ontology & epistemology

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Ontology & epistemology. Ontology: a specification of a conceptualization 1 E.g., What is society? What do we mean when we invoke “society”? Who does it contain? What are its boundaries? Generally understood as a theory of what is, of being, existence - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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Ontology & epistemologyOntology: a specification of a conceptualization1 E.g., What is society? What do we mean when we invoke society? Who does it contain? What are its boundaries?Generally understood as a theory of what is, of being, existenceEpistemology: the study of knowledge and justified belief 2What are the necessary and sufficient conditions of knowledge? What are its sources? What is its structure, and what are its limits? How we are to understand the concept of justification? What makes justified beliefs justified? Is justification internal or external to one's own mind?Understood more broadly, epistemology is about issues having to do with the creation and dissemination of knowledge in particular areas of inquiry1.T. R. Gruber. A translation approach to portable ontologies. Knowledge Acquisition, 5(2):199-220, 1993.2. Steup, Matthias, "Epistemology", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = . Metatheoretical Map2NonrationalRationalIndividualCollectiveACT IONORDERsurplus value

class conflict

class interests

labor exploitation

forces & relations of production commodity festishism

alienation/estrangementMetatheoretical Map3NonrationalRationalIndividualCollectiveACT IONMARXDURKHEIMORDEREmile Durkheim (1858-1917)There can be no society which does not feel the need of upholding and reaffirming at regular intervals the collective sentiments and the collective ideas which makes its unity and personality. Now this moral remaking cannot be achieved except by the means of reunions, assemblies and meetings where the individuals, being closely united to one another, reaffirm in common their common sentiments.

(Durkheim 1912/1995: 474-75)

Intellectual influencesAuguste Comte (1798-1857), founder of French positivism, coined the term sociologyThrough systematic collection, the patterns behind and within individual behavior can be uncoveredpositivism: the idea that the study of social phenomena should employ the same scientific techniques used in the natural sciencesComte saw "social physics" or sociology as a means to combat anarchy in the wake of the French RevolutionSociety is sui generis (an objective reality that is irreducible to the individuals that compose it) and amenable to scientific investigationHerbert Spencer (1820-1903), British philosopher, shared organic view of societyas social organism grows, it becomes more complex, due to differentiationdifferentiation: in essence, any change that increases the variety of social forms having durable connections to each other e.g., variations among people based on selected social characteristics such as age, sex, race, educational attainment, occupational status, etc. Influences and core ideas Sense of moral crisis in turn of the century FranceED defended Captain Alfred Dreyfus at center of "Dreyfus Affair," who was falsely charged w/treasonED considered antisemitism a "moral sickness of societyED was a reformist, not a revolutionary described Marxism as a disputable set of outdated hypothesesED did not support agitation, feared and hated social disorder, but did not believe social disorder was inherent in capitalism or a necessary part of modern worldDisorder could be reduced through social reformsCritique of individualismsociety, not the individual, is primaryED was critical of utilitarian individualism, economism

Core ideas in Durkheims early workrole of ideals & moral unity in the continuity of societyindividual as active agent & passive recipient of social influencesociety is more than sum of its partssociety as an organism, which can be healthy or pathologicalchange from traditional to modern society likened to biological processes involving differentiation of cells

Metatheoretical Map8NonrationalRationalIndividualCollectiveMarxDURKHEIMDu BoisWeberGilmanMeadSimmelMetatheoretical Map9NonrationalRationalIndividualCollectiveACT IONORDERanomie

collective conscience

collective representations sacred & profane

social solidarity mechanical solidarity organic solidarity

division of laborThe Division of Labor in Society1893The modern division of labor Marx vs. DurkheimMarx claimed the division of labor (or economic specialization) in capitalism inevitably resulted in alienation

Durkheim, by contrast, argued that economic specialization was not necessarily bad for the individual or societyIt depends on the conditions, whether its voluntary or notDivision of labor & social solidarityThe Division of Labor in Society challenged claim that modern society was headed towards disintegration

Despite declining significance of traditional moral beliefs (rooted in religion), a new system of moral regulation could be found in the differentiated DOLNot based on formal contracts, as utilitarians suggestSocial norms upholding contracts give them force - "noncontractual basis of contract"

Contemporary society still has a moral order!

A new type of solidaritysocial solidarity: the cohesion of social groups

In modern societies, mechanical solidarity is supplanted by a new type of social cohesion: organic solidarity

contemporary society still has a moral order!

There are two types of positive solidarity: mechanical & organicmechanical solidarity, links the individual to society without any intermediarySociety is organized collectively and is composed of beliefs common to all members of the groupThe individual consciousness depends on the collective consciousnesscollective conscience: the totality of beliefs and sentiments common to average citizens of the same society that forms a determinate system which has its own life

Mechanical vs. organic solidarityWhere mechanical solidarity is the main basis of societal cohesion, collective conscience completely envelops the individual conscience and therefore presumes an identity between individuals in their beliefs and actions

With organic solidarity, society is a system of different functions united by definite relationships, which bring about the DoLDoL & social solidarityIn modern DoL, each individual must have a sphere of action and a personality which is his ownIndividuality grows at the same time as the parts of societySociety becomes more effective at moving in concert though at the same time each of its elements has more movements that are peculiarly its ownSolidarity stems not simply from acceptance of common set of beliefs but from functional interdependence in DoLThe growth of organic solidarity and the expansion of the DOL are associated with increasing individualismThe progress of organic solidarity is depends on the declining significance of the collective conscienceThe Rules of the Sociological Method1895A science of moralityED sought to treat the facts of moral life according to the method of the positive sciencesvs. the moral philosophers who began with a priori postulates about essential human nature& vs. psychology, where propositions are applied through a process of logical deductionED sets out not to extract ethics from science, but to establish a science of moralitymoral rules develop in society and are bound up with the conditions of social life pertaining in a given time and placescience of moral phenomena thus sets out to analyze how changing forms of society effect transformations in the character of moral norms and to observe and classify these

Sociology is the study of social factsSociology is a distinct field of studyAlthough the social sciences are distinct from the natural sciences, the methods of the latter can be applied to the formerThe social field is also distinct from the psychological realm

social facts: conditions and circumstances external to the individual that, nevertheless, determine the individuals course of action

20Crime is normalCrime is present in all societies of all typesIts form changesacts thus characterized are not the same everywhere but everywhere and always there have been people whose behavior draws punishmentCrime is not only inevitable, it is necessary - an integral part of all healthy societies21What is crime? Crime consists of an act that offends certain very strong collective sentiments

It is not the intrinsic quality of a given act that makes it a crime, but the definition which the collective conscience of society gives it 22Crime plays role in social evolutionWhere crime exists, collective sentiments are sufficiently flexible to take on a new form, and crime sometimes helps determine the form they will takeED: Socrates crime, independence of thought, provided a service not only to humanity but to his country, preparing the ground for a new morality & faith in Athens, since traditions were no longer in harmony with current conditionshis violation was a crime, but it was useful as a prelude to necessary reforms23Crime has a social function Crime must no longer be conceived as an evil to be suppressed

Instead, we should attempt to discern its social function, the purpose it serves for society


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