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This philosophy of anthropology section is within philosophy of social science, so the term 'anthropology' is here taken as short for social and cultural anthropology. Philosophy of anthropology aims to contribute to our understanding of anthropology as a discipline through doing philosophy. Most works within this category fall into one or more of the following areas. (1) Attempts to answer questions about the nature or value of anthropology, e.g. what distinguishes anthropology from other disciplines? is it possible to pursue  anthropology as a science? what moral obligations does anthropology give rise to? (2) Attempts to identify the commitments of a given type of anthropology, e.g. functionalist anthropology, structuralist anthropology; and also philosophical evaluations of these commitments. (3) Attempts to define more general concepts that are closely connected to anthropological research, e.g. the concept of a culture, the concept of a belief system; and also assessments of their value to anthropology.

Key works Wittgenstein 1967, Quine 1957, Jarvie 1967 and Davidson 1973 are key works written by philosophers. A number of key works are by anthropologists reflecting on their discipline. See Malinowski 1922 (introductory chapter), Radcliffe-Brown 1940, Evans-Pritchard 1961, Levi-Strauss 1969, Geertz 1973, Harris 1980, Sperber 1985, Sperber 1996, Clifford & Marcus 1986, Spiro 1986, Spiro 1996, Strathern 1987, Strathern 1987, Strathern 1990, Moore 2013, Csordas 1990, Gell 1992, Gell 1994, Abu-Lughod 1996,  Henare et al 2007 and Ingold 2014
Introductions Jarvie 1967 and Sperber 1985 are good places to start. Hacker 1992 is useful for understanding Wittgenstein's criticisms of Frazer. Lynch 1997 serves well as an introduction to what a conceptual framework is and whether there can be alternative conceptual frameworks. Zahle 2016 provides information on how participant observation relates to the divide between the natural and social sciences.
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1 — 50 / 1824
  1. What is Spoken of when We Speak about Being.Niel Bezrookove - manuscript
    τὰ ὄντα ἰέναι τε πάντα καὶ μένειν οὐδέν: Another look at being, asking what a interlocutor means to show by saying they feel themselves to be something. An ambiguity of the verb "to be" is disambiguated to reveal that it can be meant to show what something is and a process of being something. The relationship between being and essence is made by describing engagement through the encounter, giving us a non-exhaustive account of something's essence. Practice is then understood as (...)
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  2. The Golden Bough as an argument against diffusionism.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This paper interprets Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough as presenting an objection to diffusionism: the diffusionist theory cannot account for the isolation of the rite Frazer focuses on, in the societies studied by classicists.
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  3. Is kinship insignificant in Western societies?Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This paper considers an argument for why kinship is not significant in industrialized Western societies. There are various objections to the argument, of which I present one supported by two examples.
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  4. Beyond tribalism: an attempted solution to the kalela dance paradox.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    I propose a solution to the paradox of the kalela dance, as presented by Richard Werbner, based on a variety of liberalism I once identified.
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  5. On the meaning of “legitimate fieldwork” in social anthropology.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This is a one-page handout specifying five kinds of legitimacy.
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  6. Elmdoners and the structure of other villages.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    In her book on the English village of Elmdon, the anthropologist Marilyn Strathern identifies an assumption made by villagers: that much as Elmdon has a set of real Elmdon families, long associated with the place, so other villages also have their real families. I present an argument in favour of the assumption; the argument is an informal model.
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  7. A fourth solution to a Victorian anthropology paradox: underdeterminism.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Historian of anthropology George Stocking tells us: from the point of view of parts of the Victorian middle class, Victorian society was highly evolved yet also contained savage components. Why don’t they change their ways, or why didn’t they? There is a Quinean solution.
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  8. Why bother? The metaphor of organizing in the conceptual schemes literature.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Much of the recent philosophy literature on the topic of alternative conceptual schemes responds to Donald Davidson. Davidson makes an argument by applying his system to the question, “Could others have an alternative system of concepts, an alternative conceptual scheme?” But he also remarks on the metaphor of organizing. A number of others have joined in. Why? This material may seem unimportant, but I present some reasons for why, and respond to other remarks, by P.M.S Hacker and Hans-Johann Glock.
