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)
This volume concerns philosophical issues that arise from the practice of anthropology and sociology. The essays cover a wide range of issues, including traditional questions in the philosophy of social science as well as those specific to these disciplines. Authors attend to the historical development of the current debates and set the stage for future work. · Comprehensive survey of philosophical issues in anthropology and sociology · Historical discussion of important debates · Applications to current research in anthropology and sociology.
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)
In his recent article, ‘Lottery puzzles and Jesus’ return’, Donald Smith says that Christians should accept a very robust scepticism about the future because a Christian ought to think that the probability of Jesus’ return happening at any future moment is inscrutable to her. But I think that Smith’s argument lacks the power rationally to persuade Christians who are antecedently uncommitted as to whether or not we can or do have any substantive knowledge about the future. Moreover, I think that (...) Christians who are so antecedently uncommitted have available objections they can reasonably press against Smith’s arguments. In the article, I attempt to bring out these objections. (shrink)
The lack of "progress" in theory is often contrasted to progress in statistical methodology. The relation between the two bodies of thinking is itself problematic, however, for the particular advances in method that have occurred in quantitative sociology reflect a trade-off in which the results are characterized by the radical underdetermination of models by data and a high level of slack between measures and theoretical concepts. Both of these problems are usually understood as matters of "error," and thus as potentially (...) eliminable, but this claim is highly questionable, on grounds evident from Pearson's philosophy of science. The implications of large ineliminable error for the project of theory construction, particularly the "formal theory" of Blau and the California Positivists, is discussed. The ease of producing statistical results is an achievement, but one that leads away from theory rather than toward it, and, because the fact of underdetermination prevents these results from establishing clear cognitive superiority over the results of other "approaches," theoretical diversity is, in a sense, a consequence of the properties of the dominant statistical tradition in sociology. (shrink)
Practice relativism is the idea that practices are foundational for bodies of activity and thought, and differ from one another in ways that lead those who constitute the world in terms of them to incommensurable or conflicting conclusions. It is true that practices are not criticizable in any simple way because they are largely tacit and inaccessible. But to make them relativistic one needs an added claim: that practices are "normative", or conceptual in character. It is argued that this is (...) not supportable by any explanatory necessity, and that the differences in outcomes, though real, are not instances of relativism. /// El relativismo de prácticas es la idea de que las prácticas sirven de fundamento para cuerpos de actividad y pensamiento, y que difieren unas de otras de maneras que llevan a aquellos que constituyen el mundo en esos términos a conclusiones inconmensurables o contradictorias. Es cierto que las prácticas no son criticables de ninguna manera simple porque en general son tácitas e inaccesibles. Pero para que sean relativistas hace falta una tesis adicional: que las prácticas son normativas o conceptuales. Aquí se arguye que esto no puede sustentarse en ninguna necesidad explicativa, y que las diferencias en resultados, si bien son reales, no son casos de relativismo. (shrink)
Language is the tradition of nations; each generation describes what it sees, but it uses words transmitted from the past. When a great entity like the British Constitution has continued in connected outward sameness, but hidden inner change, for many ages, every generation inherits a series of inapt words — of maxims once true, but of which the truth is ceasing or has ceased. As a man’s family go on muttering in his maturity incorrect phrases derived from a just observation (...) of his early youth, so, in the full activity of an historical constitution, its subjects repeat phrases true in the time of their fathers, and inculcated by those fathers, but now true no longer. (shrink)
The thesis of existentialism holds that if a proposition p exists and predicates something of an object a, then in any world where a does not exist, p does not exist either. If “possibly, p” entails “in some possible world, the proposition that p exists and is true,” then existentialism is prima facie incompatible with the truth of claims like “possibly, the Eiffel Tower does not exist.” In order to avoid this claim, a distinction between two kinds of world-indexed truth (...) –and two associated kinds of modality –is needed. This paper embodies an attempt to develop a full account of just such a distinction. (shrink)
This paper offers an account of the relationship between inference and explanation in functional morphology which combines Robert Brandon's theory of adaptation explanation with standard accounts of inference to the best explanation. Inferences of function from structure, it is argued, are inferences to the best adaptation explanation. There are, however, three different approaches to the problem of determining which adaptation explanation is the best. The theory of inference to the best adaptation explanation is then applied to a case study (...) from the history of functional morphology: the case of the crested duckbilled dinosaurs. (shrink)
Following the metaphor of “boulders in the stream” of anthropology proposed by Stephan Schwartz (2000) and carried on by subsequent articles in Anthropology of Consciousness, this article proposes an alternate set of “boulders” that may serve the study of consciousness: Weberian charisma (as developed by Charles Lindholm), Turner's liminality, and Johannes Fabian's notion of “moments of freedom.” These constructs highlight how individuals, even entire communities, at times create new institutions, relationships, and identities despite inhibiting constraints of discourse and power. (...) Ethnographic evidence from a Puerto Rican Protestant church-sponsored school suggests that, though short-lived, these instances are sufficiently common to merit the term “everyday extraordinary.” The article argues that this framing, like George P. Hansen's “Trickster,” may help anthropologists of consciousness account for phenomena that have hitherto been unexplainable by positivist science; additionally, it may help anthropologists “catch” important aspects of contemporary social and political processes characterized by charisma, liminality, and freedom. (shrink)
Concept and theory formation in the social sciences, by A. Schutz.--Is it a science? by S. Morgenbesser.--Knowledge and interest, by J. Habermas.--Sociological explanation, by T. Burns.--Methodological individualism reconsidered, by S. Lukes.--The problem of rationality in the social world, by A. Schutz.--Concepts and society, by E. Gellner.--Symbols in Ndembu ritual, by V. Turner.--Telstar and the Aborigines or La pensée sauvage, by E. Leach.--Groote Eylandt totemism and Le totémisme aujourd'hui, by P. Worsley.--Bibliography (p. 225-228).
