The concept of "practices"--whether of representation, of political or scientific traditions, or of organizational culture--is central to social theory. In this book, Stephen Turner presents the first analysis and critique of the idea of practice as it has developed in the various theoretical traditions of the social sciences and the humanities. Understood broadly as a tacit understanding "shared" by a group, the concept of a practice has a fatal difficulty, Turner argues: there is no plausible mechanism by which a "practice" (...) is transmitted or reproduced. The historical uses of the concept, from Durkheim to Kripke's version of Wittgenstein, provide examples of the contortions that thinkers have been forced into by this problem, and show the ultimate implausibility of the idea. Turner's conclusion sketches a picture of what happens when we do without the notion of a shared practice, and how this bears on social theory and philosophy. It explains why social theory cannot get beyond the stage of constructing fuzzy analogies, and why the standard constructions of the contemporary philosophical problem of relativism depend upon this defective notion. This first book-length critique of practice theory is sure to stir discussion and controversy in a wide range of fields, from philosophy and science studies to sociology, anthropology, literary studies, and political and legal theory. (shrink)
Normativity is what gives reasons their force, makes words meaningful, and makes rules and laws binding. It is present whenever we use such terms as ‘correct,' ‘ought,' ‘must,' and the language of obligation, responsibility, and logical compulsion. Yet normativists, the philosophers committed to this idea, admit that the idea of a non-causal normative realm and a body of normative objects is spooky. Explaining the Normative is the first systematic, historically grounded critique of normativism. It identifies the standard normativist pattern of (...) argument, and shows how this pattern depends on circularities, assumptions about the unique correctness of preferred descriptions, problematic transcendental arguments, and regress arguments that end in mysteries. The book considers in detail a paradigm case: legal normativity as constructed by Hans Kelsen. This case exemplifies the problems with normativist arguments. But it also shows how normativism was constructed as an alternative to ordinary social science explanation. The normativist argument is that social science explanations themselves are forced to rely on normative conceptsÑminimally, on normative rationality and on a normative view of ‘concepts' themselves. Empathic understanding of the reasoning and meanings of others, however, can solve the regress problems about meaning and rationality that are central to the appeal of normativism. This account has no need for a parallel normative world, and has a surprising and revealing lineage in the history of philosophy, as well as a basis in neuroscience. (shrink)
The concept of "practices"—whether of representation, of political or scientific traditions, or of organizational culture—is central to social theory. In this book, Stephen Turner presents the first analysis and critique of the idea of practice as it has developed in the various theoretical traditions of the social sciences and the humanities. Understood broadly as a tacit understanding "shared" by a group, the concept of a practice has a fatal difficulty, Turner argues: there is no plausible mechanism by which a "practice" (...) is transmitted or reproduced. The historical uses of the concept, from Durkheim to Kripke's version of Wittgenstein, provide examples of the contortions that thinkers have been forced into by this problem, and show the ultimate implausibility of the idea. Turner's conclusion sketches a picture of what happens when we do without the notion of a shared practice, and how this bears on social theory and philosophy. It explains why social theory cannot get beyond the stage of constructing fuzzy analogies, and why the standard constructions of the contemporary philosophical problem of relativism depend upon this defective notion. This first book-length critique of practice theory is sure to stir discussion and controversy in a wide range of fields, from philosophy and science studies to sociology, anthropology, literary studies, and political and legal theory. (shrink)
The rise of cognitive neuroscience is the most important scientific and intellectual development of the last thirty years. Findings pour forth, and major initiatives for brain research continue. The social sciences have responded to this development slowly--for good reasons. The implications of particular controversial findings, such as the discovery of mirror neurons, have been ambiguous, controversial within neuroscience itself, and difficult to integrate with conventional social science. Yet many of these findings, such as those of experimental neuro-economics, pose very direct (...) challenges to standard social science. At the same time, however, the known facts of social science, for example about linguistic and moral diversity, pose a significant challenge to standard neuroscience approaches, which tend to focus on "universal" aspects of human and animal cognition. A serious encounter between cognitive neuroscience and social science is likely to be challenging, and transformative, for both parties. Although a literature has developed on proposals to integrate neuroscience and social science, these proposals go in divergent directions. None of them has a developed conception of social life. This book surveys these issues, introduces the basic alternative conceptions both of the mental world and the social world, and show how, with sufficient modification, they can be fit together in plausible ways. The book is not a "new theory " of anything, but rather an exploration of the critical issues that relate to the social aspects of cognition which expands the topic from the social neuroscience of immediate interpersonal interaction to the whole range of places where social variation interacts with the cognitive. The focus is on the conceptual problems produced by any attempt to take these issues seriously, and also on the new resources and considerations relevant to doing so. But it is also on the need for a revision of social theoretical concepts in order to utilize these resources. The book points to some conclusions, especially about how the process of what was known as socialization needs to be understood in cognitive science friendly terms. But there is no attempt to resolve the underlying issues within cognitive science, which will doubtless persist. (shrink)
In a series of tightly argued essays, Turner traces out the implications that discarding the notion of shared frameworks has for relativism, social constructionism, normativity, and a number of other concepts. He suggests ways in which these ideas might be reformulated more productively, in part through extended critiques of the work of scholars such as Ian Hacking, Andrew Pickering, Pierre Bourdieu, Quentin Skinner, Robert Brandom, Clifford Geertz, and Edward Shils.
