James Coleman attempted to reconcile rational choice theory with the classical sociological concerns: the relationship between the individual and society, and the historical and normative status of rationality. He identifies limits to the rational choice model, and suggests some promising but ultimately unconvincing ways around them. His project does, however, offer an important critique of Weber's theory of bureaucracy, which is of value in analyzing relationships between corporate actors and particular persons.
Global network research is an exciting new area of social analysis. This book is the first to provide a thorough investigation of global network links across time and space. RobertHolton demonstrates the way in which technological and interpersonal networks organise global society, providing vivid examples from the present and the past. This text gives practical advice on how to research global networks, and brings together leading theory and new evidence on the subject for all students learning about (...) globalisation and contemporary social change. (shrink)
The seventeen seminal essays by Robert J. Gordon collected here, including three previously unpublished works, offer sharply etched views on the principal topics of macroeconomics - growth, inflation, and unemployment. The author re-examines their salient points in a uniquely creative, accessible introduction that serves on its own as an introduction to modern macroeconomics. Each of the four parts into which the essays are grouped also offers a new introduction. The papers in Part I explore different key aspects of the (...) history, theory, and measurement of productivity growth. The essays in Part II investigate the sources of business cycles and productivity fluctuations. Those in Part III cover the effects of supply shocks in macroeconomics. The final group presents empirical studies of the dynamics of inflation in the United States. The foreword by Nobel Laureate Robert M. Solow comments on the abiding importance of these essays drawn from 1968 to the present. (shrink)
The traditional problem of evil is set forth, by no means for the first time, in Part X of Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion in these familiar words: ‘Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? whence then is evil?’ This formulation of the problem of evil obviously suggests an argument to the effect that the existence of evil in (...) the world demonstrates that God does not exist. The purpose of this paper is to examine this argument, with a view to showing that while it is not a conclusive argument, it is much stronger than some apologists for traditional theism allow. (shrink)
Whilst Edward Gibbon's Memoirs of My Life comprise a notoriously complex document of autobiographical artifice, there is no reason to question the honesty of its revelation of his attitudes to geography and its relationship to the historian's craft. Writing of his boyhood before going up to Oxford, Gibbon commented that his vague and multifarious reading could not teach me to think, to write, or to act; and the only principle, that darted a ray of light into the indigested chaos, was (...) an early and rational application of the order of time and place. The maps of Cellarius and Wells imprinted in my mind the picture of ancient geography: from Stranchius I imbibed the elements of chronology: the Tables of Helvicus and Anderson, the Annals of Usher [ sic ] and Prideaux, distinguished the connection of events. . . This seems a fairly direct comment on Gibbon's attitude to geography as a historian in that it is confirmed by various of his working documents and commonplace book comments not aimed at posterity and by the practice embodied in his great work that was thus targeted, the Decline and Fall. Taking Gibbon's private documents, the first manuscript we have in his English Essays, for example, is a tabulated chronology from circa 1751 when Gibbon was fourteen years old, which begins with the creation of the world in 6000 BC and runs up to 1590 BC, this being exactly the sort of material which could be commonplaced from the likes of Ussher and Prideaux. Matching this attention to chronology is a concern with geography, and indeed the two are coupled together as in his comment in the Memoirs. Thus in his Index Expurgatoris, Gibbon berates Sallust as “no very correct historian” on the grounds that his chronology is not credible and that “notwithstanding his laboured description of Africa, nothing can be more confused than his Geography without either division of provinces or fixing of towns”. In this regard, Gibbon the author of the Decline and Fall was a “correct” historian, in that he was careful to frame each arena in which historical events were narrated in the light of a prefatory description of the geography of the location under discussion. This is most readily apparent in the second half of the opening chapter of the work, where Gibbon proceeds on what his “Table of Contents” calls a “View of the Provinces of the Roman Empire”, starting in the West with Spain and then proceeding clockwise to reach Africa on the other side of the Pillars of Hercules, a pattern of geographical description directly mirroring ancient practice in Strabo's Geography and Pomponius Mela's De Situ Orbis. But this practice of prefacing a historical account with geographical description repeats itself at various points in the work, as when, approaching the end of his grand narrative, Gibbon reaches the impact of “Mahomet, with sword in one hand and the Koran in the other” on “the causes of the decline and fall of the Eastern empire”. Before discussing the birth of Islam, Gibbon treats his readers to a discussion of the geography of Arabia, beginning with its size and shape before moving on to its soils, climate and physical–geographic subdivisions. (shrink)
This article argues that we could improve the design of research protocols by developing an awareness of and a responsiveness to the social contexts of all the actors in the research enterprise, including subjects, investigators, sponsors, and members of the community in which the research will be conducted. “Social context” refers to the settings in which the actors are situated, including, but not limited to, their social, economic, political, cultural, and technological features. The utility of thinking about social contexts is (...) introduced and exemplified by the presentation of a hypothetical case in which one central issue is limitation of the probability of injury to subjects by selection of individuals who are not expected to live long enough for the known risks of the study to become manifest as harms. Benefits of such considerations may include enhanced subject satisfaction and cooperation, community acceptance, and improved data quality, among other desirable consequences. (shrink)
I survey the difficulties of several probabilistic views of non-deductive argument and of inductive probability and propose to explicate non-deductive reasoning in terms of rational preference. Following a critical examination of Popper’s allegedly deductive theory of rational preference, I draw upon the work of Popper and Rescher to present my view which includes: (i) the conjecturing of a set of alternative answers to or theories or hypotheses about the questions prompting the inquiry and (ii) the “reduction” of this set via (...) plausibilistic principles of rational preference. (shrink)
Three goals of teaching medical ethics to physicians are reviewed., Components of a basic course in medical ethics are described with special attention to the roles of case conferences, ethics rounds, and role modeling. Obstacles to teaching ethics are also addressed.