Durkheim Study Guide (Incomplete).doc

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Dan Silver

Durkheim Study Questions (1) WHAT IS ASOCIALFACT? Explain, in your own words, what Durkheim means by saying that there are ways of acting and feeling which exist outside the consciousness of the individual. ­ This refers to the idea that the system of signs that people employ to express their thoughts, the monetary system they use to pay their debts, the credit instruments they utilise in their commercial relationships, the practices they follow in my profession, etc., all function independently of the use they make of them. What does it mean to say that some facts possess coercive power over individuals? ­ they consist of manners of acting, thinking and feeling external to the individual, which are invested with a coercive power by virtue of which they exercise control over him What does Durkheim mean by social “currents”? ­ no social fact can exist except where there is a well-defined social organization ­ social currents refers to the facts which do not present themselves in an already crystalized form but which also possess the same objectivity and ascendancy over the individual What is a social fact, according to Durkheim? ­ commonly used to designate almost all the phenomena that occur within society ­ essentially no human occurrence that cannot be called social ­ a clearly determined group of phenomena separable, because of their distinct characteristics, from those that form the subject matter of other sciences of nature ­ A social fact is any way of acting, whether fixed or not, capable of exerting over the individual an external constraint; which is general over the whole of a given society whilst having an existence of its own, independent of its individual manifestations How can one identify a social fact? ­ social fact is identifiable through the power of external coercion which it exerts or is capable of exerting upon individuals ­ presence of this power is in turn recognizable because of the existence of some pre-determined sanction, or through the resistance that the fact opposes to any individual action that may threaten it THE DIVISION OF LABOUR IN SOCIETY p. xxv-xxx What is the difference between deducing morality from science and constituting the science of morality? ­ Science of morality = moral facts are phenomena like any others that consist of rules for action that are recognizable by certain distinctive characteristics and thus it is possible to observe, describe and classify them as well as to seek out the laws that explain them ­ Morality from science is developing morality by studying positive sciences What is the difference, according to Durkheim, between “the science of morality” and philosophical conceptions of morality? ­ What does Durkheim believe the practical payoff of this book will be? ­ Why does Durkheim recommend a “prudently conservative” approach to ideological intervention in social life? Why does Durkheim mean by applying “methodical doubt”? Why does he think doing so does entail any risk to “moral reality”? What is, for Durkheim, the condition of all science? What is the guiding question for this book? p. 1-8 What is the difference between Durkheim’s presentation of the division of labour and Adam Smith’s? ­ Adam Smith focused on the DOL as it influences the economic sphere of life and the central idea that each product is in itself a specialty demarcating the others ­ Durkheim expands this concept to include the entire society, politics, law, arts and sciences have all become more and more specialized What are, according to Durkheim, the two main moral responses to the rise of the division of labour in society? ­ The question of whether we should abandon ourselves to the control of the DOL or resist it What method does Durkheim propose in order to determine whether the division of labour can be classified as a moral rule? ­ What are the three main sections of the book? What does each aim to accomplish? Why? 1. Investigate the function of DOL; its social need 2. Determine causes and condition that constitute DOL 3. Classify the principal abnormal forms that it assumes in order to avoid confusing it with the rest ­ In order to evaluate objectively the DOL one must first study it in itself investigating its utility and on what it is contingent pp. 11-16 In what sense does Durkheim use the term “function”? What is the difference between “aims or purposes,” “results or effects,” and “functions”? ­ Function is used in the sense of a corresponding relationship between a system of living movements and their effects in regards to the needs of the organism i.e. digestive functions in relation to a human being What are the commonly cited effects of the division of labour in society? Why, according to Durkheim, does the DOL not necessarily generate these effects? ­ It is often believed that DOL increases both the productive capacity and skill of the workman = necessary condition for the intellectual and material development of societies ­ It is unrelated to building moral character as it the economic activity that accompanies civilization in which crime and suicide are most frequent What is the difference, according to Durkheim, between art and morality? Between science and morality? ­ While art is resistant to obligation, one which people are not compelled to acquire, morality is the indispensable minimum which is strictly necessary that society requires in order to function constraining us to an already established path towards a definite goal How does Durkheim define the field of ethics? ­ It comprises all the rules of action that are imposed categorically upon behavior and to which a punishment is attached but goes no further than this Why does Durkheim believe that “civilization” is not the reason for the division of labour? ­ DOL function is to mitigate the effects that it produces, binding up the wounds that it inflicts pp. 16-17 What sorts of opposites tend to be attracted to one another, according to Durkheim? ­ We are very often drawn to people who do not resemble us precisely because they do no not so ­ We seek in our friends those qualities that we lack because in uniting them we share in