Wilfrid Sellars read and annotated Celestine Bouglé’s Evolution of Values, translated by his mother with an introduction by his father. The book expounded Émile Durkheim's account of morality and elaborated his account of origins of value in collective social life. Sellars replaced elements of this account in constructing his own conception of the relationship between the normative and community, but preserved a central one: the idea that conflicting collective and individual intentions could be found in the same person. These notoriously (...) opaque arguments, which seek to save an element of rationalism from social explanation while granting the claims of behavioural science, are illuminated by comparing them to their original Durkheimian form. (shrink)
The phenomenon of expertise produces two problems for liberal democratic theory: the first is whether it creates inequalities that undermine citizen rule or make it a sham; the second is whether the state can preserve its neutrality in liberal ’government by discussion’ while subsidizing, depending on, and giving special status to, the opinions of experts and scientists. A standard Foucauldian critique suggests that neutrality is impossible, expert power and state power are inseparable, and that expert power is the source of (...) the oppressive, inegalitarian effects of present regimes. Habermas argues that expert cultures make democratic discussion impossible. Analogous problems arise with ’cognitive authority’, understood in Mertonian terms. Cognitive authority, as Merton sees it, allows us to ask about the democratic legitimacy of this authority, which appears to solve the problem (or part of the problem) because it returns ultimate ’authority’ to the people, who reject or accept the experts’ claims. And many claims to expertise in fact do fail to gain acceptance. Through an examination of the type of expert that appears to evade the demands of legitimation, it is shown that expertise and liberal democracy can in principle co-exist, contrary to the claims of the critics. (shrink)
Wilfrid Sellars described the moral syllogism that supports the inference “I ought to do x” from “Everyone ought to do x” as a “syntactical disguise” which embodies a “mistake.” He nevertheless regarded this form of reasoning as constitutive of the moral point of view. Durkheim was the source of much of this reasoning, and this context illuminates Sellars’ unusual philosophical reconstruction of the moral point of view in terms of the collective intentions of an ideal community of rational members for (...) which the syllogism is empirically valid. The reconstruction also sheds light on the question of the status of common sense and normativity in Sellars’ naturalistic metaphysics. (shrink)
The problem of the nature of values and the relation between values and rationality is one of the defining issues of twentieth-century thought and Max Weber was one of the defining figures in the debate. In this book, Turner and Factor consider the development of the dispute over Max Weber's contribution to this discourse, by showing how Weber's views have been used, revised and adapted in new contexts. The story of the dispute is itself fascinating, for it cuts across the (...) major political and intellectual currents of the twentieth century, from positivism, pragmatism and value-free social science, through the philosophy of Jaspers and Heidegger, to Critical Theory and the revival of Natural Right and Natural Law. As Weber's ideas were imported to Britain and America, they found new formulations and new adherents and critics and became absorbed into different traditions and new issues. This book was first published in 1984. (shrink)
'... a powerful piece of work that deserves to be read widely. It ranges across central concerns in the fields of social theory, political theory, and science studies and engages with the ideas of key classical and contemporary thinkers' - Barry Smart, Professor of Sociology, University of Portsmouth.
