Abstract The article sketches a theoretical model which explains how it is possible that fundamentalist beliefs can emerge as a result of an individual rational adaptation to the context of special living conditions. The model is based on the insight that most of our knowledge is acquired by trusting the testimony of some kind of authority. If a social group is characterized by a high degree of mistrust towards the outer society or other groups, then the members of this group (...) will rely solely on the authorities of their own group for their acquisition of knowledge. In this way they can adopt a corpus of beliefs which may seem absurd from an external point of view. However, they may be locked in a “fundamentalist equilibrium” in which particularistic trust, common sense plausibility, epistemic seclusion, social isolation and fundamentalist beliefs are mutually reinforcing - and in which individuals who adopt the “fundamentalist truths” of their group do not behave more irrationally than individuals in an open society who accept the “enlightened” worldview of their culture. (shrink)
English summary: A liberal market society is often critized as being a society in which morality and virtues are crowded out by increasing egoism and utility-maximization. Michael Baurmann develops quite a different picture. He shows that anonymous market-relations and competition are by no means the only traits of a liberal society. Freedom of cooperation and association is one of its main characteristics as well. This freedom lays the fundament for the emergence of moral commitment and civil virtues which are needed (...) to provide the public goods a free society is based on - in particular the limitation of state power by the rule of law. Close German description: Es ist der beste deutsche Beitrag zur theoretischen Soziologie, den ich seit langer Zeit gelesen habe.Erich Weede in Kolner Zeitschrift fur Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 1996, S. 762Der Gedankengang des Buches ist klar und uberzeugend. Insbesondere die Passagen daruber, was universalistische Normen auszeichnet, und uber die Bedingungen, unter denen die Orientierung an universalistischen Normen gelernt werden kann, verdienen es, sozialwissenschaftliches Gemeingut zu werden.Reinhard Zintl in Associations 1998, S. 294 f.Das Buch von Baurmann entwickelt mit Bedacht und auf hohem Niveau einen rechts- und staatstheoretischen, soziologisch fundierten Losungsvorschlag fur eine aktuelle, viel diskutierte Problematik.... Gegenuber manchen modischen Verfallszenarien wirkt der Ansatz Baurmanns... erfrischend und ermutigend...Gerhard Dilcher in Neue Juristische Wochenschrift 1998, S. 3692Dem, der die okonomische Theorie der sozialen Ordnung auf der Hohe ihrer Leistungsfahigkeit erleben mochte,... wird mit diesem ausgeklugelten Festival des Kontrafaktischen viel geboten.Wolfgang Kersting in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung vom 29.4.1997, S. 12. (shrink)
In his book The Ethical Project Philip Kitcher presents an ‘analytical history’ of the development of human ethical practice. According to this history the first ethical norms were launched in the ancient world of the hunters and gatherers and their initial function was to remedy altruism failures. Kitcher wants to show that the emergence of ethical norms can in this case and in general be explained without referring to supernatural causes or philosophical revelation. Furthermore, he claims that the first manifestation (...) of the ethical project still serves as an ideal. In my comment I will contest the plausibility of Kitcher’s analytical history and question whether the presumed characteristics of ethics in prehistoric times could still be binding for us today. (shrink)
Epistemic trust figures prominently in our socio-cognitive practices. By assigning different degrees of competence to agents, we distinguish between experts and novices and determine the trustworthiness of testimony. This paper probes the claim that epistemic trust furthers our epistemic enterprise. More specifically, it assesses the veritistic value of competence attribution in an epistemic community, i.e., in a group of agents that collaboratively seek to track down the truth. The results, obtained by simulating opinion dynamics, tend to subvert the very idea (...) that competence ascription is essential for the functioning of epistemic collaboration and hence veritistically valuable. On the contrary, we find that, in specific circumstances at least, epistemic trust may prevent a community from finding the truth effectively. (shrink)
To combine some views of 'Diskursethik' and Constitutional Political Economy seems to be promising. In our comments on Frey's and Kirchgässner's attempt to join the forces of Discourse theory and Political Economy in defending the wider spread use of referenda we direct attention to three points. Firstly, the normative basis of both concepts is unsettled. Secondly, an economic approach contrary to the supposition of Frey and Kirchgässner provides substantial insights into the processes which precede collective decisions. Thirdly, the 'veil of (...) insignificance' in referenda will not necessarily increase altruism in voting behavior. (shrink)
