Chapter9ConclusionPhilosophySocialScience16February09 -...

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Chapter9ConclusionPhilosophySocialScience16February09.doc 16Feb09 Concluding Remarks: The Ontological Foundations of the Social Sciences Suppose I am right that human society is largely constituted by distinctive institutional structures that create and distribute deontic power relationships by assigning status functions, and with those status functions differing social roles, in the society. What implications, if any, does that account have for actual research in the social sciences? I guess the short answer is that I don’t really know. It is impossible to tell in advance what is going to be useful for actual research. It seems that there are many areas of social science research where, at least in principle, it is not necessary to understand the foundational issues. So for example, when I lectured on these subjects at the Memorial for Pierre Bourdieu in Paris, one of the other participants, an American sociologist specializing in the sociology of labor unions, told me that his work began where mine ended. And I take it he meant that it is not necessary for him to know the ontological foundations of trade unionism. All he has to understand is the actual operations of particular historically situated organizations. The picture I think he had was that, just as a geologist might study the movements of tectonic plates without understanding the details of atomic physics, so he might study the movements of trade unions without understanding the details of social ontology. He may be right about
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This note was uploaded on 10/02/2011 for the course PHIL 138 taught by Professor Searle,j during the Fall '08 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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Chapter9ConclusionPhilosophySocialScience16February09 -...

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