UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Theory in Talcott Parsons' sociological writings : an exposition and critique of theory in his metatheoretical… Grenda, Edward Ronald 1967

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata

Download

Media
831-UBC_1968_A8 G74.pdf [ 20.2MB ]
Metadata
JSON: 831-1.0104395.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0104395-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0104395-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0104395-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0104395-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0104395-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0104395-source.json
Full Text
831-1.0104395-fulltext.txt
Citation
831-1.0104395.ris

Full Text

THEORY IN TALCOTT PARSONS' SOCIOLOGICAL WRITINGS (AN .EXPOSITION AND CRITIQUE OF TALCOTT PARSONS' CONCEPTION OF SCIENTIFIC THEORY IN HIS METATHEORETICAL WRITINGS'AND HIS SUBSTANTIVE SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY IN THE LIGHT OF THE CRITERIA OF HYPOTHETICO-DEDUCTIVE THEORY) by EDWARD R. GRENDA B.A., U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1966 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN: PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n . t h e Department of. Anthropology - S o c i o l o g y We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming t o the- r e q u i r e d standard THE ^UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA December, 1967 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s in p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia , I agree that the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r re ference and s tudy . I f u r t h e r agree that permiss ion f o r e x t e n s i v e copying of t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . It i s understood that copy ing o r p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l ga in s h a l l not be a l lowed wi thout my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department of Anthropology and Sociology The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia Vancouver 8, Canada Date ( i ) A l l c r i t i c i s m i s the inverse side of a posit i v e affirmation, Edmund Husserl I t i s much easier to point out the f a u l t s and errors i n the work of a great mind than to give a d i s t i n c t and f u l l exposition of i t s value. Arthur Schopenhauer For to be possessed of a vigorous mind i s not enough; the prime r e q u i s i t e i s r i g h t l y to apply i t . The greatest minds, as they are capable"of the highest excellencies, are open likewise to the greatest aberrations; and those who t r a v e l very slowly may yet make f a r greater progress, provided they keep always to the straight road, than those who, while they run, forsake i t . Rene Descartes The man who makes h i s entry by leaning against an inf i r m door gets an u n j u s t i f i e d reputation f o r violence. Something i s to be attributed to the poor state of the door. John K.,Galbraith The value of the cargo does not compensate f o r a ship's being out of trim ... Thomas Henry Huxley Thanks be to God that a l l that i s needed i s not d i f f i c u l t , and a l l that i s d i f f i c u l t i s not needed. Grigory Skovoroda The tree of l i f e i s always green, and a l l theory i s grey. Milovan D j i l a s ABSTRACT ( i i ) T a l c o t t Parsons, g e n e r a l l y acclaimed to be one of the paramount s o c i o l o g i c a l t h e o r i s t s a t present, f r e q u e n t l y a s s e r t s t h a t he i s seeking t o develop an a b s t r a c t s c i e n t i f i c t h e o r y of s o c i a l phenomena. There i s , however, a corpus o f n o t i o n s , p r i n c i p l e s , and stratagems r e g a r d i n g s c i e n t i f i c theory c a l l e d the h y p o t h e t i c o - d e d u c t i v e approach. I t i s g e n e r a l l y r e c o g n i z e d as perhaps the most l o g i c a l l y t e n a b l e and e m p i r i c a l l y r e v e a l i n g approach as regards the f o r m u l a t i o n of s i g n i f i c a n t statements about the- world. The problem, t h e r e f o r e , i n t h i s study c e n t e r s on the question: How do T a l c o t t Parsons' c o n c e p t i o n of the Mature and f u n c t i o n s of s c i e n t i f i c t h e o r y ( h i s metatheory) and the b a s i c s t r u c t u r e of h i s s u b s t a n t i v e theory stand i f they are. compared w i t h the v a r i o u s a s p e c t s of a h y p o t h e t i c o - d e d u c t i v e approach. To accomplish t h i s , s e v e r a l l i n e s of a t t a c k are i n i t i -a l l y pursued. Parsons' e a r l y i n t e l l e c t u a l i n f l u e n c e s and c o n t a c t s are roughly t r a c e d out i n an attempt to i l l u m i n e the c o n n e c t i o n s between Parsons and c e r t a i n t h e o r i s t s who imparted a d e f i n i t e d i r e c t i o n t o Parsons' t h e o r e t i c a l t h i n k i n g . I t i s d i s c o v e r e d t h a t , the i n f l u e n c e s on Parsons were wide, d i v e r s e and, on the whole of a European s p e c u l a t i v e approach toward s o c i a l theory. A d i s c u s s i o n of the nature and f u n c t i o n s of s c i e n t i f i c t heory and e x p l a n a t i o n i n terms of a h y p o t h e t i c o - d e d u c t i v e approach i s , then, c a r r i e d ' out. F o l l o w i n g t h i s , an e x t e n s i v e e l a b o r a t i o n and c r i t i c i s m of Parsons' c o n c e p t i o n of s c i e n t i f i c t h e o r y , as r e v e a l e d i n a number of p u b l i s h e d essays and volumes, p a r t i c u l -a r l y The S t r u c t u r e of S o c i a l A c t i o n , i s undertaken. I t i s ( i i i ) found t h a t many of Parsons' views, i n t h i s r e s p e c t , are vague and l o g i c a l l y untenable, w i t h an e x t r a o r d i n a r y emphasis on concept development r a t h e r than the f o r m u l a t i o n of g e n e r a l statements (o r laws) which form the heart of a l l s c i e n t i f i c t h e o r y . An examination of the b a s i c s t r u c t u r e of Parsons' s u b s t a n t i v e t h e o r y r e v e a l s t h a t i t i s s t r u c t u r a l l y modelled i n the l i g h t o f what he conceives s c i e n t i f i c t heory to be and, consequently, i s found t o be d e c i d e d l y l a c k i n g i n a l o g i c a l sense, thereby i m p a i r i n g i t s e m p i r i c a l a p p l i c a b i l i t y . I t i s concluded t h a t Parsons' c o n c e p t i o n o f s c i e n t i f i c theory i s inadequate and t h a t h i s s u b s t a n t i v e theory i s not t h e o r y i f viewed from a h y p o t h e t i c o - d e d u c t i v e p e r s p e c t i v e . I t i s suggested, moreover, that Parsons has p r o v i d e d o r i e n t a t i o n s i n h i s s u b s t a n t i v e work r a t h e r than theory. THEORY IN TALCOTT PARSONS' SOCIOLOGICAL WRITINGS (AN EXPOSITION AND CRITIQUE OF TALCOTT PARSONS' CONCEPTION : OF SCIENTIFIC THEORY IN HIS METATHEORETICAL WRITINGS AND HIS SUBSTANTIVE SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY IN THE LIGHT OF THE CRITERIA OF HYPOTHETICO-DEDUCTIVE THEORY) TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER ONE TALCOTT PARSONS' NICHE IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIOLOGICAL THOUGHT: INTRODUCTION 1 CHAPTER TWO THE EARLY INTELLECTUAL INFLUENCES ON TALCOTT PARSONS: AN INTELLECTUAL BIOGRAPHY 29 CHAPTER THREE THE LOGICAL STRUCTURES OF SCIENTIFIC THEORY AND EXPLANATION 59 A. The S t r u c t u r e o f S c i e n t i f i c Theory 60 B. The S t r u c t u r e o f S c i e n t i f i c E x p l a n a t i o n 91 C. General Concluding Remarks 101 CHAPTER FOUR TALCOTT PARSONS' CONCEPTION OF SCIENTIFIC THEORY 10k Al. The A n a l y s i s o f a T h e o r i s t ' s Conception of S c i e n t i f i c Theory: The M a n i f o l d Problems and P o s s i b l e R a t i o n a l e s 10*+ B. P a r s o n s 1 E a r l y Polemic A g a i n s t " P o s i t i v i s m " 109 C. " S o c i o l o g i c a l Elements i n Economic Thought: The A n a l y t i c a l F a c t o r View 1* (1935) 122 D. The S t r u c t u r e of S o c i a l A c t i o n Cl-937 130 " l ) ' A n E x p o s i t i o n of Parsons' View of the General Fea t u r e s of S c i e n t i f i c Theory 130 2) C r i t i c a l Comments on Parsons' .Views of S c i e n t i f i c Theory 157 E. "The Role of Theory i n S o c i a l Research 1* (1938) . . 180 F. "The Present P o s i t i o n and Pr o s p e c t s of Systematic Theory i n S o c i o l o g y " (19*+5) 185 G. "The Prospedt of S o c i o l o g i c a l Theory" (1950) . . . . 197 H. Toward a C ^ g e r a ! Theory of Ac^iQn, (195D 199 I . "Comment"' ^ On "Preface t o a M e t a t h e o r e t i c a l _ Framework f o r Sociology" 1 by L l e w e l l y n Gros.s/ (1961) 209 J . Summary Remarks 218 CHAPTER FIVE AN EXPOSITION AND CRITIQUE OF TALCOTT PARSONS1 CONCEPTION OF SCIENTIFIC THEORY AS EVIDENCED IN THE RECENT FORMULATIONS OF HIS SUBSTANTIVE THEORY 220 A. The Theory of A c t i o n i n The S t r u c t u r e o f S o c i a l A c t i o n (1937) 221 B. The Theory of A c t i o n : Recent Formulations 226 1) General Comments 226 2) The F a c t o r s of System and S t r u c t u r e i n Parso n s 1 S u b s t a n t i v e Theory • 227 3) The A c t i o n Frame of Reference 23*+ h) The P e r s o n a l i t y , S o c i a l and C u l t u r a l Systems 236 5) The P a t t e r n V a r i a b l e s and F u n c t i o n a l P r e r e q u i s i t e s 2^2 (a) The P a t t e r n V a r i a b l e s 2*+3 ( i ) - A f f e c t i v i t y v s . A f f e c t i v e N e u t r a l i t y ( i i ) S e l f - O r i e n t a t i o n v s . C o l l e c t i v i t y ( i i i ) U n i v e r s a l i s m v s . P a r t i c u l a r i s m ( i v ) A s c r i p t i o n v s . Achievements (v) S p e c i f i c i t y v s . D i f f u s e n e s s ( v i ) (b) The F u n c t i o n a l P r e r e q u i s i t e s 2*f8 ( i ) P a t t e r n Maintenance and Tension Management ( i i ) A d a p t a t i o n ( i i i ) Goal Attainment ( i v ) " I n t e g r a t i o n 6) The Concept of E q u i l i b r i u m and i t s T h e o r e t i c a l Importance - 253 7) The Theory of S o c i a l Change 258 C. C r i t i c a l Comments 263 (a) The A c t i o n Frame of Reference 266 (b) The P e r s o n a l i t y , S o c i a l and C u l t u r a l Systems 270 (c) The P a t t e r n V a r i a b l e s 271 (d) F u n c t i o n a l P r e r e q u i s i t e s 273 Oe) The Concepts"of Systems and^ . E q u i l i b r i u m 277 ( f ) The Theory of S o c i a l Change 279 CHAPTER SIX CONCLUSIONS 281 NOTES Chapter One 286 Chapter Two 30.0 Chapter Three 311 Chapter Four 328 Chapter F i v e 3^0 Chapter S i x 352 BIBLIOGRAPHY • B i b l i o g r a p h y o f T a l c o t t Parsons' Works Used i n This'Study (Primary Sources) ...... ± 353 S e l e c t e d B i b l i o g r a p h y 359 1 CHAPTER ONE TALCOTT PARSONS' NICHE IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIOLOGICAL THOUGHT: INTRODUCTION The central purpose of t h i s study i s to examine c r i t i c a l l y one qspect of one man's prodigious i n t e l l e c t u a l contributions i n the d i s c i p l i n e of sociology. A discussion of v i r t u a l l y any facet of Talcott Parsons' vast and d i v e r s i f i e d writings on topics of s o c i o l o g i c a l import inevitably provides an ample opportunity f o r a consideration of an enormous complex of inter-connected issues concerning the nature and uses of s c i e n t i f i c theory i n general and, doubtless, s o c i o l o g i c a l theory i n p a r t i c u l a r . For, there surely can be l i t t l e question that the paramount theorist i n contemporary American sociology, not to mention the entire domain of con-temporary sociology, i s Talcott Parsons, ( l ) He i s , f i r s t and foremost, a th e o r i s t i n the s t r i c t e s t sense of the word; almost a l l h i s writings move i n the empyrean of abstractions. A super-f i c i a l giance at h i s published work c l e a r l y reveals that he has done l i t t l e else but theorize. Talcott Parsons' ascendance as a notable s o c i o l o g i c a l theorist was f i r s t established i n 1937 with the publication of the p r o l i x , highly abstract volume e n t i t l e d The Structure of S o c i a l Action. Generally, i t embodies h i s i n i t i a l formulation of the theory of action along with a 2 penetrating exposition and c r i t i q u e of s o c i a l theories propounded by four prominent European th e o r i s t s , namely, Al f r e d L. Marshall, V i l f r e d o Pareto, Emile Durkheim, and I Max Weber. It i s relevant to mention here, moreover, that oeuvre represents a culmination of h i s intensive studies of European s o c i a l t h e o r i s t s , p a r t i c u l a r l y with regard to problems of pointing out the s o c i a l elements of economic theories, a project which l a r g e l y occupied h i s a n a l y t i c a l i n t e r e s t s f o r the f i r s t decade of h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l career. Parsons' sub-sequent work has been characterized by a p r o l i f i c output of journal a r t i c l e s and books. A very large portion of these writings deal with issues of broad t h e o r e t i c a l import f o r sociology combined with an appreciable number of i n t e r p r e t -ational analyses of s p e c i f i c empirical problems and events, as often as not, viewed i n the l i g h t of the conceptualizations he has devised i n h i s t h e o r e t i c a l work. (2) In e s s e n t i a l respects, Parsons T p r i n c i p a l i n t e l l e c t u a l objective has been, and s t i l l i s , the construction of a com-prehensive, abstract t h e o r e t i c a l scheme of action i n terms of a structural-functional approach. B r i e f l y , by action Parsons means that human behavior i s oriented toward the r e a l i z a t i o n of goals i n certain situations by means of a system of norms and values usually embodied i n roles or i n i n s t i t u t i o n s which are constituted of an aggregation of certain r o l e s . The struct u r a l - f u n c t i o n a l approach e x p l i c i t l y pertains to a 3 c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of theory which permits the arrangement of various constituent elements, l e t us say f o r example, roles, or i n s t i t u t i o n s i n such a manner that the e f f e c t of one or more elements on another c o l l e c t i o n of elements or the entire system i n which the elements are situated can be analyzed and determined. With t h i s type of t h e o r e t i c a l scheme an immense range of s o c i a l phenomena which, according to Parsons, has been fragmentarily treated by sociology and other s o c i a l and behav-i o r a l sciences, most notably, economics, p o l i t i c a l science, and i n part, psychology, w i l l be embraced, categorized, and then adequately analyzed. (3) To the eventual r e a l i z a t i o n of t h i s ambitious v i s i o n , Parsons has unswervingly and r e l e n t l e s s l y dedicated h i s considerable i n t e l l e c t u a l energies. What Parsons has thus f a r produced i n the l i g h t of these objectives i s by no means minimal. However, a caveat i s i n order at t h i s point. Determining and evaluating the s c i e n t i f i c significance of these contributions i s altogether another question. And t h i s i s an issue, among much else, I w i l l attempt to come to grips with i n t h i s study. But of t h i s more l a t e r . Curiously enough, Parsons' intensive t h e o r e t i c a l concerns occur at a juncture i n the history of s o c i a l thought when the majority of s o c i o l o g i s t s , i n North America at any rate, have immersed themselves i n d i s c i p l i n a l problems of such a low l e v e l of abstraction that immediate recourse to empirical research i s frequently necessitated to proceed anywhere on what would be 4 considered s i g n i f i c a n t l i n e s of enquiry. Without a shadow of a doubt, t h e o r e t i c a l concerns appear to be regarded of a n c i l l a r y importance and almost deprecatingly shifted to the realm of metaphysics, an anathema to science. (4) In a sense, then, Parsons* preoccupation with general theory has un-questionably rendered him an anomaly of sorts i n the domain of contemporary American sociology, swimming against the currents of conventional s o c i o l o g i c a l thought and practice. Yet, paradoxically, I should think, i t i s h i s adamant i n s i s t -ence to pursue h i s t h e o r e t i c a l tasks i n t h i s a n t i - t h e o r e t i c a l i n t e l l e c t u a l m i l i e u (5) that r e s u l t s i n Parsons 1 endeavors assuming a measure of significance and commanding the scrupulous attentions of a large number of contemporary and, i f I may say, aspiring s o c i o l o g i s t s . It i s s i g n i f i c a n t that Parsons - rather unconsciously i t appears - appositely epitomizes h i s own general t h e o r e t i c a l orientation i n a t e l l i n g journal comment on t r a i n i n g methods i n sociology at American u n i v e r s i t i e s ; he states t h i s . In the present American i n t e l l e c t u a l climate, there i s l i k e l y to be no lack of incentive to press forward with rigorous methods i n sqciology. It seems more urgent to defend opportunities f o r imaginative ventures into the unknown, regardless of immediate promise of r i g o r . Openness to these opportunities has, as much as anything else, distinguished sociology among the s o c i a l sciences. F i n a l l y , many non-mathematical methods such as those used i n handling h i s t o r i c a l and comparative data can be highly rigorous. (6) This, undoubtedly, i s the voice of a bold, adventurous t h e o r i s t , whose forays into the " s o c i o l o g i c a l unknown" are legion to 5 s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s . For Parsons, the importance of an enlarge-ment of the horizon of s o c i a l s c i e n t i f i c knowledge inestimably outflanks the acq u i s i t i o n of precise concrete snippets of knowledge about s o c i a l phenomena* What has given Parsons the stature he how holds among so c i a l s c i e n t i s t s i s perhaps the general conviction that he, much more l i k e l y than any other t h e o r i s t i n the past or the present, furnishes f r u i t f u l guidelines f o r future theorizing and empirical research i n the s o c i o l o g i c a l realm. This springs from the recognition of Parsons' long-standing and distinguished contributions to the history of s o c i a l thought i n the form of numerous expositions and c r i t i q u e s of the work of e a r l i e r s o c i a l t h e o r i s t s , (7) combined with h i s unwavering attempts to set the development of s o c i o l o g i c a l theory i n another, hopefully more s c i e n t i f i c , d i r e c t i o n , away from the ra r e f i e d heights of speculative s o c i a l theories and also from the narrow concerns of those who emphasize only concrete empirical research. In other words, i t i s assumed Parsons possesses a formidable i n t e l l e c t u a l background i n the history of s o c i a l thought and a more than adequate technical competence i n the analysis and application of the i n t r i c a c i e s of theoret-i c a l discourse. ..;Interestingly, t h i s confidence i n Parsons has been bestowed by many so c i o l o g i s t s of d i f f e r i n g t h e o r e t i c a l orientations. Another factor accounting f o r Parsons' reputation as an eminent s o c i o l o g i c a l t h e o r i s t i s that an appreciable 6 number of s o c i o l o g i s t s have found considerable favor with Parsons 1 substantive theory - and presumably, h i s conception of s c i e n t i f i c theory as such - c h i e f l y on account of i t s plausible argument and i t s supposedly perceivable congruence with empirical r e a l i t y . In no wise i s Talcott Parsons' reputation as a s i g n i f i c a n t t h e o r i s t i n sociology unanimously acknowledged. There are several s o c i o l o g i s t s who do not consider Parsons to be a theorist i n any s c i e n t i f i c a l l y respectable sense, he proffers s o c i a l interpretations but not s c i e n t i f i c theories. However, the number who maintain t h i s u n f l a t t e r i n g stance i s admittedly low. (£) The fundamental thesis f o r t h i s aggregate of s o c i o l o g i s t s i s that Talcott Parsons' s o c i o l o g i c a l theory i s exceedingly ambiguous i n i t s present formulations and from what can be understood, i t i s bereft of any discernible structure such that i t could be i d e n t i f i e d as a theory which provides explanations of certain s o c i a l phenomena* I t may be pointed out that an i n t r i g u i n g c o r o l l a r y flows from t h i s argument. I f Parsons' t h e o r e t i c a l e f f o r t s i n large part i n f r i n g e the canons of s c i e n t i f i c endeavor, and i n spite of t h i s , he i s s t i l l regarded as an important t h e o r i s t by other s o c i o l o g i s t s , i t could be argued with j u s t i f i c a t i o n that the majority of s o c i o l o g i s t s are generally unsophisticated, nay lamentably lacking, i n knowledge of genuine s c i e n t i f i c pro-cedure, p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the c r u c i a l area of theory-construction. 7 Thus, they would appear to confound obscurity with profundity, intentions with r e s u l t s , i nsight with discovery, and s c i e n t i f i c theory with vague abstract discussion. Whether t h i s type of situation p r e v a i l s i n addition to the other factors just con-sidered i s , of course, a matter f o r conjecture. Much i s contingent on how s c i e n t i f i c theory i s conceptualized. For the moment l e t us note t h i s observation and return to i t l a t e r i n t h i s study. Unquestionably, Parsons' t h e o r e t i c a l formulations have inspired and f a c i l i t a t e d to a very large degree numerous analyses of p a r t i c u l a r s o c i a l phenomena, and to be sure, cognate issues i n methodology, philosophy and h i s t o r y . ( 9 ) At the same time, moreover, h i s t h e o r e t i c a l orientations have indeed been instrumental i n the generation of several varying -though connected i n substance— t h e o r e t i c a l schemes primarily of a str u c t u r a l - f u n c t i o n a l nature. I t i s of int e r e s t to note that many of the t h e o r i s t s who have adopted a s t r u c t u r a l -functional approach were formerly Parsons' students at Harvard University. In t h i s connection, there are three noteworthy t h e o r i s t s who r e a d i l y come to mind, namely, Robert K. Merton, (10) Marion J . Levy, J r . , (11) and Kingsley D a v i s (12). At base, they a l l have employed Parsons' fundamental notion of society as a system i n which the i n t e g r a l components have functional or dysfunctional implications f o r each other and also the system as a whole. Where these t h e o r i s t s d i f f e r from Parsons i s t h e i r emphasis on factors i n the t h e o r e t i c a l frame-work which they opine require extensive elaboration or, as i n the case of Merton, newer notions and perspectives are i n t r o -duced to elucidate features of the s o c i a l phenomena with which the theory i s concerned and to further c l a r i f y the concept of s c i e n t i f i c theory i n order that i t may be relevant to, and conveniently f l e x i b l e for s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s to develop and use theory i n t h e i r i n t e l l e c t u a l labors. Doubtless one of the most singular features of Parsons' t h e o r e t i c a l work i s h i s convoluted and labored style of present' ing i t . For t h i s - more than anything else - he has been subjected to persistent, often captious, c r i t i c i s m and even obloquy. (13) The type of language Parsons employs, i t i s variously and frequently said, i s on most occasions, impenet-rable, vacuous, and destitute of any observance of the conventions of clear composition and unencumbered grammatical usage. Subordinate clauses and overly-fine q u a l i f i c a t i o n s are cascaded one atop another such that the comprehension of a trend of thought becomes indeed an onerous task, oftentimes impossible. Words and concepts change meaning without p r i o r notice i n c r u c i a l l y important passages i n the development of his arguments; i n t e r e s t i n g l y , one c r i t i c who became exasperated at the evanescent character of a number of Parsons' concepts, was impelled to c a l l them rather petulantly, "chameleon concepts". (14) On other occasions, important d e f i n i t i o n s are 9 completely omitted. C l a s s i f i c a t i o n s are entwined i n a com-pl i c a t e d fashion to form paradigms which frequently do not admit of clear comprehension. Though l e s s important f o r the evaluation of any argument, neologisms appear i n alarming profusion. Of noteworthy significance i s the fact that one writer has gone to great lengths to convey the unmistakable impression that Parsons i s g u i l t y of plagiarism of ideas i n h i s t h e o r e t i c a l formulations. (15) Clearly, the outright al l e g a t i o n or even the t a c i t suppositionnof plagiarism cannot be f l i p p a n t l y dismissed, f o r , i t constitutes the mortal sin of scholarship which, apart from putting into serious question the s c h o l a r T s i n t e g r i t y , generally a f f e c t s the reception of his future i n t e l l e c t u a l contributions i n h i s f i e l d . However, i n t h i s study, I s h a l l deliberately overlook t h i s delicate issue f o r the fundamental reason that accusations of plagiarism and such-like are exceedingly d i f f i c u l t to substantiate i n the d i s c i p l i n e of sociology where a considerable number of similar ideas and notions have been i n constant c i r c u l a t i o n f o r a lengthy period of time. Thus, to ascribe plagiarism of ideas to someone without d e f i n i t i v e evidence other than the dubious procedure of c i t a t i o n and remarking on the s u p e r f i c i a l resemblances of certain arguments and ideas, i s somewhat f r a g i l e , i f not foolhardy. In any case, however, these s t y l i s t i c and procedural d e f i c i e n c i e s , i f such they can be termed, have no doubt adversely affected a number of s o c i a l 10 s c i e n t i s t s who have endeavored to employ Parsons' t h e o r e t i c a l orientations and insights i n t h e i r own investigations or to examine h i s t h e o r e t i c a l contributions i n a sympathetic but c r i t i c a l l i g h t . In my estimation, the following remarks by a soci o l o g i s t of note serve as a v i v i d i l l u s t r a t i o n of the tendencies I have just considered. The problem of a r r i v i n g at a reasoned assessment of Parsons' thought i s greatly complicated by a remarkable obscurity of structure and s t y l e . Even those accustomed to abstract philosophical discussion f i n d i t a considerable chore to decide what i s being said on any page, l e t alone also to assess i t s i n t e l l e c t u a l worth. I suspect that a great many soc i o l o g i s t s , otherwise sympathetic to the need f o r general theory, have simply abandoned the e f f o r t . (16) I should l i k e to add one b r i e f observation regarding the use of language i n scholarly works which I fear escapes the notice of many. Admittedly, the employment of an un-encumbered style and l u c i d expression i n the presentation of an argument i s highly desirable and should be constantly enjoined and practised. However, i n the assessment of an indi v i d u a l ' s argument, even Parsons', i t should always be taken into account that the quality of the language employed i s perhaps one of the least important aspects to be put to serious c r i t i c i s m . The substance of the argument, i n my view, constitutes the pre-eminent concern when a t h e o r e t i c a l con-t r i b u t i o n i s undergoing examination. I t i s pertinent to note, moreover, that understanding i s r e l a t i v e to the respective competences of the i n d i v i d u a l s involved i n c r i t i c a l endeavors. (17) In these remarks, I do not wish to be construed as one who countenances obscurantism. What I am doing here, however, i s f i x i n g a focus on issues - primarily the factors of ideas and the arguments f o r t h e i r v a l i d i t y and r e l i a b i l i t y - which, to be sure, are of i n f i n i t e l y more importance than an i n d i v -idual's l i t e r a r y manner, which before a l l i s a matter of taste. (13) S t y l i s t i c matters notwithstanding, the sheer quantity and d i v e r s i t y of h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l labors renders Parsons an almost insuperably d i f f i c u l t t h eorist to examine systematic-a l l y . His theory of action or as he sometimes c a l l s i t , "the action frame of reference" (19) i s continuously undergoing revis i o n , excision, and addition, What i s more, Parsons borrows notions from various schools of psychology, (20) p a r t i c u l a r l y Freudian psychology, (21) which he considers appropriate to h i s manifold purposes; stresses the s i m i l a r -i t i e s of h i s theory with theories i n physics (22) and the b i o l o g i c a l sciences; (23) maintains that various features of his theory