This book collects case studies and theoretical papers on expertise, focusing on four major themes: legitimation, the aggregation of knowledge, the distribution of knowledge and the distribution of power. It focuses on the institutional means by which the distribution of knowledge and the distribution of power are connected, and how the problems of aggregating knowledge and legitimating it are solved by these structures. The radical novelty of this approach is that it places the traditional discussion of expertise in democracy into (...) a much larger framework of knowledge and power relations, and in addition begins to raise the questions of epistemology that a serious account of these problems requires. (shrink)
Charisma is a concept with a peculiar history. It arose from theological obscurity through social science, from which it passed into popular culture. As a social science concept, its significance derives in large part from the fact that it captures a particular type of leadership. But it fits poorly with other concepts in social science, and is problematic as an explanatory concept. Even Weber himself was torn in his use of the concept between the individual type-concept and a broader use (...) of it to characterize the sacral character of culture and institutions. Which use is fundamental? Neither use seems to be able to be extended to account for the other, and in practice the term serves as a heterogenous residual category. Shils’ argument that the charisma of central institutions was fundamental was an attempt to make sense of the examples of institutional charisma that fell into this residual category, such as the jury, and assimilated charisma to the idea of the holy. But this conflicts with Weber’s idea of the originary or creative character of individual charisma, which by definition cannot derive from preexisting sacral qualities. Weber’s account of individual charisma focuses on success, and this suggests the idea that the power of the charismatic leader arises from the ability to confound and surpass expectations - to be extraordinary. This allows us to reconsider ‘originary’ charisma, and assimilate it both to rational choice and to Steiner’s account of taboo. A leader who produces a change in our risk perceptions by proving our previous perceptions wrong by the success of the leader’s actions is providing a novel rational choice for us: a new option together with new estimates of the risk in a course of action. Weber explained the situation of primitive or magical morality in terms of magical charisma producing taboos that were then rationalized, leading to permanent norms - which relies on the notion of charisma without explaining it. But Steiner goes further, by suggesting that taboo represents the intellectual organization of danger through the act of interdiction. The power to interdict is not based on some other power, but rather the power to organize danger through interdiction is originary. Is there originary charisma today? Or is the commonplace use of the term ‘charisma’ a transformation of the concept into something else? In popular culture, the term refers to role-models who break new ground, and if we consider the ‘dangers’ that they appear to their audiences to overcome, the phenomenon is not so different. Charisma seems to collapse into personal style, but in a world in which the old interdicts have lost their power, style itself becomes a matter of experimental success in the face of social danger. (shrink)
This book outlines a new account of the tacit, meaning tacit knowledge, presuppositions, practices, traditions, and so forth. It includes essays on topics such as underdetermination and mutual understanding, and critical discussions of the major alternative approaches to the tacit, including Bourdieu’s habitus and various practice theories, Oakeshott’s account of tradition, Quentin Skinner’s theory of historical meaning, Harry Collins’s idea of collective tacit knowledge, as well as discussions of relevant cognitive science concepts, such as non-conceptual content, connectionism, and mirror neurons. (...) The new account of tacit knowledge focuses on the fact that in making the tacit explicit, a person is not, as many past accounts have supposed, reading off the content of some sort of shared and fixed tacit scheme of presuppositions, but rather responding to the needs of the Other for understanding. (shrink)
Heinrich Schenker: A Research and Information Guide is an annotated bibliography concerning both the nature of primary sources related to the composer and the scope and significance of the secondary sources which deal with him, his compositions, and his influence as a composer and theorist.
Harry Collins is a science studies scholar no other description fits without qualification who has contributed enormously to the discussion of tacit knowledge. Collins says that he is providing an account for the ontologically bashful, meaning, presumably, that it does not carry the burdens of Durkheim's notion of the collective consciousness. Polanyi says that 'a wholly explicit knowledge is unthinkable'. Collins wants to translate this into 'strings must be interpreted before they are meaningful'. Somatic limits are the source of the (...) mystery element of tacit knowledge. In fact, machines can be programmed to do the things it involves, although they will do it in a different way. In Social Cartesianism, the individual is not the unit of analysis: the individual merely shares the collectivity's knowledge. Collins point in these contexts is that functional substitutability implies nothing about similarity in underlying causal structure. (shrink)
American Sociology has changed radically since 1945. This volume traces these changes to the present, with special emphasis on the feminization of sociology and the decline of the science ideal as well as the challenges sociology faces in the new environment for universities.
