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Sociology 2240E Lecture Notes - Organicism, Intentionality, Atomism

Course Code
SOC 2240E
Charles Levine

of 3
Wednesday September 26, 2012
Lecture 2
1. What is society? Answers: Organicism, atomism
2. What is human nature? Some theorists think we are things by nature- happy/sad etc, they think
we are something by nature. Other perspective: nurture- won’t deny that people are happy,
sad, smart- they agree with the list but they say they are dispositions that are taught to us.
3. What are the relationships among society culture and the individual? Some theorists think we
are reactors- organicists think this- we are a role in society (student, teacher etc). Other
theorists think we are actors- can mean autonomy, or we are individuals- human beings can
sometimes demand change in society and give reasons to those changes- we can step out of our
roles (e.g become persons instead of just students)
- If you are a organicist, you are likely to be nature(2) and a reactor (3)
- If you are a atomist, you are likely to be nurture (2), and an actor (3)
- They can be the opposite but it is highly unlikely
- Epistemology- a way of knowing, a style of knowing
- Sociologists use two forms of epistemology: realism or nommalism :
4. What analytical Epistemologies are used?
- If you are a realist you explain social events and processes without reference to human
intentionality, but with reference to “natural” processes.
- By natural could mean, human nature, biological factors, historical factors- by natural we
mean everything that isn’t human intentionality
- A realist wouldn’t talk about a person’s wants
- Example: C. Wright Mills- our motives are not significant until after we do the act
- Nommalism: a person who explains social processes and events with reference to human
- Descriptive logic: telling you what something was
- These terms are not only used descriptively but prescriptively
- Prescriptively Logic: saying what something ought to be
- If you are saying what something ought to be it is a value claim
- Value claims usually go hand in hand with the willingness to defend the claim
- Prescriptive nommalism- making judgements about what people ought to be like.
- Prescriptive realist: makes moral claims about society, processes- they are doing something
and its good, or its not.
- A moral judgement is a prescriptive judgement
- Make descriptive and prescriptive judgement all the time: it is a fundamental split in social
- Value biases- believing the way you think is right. Ego involved.
- Social theory isn’t value-neutral.
- In the social world you think you are being objective, but what you are describing is how you
feel about an issue
- Facts are always related to values or judgements
- What we call a fact may have something to do with time
5. What is the relationship between facts and values in social theory?
- What is a fact:
- Correspondent theories of truth, coherence theories of truth, consensus theories of truth
- Have to have consensus for something to be a fact
- The agreement (consensus) of what something is says something about language, the need
to make sure about something pertaining to the interaction.
- Have to engage in mutual respect in order to come to a agreement
- Facts dont exist outside of the moral commutative integrity of our community
- Intersubjective agreement- no such thing as absolute objectivity- both know something isn’t
true, but that it is reasonable.
- Through consensus we create a human community and social solidarity
- Objectivity is intersubjective agreement
- What is a value:
- Social estimation of the worth of something
- If it is the estimation of the worth of something that implies that you have reasons
- A value is also an invitation to inquiry
- Universally moral points of view- way we should think
- if all of us have different values, that’s how bias occurs, this is what stops us from reaching
- how do values influence sociological inquiry?
- Values influence facts in a variety of ways:
- 1. They influence the problems, issues or problems we choose to study
- 2. Values will influence what we define as a fact values and language will determine what
we define as a fact
- 3. The explanation of the relevance of those things are influenced by values
- 4. Values influence the use of the information that the sociologist produces
- Sociology requires justification of your values
- Some People answer question 5: whatever facts are, they are always associated with values
- Marx will say facts and values are the same thing but looked at at a different point of view
- Another answer to question 5: sociology can be a science, and while sociologists have values
they can separate their values from what it is they do
- A scientific approach to sociology is pure in the sense that it is objective, it is objective
because they cannot imagine anyone disagreeing with the method they use
- 6. How do Sociologists explain social order and social change?
- Some sociologists will say that change and social stability are natural- they happen for
reasons that have nothing to do with our intensions realist point of view
- Some sociologists will explain stability and change as a function of intentions, as a function
of persons involvement in the process of creating social stability and social change-
- The sociologists who explain change and stability from a realist point of view will most often
be evolutionary theorists.
- A developmental theorist has to be prepared to say what the end point of change ought to
be and they have to be prepared to defend that claim
- Evolution: change
- Developmental: change with an endpoint
- Answer: some theorists use a realist perspective, some used nommanlist, realist tend to be
evolutionary theorists and nommalist tend to be developmental theorists
- 7. What is the difference between a radical theorist and a conservative theorists?
- The answer is a way of organizing the first 6 questions
- Conservative: who is concerned with what is, and the maintenance of what is
- Want to maintain stability to some extent
- Radical: a person who wants to change the world in order to make it a better world
- Want to change the world in order to make it a better world and it will be better because it
will enable human beings to develop to their potential
- Radical is thinking in all four cells (realism, nommalism, descriptive, prescriptive)
- Conservative: likely to be a organicist, reactors, facts are facts
- Radical: radical will give both answers to every question
- Radical will agree with the conservative view for the first part of their answer but answer at
the end with the other