resemble certain p r i n c i p l e s inhering i n E u c l i d i a n geometry; (24) and employs h i s theory i n the analysis of both s o c i a l change and s o c i a l structure. (25) As well, i n recent publications, he has even introduced the notions of "cyber-n e t i c s " (26) and "evolution" (27) into h i s analyses of s o c i a l 1 2 behavior. Suffice i t to say, a l l of t h i s becomes at times inordinately confusing to understand and to evaluate c r i t i c a l l y or sympathetically. At f i r s t blush, instead of a theory, or f o r that matter,, anything resembling a theory i n the convention-a l sense of the term, Parsons' formulations appear to be tantamount to a f r e e - f l o a t i n g , amorphous mass of disparate ideas, verging on indiscriminate eclecticism, a v e r i t a b l e pastiche. But, f o r Parsons, t h i s c l e a r l y i s not the case either i n his intent or i n his writings. He has r e i t e r a t e d on numerous occasions that h i s e x p l i c i t objectives are t h e o r e t i c a l and that h i s works i n large part are successive contributions i n t h i s , admittedly, most d i f f i c u l t quest. (26*) A careful scrutiny of h i s heterogeneous writings, I think, undeniably indicates that there i s discernible a f a i r l y constant core of considerations which can be viewed as the rudiments of h i s s o c i o l o g i c a l theory. I t i s f o r t h i s reason that I r e f e r to Parsons' diverse t h e o r e t i c a l formulations as "theory" rather than "theories" as other c r i t i c s and expositors happen to do. (29) A l l these a l l u s i o n s to Parsons' s t y l i s t i c obscurities and vast t h e o r e t i c a l sweep suggest a curious, yet pertinent, p a r a l l e l with the productions of another distinguished i n t e l l e c t u a l . Parsons' stature i n the realm of sociology is. very much similar to that of Georg F. Hegel i n the philosoph-i c a l domain. They are widely regarded by i n d i v i d u a l s involved 13 i n these d i s c i p l i n e s as thinkers of incomparable profundity and d i s t i n c t i o n i n t h e i r respective f i e l d s . Their l i t e r a r y styles are doubtless complex and distended, a source of tormenting problems f o r t h e i r advocates and c r i t i c s . Their respective scholarly outputs are, to say the l e a s t , voluminous and d i v e r s i f i e d . And t h e i r basic orientations toward problems i n t h e i r respective f i e l d s are ambitious and l a r g e l y unfettered by p r e v a i l i n g d i s c i p l i n a l conventions; that i s to say, they tackle problems and t h e i r diverse implications i n one grand comprehensive stroke, oblivious of minor inaccuracies and inconsistencies. To be sure, there are differences. Hegel dealt with issues of philosophical import over a century ago, while Parsons, on the other hand, seeks to develop s c i e n t i f i c theory i n the tontext of contemporary sociology. These general, a l b e i t necessary preliminary consider-ations of Parsons' works have taken us to the very heart of the main objectives which I intend to pursue i n t h i s inquiry. Above a l l , what I wish to undertake here i s an exposition and c r i t i c a l examination of Talcott Parsons' notions of the structure and uses of s c i e n t i f i c theory as such which are found scattered throughout h i s various writings and an exposition and a c r i t i c a l analysis of the type of theory he i n actual f a c t employs i n what we can term his substantive theory which has been presented i n several books and q u a l i f i e d i n a number of journal a r t i c l e s . B a s i c a l l y , several c r u c i a l questions are being posed. Apart from h i s substantive formulations of s o c i o l o g i c a l theory, what 14 are Talcott Parsons' conceptions of the structure and uses of s c i e n t i f i c theory? Perhaps t h i s question can be phrased some-what d i f f e r e n t l y ; What i s Talcott Parsons' philosophy of science? What i s Talcott Parsons' metatheory, that i s , h i s philosophical theory of s c i e n t i f i c theory? Another question, d i s t i n c t i v e l y separated from the f i r s t set that was posed, i s as follows: In the l i g h t of Parsons' avowed intentions to devise s c i e n t i f i c theory i n the d i s c i p l i n e of sociology, how s c i e n t i f i c i s Talcott Parsons' Substantive Theory? Lastly, i t may be inquired: Does Talcott Parsons' conception of s c i e n t i f i c theory and his substantive s o c i o l o g i c a l theory i n any way conform to the elementary canons of genuine s c i e n t i f i c theory as conceived by a majority of contemporary philosophers of science and, i t should be noted, a minority of s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s ? Clearly, even to think of these questions, l e t alone u t i l i z e them as essential points of departure i n an extended analysis of a t h e o r i s t ' s work presupposes a conception of what constitutes the most useful type of s c i e n t i f i c theory to be employed as a touchstone. For lack of a better desig-nation I s h a l l c a l l i t hypothetico-deductive theory, an approach which i s employed i n v i r t u a l l y a l l of the natural sciences with overwhelmingly favorable r e s u l t s , but more importantly, prescribes standards f o r consistent thinking and formalizes that which i s i m p l i c i t , but ineluctable, i n human thinking. (30) In addition to the already mentioned objectives, I s h a l l concentrate a portion of my c r i t i c a l discussion on the 15 question of strategy i n theory-construction i n sociology and c r i t i c a l l y examine Talcott Parsons 1 theory-building strategy which, I think, i f viewed from the standpoint of hypothetico-deductive theory, i s u n f r u i t f u l and fraught with fundamental misconceptions and d e f i c i e n c i e s primarily of a l o g i c a l nature. By strategy, (31) I mean the choice of alternative ways of constructing a theory, the manner of going about developing a theory. At bottom, strategy i s an approach determined by an in d i v i d u a l ' s p redilections f o r undertaking a course of action i n a certain manner which i s based upon a hunch, or i f one permits, i n t u i t i o n , of the effectiveness of the course of action i n achieving h i s stated objectives. Thus, strategy i n theory-building, where the objective often i s abstract, com-prehensive theory, may be characterized by a v a r i e t y of approaches; to furnish several examples, one may begin h i s theorizations with exceedingly abstract statements and proceed to i n t e r r e l a t e them with each other and t e s t t h e i r empirical significance; conversely, one may begin with concrete statements and perhaps progressively render abstract empirical r e l a t i o n -ships he has uncovered or one may begin with abstract concepts, or i d e a l types, and then endeavor to incorporate them into r e l a t i o n a l statements of universal character. From a l l t h i s , i t i s evident that strategy i s e x t r a - l o g i c a l , an area of concern where t r i a l and error and experience i n s c i e n t i f i c theorizing i s paramount. Nonetheless, i t s importance cannot be greatly overstressed f o r i t s multiple implications are either adjuvant 16 or obstructive f o r further t h e o r e t i c a l endeavor. It i s my opinion that t h i s factor of strategy i n theory-construction has received f a r too l i t t l e attention i n discussions on socio-l o g i c a l theory, an area i n which genuine s c i e n t i f i c theorizing, i n t e r e s t i n g l y enough, i s s t i l l anchored on an extremely prim-i t i v e plane of abstraction (or u n i v e r s a l i t y , to put i t more accurately); perhaps i t i s t h i s type of s i t u a t i o n which accentuates the ubiquitous tendency among s o c i o l o g i s t s to attempt to theorize, though somewhat indiscriminately and often b l i n d l y , at any l e v e l of abstraction. As well as i l l u m i n a t i n g features of h i s t h e o r e t i c a l work, andexamination of Talcott Parsons 1 theory-building strategy, I t r u s t , w i l l c l e a r l y demonstrate the immeasurable value of devoting some consider-ation on strategy i n the c r i t i c a l assessment of substantive theories i n sociology. To achieve a l l these objectives, I s h a l l consider at the outset two general, yet important, points of i n t e r e s t . I s h a l l f i r s t discuss Talcott Parsons' early i n t e l l e c t u a l influences and accomplishments. By undertaking t h i s , I hope that I s h a l l be able to provide a rough understanding of Parsons' basic conceptual armamentarium which comprises the backdrop, as i t were, from which he elects to consider certain issues and to pose problems i n the manner that he does. Next, I s h a l l adumbrate what I think represents the l o g i c a l structures of s c i e n t i f i c theory and explanation mainly i n order to furnish 17 a touchstone by means of which Talcott Parsons' t h e o r e t i c a l formulations, both metatheoretical and substantive, w i l l be assessed i n t h i s study. It i s worthy of note that there have been several attempts - though of a considerably l i m i t e d scope - to examine Talcott Parsons' s o c i o l o g i c a l theory i n a manner very much similar to the inquiry I propose to conduct here, assuredly., This an incongruous s i t u a t i o n indeed f o r an i n d i v i d u a l widely con-sidered to be the eminent t h e o r i s t i n h i s d i s c i p l i n e . Much of the work undertaken i n t h i s respect has been larg e l y s u p e r f i c i a l i n the sense that Parsons' work has been given only passing c r i t i c a l attention (of the kind I suggest) i n the framework of other considerations, and that a good share of h i s contributions have been c r i t i c i z e d i n porte-manteau terms, such that any redeeming features which may inhere are painted over with a broad unsympathetic brush. In some quarters, the worst that has occurred i s that Parsons has been e n t i r e l y ignored, presum-ably on the precarious grounds that Parsons does not have any s i g n i f i c a n t s o c i o l o g i c a l theory to o f f e r because i t i s not s c i e n t i f i c enough. To be sure, a l l t h i s i s too f a c i l e . These inadequate ventures at estimating Parsons* t h e o r e t i c a l work and i t s significance, I think, are hardly edifying from the view of advancing knowledge i n sociology or reasonable i n terms of giving extant t h e o r e t i c a l contributions t h e i r due recog-n i t i o n , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n an immature s c i e n t i f i c d i s c i p l i n e which IB i s s t i l l struggling to f i n d i t s t h e o r e t i c a l roots. However, I would be remiss not to mention that I am cognizant of one of the most notable, i f not outstanding, volumes which purports to provide a comprehensive c r i t i q u e of Parsons' i n t e l l e c t u a l labors.The Social Theories of Talcott Parsons, (196l), edited by Max Black. Of the ten papers presented i n t h i s symposium, excluding Parsons' r e p l i e s to h i s c r i t i c s , only one endeavors to approach Parsons' t h e o r e t i c a l work i n the fashion I suggest. I r e f e r , of course, to Max Black's contribution ( 3 2 ) , which i s philos o p h i c a l l y informed and pungently relevant i n i t s examin-ation of Parsons' t h e o r e t i c a l writings. However, i t i s , unfortunately, too b r i e f . I think i t does not concern i t s e l f with many of the unique t h e o r e t i c a l d i f f i c u l t i e s that are encountered by those endeavoring to formulate theories i n sociology. Furthermore, i t does not deal i n any s i g n i f i c a n t manner with the l o g i c a l structure of s c i e n t i f i c theory and explanation which, i n my view, i s necessary when putative " s c i e n t i f i c theories" are examined i n immature s c i e n t i f i c d i s c i p l i n e s because they function as evaluative guides f o r present contributions and future formulations. Any analysis of Parsons' work, I believe, requires analyses of t h i s kind. Thus, as much as I sympathize - and at times concur - with Max Black's approach, there i s substantially more to be examined i n Parsons' t h e o r e t i c a l work. Although I am unmoved by e f f o r t s to support a standpoint by quoting authority, whatever that may V 19 s i g n i f y , or quoting others merely to increase the numbers that concur with the writer, I should think that i t i s nevertheless s i g n i f i c a n t that two so c i o l o g i s t s of disparate t h e o r e t i c a l orientations who have reviewed the Black volume proffer the following observations. A l v i n Boskoff notes: It i s int e r e s t i n g to note that a p r e v a i l i n g c r i t i c i s m (that Parsons' formulations are "not r e a l l y theories") i s greatly muted i n t h i s symposium. (33) In a much si m i l a r vein, P h i l i p Selznick writes: I r e l u c t a n t l y conclude, not without pain, that Talcott Parsons shares with the rest of us a grievous f a u l t : whenever we dabble i n general theory we l i t e r a l l y don't know what we are doing. We need to look again at the l o g i c a l foundations of good sense i n s c i e n t i f i c discourse. We need to sort out the variety of functions performed by t h e o r e t i c a l statement, f o r otherwise we can make no reasoned assessment. (34) Assuredly, these statements, even though they appear i n reviews and are made by only two soc i o l o g i s t s , lend some point to my contention that the study I envision here i s j u s t i f i a b l e , i f not of the utmost necessity. Not un l i k e l y , there may be strenuous objections concern-ing the type of c r i t e r i a which w i l l be employed i n t h i s study to analyze Parsons' t h e o r e t i c a l work. I t can well be argued that my c r i t e r i a are wholly of an uncongenial character to begin with such that a negative assessment of Parsons' socio-l o g i c a l theory and conceptions of s c i e n t i f i c theory i s almost certain to r e s u l t . Phrased i n another way, my c r i t e r i a are not Parsons' c r i t e r i a and vice versa. In a certain sense, t h i s 20 claim may be true but l i k e most blanket objections i t obscures many essential issues and l i n e s of argument. Moreover, i t would conveniently ignore the purposes of t h i s study. What I am attempting to do i s to focus p r i n c i p a l l y on the l o g i c a l structures and assumptions of arguments which almost invariably underpin any t h e o r e t i c a l undertaking whether i t be i n the d i s c i p l i n e s of physics, chemistry, physiology, psychology, or sociology. Too, since Parsons vigorously maintains that h i s avowed intention i n h i s t h e o r e t i c a l work i s to develop abstract s c i e n t i f i c theory i n sociology, (35) - and h i s copious writings amply bear witness to the assiduous attempts to r e a l i z e t h i s intention - i t i s only appropriate and i n s t r u c t i v e , I think, to subject h i s views on s c i e n t i f i c theory and the es s e n t i a l features of h i s substantive theory to a rigorous analysis i n terms of a set of c r i t e r i a f o r what could be regarded as an adequate s c i e n t i f i c theory recognized by the majority of p h i l -osophers of science and s c i e n t i s t s . To a f f i x the l a b e l of " s c i e n t i f i c " to an undertaking, p a r t i c u l a r l y a theory, requires the observance and u t i l i z a t i o n of a corpus of d i s c i p l i n e d procedures and above a l l c r i t i c a l thinking. Concerning these r e f l e c t i o n s on the v i t a l importance of correctly adhering to the norms and c r i t e r i a of s c i e n t i f i c procedure, philosopher, F e l i x Kaufmann, i n a series of journal a r t i c l e s and books on the philosophy of science, places the entire matter i n a c l a r i f y i n g perspective. He notes: 2 1 These p r i n c i p l e s / c r i t e r i a concerning the meaning of e m p i r i c a l knowledge; i n other words, s c i e n t i f i c knowledge/ have not been discovered only during the past few decades; they have now been so corroborated by the analyses of mathematical methods of the n a t u r a l sciences t h a t they can be looked upon as f i r m l y e s t a b l i s h e d and g e n e r a l l y accepted by s c i e n t i s t s . They do not represent metaphysical dogmas but s i g n i f y the r e s u l t s of a r i g i d examination of s c i e n t i f i c thought. (36) The c r u c i a l p o i n t , however, i s t h i s : t o t h i n k s c i e n t i f i c a l l y i s to submit i m p l i c i t l y to~ d e f i n i t e r u l e s . I f a s c i e n t i s t i n t e n t i o n a l l y v i o l a t e s these r u l e s i n order to advance some extraneous aim, he i s l a c k i n g i n t e l l e c t u a l s i n c e r i t y ; cooperation w i t h s c i e n t i s t s of t h i s s o rt may prove impossible, though t h i s need be no cause f o r r e g r e t . But there are other scholars who v i o l a t e the r u l e s without knowing i t . In t h i s case we can employ a " S o c r a t i c method", r e f i n e d by modern l o g i c a l technique, to show them th a t they have not observed the r u l e s of method they had i m p l i c i t l y adopted. (37) ...where the c o n s i s t e n t a p p l i c a t i o n of these r u l e s /of s c i e n t i f i c procedure/ leads t o r e s u l t s that are u n d e s i r a b l e , the chance of the r u l e s being v i o l a t e d w i l l be r e l a t i v e l y g r e a t ; but t h i s a f f e c t s . t h e v a l i d i t y of the r u l e s no more than mistakes i n c a l c u l a t i o n a f f e c t mathematical r u l e s . I do not mean by t h i s t h a t the r u l e s possess the s t a t u s of p r e - e s t a b l i s h e d p r i n c i p l e s but only t h a t they are i m p l i c i t l y accepted by s c i e n t i s t s , , as can be shown by an a n a l y s i s of t h e i r s c i e n t i f i c a c t i v i t y . To v i o l a t e the r u l e s of science t h e r e f o r e means to t h i n k i n c o n s i s t e n t l y . (3$) (emphasis i n o r i g i n a l ) From the point of view of the l o g i c i a n , the pro-cedure of an e m p i r i c a l science c o n s i s t s i n the acceptance or e l i m i n a t i o n of p r o p o s i t i o n s i n accord-ance w i t h given r u l e s . (39) To be sure, the adoption of a s c i e n t i f i c method, as i t were, does not imply a d o c i l e acceptance of r u l e s and p r e s c r i p t i o n s from a covey of o r a c u l a r i n d i v i d u a l s . What i t does mean, however, i s t h a t e m p i r i c a l i n q u i r y i s conducted according t o 22 the tenets of consistent and c r i t i c a l thinking which have proved t h e i r mettle through generations of s c i e n t i f i c and philosophical endeavors. Aside from the ludicrously inadequate contributions of i n t u i t i o n and dogma, there appears to be no other i n t e l l i b i b l e alternative at t h i s moment i n the history of„ ideas. Thus, i t i s the fate of any the o r i s t to be adjudged i n the l i g h t of these uncompromising, yet indispensably help-f u l c r i t e r i a - As regards Talcott Parsons' t h e o r e t i c a l work, i t would appear to me a rewarding venture to examine hi s ideas i n t h i s p a r t i c u l a r fashion and esp e c i a l l y so since evidently no one has yet contribed to embark upon such a study. Lest I should create an impression that the tenets and c r i t e r i a of s c i e n t i f i c discourse are unanimously agreed upon by s c i e n t i s t s and philosophers and bereft of consuming conceptual problems, I should l i k e to add a word or two to achieve some balance. In the philosophy of science there are countless questions dealing with various facets of s c i e n t i f i c theory which are highly contentious and scarcely admit of any solution. However, one thing i s quite clear and that i s there i s an assemblage of general notions and c r i t e r i a which are at a l l events, reasonably stable, p r e c i p i t a t i n g l i t t l e debate as to t h e i r t e n a b i l i t y or u t i l i t y and are widely held by those who specialize i n the philosophy of science and by others'of d i f f e r e n t d i s c i p l i n e s who have made intensive studies of the c r u c i a l issues involved i n correct and consistent thinking i n 23 matters of s c i e n t i f i c import. In any event, the atmosphere of f l u x mingled with s t a b i l i t y , enables a s u f f i c i e n t amount of in d i v i d u a l interpretation to take place. Thus, much of wh at I w i l l say i n regard to the structure of s c i e n t i f i c theory and explanation i n t h i s study w i l l indeed be of a personal formul-ation but emphatically not arbitrary, or exempt from the other established canons of s c i e n t i f i c discourse, and, of course, those of l o g i c . Further against my rationale, i t may possibly be con-tended, among much else, that Parsons* theory eminently acquits i t s e l f i n i t s a b i l i t y to cast an explanatory l i g h t on s o c i a l phenomena, str u c t u r a l n i c e t i e s and language notwithstanding. But, i s not t h i s argument patently beside the point? To assert that a theory's merits are determined by i t s u t i l i t y (or explanatory value) i n empirical research, when i t i s suspected there are serious d e f i c i e n c i e s i n the structure of the theory - as i t could be said i n the case of Parsons - i s to indulge i n the f r u i t l e s s enterprise of question-begging. Quite c l e a r l y , an instrument, which a s c i e n t i f i c theory c e r t a i n l y i s , must f i r s t - b e devoid of l o g i c a l defect i n order to be employed properly and e f f e c t i v e l y . As Alasdair Maclntyre cogently points out i n t h i s regard: Unfortunately no quantity of empirical findings can redeem conceptual confusion; i t i s rather the case that u n t i l conceptual confusion i s cleared up we are .liable to misunderstand the alleged empirical findings. 2k At bottom, t h i s goes to guggest that an investigation which poses questions on the nature and objectives of s c i e n t i f i c theory and explanations i n the l i g h t of the c r i t e r i a generally held i n current thought i n the philosophy of science (and i n various s c i e n t i f i c d i s c i p l i n e s ) attempts to separate out the various elements of s c i e n t i f i c theory, that i s , the concepts, the postulates, the theorems, the assumptions, the derivations, etc. are necessary. In other words, one must engage i n founda-t i o n work, that i s the philosophical analysis of the basic assumptions and implications of s p e c i f i c "theories which i n most instances are erroneous, vague, or inadequately expressed. These considerations immediately bring to mind an i n t e r e s t i n g l y apt remark which Edmund Husserl once uttered to a gathering of , philosophical students - that i s , "...not to consider oneself too good for foundation work", (hi) I t goes without saying that the admonishment i s indeed applicable to s o c i o l o g i s t s concerned with the appraisal of t h e o r e t i c a l contributions i n t h e i r d i s c i p l i n e . Though i t scarcely needs emphasizing, a c r i t i c a l analysis of Parsons 1 t h e o r e t i c a l offerings requires abundant foundation work i n t h i s sense. There i s one further important point which I think requires b r i e f notice. The immensity of Parsons' writings poses un-comfortable problems i n the evaluation - and even exposition -of his t h e o r e t i c a l work. Where should one begin? To be sure, t h i s dilemma perplexed me for some time. To provide what I 25 believe i s an illuminating and accurate perspective of his work, I have decided to concentrate on considerations which, i n my estimation, appear to be ess e n t i a l to h i s t h e o r e t i c a l thought from journal a r t i c l e s that were published two years before the publication of his monumental volume, The Structure of S o c i a l Action ( 1 9 3 7 ) , which, i t may be noted, represents his fundamental departure point f o r further substantive theorizations and thinking on theory as such, to journal a r t i c l e s and books that have appeared i n the intervening t h i r t y years up to the present. According to Parsons, the u t i l i z a t i o n of The Structure of Soc i a l Action i s indispensable f o r the understanding of his theory of s o c i a l action, and, most importantly, for the strategy of theory construction. In his, "the Point of View of the Author", i n the Max Black volume, Parsons extensively elaborates (42) on the importance of his f i r s t book f o r h i s subsequent t h e o r e t i c a l work; here I quote Parsons quite l i b e r a l l y i n order not to detract from the contention he wishes to establish firmly, This basic interest /the problem of "the r e l a t i o n between the main t r a d i t i o n s of economic theory and the interpretation of many sali e n t c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of modern i n d u s t r i a l society ' V c r y s t a l l i z e d i n my doctoral d i s s e r t a t i o n at Heidelberg on the Concept of Capitalism, with special reference to the work of Sombart and Max Weber. A r e l a t i v e l y clear d i s t i n c t i o n between the s c i e n t i f i c and the id e o l o g i c a l aspects of the problem was worked out f a i r l y early, and primary attention given to the former. In t h i s context i t became very clear that the problem of empirical i n t e r -pretation or "diagnosis" could not be adequately handled without attempting to make f a r more e x p l i c i t than was o r d i n a r i l y done the extra-economic t h e o r e t i c a l framework within which economic theory would have to be made to f i t . I f properly approached t h i s could be 26 seen to be a major theme i n the work not only of Weber, but also of Durkheim and, very e x p l i c i t l y , of Pareto. Having worked out t h i s theme to a degree i n the writing of these authors, with Marx i n the background, I attempted to tackle i t i n the work of the most i n f l u e n t i a l economic theorist of the generation" spanning the turn of the century. A l f r e d Marshall. The putting together of a l l these things eventuated i n the book The Structure of S o c i a l Action ( f i r s t published i n 1 9 3 7 ) , which i s the basic reference point of a l l my subsequent t h e o r e t i c a l work ( i t i s only very casually mentioned i n any of the above essays except that of Bevereux). ( 4 3 ) I bring up t h i s f i r s t major work here because i t i s such an important reference point, not only i n terms of context, but also what I may c a l l the strategy of theory-building. The convergence which I was able to demonstrate i n that study, between the broad con-ceptual themes used by these four authors, constituted the f i r s t l e v e l of integrated general theory i n my own work. This was c l e a r l y very f a r from being a logico-deductive t h e o r e t i c a l system i n the sense referred to by Professor Black, but equally c l e a r l y i t was very much more than an e c l e c t i c c o l l e c t i o n of unrelated t h e o r e t i c a l ideas. Even to employ The Structure of Social Action as a departure point i s indeed a perilous task, f o r , to be sure, i n the i n t e r -vening period (that i s , from 1 937 to the present), Talcott Parsons has been extremely f e r t i l e i n h i s writing production! Thus, I w i l l at once confess that my exposition and c r i t i c i s m w i l l be highly selective, focusing my attention on consider-ations which I consider pertinent to my immediate purposes i n t h i s study. It i s also r e a l i z e d that such a procedure may lead to distortions, overstress, and understress on certain aspects of Parsons' t h e o r e t i c a l work. But when a l l i s said and considered one must begin somewhere. In view of these perennial, obstructive d i f f i c u l t i e s p r e v a i l i n g i n a l l expository and c r i t i c a l studies 2 7 of an individual's i n t e l l e c t u a l contributions, we can perhaps take some assurance i n Walter Begehat's sententious, but sage, observation that "To i l l u s t r a t e a p r i n c i p l e you must exaggerate much and you must omit much." P a i n f u l l y mindful of these hazards, I s h a l l proceed with my inquiry with the profound hope that the severity of the c r i t i c i s m that can be l e v e l l e d at me can be reduced to a palatable minimum. At t h i s point, I should l i k e to d i s p e l immediately any f o r t u i -tous misinterpretations or gratuitous inferences emanting from the foregoing r e f l e c t i o n s i n the sense that I am denigrating any socio-l o g i c a l contribution as s c i e n t i f i c a l l y i n s i g n i f i c a n t which does not e x p l i c i t l y conform to the tenets of hypothetico-deductive theory. Far be i t from me to arrogate to myself the mantle of the supreme adjudicator of theories advanced i n the s o c i o l o g i c a l realm. Indeed, t h i s would be a form of methodological presumpt-ousness i n a f i e l d i n which d i s c i p l i n a l procedures of inquiry are somewhat impaired by numerous - though legitimate - philosophical disputes centering on the often claimed q u a l i t a t i v e d i s t i n c t i o n of s o c i a l science from natural science. The r e s u l t s of such deliberations,, i f we overlook the dubious q u a l i f i c a t i o n s and conditions, are by no means decisive either for the view that there i s a complete unit of s c i e n t i f i c procedure i n both the natural and s o c i a l sciences or the standpoint that there i s undeniable q u a l i t a t i v e d i s t i n c t i o n of the two species of science, as i t were. Be that as i t may, for I do not propose to launch any examination into t h i s fascinating realm of debate over 28 fundamental epistemological issues in the philosophy of science, natural and social. What I am affirming is basically this. There are c r i t e r i a which philosophers of science and scientists - parti-cularly those in the natural sciences - assert are applicable to any theoretical work in any discipline, to determine whether i t is to be regarded as sci e n t i f i c or otherwise. The c r i t e r i a , those of hypothetico-deductive theory, are structured on sound logical discourse and the inescapable actualities of human thinking and have been employed in various ways with incomparable success in the natural sciences. Talcott Parsons maintains that he i s formu-lating s c i e n t i f i c theory in the discipline of sociology; he wishes to develop theory to the level of those currently receiving wide broadcast in the more modest physical sciences. Let us apply the c r i t e r i a of the hypothetico-deductive theory to Parsons' theoreti-cal formulations and observe how they fare. It i s highly important to mention at this point that Parsons has written a substantial amount (books, essays, and journal a r t i -cles) in collaboration with a number of sociologists, anthropolo-gists, and social psychologists - the most notable being Edward Shils and Robert Bales. Indeed, for a prominent theorist in the f i e l d of sociology, where individuality of approach and thought had formerly been the norm (e.g. Spencer, Pareto, Weber, Durkheim, etc.), Parsons.' case i s a significant departure. Since, however, much of what Parsons has written in collaboration with others bears the imprint of Parsons' thought and style - and also for the mundane reason of a writer's convenience - I shall refer only to Parsons in those works which are also attributable to other writers. 