Robert Merton's essays on theories of the middle range and his essays on functional explanation and the structural approach are among the most influential in the history of sociology. But their import is a puzzle. He explicitly allied himself with some of the most extreme scientistic formalists and contributed to and endorsed the Columbia model of theory construction. But Merton never responded to criticisms by Ernest Nagel of his arguments or acknowledged the rivalry between Lazarsfeld and Herbert Simon, rarely cited (...) the philosophical and methodological literature, and responded to critics with ambiguous concessions, leaving the Mertonian legacy profoundly ambiguous. Key Words: Robert Merton • Paul Lazarsfeld • theory construction • middle range theory • causal modeling • Émile Durkheim. (shrink)
Lizardo argues that The Social Theory of Practices is refuted by the discovery of mirror neurons. The book argues that the kind of sameness of tacit mental content assumed by practice theorists such as Bourdieu is fictional, because there is no actual process by which the same mental content can be transmitted. Mirror neurons, Lizardo claims, provide such a mechanism, as they imply that bodily automatisms, which can be understood as the basis of habitus and concepts, can be shared and (...) copied from one person to another. This response to Lizardo points out that the Gallese arguments on which Lizardo relies relate to phylogenetic and universal body movements, not to the learned movements characteristic of practices, and that there is no sameness producing mechanism parallel to the genetic one. (shrink)
In the nineteenth century, there was substantial and sophisticated interest in neuroscience on the part of social theorists, including Comte and Spencer, and later Simon Patten and Charles Ellwood. This body of thinking faced a dead end: it could do little more than identify highly general mechanisms, and could not provide accounts of such questions as `why was there no proletarian revolution?' Psychologically dubious explanations, relying on neo-Kantian views of the mind, replaced them. With the rise of neuroscience, however, some (...) of the problems of concern to earlier thinkers, such as imitation, have revived because of the discovery of neuronal mechanisms, or through fMRI studies. The article reviews the history and discusses the implications of current work for the reconsideration of traditional social theory concepts. It is suggested that certain kinds of bridging work with neuroscience would enable us to answer many questions in social theory that empirical sociology has failed to answer. (shrink)
In The Construction of Social Reality, John Searle expends an argument left undeveloped in Speech Acts about the nature of the rules which underlie and constitute social life. It is argued in this review that one problem for this account was its apparent incompatibility with connectionism. They cannot be rules shared in the head, so to speak. He now understands our relation to these rules not as one of simple internalization but of skillful accustoming. But this makes appeal to rules (...) unnecessary and makes noncollective solutions appealing to overt beliefs rather than tacit rules more plausible. (shrink)
In this reply, I raise some questions about the account of "normativity" given by Joseph Rouse. I discuss the historical form of disputes over normativity in such thinkers as Kelsen and show that the standard issue with these accounts is over the question of whether there is anything added to the normal stream of explanation by the problem of normativity. I suggest that Rouses attempt to avoid the issues that arise with substantive explanatory theories of practices of the kind criticized (...) in The Social Theory of Practices leads to a result that is uninformative, and the strategy raises the question of whether there is anything there to explain and thus whether there is any necessity to appeal to the kind of anomalous explanations the normativist offers. Key Words: Kelsen normativity Mauss naturalism practices. (shrink)
Knowledge is socially distributed, and the distribution of knowledge is socially structured, but the distribution and the structures within which it is produced and reproduced—often two separate things—have varied enormously. Disciplines are one knowledge formation of special significance. They can be thought of as very old, or as a very recent phenomenon: In the very old sense, disciplines begin with the creation of rituals of certification and exclusion related to knowledge; in the more recent sense, they are the product of (...) university organization, and especially that part of university organization that joins research and teaching, knowledge production and reproduction, in the modern research university. If we understand the general structural constraints on knowledge formations, we can understand the peculiar strengths of disciplines, as well as the historical alternatives to disciplines and the motives for finding alternatives. (shrink)
Rates of crime for Blacks in the United States in the post-slavery era have always been high relative to Whites. But explaining, or minimizing, this fact faces a major problem: individual excuses for bad acts point to deficiencies, in the agent, which are perhaps forgivable, such as mental deficiency or a deprived childhood, but at the price of treating the agent as less than a full member of the moral community. Collectivizing excuses risks implying group inferiority. The history of attempts (...) to provide an explanation of crime that mitigates blame without undermining full participation to the moral community is long and convoluted, leading to the presently widespread claim that crime is itself a product of victimization through pervasive racism. Three basic strategies – rejection of comparison, attribution to racially invariant causes and explanation by reference to uniquely Black conditions, such as subculture or extreme stigmatization – are identified and their ethical implications distinguished. (shrink)
