second Advisor

Stern, David

First Committee Member

Davidovic, Jovana

Second Committee Member

Landini, Gregory

Third Committee Member

Swanson, Carrie


The dissertation attempts to answer the question of how to theorize resistance from within the philosophy of social science. To answer this question we must consider more than just the philosophy of social science; we also must look to political and moral philosophy. Resistance to the social norms of one’s community is possible to theorize from within the philosophy of social science once we develop a sufficiently nuanced account of social and moral communities (which involves identifying political and moral elements in community formation, reformation, and transformation), according to which membership in a community is not defined by sharing judgments, conceptual frameworks, or comprehensive worldviews, but by sharing terms of discourse so that discussion about judgments, conceptual frameworks, and comprehensive worldviews is possible. Understanding the structure of one’s moral community is not the same as to endorsing that structure. This suggests that contestation is already present within communities about what ‘we’ do, up to and including who ‘we’—as a ‘community’—are. Challenging communitarian understandings of what makes a community a community (usually construed as ‘cultures’, understood somewhat monolithically), I argue that communities are best understood as forming around common concerns or perceptions of problems (sometimes veridical, sometimes not). This contestation plays a major role in determining the identities of communities, and these identities are constantly shifting.


Community, Nonviolence, Resistance, Social Norms, Social Practices


xi, 184 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 177-184).


Copyright © 2017 Phillip Ricks

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