29 CHAPTER TWO THE EARLY INTELLECTUAL INFLUENCES ON TALCOTT PARSONS: AN INTELLECTUAL BIOGRAPHY It almost goes without saying that there are innumer-able types of i n q u i r i e s that can be undertaken with regard to any i n t e l l e c t u a l contribution i n any d i s c i p l i n e . What s p e c i f i c type of inquiry takes place, of course, l a r g e l y depends on the aims of the inquiry which are as diverse as t h e i r number. Only one kind, however, generally obtains f o r a c r i t i c a l assessment of the merits or demerits of a s c i e n t i f i c theory, or a contrib-ution which represents an i n i t i a l stage i n the development of a s c i e n t i f i c theory. Almost without exception, a c r i t i c a l appraisal of s c i e n t i f i c theory necessitates attention to be directed exclusively to i t s substantive content. Understood i n i t s proper sense, t h i s means that an examination must dwell on the adequacy of the theory's l o g i c a l structure such that i n -consistencies and other l o g i c a l d e f i c i e n c i e s are absent and also determine how the theory fares when i t i s confronted with the pertinent empirical data, that i s to say, the theory's s u s c e p t i b i l i t y of empirical r e f u t a t i o n . On the other hand, however, a discussion of a theory's provenance i n the context of i t s c r i t i c a l assessment constitutes a f a l l a c y of argument, to. be precise the genetic f a l l a c y , (l) This invar i a b l y involves 30 considerations of a psychological or s o c i o l o g i c a l character regarding the t h e o r i s t ' s motives, intentions, or biases. To be sure, these factors do not have any s i g n i f i c a n t bearing on the t e n a b i l i t y or untenability of the theory's argument which i s determined i n large part by the rigorous canons of l o g i c and s c i e n t i f i c procedure. But, on frequent occasions, a general knowledge of the t h e o r i s t ' s early i n t e l l e c t u a l influences which shaped h i s thought serves worthwhile and useful purposes. It enables one to thrust the t h e o r i s t ' s work into a comparatively larger perspective, thereby rendering i t much easier to discern the theory's position i n importance with respect to the ante-cedent and contemporary i n t e l l e c t u a l currents. Such a study also furnishes general conceptual guidelines so that one can almost r e l i a b l y anticipate various, but d e f i n i t e l i n e s of argu-ment i n the t h e o r i s t ' s further elaboration and the defence of his theory. What i s more, one i s given an opportunity to observe what and how the theorist has drawn from h i s predecessors and doubtless determine the extent to which he has emberked on .1, h i s own independent course of theorization. F i n a l l y , there i s the factor of becoming acquainted i n some way with the general approach which the t h e o r i s t adopts toward t h e o r e t i c a l and empirical questions i n h i s d i s c i p l i n e . In the case of Talcott Parsons, I would think these remarks esp e c i a l l y apply. Given the c a t h o l i c i t y of h i s i n t e l -l e c t u a l i n t e r e s t s , i t would be f a i r to assume that h i s early 31 associations with a number of i n t e l l e c t u a l t r a d i t i o n s and out-standing academics i n a d i v e r s i t y of d i s c i p l i n e s were markedly i n f l u e n t i a l and enduring f o r h i s subsequent t h e o r e t i c a l work i n sociology. The v e r s a t i l i t y of Parsons' t h e o r e t i c a l endeavors has on more than one occasion precipitated considerations regarding h i s early i n t e l l e c t u a l contacts and labors. Thus, i t i s i n the l i g h t of these general considerations that I s h a l l proceed i n t h i s chapter to survey i n a compendious fashion Parsons' e a r l i e r i n t e l l e c t u a l background. Although I do not wish to attribute too much to such a cursory study which i s , i n e f f e c t , a minor excursion into a s o c i o l o g i c a l analysis of Parsons' education, i t i s s u f f i c i e n t to state that, i n vary-ing degrees, i t should f a c i l i t a t e a greater understanding of hi s t h e o r e t i c a l work which commands paramount importance and respect i n contemporary s o c i o l o g i c a l thought. For an American s o c i o l o g i c a l t h e o r i s t of such wide repute, Talcott Parsons' early university t r a i n i n g i n h i s d i s c i p l i n e of s p e c i a l i z a t i o n was surely circuitous and, i n certain respects, unconventional. (2) As an undergraduate student, Parsons attended Amherst College, a r e l a t i v e l y small l i b e r a l arts i n s t i t u t i o n i n the New England state of Massachusetts, which did not of f e r - and, i n c i d e n t a l l y , s t i l l does not o f f e r - any formal course work i n sociology. Parsons' main academic in t e r e s t at t h i s time was biology, a course of studies i n which he received a major f o r h i s B.A. degree. 32 Interesting to notice i n t h i s connection i s the f a c t that Parsons was also a laboratory assistant f o r a "general course i n b i o l o g i c a l evolution" (3) while s t i l l an undergraduate student at Amherst. In t h i s respect, i t i s s i g n i f i c a n t to point out that Parsons undertook some research work i n biology at Woods Hole Laboratory, a noted marine b i o l o g i c a l laboratory i n the state of Massachusetts, during a summer when he was s t i l l attending Amherst College as an undergraduate student. With such a propensity f o r the b i o l o g i c a l sciences, Parsons devoted serious consideration to the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of embark-ing on a career either i n biology proper or medicine. Circumstances, i t appears, dictated otherwise. However, i t i s worthy of note that a s i g n i f i c a n t portion of Parsons 1 theoret-i c a l writings i n sociology from the outset of h i s career to the present are permeated by concepts and arguments adopted from b i o l o g i c a l discourse, undoubtedly an in d i c a t i o n that h i s early b i o l o g i c a l i n t e r e s t s and t r a i n i n g were sharply impressed i n h i s conceptual repertoire. I t should not be supposed, however, that Parsons' undergraduate years were e n t i r e l y devoid of an introduction to •what one could normally consider to be s o c i a l s c i e n t i f i c knowledge. His basic grounding i n t h i s area came from course work i n economics and, in t e r e s t i n g l y , a course offered by the Amherst philosophy department rather presciently e n t i t l e d "The Moral Order". The teacher of the economics courses was 33 Walter Hamilton, an i n s t i t u t i o n a l economist, who, of a l l things, eventually became a professor of law at Yale University. P r i n c i p a l l y because of Hamilton 1s unorthodox s h i f t i n g between d i s c i p l i n e s , Parsons engagingly la b e l s him "a b i t of a maverick", an adjective which on occasions Parsons unabashedly applies to himself, on account of the ease with which he steps from one d i s c i p l i n e to another i n the aggregate which t y p i c a l l y constitute the s o c i a l sciences, oblivious to the d i s c i p l i n a r y boundaries i n the pursuit of the problems he has set f o r him-s e l f . (4) According to Parsons, Hamilton was h i s "most important teacher there" (at Amherst College). In what manner Professor Hamilton was of such importance, Parsons himself does not specify, though one can legitimately i n f e r from h i s remarks that i n s t i t u t i o n a l economics, which Hamilton taught, constituted one of the foremost foundation blocks of h i s future s o c i a l s c i e n t i f i c concerns. Another professor at Amherst College who exerted an immeasurable influence on Parsons' thinking, the f l e d g l i n g s o c i o l o g i c a l t h e o r i s t , was Clarence Ayers, a philosopher, l a t e r to become an economist. He was the teacher of the course c a l l e d "The Moral Order". Here i t can be assumed that Parsons received some semblance of a s o l i d introduction to the p r e v a i l i n g l i t e r a t u r e i n s o c i o l o g i c a l thought at that time. Major works by t h e o r i s t s such as William Graham Sumner, Charles H. Cooley, Emile Durkheim, and Thorstein Veblen were read and 34 studied. For both Ayers and Hamilton, whose i n t e l l e c t u a l i n t e r e s t s reposed i n i n s t i t u t i o n a l economics, Veblen was a s i g n i f i c a n t writer (or t h e o r i s t i f one may) whose work primarily emphasized notions closely connected with those obtaining i n i n s t i t u t i o n a l economics. Broadly speaking, i n s t i t u t i o n a l economics i s the study of the intimate i n t e r -r e l a t i o n s of economic theory with the inte r p r e t a t i o n of s o c i a l phenomena. In consequence of t h i s , Parsons styles h i s i n t r o -duction to the s o c i a l sciences as one v i a the conduits of i n s t i t u t i o n a l economics. I t was t h i s type of s o c i a l s c i e n t i f i c study "which provided my main formative in t e r e s t " , (5) i n sociology no doubt. After being graduated from Amherst College, Parsons attended the London School of Economics, i n London, England, f o r one year. For unexplained reasons, Parsons regards t h i s undertaking as "another rather unorthodox move". (6) There Parsons undertook academic work under three eminent s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s of t h e i r day - T.L. Hobhouse, Morris Ginsberg, and Bronislaw Malinowski. Of the three, Malinowski represented the cardinal influence. For a wide vari e t y of reasons, Parsons' i n t e l l e c t u a l indebtedness to Malinowski i s apparently immense. It was Malinowski from whom Parsons acquired a welter o f seminal notions i n regard to s p e c i f i c areas of s o c i a l scien-t i f i c endeavors and also broad directions i n regard to c r u c i a l meta-theoretical and methodological issues. In a note of 35 acknowledgment, Parsons himself amplifies on the significance of h i s studies under Malinowski, who was widely regarded by his d i s c i p l i n a l colleagues i n anthropology as a theor e t i c i a n and researcher par excellence: He /Jlalinowski_7 introduced me to an area of borderline considerations between sociology and psychology, and started out my inter e s t i n problems of kinship, family structure, and s o c i a l i z a t i o n . A l l these were things about which I had cer t a i n l y never had any r e a l i n k l i n g i n the Amherst phase. (7) For a furtrher perspective, these remarks should be compared with another of Parsons' acknowledgments to Malinowski which appears i n Parsons' exceedingly c r i t i c a l essay on Malinowski's theory of s o c i a l systems. In t h i s respect Malinowski as a teacher/ I have a heavy personal debt to Malinowski which I f u l l y recognize and do not wish anything said i n t h i s essay /I 'Mal inowski and the Theory of S o c i a l Systems 'V to i n v a l i d a t e . (3) Parsons, i t appears, was indeed discriminating and selective i n what he accepted and used from Malinowski's anthropological offeri n g s . He does not once i n any of h i s writings acknowledge a debt, or attribute any influence, to Malinowski for the general model of structural-functional theory which Malinowski, f o r the f i r s t time i n the h i s t o r y of s o c i a l s c i e n t i f i c thought, devised and continuously elaborated upon i n a rigorous system-a t i c , and i t was hoped, a s c i e n t i f i c a l l y correct fashion f o r the analysis of societ i e s (or s o c i a l systems). An observer of the current and past developments of s o c i o l o g i c a l and anthrop-o l o g i c a l theories would, I believe, naturally assume that the 3 6 t h e o r e t i c a l bonds between Malinowski and Parsons would be exceedingly close and f a i r l y strong f o r the fundamental reason that Parsons i s the current prime exponent of s t r u c t u r a l -functional theory coupled with the knowledge that Parsons took a part of h i s formative studies i n the s o c i a l sciences from Malinowski. Except f o r the patent external s i m i l a r i t i e s of th e o r e t i c a l approaches, that i s , the struct u r a l - f u n c t i o n a l mode of theorizing, which the t h e o r e t i c a l works of Malinowski and Parsons evince, there i s no direct i n d i c a t i o n by Parsons i n his work that he was influenced by Malinowski i n t h i s c r u c i a l connection. I f , as Parsons concedes, Malinowski did make a notable impression on him i n the more specialized areas of so c i a l s c i e n t i f i c i n t e r e s t ( i . e . kinship, family structure, s o c i a l i z a t i o n ) i t could perhaps be supposed without c a v i l that the general patterns of struct u r a l - f u n c t i o n a l theory which Malinowski propounded and analyzed these s p e c i f i c areas of study i n terms of i t were adopted by Parsons and l a t e r employed i n h i s theories of s o c i a l action. The only evidence - and i t i s tenuous - I can adduce i n t h i s case i s the argument that Parsons did not encounter another t h e o r i s t or the writings of another s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t , inasmuch as we are permitted to i n f e r from h i s own accounts of hi s i n t e l l e c t u a l career and h i s voluminous t h e o r e t i c a l writings, who advocated and, moreover, employed a structural-functional standpoint i n hi s analysis of so c i a l phenomena* Perhaps the sole exception to t h i s contention 37 would be V i l f r e d o Pareto, an I t a l i a n s o c i a l t h e o r i s t whose works, as we s h a l l soon notice, Parsons scrupulously examined and used to some degree i n h i s own t h e o r e t i c a l formulations. Pareto advanced the notion that society (or a s o c i a l system) i s i n e f f e c t a system i n equilibrium, an argument closely akin to that of the structural-functional point of view mainly because there i s a presupposition lurking about that a society i s constituted of various components which have positive or negative consequences f o r each other and f o r the system as a whole. However, I should think that the s i m i l a r i t y of the t h e o r e t i c a l structures of Malinowski and Parsons, given the added fa c t o r that Parsons came upon Malinowski's work before he plunged into the study of Pareto, gives Malinowski the ascend-ence i n t h i s regard, even though Parsons himself does not e x p l i c i t l y mention i t either i n h i s t h e o r e t i c a l writings or h i s accounts of h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l career. However, quite apart from t h i s argument whether or not Malinowski was a dominant force i n Parsons' adoption of the structural-functional approach which admittedly i s conjectural u n t i l further biographical evidence becomes available, the repercussions of Malinowski's teachings i n disparate spe c i a l i z e d areas of the s o c i a l sciences were indeed profound and enduring, p a r t i c u l a r l y at the outset of Parsons' career. But, i t i s indeed curious to observe that Parsons himself does not regard Malinowski as even one of the major influences on his s o c i o l o g i c a l thinking. This we s h a l l see l a t e r i n t h i s chapter. 3 3 By a l l accounts, i t seems that the impressions made by Hobhouse and Ginsberg on Parsons were of quite n e g l i g i b l e force. At that time, i t may be noted, Hobhouse's prime i n t e l -l e c t u a l i n t e r e s t s were the study of the evolution of morality and p o l i t i c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s . (9) Ginsberg's central academic concerns (10) were somewhat similar; he stressed the analysis of norms and values of a society (in other words, morality) and the study of i n s t i t u t i o n s inhering i n various types of so c i e t i e s , p r e l i t e r a t e and i n d u s t r i a l * Except f o r h i s exposure to Malinowski, i t could be j u s t i f i a b l y assumed that Parsons' one year tenure at the London School of Economics was i n large part i n t e l l e c t u a l l y uneventful i n terms of his future t h e o r e t i c a l work. In 1925 Parsons undertook his doctoral work at the University of Heidelberg i n Germany, not by choice, but by assignment, a f t e r accepting a scholarship o f f e r . For Parsons, t h i s was a c r i t i c a l l y important development i n h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l career. As i t turned out i t was a most f a t e f u l assignment from my point of view, f o r one of the three persons whose works have had the most important influence on my thinking was then the dominant influence at Heidelberg. That was Max Weber. Now Weber had died a decade e a r l i e r , i n 1914 /sic.^/, so I never met him i n the f l e s h , and his dominance i n the i n t e l l e c t u a l atmosphere at Heidelberg was not without a great deal of opposition. But t h i s opposition meant that there was an extremely l i v e l y controversy and that everyone who came there was made f a m i l i a r with h i s work immediately. (11) Like most German s o c i a l science students at the time, Parsons natu r a l l y became thoroughly acquainted with Max Weber's 39 outstanding s o c i o l o g i c a l - h i s t o r i c a l monograph, The Protestant  Ethic and the S p i r i t of Capitalism. (12) According to Parsons, t h i s work combined with a host of Weber's metatheoretical and substantive writings have long exerted "a very dominant influence" on h i s s o c i o l o g i c a l thought. Thus, as a result of Weber's emphasis on the comparative studies of diverse s o c i a l structures and the investigation of various problems i n the areas where c u l t u r a l and s o c i a l systems merged, Parsons recognizes Max Weber as the most important influence i n h i s personal i n t e l l e c t u a l evolution. (13) Parsons' doctoral d i s s e r t a t i o n , "The Concept of Capitalism", c l e a r l y manifests the multifarious influences a r i s i n g from what would seem at f i r s t blush to be a thoroughgoing exposure to the Gjerman l i t e r a t u r e i n i n s t i t u t i o n a l economics and the s o c i a l sciences which was l a r g e l y characterized by i t s focus on problems closely akin to i n s t i t u t i o n a l economics. (14) E s s e n t i a l l y , the d i s s e r t a t i o n centered on the treatment of the concept, "capitalism", i n the major works of Werner Sombart, Karl Marx, and, above a l l , Max Weber whom, i n comparison to the other Jtwo t h e o r i s t s , Parsons views as "overwhelmingly the most important to me". At t h i s stage of h i s development, the l i n e a -ments of a d e f i n i t i v e i n t e l l e c t u a l i n t e r e s t were coming into bold r e l i e f ; i t was t h i s : "the r e l a t i o n s h i p between t h i s (the r e l a t i o n of s o c i o l o g i c a l and economic theory) and the i n t e r p r e t -ation of the modern i n d u s t r i a l order". (15) But, according to 40 Parsons, h i s general background i n economic thought was indeed sparse. To continue his concentrated investigations into the p a r t i c u l a r problem realm he outlined f o r himself, i t was clear that further bo l s t e r i n g i n the d i s c i p l i n e of economics i n the form of more advanced unive r s i t y courses i n economics was, to Parsons, urgently required. (16) In 1926-1927 when he was s t i l l writing h i s doctoral d i s s e r t a t i o n f o r Heidelberg University, Parsons became an in s t r u c t o r i n economics at h i s former undergraduate school, Amherst College. After completing h i s doctorate studies at Heidelberg, Parsons, i n 1927, secured a position at Harvard University as an ins t r u c t o r i n economics. At the same time, he enrolled as a graduate student, attending various seminars and lectures i n economics. During t h i s phase of h i s career, Parsons encountered two distinguished economists who were to make a notable impres-sion on h i s thinking, p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the marginal region between sociology and economics - the s o c i o l o g i c a l f a c t o r i n economic theories. This problem focus, f o r Parsons, was increasingly becoming a paramount i n t e l l e c t u a l concern which absorbed h i s a n a l y t i c a l attentions f o r the f i r s t decade of h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l career. The two economists were Joseph Schumpeter and F.W. Taussig (17) who both occupied eminently i n f l u e n t i a l positions i n the d i s c i p l i n e of economics at that time. What were the s p e c i f i c influences of these two economists on Parsons 1 thought? 41 From Schumpeter, Parsons acquired the basic outlines of a " t h e o r e t i c a l system" which, according to Parsons' further studies, found i t s more sali e n t expression i n the writings of Alfred Marshall, a l a t e nineteenth century B r i t i s h economist who, at t h i s time, was coming to be widely recognized as one of the major th e o r i s t s i n Anglo-European economic thought. It i s indeed unfortunate, however, that Parsons does not c l a r i f y i n any manner as to what he means by the notion of " t h e o r e t i c a l system" i n t h i s s p e c i f i c context. An attempt may be ventured i n t h i s respect. (IS) But, at the outset, several general considerations are imperative. (19) U t i l i t a r i a n positivism i n economic theory, as Parsons conceived i t , directed i t s focus on a dimension of conclusively demonstrable economic behavior which was explained by a closed determinate system of notions depending on b i o l o g i c a l factors (hereditary and environmental)J however, these b i o l o g i c a l factors did not cast l i g h t on what Parsons thought were c r u c i a l l y important elements of economic thought, p a r t i c u l a r l y , the actional elem-ents, i . e . , means, ends, goals, norms. These factors, argued Parsons, were residual categories, that i s , they are not con-cretely i d e n t i f i a b l e and segregated out as, l e t us say, the b i o l o g i c a l elements. They cannot be ignored i f an adequate explanation of human behavior i s the prime objective of s o c i a l s c i e n t i f i c enquiry. In action, there i s always the element of voluntarism, indeterminacy. I f these notions are prohibited, 1+2 as they c e r t a i n l y are i n a p o s i t i v i s t (or determinate) system, then the conceptions of r a t i o n a l i t y , ethics, values, and norms, the indispensable elements of action, are completely devoid of meaning, hence, of l i t t l e or no value. But, to Parsons, t h i s i s too high a price to pay f o r s c i e n t i f i c accuracy, and i s also a cav a l i e r dismissal of an undeniable c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of human behavior. Thus, what i s required i s a t h e o r e t i c a l scheme which takes into account both the implacable b i o l o g i c a l elements and the pertinent actional factors such that t h e i r numerous i n t e r r e l a t i o n s and functions can be described and analyzed; within t h i s framework, the best of both t h e o r e t i c a l worlds (positive and ac t i o n a l ) , as i t were, can be employed together. This, I should think, i s what Parsons has i n view when he refers to a " t h e o r e t i c a l system", (20) at t h i s stage of h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l evolution. Through T.W. Taussig, Parsons became i n f i n i t e l y more acquainted with the t h e o r e t i c a l writings of A l f r e d Marshall. Tausig himself, however, was not of noteworthy t h e o r e t i c a l significance to Parsons' i n t e l l e c t u a l purposes. It wasn't Taussig's independent thinking that influenced me so much as my becoming thoroughly f a m i l i a r with Marshall through Taussig, and t h i s has remained a very c r u c i a l point to me. (21) I t i s indeed relevant to inquire here what aspect of Marshall's thought attracted Parsons. Parsons' extreme i n t e r e s t i n Marshall's economic theories derives from his concern with the 9 4 3 " t h e o r e t i c a l system" and i t s emphasis on the action elements of behavior. ( 2 2 ) In his theories, Marshall put forward the concept of " a c t i v i t i e s " pertaining to economic behavior i n which the "wants" of an i n d i v i d u a l were determined i n effect by value f a c t o r s i n d i s t i n c t contrast to an i n d i v i d u a l ' s wants being generated by b i o l o g i c a l needs. ( 2 3 ) Clearly, t h i s sharp d i s t i n c t i o n of wants permitted Marshall to explain the choice and means-end facet of economic behavior i n h i s b a s i c a l l y u t i l i t a r i a n theory without reference to b i o l o g i c a l variables as was the wont of most economic t h e o r i s t s i n Marshall's day. Parsons conceptualized these " a c t i v i t i e s " as an integrated value system shared by a large number of the population of a p a r t i c u l a r society. ( 2 4 ) It i s i n t e r e s t i n g to note i n passing that Marshall was not cognizant of the significance of the value c h a r a c t e r i s t i c inhering i n h i s notion of " a c t i v i t i e s " and consequently f a i l e d to pursue the multiple implications which i t would have contained f o r the other facets of his theories and other economical socio-l o g i c a l theories of his time. For Parsons, taking account of the actional elements - i n c i d e n t a l l y , always a Parsonian con-cern - which necessitated serious s c i e n t i f i c considerations of concepts such as "values", "goals", "normative standards" and "means and ends" represented a s i g n i f i c a n t t h e o r e t i c a l advance i n the s o c i a l sciences which merited further examination. Several journal a r t i c l e s and a chapter i n The Structure of  So c i a l Action ( 1 9 3 7 ) devoted to the exposition and analysis of 44 Marshall's various economic theories amply evidence the significance of Marshall on Parsons' s o c i o l o g i c a l thought. ( 2 5 ) As with Malinowski, Parsons, i n t e r e s t i n g l y , does not recognize Marshall as one of the most important influences i n h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l development. Coeval with h i s gradual acquaintance with the rudim-entary elements of the major p r e v a i l i n g economic theories and moreover, those which were put forward i n the previous one hundred years i n the history of s o c i a