ArgumentThis paper builds on a neglected philosophical idea,Evidenz. Max Weber used it in his discussion ofVerstehen, as the goal of understanding either action or such things as logic. It was formulated differently by Franz Brentano, but with a novel twist: thatanyonewho understood something would see the thing to be understood as self-evident, not something dependent on inference, argument, or reasoning. The only way one could take something as evident in this sense is by being able to treat other people as (...) having the same responses – by empathy with them, in the weak sense of following their thought. Brentano's philosophical claim is that without some stopping point at what is self-evident, justifications fall into infinite regress. This is radically opposed to much of conventional philosophy. The usual solutions to the regress problem rely on problematic claims about the supposed hidden transcendental structure behind reasoning. In contrast, empathy is a genuine natural phenomenon and a better explanation for the actual phenomenon of making sense of the reasoning of others. What is evident to all who are capable of understanding is an empirically-defined subset of this class. (shrink)
The triangular relationship between the social, the political and the cultural has opened up social and political theory to new challenges. The social can no longer be reduced to the category of society, and the political extends beyond the traditional concerns of the nature of the state and political authority. -/- This Handbook will address a range of issues that have recently emerged from the disciplines of social and political theory, focusing on key themes as opposed to schools of thought (...) or major theorists. It is divided into three sections which address: -/- the most influential theoretical traditions that have emerged from the legacy of the twentieth century -/- the most important new and emerging frameworks of analysis today -/- the major theoretical problems in recent social and political theory. (shrink)
This is a jewel among methods handbooks, bringing together a formidable collection of international contributors to comment on every aspect of the various central issues, complications, and controversies in the core methodological traditions. It is designed to meet the needs of those disciplinary and nondisciplinary problem-oriented social inquirers for a comprehensive overview of the methodological literature.
"Practice theory" has a long history in philosophy, under various names, but current practice theory is a response to failures of projects of modernity or enlightenment which attempt to reduce science or politics to formulae. Heidegger, Oakeshott, and Macintyre are each examples of .philosophers who turned to practice conceptions. Foucault and Bourdieu made similar turns. Practice accounts come in different forms: some emphasize skill-like individual accomplishments, others emphasize the social character or presupposition-like character of the tacit conditions of activities. The (...) Social Theory of Practices problematized the idea of sameness, the idea that participants in an activity had the same tacit possessions, which undermined the idea that practices were collective objects in which individuals participated. Later critics, such as Schatzki and Rouse, emphasized the normative coherence and character of practice, which has a collective aspect. Pickering and others suggested a notion of practices that was de-mentalized and focused on the objects that were part of the practical activity, which provided for the continuity and sociality of practice without collectivizing its mental content. The discovery of mirror neurons suggested a non-collective mode of transmission of practices. The implications of these developments can be seen in connection with ethics, where the conflict between the ethical and the practical can be understood in terms of the intrinsic conflict between the need to behave successfully and our learned ethical intuitions. (shrink)
Sociology, as conceived by Comte, was to put an end to the anarchy of opinions characteristic of liberal democracy by replacing opinion with the truths of sociology, imposed through indoctrination. Later sociologists backed away from this, making sociology acceptable to liberal democracy by being politically neutral. The critics of this solution asked 'whose side are we on?' Burawoy provides a novel justification for advocacy scholarship in sociology. Public sociology is intended to have political effects, but also to be funded by (...) the politically neutral state. He argues that public sociology is institutionally neutral, but that committing to an organic relation with a social movement is legitimate as a matter of the sociologist's personal value choice. Although this produces side-taking sociology, by improving the case for particular standpoints it serves to improve democratic discussion generally, which is an appropriately neutral public aim. (shrink)