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  9. Arguing with villagers: opposition to the idea of the lazy inhabitant of Elmdon.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    I present an argument Marilyn Strathern makes against characterizing Elmdon villagers as innately lazy. It looks as if the eventual direction of this material is going to be a rational actor model.
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  10. Social anthropology summary: A.R. Radcliffe-Brown’s objections to Sir James Frazer.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This is a one page handout presenting some objections A.R. Radcliffe-Brown makes to Frazer on rites and Frazer's evolutionism.
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  11. Hillo! Frazer and a last resort attempt to catch something in one’s net.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    J.G. Frazer tells us about a last resort technique which Cambodian hunters use when they have caught nothing in their nets. The “technique” is they act as if they themselves have got caught in the net. Frazer explains this as the consequence of magical thinking, but I propose a different explanation.
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  12. Anthropology at home and economics.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Anthropologists sometimes tell us about alternative theories for coping with the data of life. It seems to me that going to economics can provide one with similar material to report. I flesh out the proposal in this paper.
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  13. The virgin birth debate: is there practical value in the denial of paternity?Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Various tribes deny that males have a role in causing pregnancy. Edmund Leach thinks members don’t actually believe tribal dogma. I propose that there is a practical value in denying our biological knowledge.
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  14. Never been a colonialist? A further response to Mary Beard’s other stuff argument.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Mary Beard argues against the claim that its relationship to British colonialism adequately explains why The Golden Bough was popular, drawing attention to other stuff in the book aside from information about British colonies. I make an objection that British colonialists would have been interested in expanding their empire.
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  15. Protest me not: on Shashi Tharoor on R.K. Narayan.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This paper, or little essay actually, presents a response to Shashi Tharoor on R.K. Narayan, starting with “I would be afraid of writing that.”.
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  16. Further responses to Mary Beard on Frazer and colonialism, with M*l*n K*nd*ra.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    There are some further responses I have to Mary Beard on the relationship between Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough and British colonialism: her claim that it provided an image of the empire as a whole. The paper contains two objections, very minor ones perhaps, and some highly speculatively defences. But I find the defences difficult to present in the traditional manner, so I have written the responses as a pastiche imitating a widely read European writer.
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  17. A solution to Elizabeth Colson’s paradox of anthropological empathy.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This paper presents a relativistic interpretation of Elizabeth Colson's paradox of empathy and a solution.
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  18. The Golden Bough as the handmaiden of colonialism? A response to Mary Beard.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This paper responds to Mary Beard’s assessment of the claim that Frazer’s book The Golden Bough was popular because it provided practical aid for colonialists. Beard rejects this as an inadequate explanation: reference to colonialism is part of an adequate explanation, but a full explanation must go beyond this particular ism. I present two objections to the case she makes for her inadequacy conclusion, though I don’t think his book aided much with colonialism.
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  19. Its many varieties: does liberalism merely alternate between ethics and economics?Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    I am not sure who said that liberalism merely alternates between ethics and economics – was it Karl Kraus? – but at first glance the claim is plausible. In this paper I argue that there are varieties of liberalism which do not. Some depend on a nature-culture distinction and some appeal to simplicity in a way that seems aesthetic. In the appendix I introduce a problem for utilitarianism.
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  20. Briefly, “What are concepts?” and the handmaiden of colonialism again.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This paper makes two criticisms of the book Key Concepts in Social and Cultural Anthropology, by Nigel Rapport and Joanna Overing. The second criticism is that they do not acknowledge the Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges as the conceiver of the fictional Chinese encyclopaedia. What they say raises the worry that anthropologists have not moved on much from being the handmaiden of colonialism.
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  21. On the requirement to break a bough in Frazer’s The Golden Bough.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This is a one page handout, presenting a puzzle from J.G. Frazer regarding why, to become the priest of Diana at Nemi, one had to first break a bough in the sacred grove.
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  22. English village studies: criteria for counting as real Elmdon.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This is a one page handout summarizing some information on how people in the village of Elmdon use the concept of being real Elmdon.
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  23. Why did Frazer not do fieldwork?Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Probably the most famous story about the armchair anthropologist Sir James Frazer is about how, when asked by William James about doing fieldwork, he said, “But Heavens forbid!” I propose that it was rational for Frazer to avoid fieldwork given his theory of what is rational for so-called savages: to kill returning tribesmen and visitors, to protect against disease.