l thought, Talcott Parsons came across the writings and lectures of a B r i t i s h philosopher who was teaching at Harvard University at that time and the writings of the l a t e nineteenth century I t a l i a n s o c i o l o g i s t -economist, V i l f r e d o Pareto. Without doubt, both made t h e i r i n t e l l e c t u a l mark on Parsons which became c l e a r l y evident i n hi s future t h e o r e t i c a l work. In Parsons' views, Whitehead's p r i n c i p a l contribution was an e x p l i c i t emphasis on the c r i t i c a l importance of the conception of "system" i n s c i e n t i f i c analysis and the general framework of s c i e n t i f i c theory. ( 2 6 ) Further concern with the manifold issues pertaining to the essential character of s c i e n t i f i c theory i n both economics and sociology impelled Parsons to pursue the arguments voluminously advanced by Pareto who l a i d cardinal stress on an abstract theory of s o c i a l equilibrium i n which the factor of l o g i c a l and nonlogical action - behavior i n terms of values, goals, means and ends -i s a prime constituent. On account of the theory's dual 45 v o l u n t a r i s t i c and p o s i t i v i s t i c nature, Parsons was favorably impressed by i t s capacity to provide a sati s f a c t o r y explanation of the multitudinous working of a s o c i a l system and i t s pote n t i a l i t y f or the future development of an improved l o g i c a l l y - t i c h t , and comprehensive theory of action. ( 2 7 ) It i s of noteworthy significance that Parsons' comprehension of Pareto's admittedly i n t r i c a t e t h e o r e t i c a l formulations and t h e i r divers implications f o r related t h e o r e t i c a l problems and the methodology of s o c i a l science was substantially enhanced by the assistance of a prominent Harvard biochemist, L.J. Henderson, ( 2 # ) who exhibited an enormously active int e r e s t and a respectable competence i n questions concerning s c i e n t i f i c theory as such and methodology, a l l combined with an abiding inte r e s t i n a number of problems hovering i n the domain of the s o c i a l sciences. Perhaps Parsons' collaboration with Henderson i n t h i s p a r t i c u l a r connection was a singularly appropriate i n t e l l e c t u a l arrangement. They both held roughly si m i l a r i n t e l l e c t u a l i n t e r e s t s i n the development of a suitable theory i n the s o c i a l sciences as well as i n Pareto's f u t i l e theorizations. Apropos of these comments on t h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l relationship, Edward C. Devereux suggestively remarks, i n h i s excellent expository essay on Parsons' socio-l o g i c a l theory, that Henderson "shared and fostered Parsons' interest i n the p a r a l l e l s between organisms and societies as systems". ( 2 9 ) This i s pointedly borne out by Parsons himself. In h i s e a r l i e r - and l a t e r - published works, Parsons frequent-l y expresses h i s acknowledgements to Henderson f o r various 46 notions with regard to the c r i t i c a l importance of the notion of system i n the formulation of s c i e n t i f i c theory and the l o g i c a l structure of s c i e n t i f i c theory and, above a l l , the complex nature of f a c t s , and t h e i r multiple yet c r u c i a l r e l a t i o n s with a theory. (30) Whilst at Harvard University during what he terms h i s " f i r s t Harvard phase" (31) (approximately between 1923 to 1932), Parsons undertook an intensive study of Emile Durkheim's p r o l i f i c t h e o r e t i c a l and empirical writings. Prominent among these were the currently standard Durkheimian s o c i o l o g i c a l con-t r i b u t i o n s , c l a s s i c s as i t were, - The Elementary Forms of the  Religious L i f e (1912), The D i v i s i o n of Labor (1893), and Suicide (1897). What i n i t i a l l y prompted Parsons to return to Durkheim's work was the "two-sided problem" to which he was channeling the bulk of h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l energies f o r some time. In germ, i t was t h i s : (a) How was modern i n d u s t r i a l order brought about? (b) And, what are the r e l a t i o n s obtaining between economics and sociology, d i s c i p l i n e s purporting to analyze various aspects of s o c i a l phenomena? (32) It i s Parsons' firm contention that Durkheim's The D i v i s i o n of Labor v furnished an adequate treatment of the economics-sociology problem and, i t i s safe to i n f e r , examined the multitudinous dimensions r e l a t i n g to the problem of order i n modern i n d u s t r i a l s o c i e t i e s i n a fashion that i n t e l l e c t u a l l y s a t i s f i e d him. (33) Though not affirmed i n e x p l i c i t terms i n h i s own elaborations 47 of h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l career, there i s a t a c i t assumption that Parsons regarded Durkheim's treatment of s o c i o l o g i c a l and, i n a minor way> certain problems i n economic theory were l a r g e l y compatible with h i s own in t e r e s t s and purposes i n sociology. Thus, primarily because of Durkheim's t h e o r e t i c a l and ori e n t -ational relevance i n regard to the conception of a s o c i a l system and the integration of i t s diverse components, Parsons* categorizes him as the second most important influence i n h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l development. (34) Whilst we are about, i t would be of high interest to take into account a cursory but nevertheless s i g n i f i c a n t evaluation of Parsons' i n t e l l e c t u a l capacities during the early stages of h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l career by P i t i r i m A. Sorokin who was also l e c t u r i n g and teaching at Harvard University at t h i s time. In h i s recently published autobiography, A Long Journey, (35) Sorokin recounts i n detailed fashion his i n f l u e n t i a l par-t i c i p a t i o n i n the establishment of the f i r s t Sociology Bepartment at Harvard University i n 1930-1931* Interestingly enough, one of the personages i n d i r e c t l y involved was Talcott Parsons, then an i n s t r u c t o r i n economics. Differences arose i n regard to Parsons' q u a l i f i c a t i o n s and appointment as the sociology department's faculty i n s t r u c t o r . This action i n i t -iated a series of developments which eventually culminated i n Sorokin interviewing Parsons. In what follows, Sorokin describes these delicate circumstances with which Parsons was 4&* confronted i n addition to, and most important f o r present purposes, throwing some t e l l i n g l i g h t on Parsons' i n t e l l e c t u a l competences and i n t e r e s t s . In December, 1930, I submitted the committee's plan f o r the department to President Lowell. He and the administration approved i t with the exception of one point: they refused to approve the appointment of Talcott Parsons as the Department's fa c u l t y i n s t r u c t o r . Somewhat surprised by t h i s , I asked Professor Burbank, chairman of the department of economics (where Parsons was an instructor) what could be the reasons behind t h i s r e f u s a l * The g i s t of Burbank's remarks was that Parsons seemed to be l e s s interested i n economics than i n sociology, that possibly f o r t h i s reason his work i n the department of economics was not of the best quality, that he probably would do much better work i n sociology than i n economics, and that therefore the department of economics would be only too glad to transfer Parsons to the new department. My personal impressions of Parsons, formed from several meetings with him, were rather favorable. In our conversations he displayed a good a n a l y t i c a l mind and a discriminating knowledge of the theories of Durkheim, Pareto, Weber, and other s o c i o l o g i s t s . Duly impressed, I strongly recommended Parson's (sic) appointment to the committee and obtained i t s approval of my recommendation. (36) I t becomes s t r i k i n g l y evident that Parsons, very early i n h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l career, attained a f a i r l y penetrating knowledge of the works of several European s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s who were to play prominent roles i n h i s future t h e o r e t i c a l formulations. As noted, Sorokin considered Parsons to have a "discriminating knowledge" of these th e o r i s t s , at a l l events, a complimentary assessment rendered by a widely esteemed s o c i o l o g i s t of h i s time. Also, Sorokin was favorably impressed by what he terms Parsons' "good a n a l y t i c a l mind". Just precisely what Sorokin s i g n i f i e d by t h i s i s not at a l l clear. I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g to 49 note that, according to Burbank (then chairman of the Department of Economics at Harvard) Parsons' cardinal i n t e r e s t s did not l i e i n economics as such but i n sociology. This perhaps could be well understood. Throughout h i s early Harvard phase, as i t were, Parsons was, above a l l , concerned with the s o c i o l o g i c a l facets of the economic theories he came across. A swift glance at the l i s t of Parsons' published work from 1923 to 1935 - and presumably t h i s provides an in d i c a t i o n of h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l i nterests and teaching tendencies - unmistakably discloses that the analysis of economic theories with a -view to f e r r e t i n g out the s o c i o l o g i c a l elements inhering i n them bulked quite large i n h is thought at that time. (37) At t h i s point, i t i s not without p r o f i t to weigh the si g n i f i c a n t factors involved i n Parsons' a c q u i s i t i o n of a stable working knowledge i n psychology, a d i s c i p l i n e which h i s studies and i n t e r e s t s i n sociology and economics induced him to invest-igate i n an extensive, a l b e i t systematic, manner. As Parsons himself intimates, he did not take formal course work i n psych-ology at any time during h i s student years i n America and Europe. His knowledge and subsequent work i n t h i s f i e l d came through a lengthy independent reading and study of the available psych-o l o g i c a l l i t e r a t u r e . In h i s early excursions into t h i s area, he read, and to a l l intents ahd purposes was markedly influenced by two books dealing with fundamental issues i n psychology: The Mentality of Apes (1925) by Wolfgang Kohler and Purposive 50 Behavior i n Animals and Men (1932) by Edward C. Tolman. Apparently, these discussions enabled Parsons to cope with the allegedly s c i e n t i f i c demands of behaviorism which s t r i k i n g -l y clashed with the actional aspects of s o c i o l o g i c a l and economic theories and also Weber Ts inter p r e t i v e sociology which b a s i c a l l y r e l i e s upon i d e a l types and the philosophically lubricous problem of Verstehen - g l l of which, to be sure, Parsons embraced i n h i s t h e o r e t i c a l thought. I was at l e a s t comforted that psychologists l i k e Kohler did not swallow the behaviorist p o s i t i o n . This meant you did not have to be a behaviorist to be s c i e n t i f i c a l l y respected, although there were c i r c l e s i n which you were made to f e e l that way at that time. (3&) Evident here, moreover, are the roots of Parsons' long-standing antipathy toward behaviorism, and the assiduous e f f o r t toward achieving an apposite t h e o r e t i c a l formulation which could be widely considered to be eminently s c i e n t i f i c . This, i t may be noted,'represents a preoccupation which imbues much of Parsons' t h e o r e t i c a l work. In any event, i t i s worthwhile to note that Kohler's and Tolman's psychological works have to a modest degree contributed to Parsons' formulations i n the theory of action. A close inspection of Parsons' publications spanning the period between 1937 and the present c l e a r l y reveal that Kohler Ts deliberations p a r t i c u l a r l y shine through i n Parsons' discussions on the factor of orientation and t h e i r organizing functions i n s o c i a l action. (39) As f o r Tolman ( 4 0 ) , his work on Parsons' thinking i s indeed•noticeable, s p e c i f i c a l l y as 51 regards h i s arguments on the non-actional components of s o c i a l action, i . e . , the physiological and psychological character-i s t i c s and, before a l l , the cognitive ordering of discrete experiences i n action sit u a t i o n s . Another psychologist who presumably had a considerable impact on Parsons' t h e o r e t i c a l thinking was Walter Cannon, p a r t i c u l a r l y through h i s book, The Wisdom of the Body (1932)(4l)« As Parsons read i l y admits, the book was i n large measure semi-popular i n intent and tone but i t nevertheless contained material of substantial b i o l o g i c a l and methodological 'import -which he found of immense value f o r h i s studies i n s c i e n t i f i c theory and cognate issues. Cannon outlined h i s conception of homeostasis and amplified at length on h i s position regarding equilibrium theory, a notion to which Parsons was increasingly drawn. Cannon's conceptions i n these c r i t i c a l areas of methodological contention patently diverged from corresponding notions employed i n mechanics. This apparently was a development which Parsons viewed with considerable favor for, i t allowed one to devise a theory of action which emphasized norms couched i n a generally acceptable s c i e n t i f i c frame of reference. Taken together with L.J. Henderson's writings and discussions on questions of general meta-theoretical import, Cannon's book was instrumental i n s i g n i f i c a n t l y fashioning Parsons' thinking with respect to the idea of systems and also theory construction i n sociology. 52 Parsons was to an extent associated with Elton Mayo of the Harvard Business School (42), i n the early t h i r t i e s , who at the time was engaged i n h i s c l a s s i c Western E l e c t r i c Researches. However, Parsons does not elaborate as to how and to what degree Mayo and h i s type of s c i e n t i f i c analysis of s o c i a l phenomena had made an impression upon him, apart from acknowledging h i s contact with him. It would appear that the eff e c t was somewhat attenuated f o r , Mayo was primarily concerned with the examination of the s o c i a l and mainly psychological para-meters of i n d u s t r i a l organizations which doubtless necessitated copious empirical research. The t h e o r e t i c a l factor, i n terms of Parsons' p r e d i l e c t i o n f o r generality of scope, was less pronounced, i f not e n t i r e l y shunted aside. A vague note of m i l d inte r e s t i n Mayo's s c i e n t i f i c work i s hinted at, i n my estimation, when Parsons ventures to describe the nature of Mayo's researches: "Mayo's work, of course, was much concerned with depth interviewing and a l l that sort of thing". (43) And, to be sure, empirical research i n sociology i s not and presumably never has been, one of Parsons' most cherished i n t e l l e c t u a l i n t e r e s t s or pursuits. It was Mayo, however, who suggested to Parsons that i t would be advisable to become f a m i l i a r with the writings and thought of a notable psychological t h e o r i s t , namely, Sigmund Freud, f o r purposes of further il l u m i n a t i n g problem areas that were then being encountered by Parsons. What transpired was as follows. When Parsons was 53 endeavoring, from a t h e o r e t i c a l perspective, to come to grips with the problem of professional roles and t h e i r r e l a t i o n s to business roles which largely depended on the p r o f i t motive, he decided to investigate the medical practice as a p a r t i c u l a r case i n point. This choice invariably induced him to explore a number of kindred s o c i o l o g i c a l and psychological problems which came to the surface as he proceeded with h i s work. For Parsons, one of the most s i g n i f i c a n t problems emerging i n h i s analysis of the medical profession was the relat i o n s h i p of i l l n e s s , i t s medical attention to the motivational aspect of the personality structure. It was at t h i s juncture that Mayo recommended Freud's writings to Parsons. Although Parsons' f i r s t major book, The Structure of Soc i a l Action (1937) r e f e r s only twice (44) to Freud, h i s subsequent t h e o r e t i c a l and sub-stantive works, primarily i n the area of s o c i a l i z a t i o n , from approximately 1950 (45) to the present, contain an enormous assemblage of Freudian notions and modes of argument. Because of Freud's relevance to h i s own t h e o r e t i c a l schemes, p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the i n t r i c a t e i n t e r r e l a t i o n of the s o c i a l system and the personality, Parsons now regards Freud as the t h i r d most important influence i n his i n t e l l e c t u a l evolution. Since my e x p l i c i t intention i n t h i s chapter was to trace out i n a f a i r l y abbreviated fashion a select portion of Parsons' early i n t e l l e c t u a l exposures and influences, I s h a l l not proceed to discuss additional i n t e l l e c t u a l impacts and 54 acknowledgments which are evinced a f t e r the publication of The  Structure of 'Social Action (1937)* Much of what i s embraced i n the way of influences and new ideas, etc. w i l l be taken into consideration i n the expository and c r i t i c a l sections of t h i s t r e a t i s e . However, I would l i k e to add i n passing one word i n regard to t h i s matter. As a consequence of a firm c r y s t a l l i z -ation of t h e o r e t i c a l perspectives and i n t e r e s t s , undoubtedly an i n d i c a t i o n of i n t e l l e c t u a l maturation, and the workings of his fecund imagination, the number of additional s i g n i f i c a n t influences on h i s t h e o r e t i c a l thinking sharply diminish, almost to the vanishing point. Throughout the period between the publication of The Structure of Social Action (1937) and the present, one element of his thought seems to be s t r i k i n g l y evident. Parsons' recurrent references to many of these e a r l i e r s o c i a l t h eorists, mentioned previously here, unmistakably accentuate the deep impress of t h e i r fundamental notions and arguments on him and, to a very s i g n i f i c a n t degree, have determined the broad directions which his thought has taken i n h i s abundant t h e o r e t i c a l and rneta-theoretical writings of the past f o r t y years. In t h i s connection, I should think that Edward C. Devereux, i n h i s expository essay on Talcott Parsons' socio-l o g i c a l theory, rather p i t h i l y expresses how the impress of the unsurpassed immensity and d i v e r s i t y of Parsons' early i n t e l l e c t u a l contacts and labors have long exercised a dominant influence on his t h e o r e t i c a l formulations: 55 I f i t i s true that one absorbs a Part of a l l that he has met, we should not be surprised to f i n d that various strands of Parsonian theory r e f l e c t and incorporate elements of biology and medicine, of economics, especially of i n s t i t u t i o n a l economics, and of the u t i l i t a r i a n t r a d i t i o n from which i t emerged, of German formal sociology, with i t s pro-pensities f o r ponderous systematic analysis, together with i t s t r a d i t i o n s of idealism and Verstehen, Bfrstriirctural functional analysis as developed by Durkheim and the anthropologists, and of Gestalt and Freudian psychology.(46) Notwithstanding h i s f u s t i a n prose, i t i s perhaps largely because of t h i s vast highly disparate i n t e l l e c t u a l background along with a propensity to theorize abstractly, which renders Parsons* contributions at one and the same time, t h e o r e t i c a l l y relevant, i n s i g h t f u l , and, above a l l , exceedingly complex almost to the point of bafflement. I t i s now appropriate to proffer several general observations about Talcott Parsons' early i n t e l l e c t u a l back-ground. Without question, Parsons was steeped i n the European t r a d i t i o n of abstract, speculative theories of s o c i a l phenomena i n his undergraduate and graduate t r a i n i n g , a tendency which was immeasurably reinforced by h i s doctoral work i n Germany. From t h i s general style of approach i n h i s l a t e r t h e o r e t i c a l formulations, he seldom diverged. He has always been a theorist i n the s t r i c t e s t sense. The North American ethos of an overwhelming emphasis on empirical investigations, specif-i c a l l y i n sociology and economics, has been of inconsequential effect; the type of problems he selects to study, perhaps a blend of p r e d i l i c t i o n and h i s t r a i n i n g , are wholly uncongenial 56 to t h i s piecemeal procedure of analysis. It i s noteworthy that Parsons has frequently imported a s i g n i f i c a n t number of concepts and l i n e s of argument into h i s s o c i o l o g i c a l writings from the two specialized areas of study i n which he was previously involved, namely, biology and economics. Whether these d i s c i p l i n a l borrowings have assisted Parsons i n h i s theory construction, however, remains f o r an analysis of the theory to provide an i n d i c a t i o n i n t h i s regard. Also worthy of note i s Parsons' i n i t i a l acquaintance with the l i t e r a t u r e , or f o r that matter ind i v i d u a l s , on what I would term, the philosophy of science, p a r t i c u l a r l y with regard to the l o g i c a l character of s c i e n t i f i c theory and explanation. V i r t u a l l y a l l h i s thinking i n regard to t h i s c r u c i a l matter, f o r a t h e o r i s t at any rate, f i n d s i t s basic roots i n the works of in d i v i d u a l s who specialized i n biology and whose t h e o r e t i c a l concerns, to be sure, were with systems i n b i o l o g i c a l contexts. In h i s early stages of development and even now, Parsons has been markedly influenced by the arguments of L.J. Henderson and Walter Cannon, who both were b i o l o g i s t s . One - and perhaps the only one according to one reference i n Parsons' early publications - philosopher figured to some degree i n Parsons' conceptions of s c i e n t i f i c theory and cognate philosophical issues. This was A l f r e d Noah Whitehead, who uttered many things of i n t e r e s t concerning 57 s c i e n t i f i c enterprise but whose philosophic fo r t e was c l e a r l y not the philosophy of science. To a much les s e r degree, V i l f r e d o Pareto and Max Weber i n h i s methodological writings wielded some influence i n Parsons' conception of s c i e n t i f i c theory and s c i e n t i f i c enterprise; more s p e c i f i c a l l y , Pareto stressed the unquestionable importance of "system" i n s c i e n t i f i c theory while Weber dealt with a considerable number of issues pertaining to the conduct of s c i e n t i f i c inquiry i n the natural and s o c i a l worlds and the "fact-value d i s t i n c t i o n " controversy i n the s o c i a l sciences. What, then, becomes s t r i k i n g l y con-spicuous by i t s absence i n Parsons' u n i v e r s i t y t r a i n i n g and the early stages of h i s career, i s a sa t i s f a c t o r y working knowledge, or even cursory acquaintance of the l i t e r a t u r e i n the philosophy of science argued by philosophers of science who specialize i n the c r i t i c a l examination of the assumptions and rationales currently prevalent i n s c i e n t i f i c inquiry, whether i t be i n the natural or s o c i a l spheres. One could reasonably surmise from t h i s that the views on s c i e n t i f i c theory which Parsons assimilated during h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l apprenticeship, so to speak, were l a r g e l y uninformed and lacking i n the requisites of con-ceptual c l a r i f i c a t i o n and consistency, thereby rendering what he.has presented i n his meta-theoretical and substantive works somewhat l o g i c a l l y untenable. Presumably, the reasons f o r such an argument would invariably take the following l i n e . The major influences (Pareto, Weber, Freud, Durkheim, Henderson, Cannon, Whitehead, Marshall, etc.) on Parsons' thoughts 53 labored under misconceptions of what form s c i e n t i f i c theory and explanation should take and that Parsons inherited these d e f i c i e n c i e s and brought them into sharp r e l i e f i n his writings by fusing h i s personal views on s c i e n t i f i c theory with those he acquired. This may very well be the case but an extensive c r i t i c a l analysis of what Parsons has produced would supply, I should think, f a r more d e f i n i t i v e and constructive answers. It may be pointed out, moreover, that g u i l t by association i s not enough i n tracing out the evolution of an i n d i v i d u a l ' s p r i n c i p a l ideas and formulations. At a l l events, Parsons' early i n t e l l e c t u a l contacts and labors were dauntingly vast and diverse Tahd.,:. carried inestimable weight i n his subsequent t h e o r e t i c a l formulations i n sociology. 