Stephen Turner has explored the ongms of social science in this pioneering study of two nineteenth century themes: the search for laws of human social behavior, and the accumulation and analysis of the facts of such behavior through statistical inquiry. The disputes were vigorously argued; they were over questions of method, criteria of explanation, interpretations of probability, understandings of causation as such and of historical causation in particular, and time and again over the ways of using a natural science model. (...) From his careful elucidation of John Stuart Mill's proposals for the methodology of the social sciences on to his original analysis of the methodological claims and practices of Emile Durkheim and Max Weber, Turner has beautifully traced the conflict between statistical sociology and a science offactual description on the one side, and causal laws and a science of nomological explanation on the other. We see the works of Comte and Quetelet, the critical observations of Herschel, Buckle, Venn and Whewell, and the tough scepticism of Pearson, all of these as essential to the works of the classical founders of sociology. With Durkheim's essay on Suicide and Weber's monograph on The Protestant Ethic, Turner provides both philosophical analysis to demonstrate the continuing puzzles over cause and probability and also a perceptive and wry account of just how the puzzles of our late twentieth century are of a piece with theirs. The terms are still familiar: reasons vs. (shrink)
Weber’s “methodological writings” are some of the most influential parts of his work; they are his philosophical and technical explication of the basic problems of social science and history and their relation to other forms of knowledge, as well as the relation of knowledge to action and values. They explain his basic concepts, such as ideal type, values and value-free science, Verstehen, and the notion of causality that is appropriate to social and historical concepts. These ideas have often been misrepresented (...) in the subsequent literature but remain a powerful source of insight and provide valuable critical tools for assessing social science claims. (shrink)
Charles Perrow used the term normal accidents to characterize a type of catastrophic failure that resulted when complex, tightly coupled production systems encountered a certain kind of anomalous event. These were events in which systems failures interacted with one another in a way that could not be anticipated, and could not be easily understood and corrected. Systems of the production of expert knowledge are increasingly becoming tightly coupled. Unlike classical science, which operated with a long time horizon, many current forms (...) of expert knowledge are directed at immediate solutions to complex problems. These are prone to breakdowns like the kind discussed by Perrow. The example of the Homestake mine experiment shows that even in modern physics complex systems can produce knowledge failures that last for decades. The concept of knowledge risk is introduced, and used to characterize the risk of failure in such systems of knowledge production. (shrink)
Explanations implicitly end with something that makes sense, and begin with something that does not make sense. A statistical relationship, for example, a numerical fact, does not make sense; an explanation of this relationship adds something, such as causal information, which does make sense, and provides an endpoint for the sense-making process. Does social science differ from natural science in this respect? One difference is that in the natural sciences, models are what need ‘‘understanding.’’ In the social sciences, matters are (...) more complex. There are models, such as causal models, which need to be understood, but also depend on background knowledge that goes beyond the model and the correlations that make it up, which produces a regress. The background knowledge is knowledge of in-filling mechanisms, which are normally made up of elements that involve the direct understanding of the acting and believing subjects themselves. These models, and social science explanations generally, are satisfactory only when they end the regress in this kind of understanding or use direct understanding evidence to decide between alternative mechanism explanations. (shrink)
In what follows I propose to bring out certain methodological properties of projects of modelling the tacit realm that bear on the kinds of modelling done in connection with scientific cognition by computer as well as by ethnomethodological sociologists, both of whom must make some claims about the tacit in the course of their efforts to model cognition. The same issues, I will suggest, bear on the project of a cognitive psychology of science as well.
First published in 1980, this book examines the nature of sociological explanation. The tactics of interpretive sociology have often remained obscure because of confusion over the nature of the evidence for interpretation and the nature of decisions among alternative interpretations. In providing an account of the problem of interpretive sociological claims, the author argues that there is rationality to interpretation. He also presents a fresh view of the relationship between qualitative and statistical claims and shows their complementary character. Dr. Turner's (...) lucid and comprehensive analysis breaks new ground in its fundamental re-examination of the conceptual basis for “explaining” social behaviour. By its call for more rigourous conceptual sophistication in attempted explanations of social behaviour, this book will stimulate controversy and lively discussion among sociologists. (shrink)
Max Weber is indubitably one of the very greatest figures in the history of the social sciences, the source of seminal concepts like 'the Protestant Ethic', 'charisma' and the idea of historical processes of 'rationalization'. But, like his great forebears Adam Smith and Karl Marx, Weber's work always resists easy categorisation. Prominent as a founding father of sociology, Weber has been a major influence in the study of ancient history, religion, economics, law and, more recently, cultural studies. This Cambridge Companion (...) provides an authoritative introduction to the major facets of his thought, including several which have hitherto been neglected. A distinguished international team of contributors examines some of the major controversies that have erupted over Weber's specialized work, and shows how the issues have developed since he wrote. The articles demonstrate Weber's impact on a variety of research areas. (shrink)
