2007-10-18 - Eric

2007-10-18 - Eric - SOC 302 Thursday Subjective vs...

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SOC 302 Thursday, October 18, 2007 - Subjective vs. Objective meaning o Objective meaning is the meaning that we see in something in a work of art o Subjective meaning is the meaning that we see in subjects – the action is conscious and in some cases reflexive. The actor has several options for acting, several alternative possibilities. We can then conclude that what the actor does is not a necessity. Action is contingent, not necessary. Behavior is necessary, but not the subjective action There is always the possibility of not acting or acting in a different way o Note that reasons motivate action, but they do not cause. So the presence of a reason is neither sufficient nor necessary for an action to follow. o So the relationship between reasons and actions is probabilistic. o Behavior is explained, action is understood. To explain behavior is to show that it follows from a general law Action can be understood, not explained. And we understand an action when we understand its subjective meaning. We can say that to understand an action is to understand what the actor intended. - Difficulties in the theory of action o What if we ask, where is meaning and how can we observe it? We run into great difficulties. One is that the meaning is something that is located inside the actor. It is not something that you can observe by measuring it inside an actor, in the way that you can measure a rock. Meaning is a mental phenomenon, and since the mind is somewhere inside that we cannot reach. o So how do we get access to meaning? Well presumably we know our own reasons and have an understanding of our own reasons. It’s just that when we get to others, we are less sure. We assume we know what are we doing and why we are doing it, but we can’t answer that same questions for others because we can’t access the mind of others (the mind is a “Black Box”)
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The challenge of the theory of action is to find the meaningful action in which others engage by finding out their meanings, intentions, and motives. o (Survey) The easiest way to find out reasons for action is just to ask someone straight out – the most popular way and the method used in survey research (ask about attitudes, political opinions, and habits But this has various problems itself.
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