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Lecture 18

Sociology 2240E Lecture 18: Sociological Theory Lectures

Course Code
SOC 2240E
Charles Levine

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Sociological Theory
Wednesday October 8, 2014
Moral dilemma between what is right and wrong
Tutorial readings: read chapter and choose a concept from it and apply to life.
The Enlightenment (Radical & Atomistic)
- The celebration of human rationality
- Rationality: knowing how to control and manipulate own environment (the
intent of an action)
- The Enlightenment says that it is possible for humans to generate universally
valid points of view
- The goal is to increase rationality
- Can learn to control the world in ways where all aspects agree
- Prior to the enlightenment no one had rights
Rationality (ability to control intelligence) Science (experiment) Promise of
Control and Natural and Social Environment (increase of knowledge and control)
Rationality Reason = Rationality + Moral Reasoning
- There is no logic about knowing if a person is moral or not
- Moral issues don't exist unless you sense that there is a dilemma
- Morality points to cognitive rationality when an issue is put forward
- You don't think about it (you just do the right thing knowing that it is right)
- Moral sensibility becomes established
- Moral reasoig is soethig that does't irease… it deelops
- Can be seen as an interval variable
- There is a universally adequate moral point of view
Human Rationality can produce good and bad outcomes (pollution, H bombs, war)
- The best moral choice would be to create a world where the dilemma disappears
- Must except the fact that there are disagreements (Pro Choice vs. Pro Life)
Major Premises of the Enlightenment:
1. Reason and rationality are universally distinguishing properties of our
species No other species can have this gift
2. If eeroe is’t doig this, it is eause of ariatios ithi politial ad
social organizations if you cant do this it is because the social world is
interfering with you (becoming more rational)
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Sociological Theory
3. Therefore we have an obligation to critically evaluate traditions look at
the whole and throw away the elements that can be interfering with
4. Investment within logic and science
5. A belief that we are inevitable progressing as a species
Progress something that supports unequivocally rationality in our species
Example: giving women a right to vote
- A democracy (equality to all)
Montesquien (1689-1755)
- French nobleman
- Influenced by the writings of people across Europe
- Attack ethno/ego centricity
- It was worth while to step below cultural variability so we can start manipulating
societies to make them better
Persian Letters (1721)
- Claims to have discovered letters by Persian merchants and their servants
1. Inter-Cultural Difference
2. Intra-Cultural Difference
Sociology of knowledge what we do, influences how and what we think
- Actions determining this
Spirit of Laws (1748) tries to develop a theory based on social
(The sentiment/emotion or
disposition required for
the nature of government
to function
(How power is
BUT the
Greeks had
Mutual respect
All people share
equal power (no
one is in charge)
-Respect for King is
Small areas small
1 person with a
Moderate Sized
geographical areas
Dominant emotion = fear
1 person with
absolute power
Large population
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Sociological Theory
Laws as command
Causal law
Causal Law Law-as-commands = Realist perspective
- Viewing us as reactors
- Realism/Organists/Reactors
Third Law:
- Universalistic Laws as Command: there is a universal moral POV, that all people
can comprehend if they just though carefully about it
- Greeks didn't deal with moral problems
- Always an underlying moral variable
Now we have:
- Nominalism/Atomism/Actors
- Degrees of Freedo – to make good or bad choices
Jean Jacque Rousseau (1712-1778):
1. Firm believer in perfectibility
2. Agrees ith the Degrees of Freedo
What is man in a state of nature?
- What are we like BEFORE society?
- We are not reasonable by nature (not born with reason)
His argument: a mental experiment that cannot be proven
4 Conditions:
1. There would be a perfect balance between our needs (not desires) and the
resources available for our satisfaction if we don't have resources to satisfy our
needs we will die (need food/shelter)
2. We only have 3 primary needs hunger, shelter, sexual gratification
3. Low population density
4. In these conditions, there would be no knowledge or language
We are absolutely indifferent
- We are not disposed to think for one another because we don't think!
The origin of society:
1. We started associating with one another because of threats to resources
2. With our increasing association with one another we begin to learn about
cooperation and it is this learning of cooperation which introdues the fail –
slowly growing ability to grow things
3. We start institutionalizing the family by farming
- Mistake inherent
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