59 CHAPTER THREE THE LOGICAL STRUCTURES OF SCIENTIFIC THEORY AND EXPLANATION Before I proceed to carry out the bulk of my plans, I should l i k e to discuss i n t h i s chapter at considerable length •what I take to represent s c i e n t i f i c theory and explanation, be i t employed either i n the natural or s o c i a l sciences. Suffice i t to remark, i t i s i n accordance with these general comments on theory and explanation that I s h a l l appraise Talcott Parsons' main contributions i n s o c i o l o g i c a l theory and i n h i s discussions on metatheory. However i t should be noted that much of what I wish to say about the structure of theory and some of the cognate issues involved i n the philosophy of s o c i a l science w i l l not be included f o r the. chief reason that i t w i l l not immediately touch upon the problems related to the objectives of t h i s study. It i s important to note here that only f o r purposes of throwing an unobstructed l i g h t on the diverse c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of s c i e n t i f i c theory and explanation - and no other - I have rather sharply distinguished the notions of theory and explan-ation f a r beyond what they i n actual f a c t display. Hence, my reasons f o r d i v i d i n g t h i s chapter into two main sections, namely, 60 (A) "The Structure of S c i e n t i f i c Theory" and (B) "The Structure of S c i e n t i f i c Explanation", the t h i r d section (C) "General Concluding Remarks" includes observations on what I consider outstanding implications which flow from the adoption of a hypothetico-deductive mode of theory. I would l i k e to state at t h i s stage that theory and explanation are cl o s e l y i n t e r -laced; they are not sharply separable, though they are distinguishable f o r a n a l y t i c a l purposes. For v i a b i l i t y , each requires the other. A. The Structure of S c i e n t i f i c Theory It i s a commonly held assumption among s c i e n t i s t s and philosophers of science that any d i s c i p l i n e which purports to c a l l i t s e l f s c i e n t i f i c must have a theory or even a variety of theories which contrive to explain phenomena* Naturally, a theory, supposedly belonging to a d i s c i p l i n e , deals primarily with phenomena of a certain kind which that d i s c i p l i n e assigns to i t s e l f . Broadly speaking, then, sociology i s a f i e l d of iaiquiry which endeavors to explain and analyze the structure and operations of a society and the individual's i n t e r a c t i o n with others within a s o c i a l context. However, as a super-f i c i a l inspection of current contributions i n s o c i o l o g i c a l theory discloses, the hypothetico-deductive mode of theorizing i n science, among much else, i s perhaps the most l o g i c a l l y sound and re a d i l y capable of undergoing empirical test i n 6 1 contrast to v i r t u a l l y a l l types of theories that presently obtain i n both the natural and s o c i a l sciences, though, i n the case of the l a t t e r , i t s u t i l i z a t i o n has been, to be sure, exiguous and i n many instances disappointingly misunderstood. Understood i n most general sense, a s c i e n t i f i c theory i s a system of deductively i n t e r r e l a t e d general statements (or general laws, i f one prefers) (l) which systematically unify knowledge about certain properties of the natural or s o c i a l world. (2) As well, a theory i s an indispensable foundation f o r one of the paramount tasks of science: that of explanation. (3) The general statements embodied i n a theory are employed along with certain descriptive statements and the elementary canons of l o g i c to furnish explanations of a vast d i v e r s i t y of empirical phenomena which are considered to be s p e c i f i c manifestations of, or perhaps more accurately put, deductions from, these general statements. A theory i s always antecedent to observations and experimentation. The l a t t e r procedures, whether undertaken i n a formal or informal manner, are s i g n i f i c a n t l y performed only i n terms of a general idea of how the phenomena operates which, to a l l intents and purposes, constitutes a theory. (4) Thus, i n a s c i e n t i f i c framework, a theory functions as a guideline, as i t were, i n that i t f a c i l i t a t e s the observer's selection of the pertinent observ-ational material from an i n f i n i t e mass of events and objects that confront the eye. This contention i s given rather 6 2 vigorous expression by the French physiologist, writing on s c i e n t i f i c inquiry i n the mid-nineteenth century; one should not demur at t h i s , f o r every word i n undeniably applicable to contemporary discussions on the nature of s c i e n t i f i c theory and research strategy. It i s impossible to devise an argument without a preconceived ideaI devising an experiment we said, i s putting a question; we never conceive a question without an idea which i n v i t e s an answer. ( 5 ) /My emphasis - E.R.G^ Though wri t i n g i n a philosophical vein, A l f r e d A. Whitehead, propounds e s s e n t i a l l y the same type of argument when he pointedly stresses that: A great deal of confused philosophical thought has i t s o r i g i n i n obliviousness to the fact that the relevance of fa c t u a l evidence i s dictated by theory. For you cannot test a theory by evidence which that theory dismisses as i r r e l e v a n t . ( 6 ) To be sure, the empirical world i t s e l f i s mute. I t does not say anything about i t s e l f to human beings. Roughly para-phrasing William James' famous statement, the empirical world as such i s a blooming, buzzing mass of confusion. But sense i s made out of the world when we use either i m p l i c i t or e x p l i c i t theories about how the world operates. Thus, i t i s only i n terms of a theory that we allow empirical r e a l i t y to speak to us, as i t were, fundamentally owing to the fac t that a focus i s directed at a s p e c i f i c region of the world and as such i t demarcates t h i s region from the i n f i n i t u d e of events and objects that seemingly crowd upon our attention. The empirical world, then, either supports or confutes our theory, thereby f o r c i n g 63 us either to r e t a i n the theory i f i t i s supported or revise our theory, our series of assumptions about how the world works, i f i t clashes with the evidence. In any event, two further s i g n i f i c a n t issues are to be noted i n t h i s connection: those of descriptions and views of the world couched i n common everyday language. Let us f i r s t consider b r i e f l y descriptions. In broad outline, descriptions - which, i n c i d e n t a l l y , are neither theories nor explanations - are verbal replacements for pictures and demonstrations of certain events and objects. (7) To describe something means to dwell on certain aspects of a phenomenon. Since, to be sure, descriptions are character-ized by t h i s obvious s e l e c t i v i t y i n t h e i r representation of the events and objects they presumably r e f e r to, they are almost invari a b l y regulated by a theory or even a number of theories, frequently unacknowledged by the describer; moreover, I would maintain that p r e c i s e l y i d e n t i c a l comments hold f o r measures such as c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , categorization, c o d i f i c a t i o n and simply the development of an armory of concepts to be employed f o r various i n t e l l e c t u a l purposes. For, a l l these a c t i v i t i e s can only be undertaken i n the l i g h t of an array of i m p l i c i t empirical r e g u l a r i t i e s or general statements - i n a word, a theory. (8) Clearly, then, descriptions and such-like auto-matically presuppose theories of some sort, and not the reverse as i s so often presumed i n s o c i a l s c i e n t i f i c and even, though to a minor degree, i n the natural s c i e n t i f i c c i r c l e s . (9) Not 64 only are these considerations applicable to s c i e n t i f i c endeavors, they are also of immense importance i n the appraisal of certain utterances made i n ordinary language which embraces, among other things, a plethora of explanatory and descriptive statements, usually erroneous or exceedingly oversimplified i f they are viewed i n the l i g h t of acquired s c i e n t i f i c knowledge and the canons of proper l o g i c a l discourse. (10) Undoubtedly a l l t h i s serves to emphasize how the formation and advocacy of deductive theory as a f r u i t f u l and r e l i a b l e s c i e n t i f i c instrument i s inspired and sustained by certain ineluctable aspects, though frequently not recognized, about how we a l l of us use a language. (11) Notwithstanding his predominantly psychological orientation toward the resolution of problems dealing with human perception and cognition, William James aptly throws con-siderable l i g h t on t h i s facet of cognition, p a r t i c u l a r l y stressed i n s c i e n t i f i c thinking: $ut the moment one thinks of the matter, one sees how f a l s e a notion of experience that i s which would make i t tantamount to the mere presence to the senses of an outward order. M i l l i o n s of items of the outward order are present to my senses which never properly enter into my experience. Why? Because they have no in t e r e s t f o r me. My experience i s what I agree to  attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind - without selective i n t e r e s t , experience i s an utter chaos. Interest alone gives accent and emphasis, l i g h t and shade, background and foreground - i n t e l -l i g i b l e perspective, i n a word. It varies i n every creature, but without i t the consciousness of every creature would be a gray chaotic indiscriminateness, impossible f o r us even to conceive. (12) (Emphasis i n ori g i n a l ) 6 5 Without fear of c a v i l , i t could be stated that wh at James terms a " s e l e c t i v e i n t e r e s t " roughly coincides to the notion of a "theory" i n the context of t h i s chapter's discussion. In the large, i t i s clear that theorizing takes place on many l e v e l s of sophistication and abstraction and that i t i s an indispens-able element i n our knowledge about and observation of empirical r e a l i t y . As general statements shape a l o g i c a l order out of a broad d i v e r s i t y of empirical events, a theory, i n a much similar fashion, produces a l o g i c a l order out of a number of disparate, though related, general statements about the world. It almost goes without saying that any l o g i c a l arrangement of statements constitutes i n effect a deductive system. This, i t i s to be noted, permits the e x p l i c i t unravelling (or deduction, to be more precise) of the diverse relationships possible between the properties of the world which are contained i n the general statements. It can be seen without too much d i f f i c u l t y that one of the most s t r i k i n g advantages to be accrued from employing such a theory i s that i t greatly f a c i l i t a t e s the discovery, as i t were, of other perhaps previously unknown empirical regular-i t i e s . The "discovery" i s engendered by deduction. Doubtless another advantage l i e s i n the fact that t h i s type of theory i s an immeasurably h e l p f u l t e s t i n g device by means of which a 66 series of general statements belonging to one p a r t i c u l a r system (or a theory) can be empirically tested when one statement of that series i s subjected to empirical t e s t . How does t h i s occur? As noted e a r l i e r , each general statement i s related to another i n the t h e o r e t i c a l system, i f such a locution be allowed. The essential point to note, then, i s t h i s . The evidence which i s required f o r the assessment of one general statement constitutes evidence as well f o r the assess-ment of a number of general statements comprising the theory of which the general statement undergoing empirical test i s an i n t e g r a l part; i n other words, each general statement of a t h e o r e t i c a l scheme i s l o g i c a l l y inter-connected, hence, what i s empirically relevant f o r one i s almost invariably relevant f o r the others. Thus, viewed i n a much broader perspective, a s c i e n t i f i c theory i s an inestimably valuable aid to the f r a i l human mind which can only r e t a i n a depressingly f r a c t i o n a l amount of what i t comes across i n i t s commerce with the world. To repeat b r i e f l y what has been previously stated: a s c i e n t i f i c theory systematically u n i f i e s knowledge about a certain type of phenomena, e.g., chemical, ph y s i o l o g i c a l , s o c i a l , psychological, etc., i n the form of general statements (or general laws) which enable one with the appropriate l o g i c a l measures and unambiguous d e f i n i t i o n of key terms to deduce a host of disparate statements about s p e c i f i c events that have occurred, are presently 67 occurring, and w i l l occur i n the empirical world. In other words, a theory furnishes f e a s i b l e explanations of innumerable concrete empirical events. Accordingly, a theory empowers an i n d i v i d u a l to possess r e l a t i v e l y more knowledge about the multitudinous facets of a p a r t i c u l a r type of phenomena without the burdensome task of committing to memory innumerable discrete f a c t s and low-level generalizations that may obtain i n an area of study at any one time. The process of deduction i s the c r u c i a l element i n this.regard. And needless to say, that which can be deduced need not be memorized. I t i s t h i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c , i n c i d e n t a l l y , which renders hypothetico-deductive theory larg e l y parsimonious or simple, q u a l i t i e s which are widely approved of i n any theory. What would t h i s mean? The sim p l i c i t y or parsimony of a theory ensures that any superfluous features of the theory, i t s concepts, i t s laws (postulates and theorems) or perhaps needlessly complex formulations which are opaque to the understanding are obviated. (13) This arises from the conviction i n s c i e n t i f i c thought that a parsimonious explanation of a phenomenon i s i n a l l p r o b a b i l i t y much more "true" or " f i t t i n g " i n the l i g h t of the theory from which i t i s derived and the empirical phenomenon to which i t i s applied without c o n f l i c t . S i m p l i c i t y or parsimony are not bound by the rules of l o g i c ; they are e x t r a - l o g i c a l or perhaps, more accurat&ly phrased, conventional. Though speaking with reference to questions of importance i n the f i e l d of physics, Ernest Nagel 6 8 points out that the c r i t e r i o n of sim p l i c i t y i n theory assess-ment i s at base a conventional rather than a s t r i c t l y l o g i c a l f a c t o r : ...the function w i l l , i n general, be required to have a r e l a t i v e l y 'simple' form, even i f the 's i m p l i c i t y ' t a c i t l y demanded cannot be a r t i c u l a t e d p r e c i s e l y may be almost a psychological matter, and i s l i k e l y to change as mathematical techniques f o r solving d i f f e r -e n t i a l equations improve. (14) Z^y emphasis - E .R .GJJT" Parsimony, i n addition to being an i n t r i n s i c a l l y desired c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of s c i e n t i f i c theory, possesses an instrumental value. It may serve, I would believe, as a mediate c r i t e r i o n f o r determining one of the cardinal c r i t e r i a i n the assessment of a s c i e n t i f i c theory: that of u t i l i t y . U t i l i t y , too, i s i n large part a judgmental procedure. In essence, i t i s t h i s . The more one theory explains with as few assumptions as possible, or the larger the range of i t s a p p l i c a b i l i t y i n the pertinent phenomena i t i s assigned to deal with i n the empirical world without clashing with i t , i n comparison to competing theories dealing with the same type of phenomena, the more useful, the more f r u i t f u l , i t i s as a s c i e n t i f i c instrument. Another way of construing the con-ception of u t i l i t y , I think, i s by using the terms " f i t - n e s s " or " s u i t a b i l i t y " . Thus, theories are evaluated according to how and to the extent they f i t or suit the empirical realm they purport to illumine. The notion which we would normally c a l l " t r uth" i s altogether extruded from the purview of s c i e n t i f i c thinking and i t s vocabulary. It becomes evident that the 69 conception of "truth", that i s , generally speaking, the irrevocable congruence of statements about the empirical world with the pertinent empirical events, i s indeed a phantom and gives purchase to a host of grossly misleading notions about s c i e n t i f i c thought i n general. What i t would mean to elaborate on t h i s supposed incongruence, as t h i s notion of " t r u t h " implies, i s not at a l l clear and, i f I may say, beyond hope of i n t e l -l i g i b l e c l a r i f i c a t i o n , l e t alone allowing for the s p e c i f i c a t i o n of the congruence because of the basic misconception of -scien-t i f i c enterprise i t t a c i t l y c a r r i e s . In s c i e n t i f i c thought, i t i s generally assumed that the properties of the empirical world are continuously but imperceptibly undergoing change with the march of time. The best one can do i s p r o f f e r a tentative account of the manner i n which certain regions of the empirical world operate. As a re s u l t , a l l we ever have at any one moment are successive approximations. (15) To be sure, t h i s i s a l l that theory endeavors to f u r n i s h . This being the case, there i s i n p r i n c i p l e , an i n f i n i t y of perspectives (or theories) from which successive approximations can be achieved with regard to giving accounts of certain aspects of empirical phenomena. The c r i t e r i o n of u t i l i t y i s almost invariably invoked as a selection device f o r the purpose of casting l i g h t on as much empirical r e a l i t y as possible with a minimum number of assumptions as possible. As Milton Munitz i n h i s book Space, Time and Creation notes i n t h i s connection: 70 Theories are apt or f i t t i n g but they are not as such true, where truth i s taken to mean "correspondence" of symbol and existence. Indeed, to speak of f i t t i n g -ness can i t s e l f be. a misleading analogy. In the case of a suit that i s made to f i t a man, we can measure and describe the body of a man independently of the s u i t . But i n the case of theories, as i n the case of languages, i t i s meaningless to think of nature as possessing i t s own code which might i n p r i n c i p l e be explored independently of our symbolism and a test carried out to see which one of bur human devices most accurately "matches" the " r e a l " one. Taking seriously the symbolic and constructive character of the theories of science means reorienting our conception of truth as a goal f o r science. I t means giving up the "spectator" conception of knowledge and the "one-shot" c r i t e r i o n of adequacy." (16) I t i s p l a i n , then, that s c i e n t i f i c theory can only be properly assessed i n terms of i t s u t i l i t y , i t s a b i l i t y to subsume a large range of phenomena without encountering any c o n f l i c t with the observations that are undertaken. "Truth", i n i t s s t r i c t -est sense, i s consigned to the truth-tables of l o g i c , where the analysis of statements i s undertaken regardless of the changes occurring i n the empirical world. Theories are useful, apt, or appropriate; " t r u t h " i s i r r e l e v a n t . On the surface, i t c e r t -ainly appears that the much r e v i l e d philosophical orientation of pragmatism i s much more germane to s c i e n t i f i c thought than i t o r i g i n a l l y was made to seem by i t s unrelenting assailants i n s c i e n t i f i c and philosophical c i r c l e s f o r the past h a l f century. (17) These considerations bring us to the ubiquitous, though often ill-understood, question: how does theory come about? In e s s e n t i a l respects, a theory i s an adventurous i n t e l l e c t u a l 71 contrivance to affirm something of significance about the empirical world. I t i s , above a l l , a hunch, a guess, c a l l i t what you w i l l , which i s l i t e r a l l y imposed on certain phenomena which hold an intere s t f o r the t h e o r i s t . A theory i s t r i e d on for size, so to speak, to be judged by i t s capacity to account fo r a wide variety of empirical data without r e f u t a t i o n . This point of contention i s given vigorous expression by Karl R . Popper, who argues that . . . s c i e n t i f i c theories /are/ not the digest of obser-vations, '"but that they /are/ inventions - conjectures put forward f o r t r i a l , to"be eliminated i f they / c l a s h / with observations;...(18) Undoubtedly, a s c i e n t i f i c theory i n i t s i n i t i a l stages of form-ation i s as much a free creation of the mind as, l e t us say, a painting or a poem. It i s only a f t e r the theory has been devised and employed that the austere imperatives of rigorous conceptual c l a r i f i c a t i o n of the theory's l o g i c a l structure and empirical t e s t i n g procedures have been applied that i t acquires a significance or notoriety i n the s c i e n t i f i c sense. I t i s notable that a question regarding the or i g i n s of a s c i e n t i f i c theory merely s a t i s f i e s c u r i o s i t i e s f o r i t i s above a l l an empirical issue; the r e s u l t s of the application of the theory to the empirical world with which i t concerns i t s e l f , that i s , whether the data clashes with i t or not, constitutes the main question that should be asked of a theory's worth; the re s u l t s , not the genesis of a theory are of s c i e n t i f i c consequence. As a r e s u l t , to evaluate or defend a theory i n terms of i t s ori g i n s i s to commit the genetic f a l l a c y . 72 From the foregoing remarks, another inescapable con-clusion c l e a r l y comes to the forefront. To argue, as a considerable number of s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s have, that a s c i e n t i f i c theory i s an ine v i t a b l e resultant from an accum-ulation of numerous empirical observations i s indeed vacuous. To do so implies that there i s a discernible order inhering i n empirical phenomena- prepared, as i t were, f o r our sighting and recording; a l l we must do i s simply look. As noted e a r l i e r , t h i s i s a completely erroneous conception of s c i e n t i f i c endeavor, i f not of human thinking i n general* It i s we who read order and meaning into empirical r e a l i t y and not the reverse such that we read out the order and meaning embossed, as i t were, i n empirical phenomena. As yet i n the history of s c i e n t i f i c thought, there has been no suggestion of a series of rules or procedures as to how one can proceed from an aggregate of discrete p a r t i c u l a r observations to general state-ments (or laws), a si t u a t i o n which challenges those who wish to maintain that general statements (or theory) as i t were evolve from a mound of concrete empirical observations. Even i f we suppose f o r purposes of the discussion that such rules could be ushered forth, i t could always be relevantly inquired why were such and such observations made and why not others. The rejoinder would invariably be couched i n terms of a pre-supposition, of an unacknowledged theory or theories the observer had borne i n mind unless he engaged i n random selection which would then have very l i t t l e , i f any, t h e o r e t i c a l 73 s i g n i f i c a n c e . However, i t i s safe to say that rules f o r the formulation of general statements from observations i s l o g i c -a l l y impossible and attempts to do so are, I believe, u t t e r l y f r u i t l e s s and misconceived. To maintain the "observation-to-theory" sequence of theory-construction inevitably entangles one i n the c o i l s of the c l a s s i c a l problem of induction which, i n principle,, does not admit of any tenable l o g i c a l solution.(19) At t h i s point, the question as to how a theory i s evaluated i n the l i g h t of empirical evidence naturally a r i s e s . To begin with, i t should be noted that v i r t u a l l y a l l s c i e n t i f i c theories assert f a r more about the world than can ever be d i r e c t l y tested. (20) That i s to say, the general statements and the t h e o r e t i c a l l y assumed e n t i t i e s contained therein do not admit of any d i r e c t test by virtue of t h e i r highly abstract nature. What occurs when a theory i s said to be subjected to empirical t e s t i s that the s p e c i f i c implications derived from the general statements are examined; these implications are characterized by s t r i c t l y e x i s t e n t i a l statements which then provide substantial grounds f o r asserting that the general statements, i . e . , the theory, are empirically tenable or other-wise. The t h e o r e t i c a l l y assumed e n t i t i e s (or concepts) inhering i n the general statements of the theory are connected with concrete empirical events i n a r e l i a b l e fashion by a number of procedures. These may take the form of nominal d e f i n i t i o n s , ostensive d e f i n i t i o n s , or conditional d e f i n i t i o n s , 74 the p a r t i c u l a r theory's l e v e l of abstraction usually determin-ing the type of procedure to be used. ( 2 1 ) A theory i s designed, before a l l . to be refuted (or to be disconfirmed) ( 2 2 ) not "corroborated" or "confirmed" i n the t y p i c a l sense of these terms. For, to be sure, one can almost invariably confirm any theory without undue d i f f i c u l t y i f the only empirical evidence ushered forth i s congenial to the theory while other le s s congenial or even c o n f l i c t i n g evidence i s , either i n t e n t i o n a l l y or unintentionally passed over. Thus, along with u t i l i t y , another c r i t e r i o n to be employed i n assess-ing the value of a theory i s i t s a b i l i t y to undergo tests of f a l s i f i c a t i o n . ( 2 3 ) I f a theory has withstood numerous attempts at decisive disconfirmation, i t can be reasonably asserted that the theory i s f i r m l y bolstered by the available evidence; i n other words, i t displays favorable test r e s u l t s -i t i s then "confirmed" or "corroborated" i n t h i s special sense. As a b r i e f point of elaboration, i t i s to be noted that a theory has been corroborated or confirmed when these terms are under-stood as short-hand expressions f o r lengthy, cumbrous locutions such as "the general statements clash or c o n f l i c t with the empirical observations" or f o r negative-sounding, and lar g e l y unclear terms as "disconfirmation" and "disprove", or f o r e a s i l y misconstrued words such as "refutation", "confutation" or " f a l s i f i c a t i o n " ; however, i t may be noted that the l a t t e r terms, more than any other terms mentioned here, i f they are 75 c o r r e c t l y understood, a p p o s i t e l y d e s c r i b e the processes employed i n the assessment of s c i e n t i f i c t h e o r i e s . In consequence of t h i s , a t h e o r y i s amenable e i t h e r t o e l i m i n a t i o n or m o d i f i c -a t i o n as a u s e f u l s c i e n t i f i c device when the d i v e r s i m p l i c a t i o n s of the g e n e r a l statements c l a s h w i t h the p e r t i n e n t e m p i r i c a l o b s e r v a t i o n s ; t h a t i s t o say, a theory's g e n e r a l statements are d i s c o n f i r m e d i n some p a r t i c u l a r way. "Whether a t h e o r y i s to be e l i m i n a t e d r o o t and branch or perhaps s t r a t e g i c a l l y a l t e r e d i s u s u a l l y determined by the degree to which the ge n e r a l s t a t e -ments and t h e i r i m p l i c a t i o n s c o n f l i c t w i t h the p e r t i n e n t e m p i r i c a l o b s e r v a t i o n s . However, much of t h i s depends on the scope of the theory, the range of phenomena i t encompasses. I t may be l a i d down as a rough and ready p r o c e d u r a l r u l e , drawn from p r e v i o u s t h e o r e t i c a l endeavors i n the h i s t o r y of sci e n c e , t h a t the l a r g e r the scope of the theory, the l e s s d e f i n i t i v e the f a v o r a b l e t e s t r e s u l t s and the more circum-s p e c t i o n i s needed t o be e x e r c i s e d i n e i t h e r the r e t e n t i o n o r the a l t e r a t i o n or the e l i m i n a t i o n o f the theory; the s m a l l e r the scope, the e a s i e r i t i s to confute r a t h e r d e c i s i v e l y the theory and perhaps abandon i t a l t o g e t h e r . The paramount reason f o r these degrees of e m p i r i c a l t e s t among t h e o r i e s of v a r y i n g l e v e l s o f a b s t r a c t i o n i s t h a t the h i g h e r the l e v e l of a b s t r a c t i o n - or perhaps a p p r o p r i a t e l y phrased, the l e v e l o f u n i v e r s a l i t y - the f u r t h e r i t i s s i t u a t e d from the present t e s t i n g l e v e l s or c a p a c i t i e s o f the s c i e n c e i n qu e s t i o n such t h a t the v e r i f i c a t o r y procedures tend t o be r e l a t i v e l y 7 6 incomplete and indecisive, c a l l i n g f o r d i s c r e t i o n on the part of the t h e o r i s t i n the interpretation of the t e s t r e s u l t s f o r the theory. (24) On the other hand, theories characterized by a low l e v e l of abstraction are frequently testable on account of t h e i r minute divergence from the empirical phenomena they purport to take into consideration; i n a word, there i s l e s s vagueness regarding the phenomena which the theory refers t o . There i s one further point of importance concerning s c i e n t i f i c theories i n general. Contrary to what may seem to be i n t u i t i v e l y evident at f i r s t glance, theory and fact (roughly speaking, a concrete statement about the empirical world which i s v e r i f i a b l e ) are not that d i f f e r e n t i n kind. A theory i s not necessarily an attenuated, uncertain set of general statements somehow r e f e r r i n g to empirical r e a l i t y , nor i s a f a c t u a l statement, tohich refers to a concrete empirical event, characterized by a conclusiveness bordering on certainty. As noted earlier,' a f a c t u a l statement about a p a r t i c u l a r empirical event i s always construed i n terms of the general statements (or laws) which indicate what type of r e l a t i o n s one i s expected to f i n d i n s p e c i f i c empirical events. On the other hand, general statements, which s p e l l out certain r e l a t i o n s between t h e o r e t i c a l l y assumed e n t i t i e s (or concepts occurring under certain delineated conditions, are only of major moment when the observations of concrete empirical phenomena sustain them. Each type of statement, so to speak, nourishes the other. 