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Our Mother Tempers

For all of my academic life I have believed three things about what we generally call science ° to be most wondrous.[1] The first is the preoccupation with knowledge and truth as ends ° in themselves. The second is the power, relative to the first, of highly generalized theoreticalsystems °. The third is the principle of parsimony °, which is as close as we humans can ever come to getting something for nothing. My interest in social ° analysis has always been guided by these rather than by any empathy for my fellow human beings. I do not apologize for that; it is a fact.

The origin of this particular book is bizarre. In another connection I became involved in the question of whether legitimate reduction° of social phenomena to puristically biological° explanation is possible. On the one hand, most sociologists and anthropologists, joined by a rather surprising spate of biologists, maintain that such reduction is not, even in theory, a possibility. On the other hand, those who call themselves sociobiologists° seem to hold, in essence, that if explanations of social phenomena get very far as science, most of them will be puristically biological° explanations. Whether or not legitimate and elegant sci-

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 No. 412
 Posted on 9 June, 2006
 
 
 
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