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  24. British anthropology and colonialism: what did Max Gluckman add?Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    British structural-functionalist anthropology was criticized for ignoring colonial relations. What did Max Gluckman do to solve this problem? I quote from the pioneering anthropologist and use a fictional example to make the question more forceful. The fictional example reveals a minimal solution.
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  25. Surprise combined studies: something learnt from Elmdon anthropology.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Do we learn anything from social anthropology done in more familiar settings, such as England? In this paper, I draw attention to something I learnt from Frances Oxford’s commentary on Elmdon: a surprising combination. I also propose a solution based on a conception of labour and inheritance rights.
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  26. Hillo! Getting caught in your own net as a humiliation rite.Terence Rajivan Edward -
    I present another explanation for why Cambodian hunters catch themselves in their own nets when they have caught nothing. It is a humiliation rite, based on the premise: if you have spent your whole day hunting and have not trapped anything with the net, then the net has trapped you. The explanation reveals one of the problems with trying to work out why other people do things by placing yourself in their position: contradictory explanations.
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  27. Unfreedom as development? Innate differences and the wealth of nations.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    I remark on the explanation that innate differences account for why some countries are wealthy and others poor. I draw a distinction between two versions of this explanation.
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  28. Non-Western localities as axiomatically legitimate areas of study for social anthropology: can that explain the questions?Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This paper objects to an explanation I extract from Jeanette Edwards, concerning a pattern she observes of questions asked and not asked. There are propositions accepted as axioms which apparently lead to that pattern. I present an axiomatization but it leads to different questions.
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  29. Demarcating context and attributing functions in British anthropology.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    I begin with a quotation from Manchester School anthropologist Clyde Mitchell about demarcating the boundaries of the object of study. I then propose that the functions attributed can alter significantly depending on how one demarcates the boundaries, distinguishing between two cases. In the appendix, I present a solution to a paradox presented by Josephine Guy concerning commentary on Victorian literature.
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  30. “What is the difference between your response to Marilyn Strathern on feminist anthropology and Victoria Loblay’s response?”.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Regarding the argument by Marilyn Strathern which Victoria Loblay focuses on, I present two differences between my response and Loblay’s response. Also I raise a concern about Loblay’s response.
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  31. Problems with moving the University of Manchester up a level: ask local historians!Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    A document circulated amongst University of Manchester staff asks, “Can top down management make our university great?” From time to time, a department becomes world leading, but there are internal or external obstacles to stabilizing at that level, sometimes both, which are not about sheer academic difficulty. I examine a case from social anthropology involving the popular classicist Mary Beard. One lesson from it is: expect rights violations!
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  32. From where do things culturally diffuse? Paired systems.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Diffusionism in anthropology posits centres of creativity from which things diffuse, such as ideas and innovations. But what sort of place is likely to be such a centre of creativity? I distinguish two cases, the second of which poses a problem for diffusionism.
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  33. A solution to a Victorian anthropology paradox.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This paper considers a paradox which the historian of anthropology George Stocking draws attention to: from the point of view of parts of the Victorian middle class, Victorian society was highly evolved yet also contained savage components. I clarify the paradox and propose a solution.
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  34. The Golden Bough and colonialism: on Mary Beard’s other relationship.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Mary Beard considers the thesis that Frazer’s book The Golden Bough was popular because it provided practical aid for colonialists. But she introduces another relationship between the book and British colonialism: that it provided an image of the British colonial project as a whole. I present two objections to the proposal that there was this relationship, as well as – in the appendix – flagging a concern about the internal coherence of Beard’s paper with the introduced relationship.
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  35. Is that a myth? A dilemma for Malinowski.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This paper quotes a story about Bronislaw Malinowski trying to find out a myth and extracts a dilemma from it. The story content seems related to self-referential puzzles.
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  36. Bacup: why do fieldwork there?Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Jeanette Edwards did fieldwork in the English town of Bacup. Why do fieldwork there? She writes that she is often asked this, whereas the question is unlikely to be asked of an anthropologist who does fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, because it is “axiomatically” an acceptable place for fieldwork. I present two responses to Edwards’ thinking, one of which concerns an asymmetry in how “skeptics” present their questions.
