Philosophy Colloquium: Sara Bernstein

Social Dependence


3 to 5 p.m., Nov. 18, 2022


The fall 2022 Philosophy Colloquium Series presents Sara Bernstein (Notre Dame).

Professor Sara Bernstein is R.L. Canala College Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.

We often reason about what our lives would have been like if we had belonged to different social groups: “If I had been African-American, being pulled over by police would have been more frightening,” or “If I had not been a woman, I would have had an easier time in that meeting.” This talk makes sense of such countersocial counterfactuals, conditionals whose antecedents run contrary to social facts. Based on the non-trivial truth of countersocials, I suggest that social categories are literally causal: they are causes, effects, and intermediaries. I then apply the results to the topic of intersectional oppression. Drawing on Stephen Yablo’s idea that causes are proportionate to their effects in terms of causal detail, I argue that intersectional oppression can be understood as involving causation containing the appropriate level of causal detail.


Jonathan Weinberg