Abtract: The analytic philosophy form of the problem of collective intentionality originated with the claim that individual statements of the form ''I intend x" cannot add up to a "we intend x" statement. Analytic philosophers from Wilfrid Sellars on have pursued a strategy that construes these sentences as individual tellings of statements whose form is collective. The point of the strategy is to avoid the problematic idea of a real collective subject. This approach creates unusual epistemic problems. Although ''telling" of (...) collective intentions is parallel to the expression of individual intention, one can be deceived about them. I suggest that none of the supposed evidence could solve the problem of deception, because there is no fact of the relevant kind to be deceived about. I also argue that this strategy is unnecessary. Statements like Joe Namath's ''guarantee" of victory in the Superbowl are model non-collective statements which are interchangeable with many supposed collective statements. Yet, no novel mode of ''telling" and nothing epistemically anomalous is required by this statement. The statement is merely an individual statement conditional on a variety of facts, which happen to include facts about other people, whose only commitments are epistemic. Sellars's problem structure is then itself critiqued to suggest that it confuses a grammatical problem with a factual-theoretical problem about the reality of collectivities and the cognitive character of intention attributions, and farther confuses collective intentionality with a problem about the nature of morality. (shrink)
Expert claims routinely “affect, combat, refute, and negate” someone or some faction or grouping of persons. When scientists proclaim the truth of Darwinism, they refute, negate, and whatnot the Christian view of the creation, and thus Christians. When research is done on racial differences, it affects, negates, and so on, those who are negatively characterized. This is why Phillip Kitcher argues that it should be banned. Some truths are too dangerous to ever inquire into, because, he reasons, even by inquiring (...) we legitimate the negation that racial distinctions already carry. Expert claims also favour or disfavour policies or decisions which have factions or persons supporting them. (shrink)
The late 1960s are remembered today as the last time wholesale social upheaval shook Europe and the United States. College students during that tumultuous period—epitomized by the events of May 1968—were as permanently marked in their worldviews as their parents had been by the Depression and World War II. Sociology was at the center of these events, and it changed decisively because of them. The Disobedient Generation collects newly written autobiographies by an international cross-section of well-known sociologists, all of them (...) "children of the ’60s." It illuminates the human experience of living through that decade as apprentice scholars and activists, encountering the issues of class, race, the Establishment, the decline of traditional religion, feminism, war, and the sexual revolution. In each case the interlinked crises of young adulthood, rapid change, and nascent professional careers shaped this generation’s private and public selves. This is an intensely personal collective portrait of a generation in a time of struggle. (shrink)
Tacit knowledge is both a ubiquitous and puzzling notion, related to the idea of hidden assumptions. The puzzle is partly a result of the conflict between the idea that assumptions are in the mind and the apparent audience-relativity of the "fact" of possessing an assumption or of the tacit knowledge that is articulated. If we think of making the tacit explicit as constructing a certain kind of inference repairing explanation for a particular audience "on the fly" we come closer to (...) an explanation of what happens when we "make our tacit knowledge explicit." We can account for our capacity to construct such statements for particular audiences by reference to our non-conceptual capacities to understand others. This approach avoids problematic assumptions about shared representations that are common in cognitive science, and the equally problematic notion that tacit knowledge is sentence-like content that we retrieve when we articulate something based on our tacit knowledge. (shrink)
Edward Shils was a widely recognized but misunderstood thinker. The original contexts of his thought are not well understood and greatly distorted by associating him with the concerns of Parsons. Shils provides a fully comparable alternative to the thought of Habermas and Foucault, with essentially similar roots: practice theory, the dissolution of Marxism in the twenties, and Carl Schmitt. Though Shils was indebted to the American sociological tradition, with respect to these issues his sources were outside it: in Hendrik de (...) Man, T. S. Eliot, and Michael Polanyi. It is shown how Shils responded to Schmitt's argument about the inherent conflict between democracy and liberalism in terms of an account of civility and tradition, and how this argument results in a critique of Foucault, Habermas, and collectivistic liberalism. (shrink)
Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Ahead of Print. This is a commentary on William Lynch’s Minority Report, which is a synthesis of the last 75 years of STS writings with philosophical themes from Lakatos, Feyerabend, and others. The comment questions the continued relevance of older ideas of scientific opinion which rested on the supposed autonomy of scientists in the face of the present grant system and the bureaucracy of peer review. The magnitude of the funding of science, and its apparent (...) biases, call the whole of the inherited view of science into question. (shrink)