Notes on stratification, education, and mobility in industrial societies, by E. Hopper.--Social selection in the welfare state, by T. H. Marshall.--Domination and assertion in educational systems, by M. Scotford-Archer and M. Vaughan.--Sponsored and contest mobility and the school system, by R. H. Turner.--A typology for the classification of educational systems, by E. Hopper.--The management of knowledge: a critique of the use of typologies in educational sociology, by I. Davies.--Selection and knowledge management in education systems, by D. Smith.--Systems of education (...) and systems of thought, by P. Bourdieu.--On the classification and framing of educational knowledge, by B. Bernstein.--The political functions of the educational system, by H. Zeigler.--Power, ideology, and the transmission of knowledge: an exploratory essay, by D. Smith.--Theoretical advance and empirical challenge, by A. H. Halsey.--A cross-cultural outline of education, by J. Henry.--Educational systems and selected consequences of patterns of mobility and non-mobility in industrial societies: a theoretical discussion, by E. Hopper. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Foreword: 'Taught by Love'--M.McQuillan * Notes on Contributors * Introduction: The Origins of Deconstruction: Derrida's Daughters--I.Willis * PROLOGUE * Jacques Derrida, 'Between the writing body and writing': An interview with Daniel Ferrer * Hlne Cixous, 'First of all (from the margins) I am a reader reading: An interview with Daniel Ferrer * PART I: INCUBATION * Dating-Deconstruction--M.Froment-Meurice * The Course of a General Displacement, or, The Course of the Choreographer--L.Turner * Feminine Endings: Didos Telephonic Body (...) and the Originary Function of the Hymen--I.Willis * On Prejudice and Foretelling 2--T.Docherty * Extremes Meet--J.M.Rabate * PART II: INAUGURATION * The Opening to Infinity: Derridas Quasi-Transcendentals--C.Colebrook * Splitting the Origin: Writing and Responsibility--M.Grebowicz * Derridean Beginning and Deleuzian Becoming--P.Patton * 'Words of Air': On Breath and Inspiration--C.Baracchi * PART III: INSTALLATION * Illegibility: On the Spirit of Origins--J.P.Leavey * Origins of Deconstruction? Deconstruction, That Which Arrives (If It Arrives)--J.Wolfreys * Philosophy of Cinders and Cinders of Philosophy: A Commentary on the Origins of Deconstruction and the Holocaust--R.Eaglestone * The Beginnings of Art: Heidegger and Bataille--G.Bucher * Aesthetic Allegory: Reading Hegel after Bernal--M.McQuillan * Notes * Index Foreword: 'Taught by Love'--M.McQuillan * Notes on Contributors * Introduction: The Origins of Deconstruction: Derrida's Daughters--I.Willis * PROLOGUE * Jacques Derrida, 'Between the writing body and writing': An interview with Daniel Ferrer * Hlne Cixous, 'First of all (from the margins) I am a reader reading: An interview with Daniel Ferrer * PART I: INCUBATION * Dating-Deconstruction--M.Froment-Meurice * The Course of a General Displacement, or, The Course of the Choreographer--L.Turner * Feminine Endings: Didos Telephonic Body and the Originary Function of the Hymen--I.Willis * On Prejudice and Foretelling 2--T.Docherty * Extremes Meet--J.M.Rabate * PART II: INAUGURATION * The Opening to Infinity: Derridas Quasi-Transcendentals--C.Colebrook * Splitting the Origin: Writing and Responsibility--M.Grebowicz * Derridean Beginning and Deleuzian Becoming--P.Patton * 'Words of Air': On Breath and Inspiration--C.Baracchi * PART III: INSTALLATION * Illegibility: On the Spirit of Origins--J.P.Leavey * Origins of Deconstruction? Deconstruction, That Which Arrives (If It Arrives)--J.Wolfreys * Philosophy of Cinders and Cinders of Philosophy: A Commentary on the Origins of Deconstruction and the Holocaust--R.Eaglestone * The Beginnings of Art: Heidegger and Bataille--G.Bucher * Aesthetic Allegory: Reading Hegel after Bernal--M.McQuillan * Notes * Index. (shrink)