Alvin Goldman develops the concept of “core voter knowledge” to capture the kind of knowledge that voters need to have in order that democracy function successfully. As democracy is supposed to promote the people's goals, core voter knowledge must, according to Goldman, first and foremost answer the question which electoral candidate would successfully perform in achieving that voter's ends. In our paper we challenge this concept of core voter knowledge from different angles. We analyse the dimensions of political trustworthiness and (...) their relevance for the voter; we contrast two alternative orientations that the voter might take—an “outcome-orientation” and a “process-orientation”; and we discuss how an expressive account of voting behaviour would shift the focus in regard to the content of voter knowledge. Finally, we discuss some varieties of epistemic trust and their relevance for the availability, acquisition and dissemination of voter knowledge in a democracy. (shrink)
If we want to understand how fundamentalist group ideologies are established, we have to comprehend the social processes which form the basis of the emergence and distribution of such beliefs. In our paper we present an innovative approach to examining these processes and explaining how they function: with the method of computer-based simulation of opinion formation we develop heuristic explanatory models which help to generate new and interesting hypotheses. The focus is thereby not on individuals and their idiosyncrasies but on (...) the dynamic mutual adaptation of beliefs in a group. These dynamics can produce an incremental establishment of ‘charismatic’ opinion leaders and an increasing radicalization and alienation. A prototype of such a simulation model has produced promising first results which are presented and discussed. (shrink)
Neither the model of homo oeconomicus nor Max Weber’s concept of the ideal type have a good reputation these days – to try to combine the two does not seem a promising idea, therefore. It could result in the attempt to tie two sinking ships together – to borrow a metaphor of Alasdair MacIntyre’s which he used in a different context as a comment on the programme of Analyse & Kritik 30 years ago. But perhaps the reasons for the bad (...) reputation of homo oeconomicus and ideal types are connected so that a common retrieval of their honour could be thinkable. I will contemplate this question in the following considerations that are not very systematical but rather exemplary and fragmentary. (shrink)
Bei der akademischen Feier zu seinem achtzigsten Geburtstag ist der Politikwissenschaftler Kurt Shell gefragt worden, ob er aufgrund seiner großen akademischen Expertise und jahrzehntelangen persönlichen Erfahrung mit dem Niedergang und Wiedererstarken von Demokratien ein Resümee ziehen könne, auf welchen Hauptfaktoren seiner Meinung nach stabile Demokratien beruhen.
The concept of right plays a central role in Coleman's Foundations of Social Theory. It is defined as an empirical concept which refers to rights as social facts. One consequence of this view is according to Coleman that the normative-ethical question of how rights ought to be distributed can have no answer. The following article wants to show that this thesis is not convincing. The main focus of the article is a critical analysis of Coleman's theory of the relationship between (...) rights and norms. It is argued that Coleman's 'right-based' approach to define the concept of norm-existence with the concept of right is not tenable. On the contrary only a 'norm-based' approach is adequate which bases the concept of right on the concept of norm. Some explanatory consequences of this alternative view are discussed and it is shown that on this ground Coleman's attack on normative ethics can be rejected. (shrink)
Critical social science has to acknowledge that every fundamental critique of society implies the justification of alternative norms and institutions. Several current objections against such an explicitly normative understanding of critical social science are discussed. The following outline of a theory of a just society tries co meet two demands: the rational consensus of all individuals concerned and the satisfaction of individual interests. In societies characterized by class struggles, however, these two aims turn out co be incompatible. Therefore an ethical (...) realist approach is offered which takes into account the clarification and normative reinterpretation of interests. The tools of analytic philosophy can be given new application in combina-tion with an analysis of interests under the title of a critique of ideology. (shrink)
INTERDAT is computer software which substitutes a human interviewer. INTERDAT asks questions and tries to understand the responses by attributing mental models to the interviewee. The correctness of these models is tested by forecasting the responses to new questions. INTERDAT has many possibilities to adapt its models till it reaches the desired degree of understanding. Technologically INTERDAT is an Artificial Intelligence programme which is written entirely in LISP and to our knowledge the first AI application in sociological research.