77 In consequence of these considerations, i t would seem accurate to say that the proper difference l i e s between statements of a general open-ended sort and those statements regarding s p e c i f i c empirical occurrences. Before I continue further with my discussion, I should l i k e to ground several of the preceding general considerations i n a f a i r l y simple i l l u s t r a t i o n of a theory which evinces the essential c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of a s c i e n t i f i c theory. Whether the theory i s empirically s i g n i f i c a n t or r e l i a b l e i s not the pre-eminent concern here; the s t r u c t u r a l features are the important facets to note. For a l l human groups i n Canada involved i n tasks to a t t a i n c e r t a i n s p e c i f i e d objectives: (a) The higher~ -the degree of impersonality, the higher the degree of h i e r a r c h i c a l structure. (b) The higher the degree of the complexity of rules, the higher the degree of impersonality. (c) Therefore, the higher the degree of the complexity of rules, the higher the degree of h i e r a r c h i c a l structure. Looked at from a conceptual standpoint, there are several things to be remarked about the basic structure of a s c i e n t i f i c 78 theory. The l o g i c a l skeleton of a theory i s characterized by i t s approximate congruence with an "uninterpreted axiomatic system" found i n Euclidian geometry (25) or the structure of a syllogism i n the f i r s t f i g u r e . (26) As regards the l a t t e r notion, take into account the following example (a) m p (b) s m (c) s P In e f f e c t , a l l we must do i s substitute the primitive terms of t h i s syllogism f o r the i t a l i c i z e d concepts i n the above min-iature theory to discern almost i d e n t i c a l s t ructural patterns which permit the u t i l i z a t i o n of the elementary techniques of l o g i c a l deduction to unravel a latent empirical relationship (c) inhering i n the two e x p l i c i t l y presented empirical relationships, (a) and (b). It w i l l be seen i n short order that a theory i s com-prised of an aggregate of concepts and, as noted e a r l i e r , general statements which can be termed postulates (hypotheses, or assumed relationships) and theorems (relationships deduced from combinations of postulates). Hence, the appellation hypothetico-deductive theory. Several comments then, are i n order concerning each of these two ess e n t i a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of s c i e n t i f i c theory as such. 79 One of the fundamental components of a theory i s a conceptual scheme. It i s merely a set of concepts which are used i n the theory. The concepts indicate the area of the world which the theory designedly ref e r s to. More s p e c i f i c a l l y , concepts are class l a b e l s or symbols, pointing to abstracted aspects (or properties) which constitute the class i n question. Concepts are simply general words f o r , they are applicable to a l l instances of empirical phenomena which evince the referred-to aspects (or properties). Coeval with these c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s , concepts may pertain to objects (or things, such as stones) and the properties of objects (small - the stone i s small). As well, concepts r e f e r to events (objects or things i n move-ment or action) and the properties of events; an event i s by i t s very constitution an abstraction to begin with and i s exemplified by such cases as "to walk" or "to write" and t h e i r properties which could be, say, " b r i s k l y " and " f u r i o u s l y " . It i s to be noted, moreover, that concepts which r e f e r to objects and the properties of objects are i n large part t y p i f i e d by nouns and adjectives while concepts pertaining to events and the properties of events are indicated by verbs and adverbs. Most concepts, i t may be affirmed, are one word summarizations of countless empirical observations but p a r t i a l l y devoid of meaning on account of i t s de-emphasis of the concrete s p e c i f i t y of an empirical phenomenon. Although concepts may be similar or d i f f e r e n t i n comparison with each other, they cannot, i n p r i n c i p l e , be l o g i c a l l y related as l e t us say general statements so (propositions, laws, and such-like). The following argument-ation accounts f o r t h i s development. Relations between objects or events - to which concepts r e f e r - can only be said to hold when there are statements, that i s , l i n g u i s t i c structures con-t a i n i n g legitimately arranged subjects, verbs, and objects or complements. In ef f e c t , a statement i s the r e l a t i o n obtaining between the objects or events which are under consideration. Broadly understood, a r e l a t i o n occurs when a statement about an object or event (or property) i s made such that a reference to another object or event (or property) i s also made. Take note of the following statement: " A l l s o c i o l o g i s t s are giants." Here, " s o c i o l o g i s t s " and "giants" are obviously the object and property relat e d . As respects "deduction" - or to use a looser phrase, l o g i c a l i n t e r r e l a t i o n - i t can only take place between a set of statements -with one or more common points of reference (that i s similar concepts). It may be repeated once again i n succinct summary form that concepts are not l o g i c a l l y related mainly because: (a) they only r e f e r to abstracted aspects of certain empirical phenomena without any reference to other concepts; they are r e s t r i c t i v e i n scope, confined to themselves. (b) they are not statements - hence, not r e l a t i o n a l ; t h i s precludes deduction, or i f one may, l o g i c a l interrelatedness. 81 (c) t h e y c o n s t i t u t e t h e b a s i c u n i t s o f a t h e o r e t i c a l s t a t e -ment wh i c h i s r e l a t i o n a l ; w i t h o u t them, no statement o f any k i n d c o u l d be made. (d) t h e y (as w i l l be e x p l i c a t e d ) s p r i n g from w i t h i n a t h e o r y o r can be a r b i t r a r i l y c o n s t r u c t e d , w i t h o u t r e f e r e n c e t o o t h e r t h e o r i e s o r c o n c e p t s . Almost i n v a r i a b l y , c o n c e p t s d e r i v e t h e i r b a s i c meanings i n terms o f t h e t h e o r y i n w h i c h t h e y a r e embedded, (27) and are u s u a l l y bestowed a g r e a t e r p r e c i s i o n and c l a r i t y , i f i t i s so r e q u i r e d , by t h e u t i l i z a t i o n o f o p e r a t i o n a l t e c h n i q u e s w h i c h were l i g h t l y t ouched upon e a r l i e r i n t h i s d i s c u s s i o n . C l e a r l y , an enumeration o f d i s c r e t e c o n c e p t s cannot l o g i c a l l y precede t h e f o r m a t i o n o f a t h e o r y o r o f f e r a n y t h i n g p o s i t i v e i n t h e f o r m u l -a t i o n o f one. Concepts and g e n e r a l s t a t e m e n t s go hand i n hand a t a l l t i m e s , d u r i n g t h e o r y c o n s t r u c t i o n , t e s t i n g , and a l t e r -a t i o n s . I f , however, i t i s s t i l l argued f o r some r e a s o n , t h a t c o n c e p t s a re a n t e r i o r t o t h e o r i e s , t h e n e i t h e r one o f two u n p a l a t a b l e c i r c u m s t a n c e s , I t h i n k , o b t a i n . One can be t h a t t h e co n c e p t s a re a c q u i r e d i n a random f a s h i o n . But, s u r e l y , t h i s would r e n d e r t h e c o n c e p t s b e r e f t of any s i g n i f i c a n t t h e o r e t i c a l meaning, hence, t h e o r e t i c a l l y u s e l e s s owing t o the c o n d i t i o n t h a t t h e y a re not d i r e c t l y a s s o c i a t e d w i t h any t h e o r y ; t h e y would appear t o be v e r y much a k i n t o P l a t o ' s I d e a s o f Forms which a p p e r t a i n t o t h e q u i n t e s s e n c e o f t h i n g s f o u n d i n t h e 82 physical and mental worlds. In t h i s context, concepts are a f f i x e d with a significance which they cannot conceivably possess, i t seems clear, unless a welter of unacknowledged t h e o r e t i c a l assumptions are being made. By partaking of such a procedure and, moreover, maintaining that something of great moment about the empirical world has been said, one i s impelled £o encroach on the i n f e r t i l e t e r r i t o r i e s of metaphysics which, to be sure, are s l i g h t l y beyond the pale of s c i e n t i f i c thought. Another si t u a t i o n , which i s so often the case, pertains to the d i s t i n c t p o s s i b i l i t y that concepts are put f o r t h with a vague theory which has not been rendered i n any way e x p l i c i t ; i t i s i n the l i g h t of t h i s i m p l i c i t theory that the concepts secure t h e i r meaning. But the onerous chore of f e r r e t i n g out the pertinent general statements (of a theory or of a number of theories) i s t i l l remains. Attempts to dredge them up are at best ingenious guesswork with, of course, i t s many attendant and f r u s t r a t i n g v i c i s s i t u d e s . Though i t would seem that the l a t t e r p o s s i b i l i t y offers f a i n t promise of some il l u m i n a t i o n as regards the meanings and use of a set of concepts i n s c i e n t i f i c discourse, both, i n my view, are s t i l l consummately unsatisfactory ways of constructing and sus-t a i n i n g a s c i e n t i f i c theory. Thus, i n view of the preceding considerations on concepts and t h e i r r e l a t i o n s with theory, I would go so f a r as to say, perhaps brashly, that "to theorize from above", that i s , to formulate concepts at the outset and then incorporate them into a later-developed theory i s well-nigh an impossible task to perform since one can never know with any 83 degree of reasonable certainty - a necessary condition to be sure - whether or not the concepts, generated from an unacknowl-edged framework of general statements (or theories), are contradictory to each other, i r r e l e v a n t to the questions e x p l i c i t l y at hand, tautologous, or empirically t r i v i a l , that i s to say, they are too general to be of any f r u i t f u l empirical appli c a t i o n . Moreover, t h i s type of approach bears the un-mistakable traces of a.n i n d u c t i v i s t standpoint which, as we have e a r l i e r seen, i s singularly indefensible. In the crude theory I have sketched above, the concepts are as follows: "groups", "impersonality", h i e r a r c h i c a l structure", and "complexity of rul e s " . With respect to the notion of "variables" which i s frequently mentioned i n theor-e t i c a l contexts, I would say t h i s . Quite.in general, variables are comprised of concepts coupled with a quantitative locution such as "degree of", "rate", and "incidence of" and such-like. In some instances, however, a concept alone constitutes the variable; a case i n point would be the following: "In Canadian society, a l l adults exact respect from children." - here, "adults", "respect", and "children", characterize t h i s par-t i c u l a r conception of a variable. A p a r t i c u l a r l y valuable d i s t i n c t i o n of the types of variables that obtain i n s c i e n t i f i c discourse i s proposed by George C. Homans. (28) He suggests that variables may be conceived either as (1) continuous or (2) two-valued. In regard to the continuous variables there i s 84 an arrangement of properties i n a r e c t i l i n e a r fashion; otherwise phrased, i f one variable (the independent variable) either increases or decreases, then the other variable (the dependent variable) respectively increases or decreases. They are characterized mainly by the quantitative locutions I have con-sidered i n the foregoing. Concerning the two valued variable, on the other hand, i t i s indicated that there i s a special entity or property which i s either manifested or absent under certain conditions; examples of t h i s would be notions such as "industrialism", " s o l i d a r i t y " , and "the d i v i s i o n of labor". Referring to my theory i l l u s t r a t i o n of a s c i e n t i f i c theory, one w i l l note that the variables are continuous: "degree of impersonality, degree of h i e r a r c h i c a l structure", and "degree of the complexity of r u l e s " . From a l l t h i s , one conclusion becomes evident. Though a conceptual scheme i s a necessary constituent of a theory, i t i s i n no wise s u f f i c i e n t . A conceptual scheme becomes merely another i n s i g n i f i c a n t agglomeration of disparate concepts i f i t i s not incorporated i n a series of general state-ments. (29) General statements (or general laws) are empirical regular-i t i e s which are assumed to be invariant. (30) Broadly speaking, a general statement i s a relationship obtaining between a number of properties Of the empirical world which occur under certain specified conditions. At the same time, i t embraces a variety of phenomena which are considered to be s p e c i f i c manifestations 85 of i t . The fundamental form of such a statement conforms to the following structure: "In a l l cases when conditions of kind F are r e a l i z e d , conditions of kind G are r e a l i z e d as w e l l . " (31) By virtue of i t s u n i v e r s a l i t y , i t does not pertain to any p a r t i c u l a r temporal or s p a t i a l locus as, l e t us say, an accidental empirical generalization. This means that i t states a r e l a t i o n s h i p obtaining between certain properties of the empirical world under s t r i c t l y delineated conditions i n any spatio-temporal dimension. A theory i s omnitemporal and omni-sp a t i a l * (32) To make t h i s point more tangible, l e t us examine i n an abbreviated manner Ga l i l e o ' s law of free f a l l i n g bodies. It i s postulated that: Whenever a body f a l l s from a stationary position i n a vacuum on or near the surface of the earth, the distance i t t r a v e l s i s 16 t ^ feet i n t seconds. This statement along with the r e q u i s i t e descriptive statements of anterior boundary conditions subsumes (or explains) a welter of instances involving free f a l l i n g objects - i . e . , from an egg dropping from the hands of a lethargic cook to an a r t i f i c i a l s a t e l l i t e h u r t l i n g through the earth's atmosphere. P a r t i c u l a r instances of t h i s general statement, that of G a l i l e o ' s law of f r e e - f a l l i n g bodies, are indeed immense. Although an accidental empirical generalization i s on a s u p e r f i c i a l glance s t r u c t u r a l l y s i m i l a r to a general statement, i t i s v i t a l to note other patent d i f f e r -ences i n context and use. An i l l u s t r a t i o n , though s l i g h t l y nonsensical, of an accidental general statement would be some-thing as follows: " A l l the white pages i n t h i s study are 86 poisonous". In terms of the above pattern of a general statement, Fjwould be the condition of a white page i n the study and G would be the property of a white page being poisonous. However, the generalization refers to a s p e c i f i c event which unquestion-ably takes place at one p a r t i c u l a r place, at one p a r t i c u l a r time. In consequence, i t cannot be extended to take into account other phenomena that occur at various locations and at various times as a general statement undeniably can. Besides t h i s elementary d i s t i n c t i o n between an accidental empirical generalization and a general statement, there are two other d i s t i n c t i v e factors which are equally important. The f i r s t i s that a general state-ment (or law) i s able to sustain contrary-to-fact conditional statements which are generally characterized by the following structure:'"If A were (had been) the case" then B would be (would have been) the case', where i n fa c t A i s not (has not been) the case." (33) Let us i l l u s t r a t e t h i s type of statement with reference to Galileo's law of free f a l l i n g bodies. Suppose a twenty thousand ton slab of gold (or a one pound package of feathers) were inadvertently dropped from atop the Empire State Building i n New York City: hence, I f a twenty thousand ton gold slab (or a one pound package of feathers()) were dropped from the 102nd storey of the Empire State Building, then i t would take the gold slab (or package of feathers) to descend the one thousand feet i n X seconds (or i t would have t r a v e l l e d l 6 t ^ feet i n t seconds). In a similar vein, the second fa c t o r i s the u t i l i z a t i o n of subjunctive conditionals; A general statement 87 (or law) would give support to such a statement. A subjunctive  conditional i s l a r g e l y t y p i f i e d by t h i s sentence pattern: " ' I f A should come to pass then so would B', where i t i s l e f t open whether or not A w i l l come to pass". (34) Concretely, we would have the following statement: " I f a twenty thousand ton gold slab (or a one pound package of feathers) were pushed off the 102nd storey of the Empire State Building i n New York City, i t would descend the one thousand feet to the pavement i n X seconds (or i t would t r a v e l l 6 t ^ feet i n t seconds)". I t i s clear that the accidental generalization, " A l l the white pages i n t h i s study are poisonous" could not maintain a contrary-to-fact con-d i t i o n a l statement such as the following: I f t h i s white page (presumably any white page not i n the study) were bound i n t h i s study i t would be poisonous. Similar comments are applicable to a subjunctive conditional, i . e . " I f t h i s page (any white page not in'the study) were a white page i n t h i s study, then i t would be poisonous". It may further be noted that a general statement functions as a foundation-stone f o r s c i e n t i f i c explanation,' as we s h a l l soon see. Conjoined with a description of the ante-cedent boundary conditions, the general statement provides an explanation f o r a s p e c i f i c empirical event which i s without doubt a s p e c i f i c manifestation of the general statement. (35) An accidental empirical generalization, however, could not provide explanations of any kind of a s p e c i f i c empirical events f o r i t i s i t s e l f a s p e c i f i c empirical event. Let us take our example 88 once again to point out t h i s d i f f i c u l t y : " A l l the white pages i n t h i s study are poisonous." To explain t h a t a white page i n t h i s study i s poisonous by alluding to the generalization that a l l white pages i n t h i s study are poisonous constitutes a c i r c u l a r argument. General statements play v i t a l roles i n a l l s c i e n t i f i c explanations of s p e c i f i c events. But i t may be properly inquired what explains a general statement? The immediate answer i s another combination of general statements, frequently of a much higher l e v e l of abstraction, which permit the deduction of the general statement i n question. (36) The process of explaining general statements can continue i n d e f i n i t e l y u n t i l the l e v e l of abstraction almost reaches the point of t r i v i a l i t y or i s drained of a l l empirical relevance. I t i s noteworthy that i n the natural sciences, the theory of r e l a t i v i t y represents the acme of t h i s process whereas, i n contrast, the s o c i a l sciences, t h i s point i s not even d i s t a n t l y approached since the'general l e v e l of t h e o r e t i c a l abstraction i s assuredly very low. A word concerning the l e v e l s of abstraction of general statements i s necessary at t h i s stage of our deliberations. The l e v e l of abstraction of a theory's general statements can be adjusted to accommodate the l e v e l of the empirical knowledge that can be unequivocally mobilized by a p a r t i c u l a r d i s c i p l i n e i n order to perform s i g n i f i c a n t empirical tests of t h e i r e x i s t -e n t i a l claims, as i t were. Any confirmed theory (in the sense 89 mentioned e a r l i e r i n t h i s chapter) can only be denoted i n theor-e t i c a l significance by another theory which i s of a s l i g h t l y higher l e v e l of abstraction. It invariably encompasses the denoted theory and puts f o r t h other, more universal testable claims on i t s own behalf. The history of science i s fraught with instances c l e a r l y revealing that the currently advanced sciences ( i . e . physics and chemistry) attained t h e i r eminent positions by gradually proceeding with theories from a l i m i t e d to greater u n i v e r s a l i t y . The extent of a theory's l e v e l of abstraction i s invariably a j o i n t product of a cautious theor-e t i c a l ambition of the t h e o r i s t and the capacity of the d i s c i p l i n e to provide advanced tes t i n g techniques which enable a r e l a t i v e l y confirmed constellation of empirical knowledge to become available to th e o r i s t s and researchers i n t h e i r multi-farious t h e o r e t i c a l pursuits. In h i s volume, The Logic of  S c i e n t i f i c Discovery, Karl R. Popper elucidates at some length on these c r u c i a l t h e o r e t i c a l considerations which are la r g e l y judgmental, programmatic, and empirical rather than s t r i c t l y l o g i c a l a.s some may err i n g l y suppose. He writes: The methods of t e s t i n g are invariably based on deductive inferences from the higher to the lower l e v e l ; on the other hand, the l e v e l s of u n i v e r s a l i t y are reached, i n the order of time, by proceeding from lower to higher l e v e l s . The question may be raised: 'Why not invent theories of the highest l e v e l of u n i v e r s a l i t y straight away? Why wait f o r t h i s quasi-inductive evolution? Is i t not perhaps because there i s afte r a l l an inductive element contained i n i t ? I do"*not think so. Again and again suggestions are put forward — conjectures 9 0 or theories — of a l l possible l e v e l s of u n i v e r s a l i t y . Those theories which are on too high a l e v e l of u n i v e r s a l i t y , as i t were (that i s , too f a r removed from the l e v e l reached by the testable science of the day) give r i s e , perhaps to a 'metaphysical system'. In t h i s case, even i f from t h i s system statements should be deducible (or only semi-deducible, as f o r example i n the case of Spinoza's system), which belong to the p r e v a i l i n g s c i e n t i f i c system, there w i l l be no new testable statement among them; which means that no c r u c i a l experiment can be designed to test the system i n question. I f , on the other hand, a c r u c i a l exper-iment can be designed f o r i t , then the system w i l l contain, as a f i r s t approximation, some well corroborated theory, and at the same time also something new -- and something that can be tested. Thus the system w i l l not, of course, be 'metaphysical'• In t h i s case, the system i n question may be looked upon as a new advance i n the quasi-inductive evolution of science. This explains why a l i n k with the science of the day i s as a rule established only by those theories which are proposed i n an attempt to meet the current problem situ a t i o n ; that i s , the current d i f f i c u l t i e s , contradictions, and f a l s i f i c a t i o n s . In proposing a solution to these d i f -f i c u l t i e s , these theories may point the way to a c r u c i a l experiment. (37) Doubtless, the i n t r i c a t e a r t i c u l a t i o n of theory with empirical research and vice versa scarcely needs stressing. Throughout the present discussion on the structure of theory, the accent has been l a i d p r i n c i p a l l y on the value and cogency of hypothetico-deductive theory and the reasons f o r them. We must now bring together the main points that have emerged i n t h i s connection. (a) Hypothetico-deductive theory furnishes general statements (or laws) of such scope that explanations and predictions of a vast range of phenomena can be accomplished with fewer assumptions. This precludes any reliance on ad hoc (38) measures which are 91 exceedingly r e s t r i c t e d and generally unilluminating f o r they are constructions of the moment to cope with problems of the moment. (b) Additional relationships between certain properties of the world, previously unknown, are now possible through the process of deduction. (c) "When one general statement (or law) of a series of i n t e r - r e l a t e d general statements, i n a word, a theory, i s tested, there are implications a r i s i n g therefrom which a f f e c t the entire series i n some fashion; they may be, i n varying degrees, con-firmed or disconfirmed. (d) Hypothetico-deductive theory enables one to eschew numterous l o g i c a l d i f f i c u l t i e s and other f a u l t y assumptions which often adversely plague those who discourse on empirical phenomena, whether i t be i n the natural or s o c i a l sciences. It impels one to become aware of h i s t a c i t assumptions and t h e i r implications and also the implications of h i s acknowledged assumptions. B. The Structure of 'Scientific Explanation (39) Theory and explanation are intimately interwoven strands; without a theory, explanation i n a s c i e n t i f i c sense i s doubtful and without explanation, a theory loses i t s raison d'etre. Although both must appear together, they are not synonymous processes. A theory i s exclusively a c o n s t e l l a t i o n of general statements whereas exp l a n a t i o n i s c o n s t i t u t e d of statements •--d e s c r i b i n g s p e c i f i c concrete c o n d i t i o n s and a general statement drawn from a theory. Thus, to a f f i r m as George C. Homans (hO) and Hans Zetterberg (*+l) do that theory i s explanation and explanation i s theory i s a shade misleading. Fundamentally, explanation i s deduction. An explanation i s a form of argument i n which the event to be explained i s deduced from a general statement i n conjunction with a number of statements d e s c r i b i n g the antecedent, boundary c o n d i t i o n s . Thus, a s c i e n t i f i c e x p lanation i s composed of three c a r d i n a l c o n d i t i o n s ; They are: (1+2) (1) A set of general statements p e r t a i n i n g to i n v a r i a n t e m p i r i c a l u n i f o r m i t i e s . '0+3) (2) A set of d e s c r i p t i v e statements o u t l i n i n g s p e c i f i c ante-cedent, boundary c o n d i t i o n s . (3.) A. d e s c r i p t i v e statement r e f e r r i n g t© a s p e c i f i c consequent c o n d i t i o n which i s derived (or deduced) from statements ( l ) and (20. An e x p l a n a t i o n , then, can be conceived as a device which i s d i v i d e d i n t o two main components - the explanans and the explanandum. (!+1+) The explanans c o n s i s t s of a general statement (or lav/) plus a d e s c r i p t i o n of the antecedent e m p i r i c a l conditions. Meanwhile, the explanandum c o n s i s t s of a d e s c r i p t i o n of the s p e c i f i c e m p i r i c a l event to be explained (or to be deduced). I n b r i e f , then, an explanation i s an argument i n which the 93 explanandum i s deduced from the explanans. Since t h i s argument i s categorized as an explanation by v i r t u e of a deductive subsumption under general statements (or general laws), i t i s appropriately nominated, by Carl G. Hempel, as the deductive-nomological explanation. (U-5) The term "homological"' derives from the Greek word "nomos", for law: as i t i s , an explanation i s effected by a deduction from a s c i e n t i f i c law. Thus, quite j u s t i f i a b l y , the ubiquitous query i n both the common-sense and s c i e n t i f i c worlds, "Why does th i s happen?"' i s capable of being construed as "In regard to which empirical generalizations (or general laws) and which i n i t i a l conditions does t h i s p a r t i c u l a r phenomenon, occur?" Clearly, without t h i s type of e x p l i c i t explanatory scheme, excepting a p r o b a b i l i s t i c model of explanation which i s somewhat di f f e r e n t i n form - and does not concern us here -there can be no explanation of any mentionable kind, i n science, natural or s o c i a l ; nebulous conjectures, i n t u i t i o n and ragged, vague attempts at explanation, seem to be the alternatives to this explanatory scheme i n which an awareness and l u c i d i t y of presenting assumptions and empirical conditions i s p r i n c i p a l l y stressed and gratuitous errors kept to a tolerable minimum. Furthermore, i t may be said that any explanation of a s p e c i f i c event, however nugatory, presupposes a general law - thus, a theory. (h6) In the l i g h t of the preceding remarks, a s c i e n t i f i c explanation can be aptly characterized i n the following paradigmatic f a s h i o n : C+7) Explanans ... L General e m p i r i c a l statements (or laws) D e s c r i p t i v e statements of antecedent, boundary co n d i t i o n s L o g i c a l Deduction Explanandum E D e s c r i p t i o n of the e m p i r i c a l event to be explained I t would indeed be i n s t r u c t i v e , I t h i n k , t o present a concrete i l l u s t r a t i o n of an explanation by employing the crudely conceived theory of groups which I adumbrated i n the above d i s c u s s i o n on the s t r u c t u r e of theory. I s h a l l i n c l u d e the e n t i r e b a t t e r y of general statements - p o s t u l a t e s and theorems -and a s p e c i f i c phenomenon I have s e l e c t e d to be explained i n order to demonstrate the i m p l i c a t i o n s of an e m p i r i c a l f i n d i n g on a t h e o r e t i c a l s t r u c t u r e and t o amplify upon the i n t e r c o n n e c t i o n of theory and explanation. For a l l human groups i n Canada in v o l v e d i n tasks to a t t a i n c e r t a i n s p e c i f i e d o b j e c t i v e s . (a) The higher the degree of i m p e r s o n a l i t y , the higher the degree of h i e r a r c h i c a l s t r u c t u r e , /general law/ (b) The higher the degree of the complexity of r u l e s , the higher the degree of i m p e r s o n a l i t y , /general law/ 95 (c) (Therefore) The higher the degree of the complexity of rules, the higher the degree of h i e r a r c h i c a l structure, /a derived general law/ (-d) The degree of the complexity of rules i n the General Motor Assembly Plant at Oshawa, Ontario i s high, /description of antecedent condition/ (e) Therefore, the degree of h i e r a r c h i c a l structure i n the General Motors' Assembly Plant at Oshawa, Ontario i s high, /explanandum/ (Clearly, the d e f i n i t i o n of the concepts have not been provided; they are not r e a l l y necessary for the purposes of the discussion. But the structural features and l o g i c a l deductions are, I think, b a s i c a l l y correct.) Here, (c) represents the general statement (or law) which has been deduced from a combination of other general statements, namely statement (a) and (b); statement (d) represents the antecedent conditions describing a s p e c i f i c event. And, of course, statement (e) refers to the explanan-dum, or a description of the consequent conditions, the event to be explained. I f empirical tests indicate that statement te) does hold, then statements (a), (b), and (c) can be regarded as confirmed, that i s , there are no f a l s i f y i n g instances. Should, however, statement (e) be confuted by the data, then statements (a), (b) and (c) are placed i n jeopardy, c a l l i n g either for t h e i r elimination or modification. $6 At t h i s juncture, i t i s noteworthy to consider a s i g n i f i c a n t v a r i a t i o n of the deductive-nomological explanation; namely, the causal explanation. (If8) I t i s e s s e n t i a l l y char-a c t e r i z e d by fchec.asserti.ah that a p a r t i c u l a r event has been about (or caused) by an antecedent p a r t i c u l a r event. This, however, can only be maintained i f there i s a general s t a t e -ment (or law) conjoined w i t h the d e s c r i p t i v e statements of the antecedent c o n d i t i o n s p e r m i t t i n g the deduction of an event which i s asserted to be caused by the antecedent event. What i s r e q u i r e d i s a-general statement (or law) i n d i c a t i n g that c e r t a i n v a r i a b l e s (or p r o p e r t i e s ) are r e l a t e d i n such a fa s h i o n that one changes or modifies when the other i s char-a c t e r i z e d by c e r t a i n p r o p e r t i e s coupled with a d e s c r i p t i o n of the antecedent c o n d i t i o n s , mainly s p e c i f y i n g c e r t a i n temporal and s p a t i a l l o c i and noting that the events or objects are manifestations of the v a r i a b l e s d w e l l i n g i n the general statement. Through the processes of elementary l o g i c , the r e s u l t a n t event i s deduced. As F e l i x Kaufmann notes " . . . i t i s e l l i p t i c a l to speak of a cause of a given event without r e f e r r i n g e x p l i c i t l y t o the law i n terms of which i t i s a cause of the event." (h9) An i l l u s t r a t i o n w i l l a i d i n f u r t h e r i n g comprehension of t h i s argument. Let us st a t e that f o r a p a r t i c u l a r i n d i v i d u a l , Leopold Smith, angered shouting increases every time h i s food i s taken away from him when he wishes t o eat. An explanation of t h i s event would e n t a i l the f o l l o w i n g k i n d of argument: There are statements, l e t us say, f u r n i s h i n g measurements, s p e c i f y i n g the s t a t e of Mr. Smith's emotional c o n d i t i o n p r i o r to h i s f r u s t r a t i o n and other statements p o i n t i n g out that he was deprived of food at a time he i n t e n s e l y d e s i r e d t©> eat. At the same time, there i s a general law s p e l l i n g out the .r e l a t i o n s h i p that the i n t e n s i t y of one's anger increases as h i s f r u s t r a t i o n i s repeatedly engendered. Roughly speaking,- then, the event, t h a t angered shouting followed when the food was taken from Mr. Smith i s deduced from these statements of a general law and antecedent, boundary c o n d i t i o n s . A f u r t h e r observation of extreme importance presents i t s e l f at t h i s phase. A deductive-nomological explanation does not n e c e s s a r i l y c o n s t i t u t e a causal e x p l a n a t i o n . To be sure, the e m p i r i c a l r e g u l a r i t i e s embedded i n the statements (a) "The higher the degree of i m p e r s o n a l i t y , the higher the degree of h i e r a r c h i c a l s t r u c t u r e , " or (b) "The higher the degree of the complexity of r u l e s , the higher the degree of im p e r s o n a l i t y " , of my example cannot be i n t e l l i g i b l y a f firmed to provide causal accounts of anything. (50) A deductive-nomological e x p l a n a t i o n p o i n t s out that a p a r t i c u l a r event i s explained by v i r t u e of i t being subsumed under a general e m p i r i c a l u n i f o r m i t y . I t should be abundantly c l e a r , however, that a l l causal explanations are of a deductive-nomological char a c t e r . I t i s indeed pertinent to note that there i s no substantial difference between the procedures of s c i e n t i f i c explanation and p r e d i c t i o n and postdiction. (51) So f a r as I can ascertain, these operations are characterized by an i d e n t i c a l l o g i c a l structure which I e a r l i e r considered. Whether an event has occurred, i s occurring, or i s to occur, i t can be deduced from a general statement (or lav/) along with the necessary description of the i n i t i a l conditions. As Gustav Bergmann observes i n t h i s respect: In p r i n c i p l e , prediction.and s c i e n t i f i c explanation are but two sides of one coin. One who can always predict knows a l l the laws, and conversely." (52) Similar remarks also apply to postdiction (or r e t r o d i c t i o n ) , as we s h a l l notice i n a moment. What does distinguish these three s c i e n t i f i c procedures (as i t were) from each other, however, i s the purely pragmatic factor of time. To be conceived as a prediction an argument, at base, i d e n t i c a l to the explanatory argument, must refer to an occurrence of an event i n the future; that i s to say, the event takes place at a time aft e r the argument, elaborating the character of the expectation and the l o g i c a l reasons for the expectation, i s presented. With regard to postdiction (or r e t r o d i c t i o n ) , the phenomenon to be explained must precede, (one second or a millenium as i t were) the presentation of the argument which b a s i c a l l y asserts that the event occurred on account 99 of a certain empirical r e g u l a r i t y (a law) and certa i n i n i t i a l , e mpirically concrete conditions. Thus, i f one can explain an event, one can concomitantly predict or postdict i t . What Robert Brown remarks i n t h i s respect i n his book Explanation i n S o c i a l Science, can scarcely be gainsaid: The explanation and prediction are supported by exactly the same infoirmation, namely, the relevant generalization and the statement of i n i t i a l conditions. Given this characterization of explaining and predicting i n terms of laws, i t i s self-contradictory to say that we can predict the occurrence of an event but not explain i t , or that we can explain i t s occurrence but not predict (or retrodict) i t . (53) I f explanation, prediction, and postdiction are viewed as q u a l i t a t i v e l y d i s t i n c t operations, considerable conceptual d i f f i c u l t i e s , I think, w i l l inevitably come about. The provision of the i r respective l o g i c a l structures such that they can be markedly d i f f e r e n t i a t e d i s mandatory. I n t e r e s t -ingly enough, arguments of t h i s nature have not been ushered fo r t h as yet. (5*+) In my view, such arguments w i l l not appear because the underlying viewpoints i n the majority of instances rest on a number of blatant misconceptions concern-ing the l o g i c a l character of s c i e n t i f i c explanation or confusion with respect to p r o b a b i l i s t i c accounts and s c i e n t i f i c explanations which are similar i n several respects but s a l i e n t l y d i f f e r e n t i n other c r u c i a l respects. To be sure, pred i c t i o n and postdiction are not wild conjectures, endeavors at p r o b a b i l i s t i c accounts, or optimistic hopes 100 or i n t u i t i o n s about events to occur or about events that have occurred. Above a l l , they are d i s c i p l i n e d procedures; they are conducted according to a d e f i n i t i v e pattern of thought. I t would be well to devote several further considerations to the a c t i v i t i e s , so to speak, of description and explanation now that the l o g i c a l features of s c i e n t i f i c explanation have been explored. As indicated e a r l i e r i n t h i s chapter, a description (also, c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , taxonomy, etc.) represents a verbal replacement for pictures or demonstrations of empirical events; i t i s selective i n i t s portrayal of the event which means that i t i s regulated by an i m p l i c i t theory or a c o l l e c t i o n of i m p l i c i t theories. In a manner of speaking, description i s the handmaiden of theory. A description, i n consequence, does not explain, predict or postdict empirical events. Hans Zetterberg aptly notes i n t h i s connection that ...a concern with taxonomy and descriptive studies does not furnish any explanations. To know the labels of phenomena and to know their d i s t r i b u t i o n i s not to explain them. (55) Let us further d i f f e r e n t i a t e descriptions and explanation. For one thing, explanation i s a l o g i c a l process while description i s a method. That i s to say, an explanation focuses on the connection between properties found i n the 1 0 1 empirical world; description on the other hand, only indicates the d i f f e r e n t properties that are noticeable i n a given region of the empirical world. An explanation endeavors to answer the question why the p a r t i c u l a r empirical event i s what i t i s . A description, however, states what the event i s and nothing more. Through i t s processes of l o g i c a l deduction, an explanation permits one to select the pertinent empirical phenomena for examination primarily because i t e x p l i c i t l y focuses on a r e s t r i c t e d region of the entire universe of empirical phenomena. In e f f e c t , i t contains an i n t r i n s i c demarcation property. In contrast, a description has no boundaries, i t s outer l i m i t s , i f one may employ such a phrase, are f l u i d ; d escription can be stretched into an ad infinitum exercise, p a r t i c u l a r l y i f the i m p l i c i t theories upon which i t l i e s remain completely unacknowledged. V i r t u a l l y any one empirical event can be linked and implicated with every other empirical event i n the universe. From these remarks, i t appears that description as such does not constitute an enlightening s c i e n t i f i c enterprise. C. General Concluding Remarks: I f c e r t a i n implications of the conception and use of hypothetico-deductive theory are pursued to t h e i r natural termination points, an i n t r i g u i n g , a l b e i t arresting, circum-stance becomes manifest. This conception of theory v i r t u a l l y precludes other modes of theorization from possessing any 1 0 2 . s t r u c t u r a l v a l i d i t y - i n the sense of l o g i c a l adequacy and a p p l i c a b i l i t y . S c i e n t i f i c theory as such i s wholly commen-surate w i t h hypothetico-deductive theory procedures. Other formulations c a l l e d t h e o r i e s seem to be e i t h e r subtle v a r i a t i o n s of the hypothetico-deductive model or are, to phrase i t q u i t e sharply, non-theories, merely aggregates of d e s c r i p t i v e statements governed by a vague theory or c o l l e c t i o n of t h e o r i e s . A l s o d e t e c t i n g t h i s c u r i o u s , i f not a s t o n i s h i n g , property of hypothetico-deductive theory, Ernest G e l l n e r expresses the main burden of the contention I have put f o r t h here i n a much more rigorous f a s h i o n : ..."hypothetico-deductive method" i s a misnomer. One can only speak of method where there i s an a l t e r n a t i v e . But the only a l t e r n a t i v e to t h i s way of studying things i s not another way, but not studying them at a l l . For t h i s "method" r e a l l y means only t h i n k i n g about things and then seeing whether what one had thought i s t r u e . (56 ) Although the standpoint expressed above may seem s t o l i d l y uncompromiising and a t r i f l e too imperious, the e s s e n t i a l p o i n t of the argument - and t h i s i s the most important f a c t o r - nevertheless s t e a d f a s t l y holds. Inasmuch as I can p r e s e n t l y a s c e r t a i n from the extensive l i t e r a t u r e i n the s o c i a l sciences and the philosophy of science and s o c i a l science, s e r i o u s damaging counter-arguments to t h i s conception of s c i e n t i f i c theory are as yet to be put forward f o r consid-e r a t i o n . Perhaps i f we view hypothetico-deductive theory as a' set of conceptual i n j u n c t i o n s and g u i d e l i n e s to think c o n s i s t e n t l y and without covert b i a s about how the e m p i r i c a l world operates, the o s t e n s i b l y d i s t a s t e f u l , pre-emptive character of t h i s approach could be somewhat abo l i s h e d . 103 With these remarks on the s t r u c t u r e of s c i e n t i f i c theory and explanation f i r m l y entrenched i n our minds, we may now t u r n to appraise Parsons' arguments i n h i s meta-t h e o r e t i c a l and substantive w r i t i n g s . CHAPTER FOUR 10!+ TALCOTT PARSONS' CONCEPTION OF SCIENTIFIC THEORY A. The Analysis of a Theorist's Conception of S c i e n t i f i c Theory: The Manifold Problems and Possible Rationales On superficial- inspection, i t may be seen that s c i e n t i f i c theorizing i s closely analogous i n pattern and execution to the i n f i n i t y of tasks that are carried out i n the everyday world. Just as a carpenter who constructs abodes without continually e x p l i c i t l y acknowledging h i s multitudinous presuppositions about the materials and tools he uses or the techniques he brings to play i n his work, except for, perhaps, t i d b i t s of prosaic knowledge s u f f i c i e n t to enable him to communicate with others and also to continue h i s divers tasks, so also the theorist i n any s c i e n t i f i c d i s c i p l i n e , who presumably devises and evaluates refined mental constructions, commonly c a l l e d theories, about how certain segments of the universe I operate need not necessarily know to any far-reaching extent the general l o g i c a l features, rationales, and the i n t r i c a t e functions of s c i e n t i f i c theory as such. These complex problems, i t can be plausibly contended, are for the philosophers of science to wrestle with and to explore. To be p l a i n , the t h e o r i s t formulates theory and does not concern himself with 1 0 5 the d i s c u s s i o n s of i t s nature and uses i n abstruse terms. I n a sense, t h i s i s a l e g i t i m a t e p o s i t i o n to take; f o r , to take another example, to walk one need not possess the knowledge of a k i n e s i o l o g i s t , as to how the muscles and s k e l t o n of the l e g s f u n c t i o n when one takes a step, l i k e w i s e a t h e o r i s t i n regard to the p h i l o s o p h i c a l f a c e t s of a s c i e n t i f i c theory. There are, I t h i n k , s e v e r a l notable lacunae i n these views which r e q u i r e e l u c i d a t i o n and c o r r e c t i o n . B r i e f l y they are as f o l l o w s . For one t h i n g , science i s a s e l f - c r i t i c a l and s e l f - c o r r e c t i n g e n t e r p r i s e , thereby, n e c e s s i t a t i n g c l a r i f i c a -t i o n of obscure p o i n t s and inadequate r a t i o n a l e s of the v a r i o u s t h e o r e t i c a l schemes and procedures that may be employed i n a p a r t i c u l a r i n v e s t i g a t i o n i n any one of the s c i e n t i f i c d i s c i p l i n e s ; i n other words, science i s a r a t i o n a l undertaking, always undergoing c r i t i c a l s c r u t i n y . (1) For another, as p r e v i o u s l y noted, a t h e o r i s t does not simply immerse himself i n a c e r t a i n sphere of study w i t h a stock of hunches and assumptions about the phenomenon i n question and then proceed w i t h the arduous process of t h e o r i z i n g . To be sure, he formulates h i s theory i n accordance w i t h a c o n s t e l l a -t i o n of general assumptions and models of what a theory s t r u c t u r e should represent, however nebulously or sharply o u t l i n e d they may be i n h i s consciousness. I t i s c l e a r that 106 i t i s these factors which i n large part determine the general s t r u c t u r a l features of a substantive theory and i t s r e l a t i v e worth p r i o r to i t s engagement with the pertinent empirical observations. (2) A theorist's conception of s c i e n t i f i c theory may indicate, though i n a rough and ready manner, what his substantive contributions w i l l , i n a l l p r o b a b i l i t y , resemble and how they w i l l fare before the somewhat austere court of s c i e n t i f i c adjudication, mainly predicated on (a) the canons of basic s c i e n t i f i c thought which, i n c i d e n t a l l y , hypothetico-deductive theory embodies i n great measure and, (b) to a degree, with the available knowledge of the pertinent aspects of the empirical world. By and large, then, a theorist's conception of s c i e n t i f i c theory i s , a r e l i a b l e bellwether as to what type of an approach can be expected i n his substantive t h e o r e t i c a l formulations which have been presented or may eventually follow. Several further observations of a less important•nature concerning fche analysis of a theorist's notion of s c i e n t i f i c theory, i n my estimation, present themselves at t h i s point. An inquiry of t h i s sort may a f f o r d an apposite yardstick by means of which the theorist's substantive works can be measured i n terms of th e i r coincidence with, or conversely, divergence from the conception of s c i e n t i f i c theory the th e o r i s t e x p l i c i t l y maintains. Thus, f o r the i n d i v i d u a l IQ? t h e o r i s t and c r i t i c , whether sympathetic or otherwise, a c r i t i c a l awareness of a t h e o r i s t ' s fundamental assumptions and presuppositions concerning the nature of s c i e n t i f i c theory seems mandatory f o r an adequate understanding of h i s substantive works, p a r t i c u l a r l y w i t h respect to t h e i r conceptual weaknesses and strengths, and t h e i r a b i l i t y to confront i n a meaningful manner the p e r t i n e n t e m p i r i c a l data. As w e l l , one could r e l e v a n t l y i n q u i r e whether a t h e o r i s t 1 s substantive theory conforms to the c r i t e r i a of s c i e n t i f i c theory he e x p l i c i t l y e n joins. I may mention, however, that c o n s i d e r a t i o n s of t h i s c haracter, i n t e r e s t i n g though they may be, do not n e c e s s a r i l y presuppose the c r i t e r i a of adequate s c i e n t i f i c theory such as those contained i n the hypothetico-deductive mode of theory. But should they be interwoven with such c r i t e r i a , an understanding of a t h e o r i s t ' s various c o n t r i -b u t i o n s , I should t h i n k would be immeasurably enhanced. Besides the instrumental value of probing a t h e o r i s t ' s metatheory i n the :manner j u s t considered, t h i s type of examina-t i o n can be of i n t r i n s i c i n t e r e s t i n merely answering the simple q u e s t i o n : What i s t h i s t h e o r i s t ' s conception of s c i e n t i f i c theory? (However, i t i s surely obvious that t h i s a n a l y t i c a l endeavor can only be ventured i f the t h e o r i s t t o s t a r t w i t h , has a l l u d e d t o , or elaborated upon h i s conception of s c i e n t i c 108 theory i n h i s w r i t t e n work and i t may be remarked that Parsons has done so i n unmistakably p r o l i f i c and searching terms.) Although Parsons, q u i t e understandably - he i s pre-eminently a t h e o r i s t i n a p a r t i c u l a r d i s c i p l i n e , not a philosopher - has. not w r i t t e n a j o u r n a l a r t i c l e or a book e x c l u s i v e l y devoted to a ranging d i s c u s s i o n on the s t r u c t u r a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s and uses of s c i e n t i f i c theory as such, an .analysis of h i s w r i t i n g s - both substantive and m e t a t h e o r e t i c a l (3) - from 1935 to the present d i s c l o s e s a spate of widely dispersed and fragmentary passages i n which a d i s t i n c t l y Parsonian conception of s c i e n t i f i c theory i s evidenced. . In view of the s c a t t e r e d nature of Parsons' references to t h i s problem, an attempt w i l l be undertaken i n t h i s chapter to r e c o n s t r u c t and adumbrate the e s s e n t i a l ingred-i e n t s of h i s n o t i o n of s . c i e n t i f i c theory i n c h r o n o l o g i c a l f a s h i o n from 1935 to the present, (^ f) I n a d d i t i o n , an e f f o r t w i l l be made to d i s c e r n the modified and stable elements i n Parsons 1' conception of s c i e n t i f i c theory. Doubtless .my approach w i l l be s e l e c t i v e i n the highest degree. However, i n order to f o r e s t a l l p o s s i b l e s e r i o u s misconstruals and to insure a reason-ably f a i t h f u l e x p o s i t i o n of Parsons' thought i n t h i s connection, I s h a l l , g e n e r a l l y , though not i n a l l i n s t a n c e s , r e f r a i n from major c r i t i c a l comment u n t i l a f t e r I have presented what I consider to be the b a s i c features of Parsons' t h i n k i n g on s c i e n t i f i c theory i n each of the r e l e v a n t works - ten i n number — 109 which I have c u l l e d from h i s vast b i b l i o g r a p h y of published works. P e r i o d i c a l l y - when I deem i t necessary -— I may i n t e r p o l a t e . b r i e f , passing c r i t i c a l notes i n the course of my e x p o s i t i o n , indeed, much depending on the le n g t h of the e x p o s i -t i o n , i n the sense t h a t , g e n e r a l l y , the longer the e x p o s i t i o n the l e s s c r i t i c a l comment during i t s e l a b o r a t i o n i n order not to d i s r u p t an often tortuous t r a i n of thought and to eschew the r i s k of c r e a t i n g an imbalance of emphasis v i s - a - v i s other notions Parsons may a l s o present. I am o b l i g e d to s t r e s s once again that here I s h a l l only be concerned w i t h Parsons' concep-t i o n of the s t r u c t u r e of s c i e n t i f i c theory, not the lineaments of h i s substantive theory or other considerations p e r t i n e n t t h e r e t o . These l a t t e r f a c t o r s , i n c i d e n t a l l y , w i l l be examined i n p a r t i n the next chapter.. I t should be remarked that much of what I s h a l l say i n c r i t i c i s m and even e x p o s i t i o n of each work I-examine, w i l l no doubt be r e p e t i t i o u s . But I take solace i n the f a c t that f o r i l l u m i n a t i o n and understanding of a theor-i s t ' s p r o l i f i c c o n t r i b u t i o n s over a p e r i o d of t i m e , r e p e t i t i o n i s an i n e v i t a b i l i t y f o r 'scarcely any i n t e l l e c t u a l begins h i s d e l i b e r a t i o n s anew.each time he w r i t e s f o r wide broadcast. B. Parsons' E a r l y Polemic Against " P o s i t i v i s m " Before t a c k l i n g straightaway the aims of t h i s chapter, however, i t i s d e c i s i v e to r e a l i z e f o r reasons of proper per-spective and accuracy that Parsons maintained a rigorous 110 polemic (5) during the e a r l i e r stages of h i s t h e o r i z i n g career a g a i n s t what he termed to be the " p o s i t i v i s t i c view of t h i n g s " i n the s o c i a l sciences. Neglecting t h i s f a c e t i n any assess-ment of Parsons' n o t i o n of s c i e n t i f i c theory and h i s substantive theory l e a d s , I should t h i n k , to t h e d i s t o r t e d impression that Parsons' attempts at t h e o r y - c o n s t r u c t i o n stemmed from an i n t e l -l e c t u a l o r i e n t a t i o n l a r g e l y compatible w i t h the n a t u r a l sciences which, by a l l accounts, was not at a l l the case. I n a p a r t i c u l a r l y t e l l i n g and i n t e n s i v e l y argued essay c a l l e d "The Place of Ul t i m a t e Values i n S o c i o l o g i c a l Theory" ( 1 9 3 5 ) 5 (6) Parsons s p e l l s out i n a d e t a i l e d f a s h i o n h i s o p p o s i t i o n t o a p o s i t i v i s t i c approach f o r the s o c i a l sciences. According to Parsons, p o s i t i v i s m stresses a s c i e n t i f i c o r i e n -t a t i o n which p r i m a r i l y , nay e x c l u s i v e l y , d i r e c t s i t s a t t e n t i o n s on the purely p h y s i c a l aspect of human behavior; t h a t i s , i t po i n t s up the r e l a t i o n of a human being (or c e r t a i n of i t s responses) to e x t e r n a l events which can be observed without too much d i f f i c u l t y . This indeed was ob j e c t i o n a b l e i n Parsons' view f o r i t b l u r r e d the i n d i s p u t a b l e f a c t that human beings-were, at bottom, " a c t i v e , c r e a t i v e , e v a l u a t i n g creature(s). ( 7 ) P o s i t i v i s m denied the e s s e n t i a l premise - which Parsons advocated -th a t the s u b j e c t i v e f a c t o r (voluntarism, (8) as he l a t e r put i t ) of human behavior could be s c i e n t i f i c a l l y understood i n t h e ' l i g h t of the values harbored by the i n d i v i d u a l s undergoing I l l i n vestigation. Within the p o s i t i v i s t i c framework, ends, means, objectives, i d e a l s , values, and norms, which constitute the subjective aspect of human behavior were conceptions and processes prohibited from appearing i n explanations of i t . The chief reason for t h i s , i t was frequently stated, was that they strongly savored of teleology; and t e l e o l o g i c a l explan-ations,- at a l l events, were u n s c i e n t i f i c i n the eyes of positivism. But, to Parsons' mind, the subjective factor held an importance of the f i r s t magnitude; i t was c l e a r l y something which captured the heart as i t were, of human behavior and could not be discarded as though i t were so much cl u t t e r i n g conceptual rubbish i n s c i e n t i f i c thought. I t could not be given s c i e n t i f i c short s h r i f t merely because i t could not be immediately conceived or translated i n terms analogous to those employed i n 'the natural sciences. Generally, the physical sciences which concerned themselves with ""inanimate"' subject matter" ( 9 ) embodied the p o s i t i v i s t i c approach i n i t s most thoroughgoing and offensive form. For these d i s c i p l i n e s , positivism was e n t i r e l y s a t i s f a c t o r y but unquestionably inappropriate for the s o c i a l sciences which, after a l l , dealt with human behavior. For Parsons, then, the most pernicious u t i l i z a t i o n of the p o s i t i v i s t i c orientation was manifested by the movement he c a l l e d "radical behaviorism" which obviated altogether the necessity of studying the subjective component of human behavior and, instead, shifted i t s attentions on what 112 could be termed the observably i d e n t i f i a b l e variables of human behavior and the relevant aspects of the external world for a t r u l y s c i e n t i f i c explanation of human behavior. (10) For purposes of amplifying these somewhat condensed remarks ; I should think that several substantial quotations from Parsons may be allowed at thi s point; as Parsons pointedly writes: The p o s i t i v i s t i c reaction against philosophy has, i n i t s e f f e c t on the s o c i a l sciences, manifested a strong tendency to obscure';the fact that man i s e s s e n t i a l l y an active, creative, evaluating creature. Any attempt to explain his behavior i n terms of ends, purposes, i d e a l s , has been under suspicion as a form of "teleology" which was thought to be incompatible with the methodological requirements of po s i t i v e science. "One must, on the contrary, explain i n terms of."causes" and conditions", not of ends. Of l a t e years, however, there have been many signs of a break i n t h i s r i g i d p o s i t i v i s t i c view of things. The s o c i a l sciences i n general have been fa r from immune from these signs, and i n sociology i n p a r t i c u l a r they have combined to form a movement of thought of the f i r s t impor-tance. One main aspect of t h i s movement has been the tendency to reopen the whole question of the extent to which,-and the" senses i n which, human behavior must or can be understood i n terms of the values entertained by men. (11) One of the most conspicuous features of the p o s i t i v -i s t i c movement just referred to has been the tendency to-what may be termed a kind of "objectivism". Positivism, that i s , has continually thought i n terms of the model of the physical sciences which deal with an "inanimate" subject matter. Hence the tendency has been to follow t h e i r example i n thinking of a simple r e l a t i o n of observer 113 to e x t e r n a l l y observed events. The f a c t that the e n t i t i e s observed, human beings, have a l s o a " s u b j e c t i v e " aspect has a tendency to be obscured, or at l e a s t kept out of the range of methodological s e l f - c o n s c i o u s n e s s . The extreme of t h i s o b j e c t i v i s t t rend i s , of course, behaviorism which envolves the s e l f - c o n s c i o u s d e n i a l s of the l e g i t i m a c y of i n c l u d i n g any references to the su b j e c t i v e aspects of other human beings i n any s c i e n t i f i c explanation of t h e i r a c t i o n s . But short of t h i s r a d i c a l b e h a v i o r i s t p o s i t i o n , the general p o s i t i v i s t i c trend of thought has s y s t e m a t i c a l l y minimized the importance of a n a l y s i s i n terms of the s u b j e c t i v e aspect and has prevented a c l e a r - c u t s e l f - c o n s c i o u s treatment of the r e l a t i o n s of the two aspects to each other. Of course, the results..