Hegel's main problem derived from reflection on the tradition since Descartes in which the problems of the search for certain knowledge and the relation of mind to matter were dominant. If the question is pressed further even into extraphilosophical problems there can be detected a desire to demonstrate the realm of something personal, the presence of and communication with others, thus demonstrating the unreality of isolation, loneliness, and depression, the solipsism that is the philosopher's ultimate belief.
The schema, or theoretical framework, holism, is concerned with the essence of society as a whole. Though undermined by Popper, it cannot be refuted ? nor proved. The extreme alternative is individualism. Several forms, due to Freud, Wittgenstein, and phenomenology, make presuppositions that require the individualist interpretation of society to be reopened at a new point. Popper's ? or Weber's ? is the sturdiest; its units being individual actions plus their unintended by?products. The Weber?Popper schema can provide a framework for (...) many satisfactory societal explanations. But individualism misses the holistic possibility of dynamic societal forces; the individualist fails to produce any dynamic laws. A dynamic bipolar schema could put both schemata to work without prescribing which would predominate. Empirical investigation would determine the more fruitful for a given problem. This schema would be ?justified? by fostering a satisfactory empirical social theory. The present investigation also reveals where the real controversies about schemata lie. (shrink)
Some twenty different background approaches, or schemata, permeate the social sciences. Most of their exponents regard their choice as excluding the rest. This paper is concerned to show that all such conflict is merely disputatious since virtually all the schemata require one another. Taking the individual's need to act as starting-point, certain restrictions limiting his freedom of action are identified as factors of the overt societal situation. These, however, fail to explain all aspects of his powerlessness, to account for which (...) he then seeks such deeper constraints as unseen powers or human conspiracies. Social scientists for their part develop theories or interpretations of the societal situation. The paper turns to the first of three groups of interpretations, concentrating on one constituent of the group, functionalism, which is a mirror-image of another constituent, 'conflict theory'. The complementarity of these two is claimed to apply to virtually all the schemata considered. (The second and third groups are deferred to the sequel.) The Appendix deals with the way in which explanatory factors can be combined. Having removed the unreal contentions associated with various schemata, the way is clear to treatment of the one substantive issue among them - to do with holism - in the sequel. (shrink)
Instrumentalism is an approach to science that treats a theory as a tool and only as a tool for computation; it dispenses with the concept of truth.Conventionalism treats a theory as true by convention if it forms a pattern of observations from which correct predictions can be made.Operationalism denies meaning to the concepts of a theory unless they can be defined operationally. It is argued in this paper that truth-value is indispensable to science, because a theory can be rejected only (...) if an empirical consequence is false and if falsity of a conclusion entails falsity of a premise. This undermines the above positions. The fourth interpretation isinduction. Induction, by contrast, uses the notion of truth-value. What is focused on here is its reliance on the ultimacy ofobservation. The present thesis is that instrumentalism, conventionalism, and induction are different attempts to handle observations. The common problem is the gap between data and theory.All these interpretations share a philosophy of observationalism. The aim of this paper is to show that the several orthodox interpretations of science all fail to solve the problem of the data-theory gap, and to show that they all presuppose a philosophy of observation. (shrink)