By Jeffrey C. Alexander
This quantity starts through difficult the bases of the new scientization of sociology. Then it demanding situations a few of the bold claims of modern theoretical debate. the writer not just reinterprets crucial classical and smooth sociological theories yet extracts from the debates the weather of a extra passable, inclusive method of those normal theoretical issues.
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Additional info for Theoretical Logic in Sociology, Volume 1: Positivism, Presuppositions, and Current Controversies
General theories," he writes, " ... are too remote from particular classes of social behavior . . "49 In this version of his argument, Merton has accepted what are in effect the first two positivist postulates. And with his support for the position-expressed only implicitly here but more explicitly in another essay, "On the History and Systematics of Sociological Theory" 50-that only by so eliminating any focus on nonempirical and "philosophical" concerns can sociology attain a truly scientific status, Merton has reconstructed the entire foundation of the positivist perspective on science.
The question taken for granted by these critics of the idealist position is the identification of natural science with a certain neutral definition of objectivity. Yet this is the very question that itself must be subjected to the most careful scrutiny, from a perspective that shares neither the radical subjec. tivity of the "human studies" critique nor the radical objectivity of the positivist position. While accepting the argument that the subjectivism of the "human studies" critique makes it an unacceptable alternative position, the question must then be asked whether natural science is itself related solely to empirical phenomena, whether in natural science itself there is not a "generalized" subjective element in the very perception of data.
136t If such indeed is the normal condition of scientific theorizing, it is not surprising that Koyre and Butterfield conclude that the greatness of a theoretician can just as well be measured by his ability to maintain general theoretical commitments in the face of empirical anomaly as in his capacity to discard them. "Aristotelian theory came to a brilliant peak," Butterfield writes, "in the manner by which it hauled ... " 137t (d) Fundamental shifts in scientific belief occur only when empirical changes are matched by the availability of alternative theoretical commitments.
Theoretical Logic in Sociology, Volume 1: Positivism, Presuppositions, and Current Controversies by Jeffrey C. Alexander