If we want to understand how extremist group ideologies are established, we have to comprehend the social processes which form the basis of the emergence and distribution of such beliefs. In our chapter, we present an innovative approach to examining these processes and explaining how they function: with the method of computer-based simulation of opinion formation, we develop heuristic explanatory models which help to generate new and interesting hypotheses. The focus is thereby not on individuals and their idiosyncrasies but on (...) the dynamic mutual adaptation of beliefs in a group. These dynamics can produce an incremental establishment of “charismatic” opinion leaders and an increasing radicalization and alienation. A prototype of such a simulation model has produced promising first results which are presented and discussed. (shrink)
It is argued that ethics is undergoing a similar development in modern societies as law did in former times. If this development continues, it could be that in the future collective decisions in many areas will be justified by the application of ethical principles just as today judicial decisions are justified by the application of the rules of law. The paper describes some of the remarkable similarities between law and ethics in modern societies and considers possible causes of this development.
From a sociological point of view, the conceptual and logical relations between the norms of legal order represent empirical and causal relations between social actors. The claim that legal authority is based on the validity of empowering norms means, sociologically, that the capability to enact and enforce legal norms is based on an empirical transfer of power from one social actor to another. With this process, sociology has to explain how a proclamation of legal rights by the creation of empowering (...) norms can lead to the establishment of the factual power of coercion. This explanation reveals that legal authority as a social fact is irrevocably dependent on non-legal power, which is not created by legal empowering norms but is the empirical foundation for all legal authority and state power. (shrink)
Es gab zwei Stationen in meinem akademischen Leben, bei denen Hans Albert prägend und wichtig war: Zum einen habe ich ihn sehr früh als Gegenspieler zur Frankfurter Schule und dann insbesondere zu Jürgen Habermas und seinem gesellschaftstheoretischen und wissenschaftlichen Programm wahrgenommen. Der legendäre Positivismus-Streit hatte mich als jungen Studenten in Frankfurt zunächst auf der Seite „meiner“ Frankfurter gesehen. Aufgrund des damaligen nicht sehr offenen und pluralistischen Klimas an der Frankfurter Universität habe ich mich mit den Vertretern der Frankfurter Schule mehr (...) oder weniger vorbehaltlos und blind identifiziert. (shrink)
The article argues for a synthesis between analytical philosophy and social sciences as relevant and necessary. The motivation and framework of such a synthesis is outlined on the basis of a critical social science. The authors illuminate such a perspective negatively in a critique of empirical and theoretical sociology, then positively in a clarification of the critical standpoint. Four theses, two under each aspect, are defended: 1. Concerning empirical social sciences: Neither the quantitative nor the qualitative paradigm of empirical social (...) science is able to put forward adequate methods for social research. Instead, the development of reconstructive methods is proposed to combine the advantages and eliminate the disadvantages of the quantitative and qualitative paradigms. 2. Concerning theoretical sociology: Macrosociological theories tend to resist empirical corrobation. Pure theoretical and philosophical justification abounds instead. In this situation the tools of analytic theory of science are proposed in order to c1arify the necessary steps towards a further development of theories, which can be empirically tested. 3. Concerning the critique of society: A critical social science must incorporate a theory of a just society in order to analyse social institutions in a normative way. In this context an ethical realist approach is offered which tries to fulfil two conditions for sociologically relevant normative reasonings: satisfaction of individual interests and the rational consensus of all persons concerned. 4. Concerning critique of ideology: The tools of analytic philosophy can be given new application by combining them with an ana-lysis of interests under the tide of critique of ideology. (shrink)
From a sociological point of view, theconceptual and logical relations between the norms oflegal order represent empirical and causal relationsbetween social actors. The claim that legal authorityis based on the validity of empowering norms means,sociologically, that the capability to enact andenforce legal norms is based on an empirical transferof power from one social actor to another. With thisprocess, sociology has to explain how a proclamationof legal rights by the creation of empowering normscan lead to the establishment of the factual power (...) ofcoercion. This explanation reveals that legalauthority as a social fact is irrevocably dependent onnon-legal power, which is not created by legalempowering norms but is the empirical foundation forall legal authority and state power. (shrink)