9th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Lo Coco

Laura Lo Coco

A Defense of Legal Reductionism

Collective rights have been commonly considered as mere legal fictions. This allegedly unsophisticated approach to collective entitlements has been greatly criticized for neglecting the interdependence of social facts and individuals. Here I intend to answer to two criticisms of reductionism by proposing a non-extreme reductionist approach to collective rights that allows for an analysis of collective entitlements considerate of the complex nature of social facts. The first problem with reductionism is that it does not account for the existence of collective entities. The answer to this remark can be found in the principle of supervenience. A reductionist approach that relies on the supervenience of groups on individuals accounts for the existence of groups and succeeds in pointing out the mutual dependence of social facts and individuals. The second problem lies in the fact that reductionism of collective entitlements confuses explicability with reducibility. In response to this criticism, I will suggest that, differently from explicability, reducibility must convey information on the justificatory ground of rights, and not on each and every detail of the way a collective right operates. The aim of this paper is to show that a non-extreme reductionism of collective entitlements does not compel us to any ontological stance on the nature of groups and individuals. Rather, its methodological advantage is that of drawing attention to the nature of rights and their justificatory ground, in order to dissipate the confusion that marks the debate over the nature of collective rights.