David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Sociological Theory 18 (1):60-83 (2000)
Parsons's training as an economist, his graduate stay at Heidelberg, and his participation in the Henderson seminar at Harvard provide major clues to his familiarity with Marshall, Pareto, and Weber-three of the four figures whose convergence forms the major theoretical achievement in The Structure of Social Action. But what led him to Durkheim, since Parsons did not study or reside in France, yet read Durkheim in the original, remains an enigma. Without resolving the enigma, this paper argues that Parsons had a great deal in common with Durkheim, and, equally important, that in his mature and late periods he found in his "revisits" of the later writings of Durkheim both inspiration and affinity. I argue that Parsons well deserves recognition as a major authority on Durkheim, and that both combined offer an alternative to the contemporary version of utilitarianism
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