Corporations are a legal fiction? Oh, that was very much a cloudy choice of words. Fictions have no standing in a court of law, facts do, and corporations are very much legal facts. You can take them to court, and they can take you to court. Personhood of corporations is a daft idea, but legally.... unfortunately they are.
I do note the irony -which I am sure is intentional - of a writer with the handle of Consortium11 arguing that consortia cannot be real.
Kythia's already mentioned this. The reason you can take a corporation to court and in turn be taken to court by them is because of a legal fiction; the fiction that legally corporations are (or at least have many of the same rights and responsibilities as) people.
If that is your definition of what is not real, then Literacy and Language themselves are not real. Writing is composed of marks on a surface that have no inherent meaning - if the meaning was inherent, we would not need to learn how to read - and perhaps write. The marks that compose writing have meaning that is assigned to them in our own heads. Likewise language, we understand it because we learn to understand it.
Quite literally, Literacy and Language are conventions and ideas we apply to make things more practical to do and use.
Indeed. Language in something we applied to the world to make it easier for us to understand and to communicate. The existence of multiple languages in the world shows that there is nothing inherent about an object that means it is it's name in English (or French or Spanish or German etc).
This calls into question the basic utility of the useful fiction concept, because utilizing a useful fiction to discuss the existence of useful fictions is very much like arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
I don't see the connection. As a general rule I dislike the "angels on pins" concept as it seems to me to be an argument for reducing everything to ruthless practicality and dismissing any arguments that don't. Moreover if I derive pleasure from a discussion then can it really be said to be a waste of time, even if the subject matter itself is of little practical import?
Beyond that I think the discussion is useful. Take the discussions on threads below about sexism and what's known as "rape culture". If society is sexist and is creating a culture where rape is trivialised is society doing that in and of itself or does it do it because enough individuals within society think a certain way? Once you identify that then the question turns from "how do we change society" to "how do we change individuals"... and that to me is the key question.
Take drink-driving for example. This has been a crime in the U.K since the 1870's but despite that drink-driving was still endemic. One of the reasons is that while jurisprudence states that a law such as that is a way of showing society's disapproval (and through doing so shape society and its opinions) because it focuses on society and not the individual society didn't significantly change. The reality was it took about a century for drink-driving to be socially unacceptable... and it became that due to the efforts to focus on individuals and make individuals become aware of their actions. As more and more of the individuals within society came to consider drink-driving unacceptable then society came to consider it unacceptable.
Are you a deconstructionist?
Of the Derrida/Yale school? Not intentionally.
Consortium11, if I understand your point correctly, it seems you are arguing against the reality of anything that does not have a tangible presence. ("Can we touch society? Can we talk to society?") In that case, I think you were dodging a very valid point earlier when Healergirl asked you if love, honor, mercy, justice, cruelty, passion, envy and loyalty were real. I would also ask you what you think you're communicating on at this moment. Can you touch the Internet? Can you talk to it? Sure, you can touch the individual machines, but that's not the same thing, is it?
My point isn't to reduce everything to the physical and I apologise if my arguments come across that way. My argument is to separate out things that are "real" (that is to say in some way inherent) and things that are "fictions" (that is to say, they are things we have applied to this world which are not inherent to it). Without touching on the argument that things such as "love" are just chemical reactions and stimulated nerves in the brain, love is still real; we did not invent the concept of"love" (although as above we invented the term). Love, honor, mercy, justice, cruelty, passion, envy and loyalty are (with the possible exception of "honour" which to me is very much a social construct) all real; they are not concepts we invented to make life easier.
My lack of tech knowledge may let me down here but the internet is a concept that exists in and of itself. In contrast the operating protocol (HTTP/WWW etc) are fictions we applied to it to make life easier for us much in way Windows style operating systems are a fiction applied to make computer usage easier.
Which leads to perhaps the problem with my argument. Taking it right back to the start, if we were to replace "society" with "car". Most of us would automatically say a car is real. Yet what separates it from society? Both are made up of individual component parts each of which influences how society/the car operates. If one wanted to change how a car performed one wouldn't change the car as a concept in and of itself... one would change the component parts. So in truth my argument would be that as a concept "car" isn't real (despite the fact that it is in many ways tangible... albeit you cannot touch "a car", you can touch parts of a car); it is a fiction we have invented, a shorthand to describe a certain set of parts arranged in a certain way.
The issue is how far this point goes. An engine has parts in the same way a car does. Is that reduced down? I say it has to be. Each of those parts has parts. Again, reduce it down. When everything is reduced away what are we left with? Simple raw materials? Plastics and metal? I don't think we need to go quite that far. I think we can reduce things down to a single part and build from there. A screw for example is a single part (albeit we call one section of it "the head"). Just as society can be broken down into component parts (Thatcher already mentioned one, the family) which can themselves be broken down further until we are left with the individual.
Your example is spectacularly poorly chosen. The reason the Roman army was great was because of the discipline and training instilled by it as an institution. So yes, Roman soliders were pretty clearly made great by the Roman army.
I apologise for missing this earlier.
So what did the training and discipline do? It made the individual soldiers better (either alone or in groups). Who did the training and installed the discipline? Individuals. Who decided on the training and installing discipline? Individuals. Every aspect of the "army" is entirely governed by the actions of individuals.
Roman soldiers were made great by individuals. The army in and of itself did nothing beyond organise them (which was another decision taken by individuals).