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  37. Who endorses the community first model in Elmdon? Two solutions.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This paper responds to a paradox Marilyn Strathern raises concerning who endorses a community first model of the village of Elmdon, according to which it is a community and the good of the community should take priority over individual interests. It is middle-class newcomers, whose peripheral position requires greatest sacrifice from them, if the model is to be implemented. I propose two solutions to the puzzle.
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  38. On the very idea of symbolic capital? Clarifying an anthropologist’s objection.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Pierre Bourdieu’s social theory relies on concepts of four kinds of capital: economic, social, cultural, and symbolic. The anthropologist Pnina Werbner raises the issue of whether the concept of symbolic capital faces a paradox, because within some social groups one can only gain such capital by denying its value. There is a question of how best to clarify the paradox and I offer a clarification.
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  39. Frazer and the social function of gift exchange norms.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Why is there a norm of reciprocity in certain societies – the recipient of a gift should give a gift in return? Or what is its function? Sir James Frazer provides an unobvious answer to the function of such a norm in one society: it serves to establish who is alive.
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  40. Are individuals a problem for British structural-functionalist anthropology?Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    In this paper, I consider the objection to British structural-functionalism that it is unable to deal with the significance of individuals. There are various ways in which individuals may pose a problem for it. I identify four ways, one of which is novel.
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  41. Henrika Kuklick on the functionalist paradigm in British social anthropology.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    In Britain and also in France, arguments have been put forward against the claim that there are or have been paradigms in British social anthropology. But historian of anthropology Henrika Kuklicka supposes that there was a paradigm from the late 1920s to just before the 1960s. I raise an objection to her portrait of this research community and observe that her text implies two quite different replies.
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  42. British anthropological models: preserving structure while coping with change.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This paper presents a proposal for how British structural-functionalist anthropology can cope with some change. It may not seem a very sensible proposal, but I think it needs to be registered. I use a structure of universities in a country to illustrate the proposal.
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  43. Societies differ in how they handle the same facts: an axiom of social anthropology?Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This paper challenges Marilyn Strathern’s claim that it is, or was, an axiom of social anthropology that societies differ in how they handle the same facts. I present a set of foundational commitments for conducting social anthropology which leave the truth of the proposition as an empirical question of the discipline.
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  44. Victorian anthropology paradox: another solution.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Parts of the Victorian middle class were troubled by how Victorian society was both highly evolved and contained savage parts. I propose a solution to the paradox they faced.
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  45. On a quick argument downplaying British anthropology’s colonialist role.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    I introduce and examine an argument presented by American anthropologist Herbert S. Lewis against thinking that British anthropology played a significant role in supporting colonialist projects: the British empire was large and centuries old, so it seems very unlikely that two dozen anthropologists late on made much difference.
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  46. Did Gregory Bateson say that the term “function” has no place outside mathematics?Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    A textbook by Norwegian anthropologist Thomas Hylland Eriksen tells us that Gregory Bateson criticized the use of the term ‘function’ in social anthropology on the following grounds: it has no place outside of mathematics. But consulting the Bateson text referred to, he does not say that in his section on function and even endorses certain uses of the term “function” in anthropology. I look into these and his criticisms of functionalism, responding to the criticisms.
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  47. “Writing the exotic”: a pastiche of Marilyn Strathern.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This paper presents an attempted pastiche of the writing and thinking style of the distinguished anthropologist Marilyn Strathern. The claim about the consequence of avoiding the charge of exoticism resembles the paradox of analysis.
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  48. Ritual and realism in Flora Nwapa’s Women are Different.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    In Nwapa’s novel, Dora and Rose are both confronted with the rituals of Tunde, but engage with them in different ways. I attempt a somewhat pained contrast: Dora’s way is closer to that of the functionalist participant observer, whereas Rose’s way is closer to that of earlier armchair anthropologists who sought the origins of rituals. I also note a puzzle to do with literary realism.
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  49. Gregory Bateson on the sense of the unity of science.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Anthropologist Gregory Bateson says that a sense of the fundamental unity of science was once achieved by successful specialist scientists expanding into borderline areas of research. I distinguish two ways in which this expansion can occur and note how one of these ways was, from Bateson’s perspective, troublesome for social anthropology.
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  50. Against the diversity objection to group worldview description.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This paper defends the practice of attributing a worldview to a group against the objection that this practice overlooks different views within the group and wrongly portrays the group as homogeneous.
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1 — 50 / 1824