some way in their nature feeling less incomplete What is the function of the DOL according to Durkheim if it isn’t “increasing civilization and productivity”? ­ Economic services that it renders when compared with the moral effect that it produces ­ True function is to create between two or more people a feeling of solidarity ­ It is because men and women differ that they seek out each other, different parts of the same whole pp. 21-24 What is the difference between the feeling of solidarity rooted in similarity to others and the feeling rooted in complementary differences? ­ Solidarity stemming from similarity to others results in the two parts becoming interdependent, being indistinct from each other they fuse and become one ­ Solidarity stemming from complementary differences results in the various parts remaining outside from each other but are linked because they are distinct pp. 24-29 How does Durkheim propose to determine the degree to which the DOL contributes to the integration of society? ­ By studying law itself as law is often responsible for the definite organization of social law itself How does Durkheim propose to measure social solidarity? Why does he choose this measure? ­ The study of solidarity lies within the domain of sociology, it is a social facts that can be known only through its social effects ­ Specifically, since law reproduces the main forms of social solidarity, we only have to classify the different types of law in order to be able to investigate which types of social solidarity correspond to them What is Durkheim’s definition of law? ­ Public law regulates the relationships of the individual with the state ­ Private law regulates the relationships of the individual with one another In what ways can custom and law come into conflict? Why does Durkheim believe that such conflict does not threaten his study? ­ Why does Durkheim reject the public/private law distinction? ­ All law is public in the sense that it is a social function and individuals are functionaries of society Why does Durkheim instead focus on sanctions and punishments? ­ Because they are a characteristic essential to judicial phenomena but with much variance What are the two main kinds of legal sanction? ­ Repressive, organized sanctions (penal law): injuring the perpetrator of a crime, harm him through his honor, life, liberty; deprive him of some object who possession he enjoys ­ Restoring the previous state of affairs: reestablishing relationships that have been disturbed from their natural form by forcibly redressing the action, restoring it or annulling it pp. 31-32 What is a crime, according to Durkheim? ­ Any act, regardless of the degree, which provokes against the perpetrator some form of action pp. 38-44 What does Durkheim mean by “collective or common consciousness”? What is the difference between “collective consciousness” and “the psychological life of society”? ­ collective or common consciousness = the totality of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of a society that forms a determinate system with a life of its own ­ Psychological life of society = constitutes a limited part of the collective consciousness, consist of functions that appertain to the psychological order (judicial, governmental…) How does Durkheim use the notion of collective consciousness to define crime? ­ An act is considered criminal when it offends the strong, well-defined states of the collective consciousness Why do crimes committed by government officials, count, according to Durkheim, as violations of the collective consciousness, even if they are not met by severe public condemnation? ­ Wherever an authority to govern is established, its first and foremost function is to ensure respect for beliefs, traditions and collective practices = to defend the common consciousness from all of its enemies thus becoming the symbol of that consciousness pp. 55-60 Why do punishments tend to bear a “certain stamp of religiosity”? ­ Because the acts that it punishes always appear as attacks upon something which is transcendent whether this is a being or a concept How do punishments affirm the common consciousness? ­ The wrong done arouses among all who witness it or who know of its existence the same indignation ­ It occurs in each individual not in isolation but together with all other individual and in unison How do feelings of collective outrage become organized into legal institutions? ­ Through the gathering of people in the court of law which later developed into a system of conformity with general laws pp. 60-64 What kind of solidarity does the penal law symbolize? ­ The conformity of each individual consciousness to a common type ­ Not attracted to each other because they resemble each other but linked to what is the condition for this collective type Describe the “two consciousnesses” that exist within us? ­ One is comprised only of states that are personal to us, characteristics of us as individuals = individual personality ­ The other is comprised of states that are common to the whole society = collective type Why is it the case that punishment “above all intended to have its effect upon honest people”? ­ It serves to heal the wounds inflicted upon the collective sentiments; can fulfill this role only where such sentiments exist and in so far as they are active Why is the number of repressive rules in a society proportional to the number of social relationships defined by a common consciousness? ­ In determining what part of the judicial apparatus is represented by penal law, we shall at the same time measure the relative importance of this solidarity Durkheim Study Questions (2) DIVISION OF LABOUR IN SOCIETY Pp 68-72 What is the distinguishing mark of “restitutory sanction”? ­ That it is not expiatory but comes down to restoring the status quo ante Why, according to Durkheim, are restitutory laws not a part of the collective consciousness? ­ They are specialized into bodies such as consular courts, tribunals, etc. What is the difference between laws of restitution and private mediation? ­ Private mediation = applies general and traditional rules of law to a particular care ­ Laws of rest
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