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Theoretical Logic in Sociology, Volume 1: Positivism, by Jeffrey C. Alexander

By Jeffrey C. Alexander

This quantity starts by means of tough the bases of the new scientization of sociology. Then it demanding situations many of the formidable claims of contemporary theoretical debate. the writer not just reinterprets an important classical and sleek sociological theories yet extracts from the debates the weather of a extra passable, inclusive method of those normal theoretical issues.

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86t If Polanyi' s epistemological criticism is correct, if the gap between empirical and metaphysical formulation is not concrete and scientific perception not a purely "objective" process, then we might expect the observation of scientists to be affected not only by the changing patterns in physical nature but by other, nonempirical alterations in their perceptual environment. Or, to put the issue directly in terms of the second postulate of the positivist persuasion, we might expect that specifically "philosophical" or "humanistic" issues would have a bearing on the empirical propositions of the practical scientist.

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 effort to reduce general, or theoretical, argument to purely empirical concerns appears periodically throughout the essay, and the logical corollary of this position-that such an empirically based science provides no basis for fundamental, structured disagreement-is a major point to which Merton again and again returns.

Koyre's analysis of competing Aristotelian and Galilean interpretations of the same "pendulum experiment" has already been discussed. In a similar manner Holton has demonstrated that experimental evidence was relatively insignificant in the genesis of relativity theory, both in terms of his analysis of Poincare's refusal to accept what was apparently persuasive empirical support for relativity 125 and in his proof that contrary to conventional scientific opinion, the empirical refutation of ether theory by the famous "Michelson experiment" actually had little effect on Einstein's original formulations.

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