>of a n a l y s i s of human behavior from the o b j e c t i v e p o i n t of view (that i s , t hat of an outside observer and the s u b j e c t i v e (that of the person thought of as a c t i n g h i m s e l f ) should correspond, but that f a c t i s no reason why the two p o i n t s of view should not be kept c l e a r l y d i s t i n c t . Only on t h i s b a s i s i s there any hope of a r r i v i n g at a s a t i s f a c t o r y s o l u t i o n of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s to each other. (12) L i k e most Americans growing up i n the s o c i a l sciences since the war, my s t a r t i n g - p o i n t has been what may broadly be c a l l e d the " p o s i t i v i s t i c " movement i n these f i e l d s -the tendency to i m i t a t e the p h y s i c a l sciences and to make p h y s i c a l science the measuring-rod of a l l things I quite e a r l y reached a _ c o n v i c t i o n of the "inadequacy of these current views /those of behaviorism and b e h a v i o r i s t i c a l l y -based " i n s t i t u t i o n a l i s t " economics/. That c o n v i c t i o n centered p r i m a r i l y on the vague r e a l i z a t i o n that these p o s i t i v i s t i c t h e o r i e s somehow, by a k i n d of l o g i c a l j u g g l i n g rather than by e m p i r i c a l proof, were squeezing what I have here c a l l e d the "value"-elements out of t h e i r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of s o c i a l l i f e . (13) I n these passages, i t i s doubtless evident t h a t Parsons.' antipathy toward a t h e o r e t i c a l approach emphasizing only the importance of immediately observable v a r i a b l e s (that of the n a t u r a l sciences as he viewed it: ) was u n r e l e n t i n g and sharp, llh yet s u r p r i s i n g l y c o n c i l i a t o r y i n that he accorded i t a measure of considerable importance i n furnishing accounts and descrip-tions of human behavior as the l a s t quoted paragraph above unequivocally reveals. He regarded i t as a v i t a l part, but only a part. In short, Parsons wished to adopt elements of both t h e o r e t i c a l orientations i n one comprehensive framework with the dominant emphasis being placed on the subjective aspect of human behavior. (1^-) Aptly summarizing Parsons' early t h e o r e t i c a l orientations, Edward Devereux points out the following pertinent considerations: Although he was impressed with the p r i n c i p l e of emergence and the element of indeterminacy implied i n the v o l u n t a r i s t i c postulate, he was also impressed with the fact that emergent systems never wholly detach themselves from t h e i r more primitive parts or elements. Even the best s o c i a l i z e d human being i s s t i l l , among other beings, a concrete physiological organism and presumably the baby i s only that. The stubborn facts of heredity and environment are always there, as c r u c i a l parameters for the human personality and the s o c i a l system a l i k e , and the i r p a r t i c u l a r forms always use up many degrees of freedom. Emergent systems are thus never wholly f r e e - f l o a t i n g . The problem, as Parsons saw i t , was to construct a single t h e o r e t i c a l system which could handle both types of factors and work out i n d e t a i l the points of a r t i c u l a t i o n and in t e r a c t i o n between them .... ( 1 5 ) E s s e n t i a l l y s i m i l a r considerations which Devereux 1s remarks (and mine) have alluded to i n the foregoing hold for a number of argu-ments which appeared i n Parsons' published works during the mid and l a t e 1930's when Parsons was launching into his lengthy 115 p e r i o d of t h e o r e t i c a l f o r m u l a t i o n and s o c i a l a n a l y s i s ; the most outstanding work to be noted i n t h i s respect i s . Parsons 1, tome The S t r u c t u r e of S o c i a l A c t i o n published i n 1937? the basic contents of which w i l l be discussed i n short order. I t may now be r e l e v a n t l y asked what a l l t h i s s i g n i f i e s i n regard t o Parsons' conception and advocacy of s c i e n t i f i c theory i n sociology during the e a r l y stages of h i s the.oretical work. To s t a r t w i t h , Parsons.was i n t e n s e l y desirous of c r e a t i n g and u t i l i z i n g s c i e n t i f i c theory but, as we have n o t i c e d , he wished to incorporate t e l e o l o g i c a l elements i n t o h i s s o c i o -l o g i c a l theory, to be sure, a procedure s t a r k l y at variance w i t h the then - and present - p r e v a i l i n g s c i e n t i f i c and p h i l -o s o p hical conventions. On the other hand, Parsons r e j e c t e d o u t r i g h t any truck w i t h the s t r u c t u r e of t h e o r i e s o b t a i n i n g i n the n a t u r a l sciences mainly owing to t h e i r tendencies to concentrate on simple r e l a t i o n s between e m p i r i c a l l y s p e c i f i a b l e v a r i a b l e s which, according to Parsons, had the perverse e f f e c t of reducing a l l human behavior to in a p p r o p r i a t e p h y s i c a l i n d i c e s ' a n d , i n consequence, completely i g n o r i n g the c r u c i a l l y important a c t i o n a l elements (values, norms, means, ends etc.) which he thought a c c u r a t e l y c h a r a c t e r i z e d much of what i s g e n e r a l l y termed as human behavior. The p r e d i l e c t i o n s , aims and the canons of s c i e n t i f i c discourse as Parsons conceived them at tha t time, were doubtless tugging i n d i a m e t r i c a l l y 11.6 opposite d i r e c t i o n s . However, a f t e r a number of years - roughly, a f t e r World War I I i n 19i+5 (16) — the i n s i s t e n c e f o r these c o n d i t i o n s appears to have receded considerably and ceased to w i e l d such significant-., force on h i s t h e o r e t i c a l thought. By the 1950's and e a r l y 1960's the c o n f l i c t i n g nature of these t h e o r e t i c a l demands, o b j e c t i o n s , and conceptions a l l but vanished, though f a c e t s of a l l these were r e t a i n e d i n exceed-i n g l y d i l u t e d form, p l a y i n g s c a r c e l y mentionable r o l e s i n h i s t h e o r e t i c a l works published i n t h i s p e r i o d . Before going on, I should t h i n k i t proper to say something of a c r i t i c a l nature concerning Parsons' s t r i c t u r e s of the t h e o r e t i c a l schemes employed i n the n a t u r a l sciences, which continued f o r some time i n h i s published work a f t e r the appear-ance of t h i s essay. I n h i s rather sharp broadsides against the heavy emphasis which a number of the t h e o r i e s i n the n a t u r a l sciences put on "observables", he was, i n e f f e c t , condemning the t h e o r e t i c a l p r a c t i c e s of a l l these sciences i n a g r a t u i t o u s , b l a n k e t - l i k e f a s h i o n which could not p o s s i b l y stand up to the f a c t s of the s i t u a t i o n . For, c l e a r l y , many — v i r t u a l l y a l l — of the n a t u r a l sciences employed q u i t e s o p h i s t i c a t e d a b s t r a c t t h e o r e t i c a l c o n s t r u c t i o n s . Perhaps what would be more accurate t o say i s that Parsons -- though he h i m s e l f d i d not say t h i s — v o i c e d a strong dismay w i t h a p a r t i c u l a r type of s c i e n t i f i c 117 o r i e n t a t i o n , that of "empiricism"' which s t r i c t l y abjured a b s t r a c t theory and argued that genuine s c i e n t i f i c knowledge could only be acquired by transforming every a b s t r a c t s c i e n t i f i c statement by the u t i l i z a t i o n of conveniently developed s e r i e s of d e f i n i t i o n s , i n t o equivalent statements framed wholly i n terms of observable notions. (17) Apparently, Parsons woef u l l y misapprehended t h i s , according to a l l accounts, m i n o r i t y stand-p o i n t i n the n a t u r a l sciences and construed i t as a represent-a t i v e of the e n t i r e domain of the n a t u r a l sciences. (18) I t i s indeed of great i n t e r e s t to note that Parsons' i n s i s t e n c e here on a t e l e o l o g i c a l mode of a n a l y s i s -- or an emphasis on the s u b j e c t i v e aspects of human behavior -- betokened a r a t h e r f r a n g i b l e grasp of c r u c i a l l y r e l e v a n t s c i e n t i f i c and p h i l o s o p h i c a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n s . To be sure, a t e l e o l o g i c a l argument i s i n v a r i a b l y excluded from s c i e n t i f i c discourse as a d e c i s i v e f a c t o r f o r the fundamental reason that i t d i r e c t l y r e l i e s on the concepts of "ends", "purposes" and "values" f o r an account of an event, p a r t i c u l a r l y of human behavior. Despite the seeming cogency and a t t r a c t i v e l y easy type of account (or "explanation"-) i t provides, a t e l e o l o g i c a l argument f o r one t h i n g i s wholly inadequate f o r s c i e n t i f i c i n q u i r i e s since i t i s , i n p r i n c i p l e , unamenable to the minimal r e q u i s i t e s of s c i e n t i f i c t e s t . (19) Another c o n s i d e r a t i o n to be taken i n t o account i n t h i s regard i s that a t e l e o l o g i c a l argument does 11.8 not afford .any sound reason for an expectation of a s p e c i f i c phenomenon to occur. Clearly, then, the u t i l i z a t i o n of t e l e -o l o g i c a l notions such as "ends", "purposes", and "values", to c i t e only a few, i n statements to account for human behavior, do not contribute to or y i e l d formulations of an explanatory character for they do not contain a s u f f i c i e n t l y general state-ment (or law) from which a number of derivations, i . e . , empiri-c a l l y testable statements, can be made. More often than not, proponents of a t e l e o l o g i c a l account (as Parsons was i n thi s p a r t i c u l a r paper) confound sc i e n t i f i c - explanation i n the manner I have outlined i n Chapter Three with that of .Justification (frequently eibhical) of a human action where an event i s accounted for by references which are made to values, ends, or purposes and norms e x p l i c i t l y or i m p l i c i t l y held by the actors. (20) The profound importance of such accounts i n the everyday world San scarcely be diminished. But t h e i r importation into a c r i t i c a l s c i e n t i f i c framework where explana-t i o n i n terms of causal relations and subsumption by virtue of general uniformities i s an imperative procedure, i s surely gratuitous, i f not completely erroneous. (21) As John Hospers. acutely points out i n his discussion on the various types of explanation that are possible: The chief mistake which people are i n the habit of making with regard to_purposive explanation / f o r our purposes, t e l e o l o g i c a l argument/ i s probably that of wanting an answer 119 to a why-question i n terms of purpose-answer•is l e g i t i m a t e are not f u l f i l l e d . People extend t h e i r questioning u n t h i n k i n g l y from areas i n which purposive explanation i s i n order i n t o areas i n which i t i s not. (22.) In view of a l l these considerations on t e l e o l o g i c a l argu-mentation, I t h i n k i t not too f a r amiss to a f f i r m that Parsons was i n d i s c r i m i n a t e l y commixing arguments — and he has done so f o r many years — of fundamental s c i e n t i f i c import w i t h those of a d i s t i n c t i v e l y p h i l o s o p h i c a l o r i e n t a t i o n ( p r i m a r i l y i n the f i e l d of e t h i c s where terms such as "purposes", "ends" and "goals" and " j u s t i f i c a t i o n " are common c o i n ) . To be sure, i n t e r d i s c i p l i n a r y borrowing, i n i t s e l f , i s unobjectionable. But when there i s a f a i l u r e to recognize the contextual frame-work of each borrowed element, serious conceptual d i f f i c u l t i e s i n e v i t a b l y ensue. This i s the problem, I t h i n k , which confronted Parsons when he advocated that the su b j e c t i v e aspect of human behavior should be taken i n t o c o n s i d e r a t i o n and t r e a t e d i n a s c i e n t i f i c f a s h i o n ; u n f o r t u n a t e l y he d i d not perfieive i t . A fundamental methodological poi n t i s to be mentioned i n elabora-t i o n of Parsons' problem. One of science's b a s i c presuppositions i s the resolve that the world i s d e t e r m i n i s t i c - that r e g u l a r i t i e s can be found i n the e m p i r i c a l world i n order t o render i t s e n s i b l e t o the human i n t e r e s t . On the other hand, concepts such as "end", " g o a l " , "purposes", "values" and "norms" imply an element of 120 indeterminacy, a freedom to choose on the p a r t of a human agent. (23) I t i s evident that the r e s p e c t i v e frameworks are l o g i c a l l y incompatible and that elements from one cannot be incorporated i n t o the other without i n v i t i n g the penalty of confusion and s t e r i l e debate, the bane of s c i e n t i f i c enquiry. Thus, by i n c o r p o r a t i n g a l i e n notions from an i n d e t e r m i n i s t i c framework of reference to a s c i e n t i f i c ( d e t e r m i n i s t i c ) dimen-s i o n , Parsons, quite unawares, i t seems,' p r e c i p i t a t e d consid-erable conceptual p e r p l e x i t i e s f o r h i m s e l f and others, p a r t i -c u l a r l y h i s readers. He t h r u s t e d h i m s e l f i n t o an i n t e l l e c t u a l l y untenable p o s i t i o n and from there attempted to proceed to greater t h e o r e t i c a l s o p h i s t i c a t i o n . As mentioned e a r l i e r , Parsons g r a d u a l l y discarded the e s s e n t i a l features of t h i s t h e o r e t i c a l standpoint i n the ensuing years u n t i l now only f a i n t v e s t i g e s of i t remain. However, i t i s to be observed that a l l t h i s e m p h a tically does not suggest that behavior i n v o l v i n g "norms", "values", "goals", "purposes", and s u c h - l i k e cannot be examined i n a s c i e n t i f i c f a s h i o n ; f o r , undoubtedly, they can be as any other behavior. But these concepts must be employed as v a r i a b l e s i n statements of r e l a t i o n s ( f a c t u a l statements or general statements) i n s t e a d of t h e i r conventional uses and meanings i n t h e i r proper domains of discourse. (2*4-) However, granted that Parsons, at t h i s time, e n t e r t a i n e d t h e o r e t i c a l viewpoints which were at sharp odds wi t h those of the hypothetico-deductive s o r t , g e n e r a l l y i n use at that time i n the n a t u r a l sciences, Parsons' general p l a i n t , as they quotations suggest, against t h i s extreme e m p i r i c a l p o s i t i o n , had a c e r t a i n l e g i t i m a t e , a l b e i t i m p l i c i t , r i n g about i t i n the sense that i t d i r e c t e d a t t e n t i o n to the f a c t that s c i e n t i -f i c theory, i n order to be s c i e n t i f i c a l l y u s e f u l , was required to transcend the e m p i r i c a l data i t purported to take i n t o account. This, empiricism r e j e c t e d . As a number of p h i l o s o -phers of science who noted the t h e o r e t i c a l developments at that time (during the 1930's) maintained, "empiricism" i s a s t e r i l e , r e s t r i c t i v e approach (25) because a l l s c i e n t i f i c theory, to be of any explanatory s i g n i f i c a n c e , must be couched i n s u f f i -c i e n t l y a b s t r a c t terms t o subsume a welter of s i m i l a r e m p i r i c a l observations f o r explanatory purposes; b a s i c a l l y , t h i s means that i n any statement about a s i n g u l a r observation there are p r o p e r t i e s being a s c r i b e d to- the c o n s t i t u e n t notions ( l e t us say, objects) which sta t e f a r more than any e m p i r i c a l observa-t i o n can o f f e r ; f o r example, i n the statement - " A l l rocks are g o l d - c o l o r e d " , the n o t i o n "rock" goes f a r beyond what experience has, so to speak, presents; "rock" i s a u n i v e r s a l concept. Another way of arguing t h i s p o i n t - as Parsons does i n h i s subsequent t h e o r e t i c a l work (26) -- i s to maintain that a l l observations are made i n terms of a conceptual scheme (that i s , a theory)'whether or not i t i s acknowledged by the observer or t h e o r i s t . For emphasis, i t i s to be noted once again that 122 t h i s argument was not e x p l i c i t l y stated by Parsons i n t h i s essay but i t was indeed strongly hinted at. This argument at length was elaborated i n another .journal essay on sociology and economic theories which was published only four months l a t e r ! C "Sociological Elements i n Economic Thought:  The A n a l y t i c a l Factor View" (1935) One of Parsons' f i r s t statements on the nature and uses of s c i e n t i f i c theory i s found i n a journal a r t i c l e e n t i t l e d , "Sociological Elements i n Economic.Thought: The A n a l y t i c a l Factor View", published i n the Quarterly Journal of  Economics i n 1935' (2.7) Although h i s remarks i n thi s respect are f a i r l y abbreviated on account of the nature of the a r t i c l e , what he does state is.indeed s i g n i f i c a n t i n coming to an under-standing of his conception of theory and cognate problems. One assumption that i s i n i t i a l l y made i s that r e a l i t y , espec-i a l l y human r e a l i t y , i s fundamentally an undisrupted continuum, a seamless robe, as i t were. I t i s not conveniently s l i c e d i n sections for us t o observe and i d e n t i f y . I t i s we, the common-sense men and the th e o r i s t , who dissect r e a l i t y and make sense of i t . Human l i f e i s e s s e n t i a l l y one and no concretely possible -'degree of functional d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n can destroy i t s unity. •.But. tho ( s i c ) , i t s concrete reality, i s a unity, i t can, l i k e a l l other complex phenomena, be Broken Sown for purposes-of analysis into d i f f e r e n t factors. However predominant any one of these factors may be i n a p a r t i c u l a r set of concrete a c t i v i t i e s , i t i s never present to the complete exclusion of the others. (28) 1 2 3 I t i s clear that a decomposition of r e a l i t y into meaningful manageable units does not necessarily imply that i f one unit i s selected to represent an explanatory factor that i t operates i n an i s o l a t e d fashion upon another unit or aggregate of u h i t s . Employing economic theory as an i l l u s t r a t i o n , Parsons continues t h i s t r a i n of thought: The only way of maintaining a positive role for economic theory as a systematic generalizing science i s to make i t the science of one of these factors i n concrete human action, to be sure more conspicuous i n those concrete a c t i v i t i e s we c a l l "business" than elsewhere, but neither confined to them nor excluding others there. From this point of view no one s o c i a l science i s capable of a th e o r e t i c a l explanation of concrete s o c i a l facts but only a synthesis of the p r i n c i p l e s of various of them. Thus economic theory i s necessarily and by i t s inherent nature abstract. But so, according to the best modern method-ology i s a l l s c i e n t i f i c theory. ( 2 9 ) The following type of argument, I think, i s operating here. Since a theory i s a s e l e c t i v e , hence, an abstract, device, i t cannot explain everything about pertinent concrete events placed before i t for consideration. A concrete event can be taken into account by a number of theories of varying l e v e l s of abstraction and subject matter. As an i l l u s t r a t i o n , l e t us take Parsons' example of "business". Clearly, a concrete event considered to possess a "business" character can be analyzed by an economic theory which focuses on the elements dealing with such factors as "supply" or "demand";- the event can be viewed from a psycho-l o g i c a l perspective, p a r t i c u l a r l y regarding the t r a i t s of . 12k ' " I n c e n t i v e " and " a c q u i s i t i v e n e s s " the i m p l i c a t e d i n d i v i d u a l s ' i n t h i s "business" event may d i s p l a y ; doubtless, t h i s type of event can be explained from a s o c i o l o g i c a l viewpoint which., broadly speaking, would cast an explanatory l i g h t on the i n s t i t u t i o n a l aspect, i . e . , the interdependence of the d i v e r s e r o l e s adopted by the actors i n such circumstances. . A theory does not - and cannot - e x p l a i n everything connected w i t h a phenomenon since i t only concentrates on c e r t a i n aspects. A. f u r t h e r p o i n t must be made of Parsons' phrase " t h e o r e t i c a l e xplanation". This, I t h i n k , serves to p o i n t out that theory and explanation are c l o s e l y i n t e r t w i n e d . I t may be i n f e r r e d t h a t to e x p l a i n an event one employs a theory, to have theory one can e x p l a i n . But i t i s noteworthy that Parsons does not demonstrate the nature of t h i s i n t e r c o n n e c t i o n . By and l a r g e , what Parsons s t a t e s i n these contexts appears to c o i n c i d e q u i t e c l o s e l y w i t h the c r i t e r i a and r a t i o n a l e s f o r hypothetico-deductive theory which were o u t l i n e d i n Chapter Three. Moreover, Earsons contends very p e r c e p t i v e l y that a theory i s , employed e i t h e r c o v e r t l y or o v e r t l y , i n any type of e m p i r i c a l i n v e s t i g a t i o n . According to Parsons, a theory throws a guiding l i g h t on e m p i r i c a l r e a l i t y , thereby enabling the t h e o r i s t or researcher to s e l e c t and examine relevant elements thereof. This cannot be undertaken without a theory, however vague i t may be. I n a passage commenting on the tandencies of c e r t a i n 125 s c i e n t i s t s ( p r i m a r i l y economists) who scorn theory as a needless l u x u r y and d i r e c t t h e i r concerns s o l e l y to what they can perceive i n the e m p i r i c a l world, Parsons p o i n t e d l y exempli-f i e s t h i s mode of argument: This f a l l a c y / r e i f i c a t i o n or misplaced concreteness/ gave the e m p i r i c i s t c r i t i c i s m i t s opening, and i t has had l i t t l e d i f f i c u l t y i n making a d e c i s i v e case. E m p i r i c a l l y , d i s c o u n t i n g the one-sided biases of emphasis r e s u l t i n g from the e m p i r i c i s t ' s own non-empirical (and therefore from t h e i r own p o i n t of view i l l e g i t i m a t e ) t h e o r e t i c a l preoccupations, the e m p i r i c i s t s are undoubtedly r i g h t . But that does not make them any the l e s s d i s a s t r o u s l y wrong t h e o r e t i c a l l y . Their view has q u i t e d e f i n i t e l y r e s u l t e d i n "throwing out the baby with the bath." (30) I n the l i g h t of the c r i t e r i a of hypothetico-deductive theory, there i s very l i t t l e w i t h which to dispute Parsons i n t h i s p a r t i c u l a r connection. Indeed, theory whether i t i s consciously or unconsciously employed precedes e m p i r i c a l i n v e s t i g a t i o n . Parsons here a p t l y d i s c e r n s the s e l f - c o n t r a d i c t o r y p o s i t i o n , which i s unknowingly adopted by the e m p i r i c i s t s . As o f t e n as not, they f i r s t aver that they spurn theory and deal w i t h the e m p i r i c a l phenomena straightaway. But to do t h i s , however, they must harbor some general n o t i o n (or theory) which draws t h e i r a t t e n t i o n to t h i s e m p i r i c a l phenomenon r a t h e r than that phenomenon. Hence, what they do i s i m p l i c i t l y adopt a theory or a group of t h e o r i e s and then strenuously deny i t and more-over, construct a s c i e n t i f i c o r i e n t a t i o n p r e d i c a t e d on t h i s r a t h e r naive o v e r s i g h t . 126 I n the same j o u r n a l a r t i c l e , Parsons a l s o furnishes, s e v e r a l key remarks on the nature of s c i e n t i f i c e n t e r p r i s e as such. Empiricism (31)? the tendency to adhere only to the observable data, cannot p o s s i b l y be an aim of science. For, to be sure, the sheer a s s i m i l a t i o n of concrete events through one's sensory apparatus does not advance one whit our knowledge or, as Parsons affirms:, "understanding" of the world. As i t 'were, one i s g l u t t e d by experience without being able to say anything about i t . I f science seeks to comprehend the e m p i r i c a l world, i t must, i n some fashion, transcend the images grasped by our senses. And the only way t h i s can t r a n s p i r e i s by the u t i l i z a t i o n of general assumptions which venture beyond the 'data; i n a word, a theory i s necessary. Indeed, my own considered o p i n i o n , which cannot be • f u r t h e r j u s t i f i e d here i s that a thoro-going empiricism i s i n c o n s i s t e n t w i t h science i t s e l f . The essence of sci e n c e , the understanding as d i s t i n c t from the mere photographic r e c e p t i o n of concrete phenomena, i s theory and the essence of theory i s a n a l y t i c a l a b s t r a c t i o n . Whatever i t s dangers, there i s no other way. (Emphasis i n o r i g i n a l . ) (32) Ju s t p r e c i s e l y what Parsons means by the l o c u t i o n , "analyt-i c a l a b s t r a c t i o n " , o s t e n s i b l y c r u c i a l i n t h i s context, i s not at a l l c l e a r . I t appears to me that Parsons e n t e r t a i n s a n o t i o n something on the l i n e s of a general statement (or law) which allows f o r a s e l e c t i o n of p e r t i n e n t elements ..in an e m p i r i c a l phenomenon to be r e a d i l y undertaken. Perhaps by t h i s n o t i o n , Parsons intends to s i g n i f y a concept of high a b s t r a c t i o n which 1 2 7 can be a p p l i c a b l e to a wide domain of phenomena, (33.) and e v e n t u a l l y be incorporated i n t o a general statement a s s e r t i n g a general r e g u l a r i t y i n the e m p i r i c a l world. However, no i n d i c a t i o n i s provided such that one can adjudicate one way or the other as regards t h i s l o c u t i o n . As an aside - but one that can h o l d some importance - i t may be noted that t h i s phrase according to the conventional meaning of I t s two c o n s t i -tuent terms i s tautologous, hence, meaningless. To be sure, a l l a b s t r a c t i o n , by d e f i n i t i o n , i s a n a l y t i c a l i n the sense of d e a l i n g with concepts which are by t h e i r nature a b s t r a c t . "Indeed, t h i s would be analogous to t a l k i n g about "unmarried s p i n s t e r s " . Since, however, i n a l a t e r p r e s e n t a t i o n Parsons elaborates at l e n g t h on t h i s n o t i o n (which, by the way I w i l l . f u r t h e r exposit and d i s c u s s ) , I s h a l l defer c o n s i d e r a t i o n of i t f o r the moment save f o r noting once again that Parsons does not f u r n i s h any s a t i s f a c t o r y adumbration of t h i s n o t i o n i n the essay undergoing examination here. However, I would suggest that my f i r s t i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of t h i s n o t i o n would i n a l l prob-a b i l i t y h o l d , given the general d r i f t and tenor of Parsons' thought i n t h i s p a r t i c u l a r d i s c u s s i o n . For Parsons, i t i s c l e a r , true s c i e n t i f i c theory must be s u f f i c i e n t l y general (or what amounts to the same t h i n g , abstract) to be a p p l i c a b l e to events t a k i n g place at s p e c i f i c and disparate spatio-temporal l o c i . This c o n s i d e r a t i o n seems important enough 1 2 8 f o r Parsons to deserve extended comment. Referring to the r e s t r i c t e d spatio-temporal scope of Werner Sombart!;s theor-e t i c a l contributions i n economic theory, Parsons e x p l i c i t l y brings t h i s c r u c i a l consideration to the f o r e f r o n t : On the basis of German "historism" he has maintained a greater degree of concreteness for his economics than the orthodox school, but at the heavy cost of s a c r i f i c i n g  forever i t s claim to generality and of l i m i t i n g i t s a p p l i c - a b i l i t y - to a p a r t i c u l a r culture l i m i t e d i n time and space. In his conceptual scheme there i s no such thing as general economic theory, but only the economic theory of capitalism, of the handicraft system, etc. This involves an abdication  on the part of i t s claims to generality i n which most  economists are not w i l l i n g to acquiesce. (3^) /My emphasis -E.R.G^/ I t should be noted here that Parsons i s subtly distinguishing between an approach which i s wholly predicated on an empiricist framework dramatically termed, " s c i e n t i f i c a l l y f a t a l " , and a theory which could be viewed as operating on a f a i r l y low l e v e l of abstraction but nonetheless, affording "•significant" i n f o r -mation regarding the phenomenon i n question. (35) F i n a l l y , Parsons passes comment, a l b e i t i n a very succinct manner, on the factor of explanation. I t i s not appraised i n terms of i t s "truthfulness" or correspondence with the supposed fa c t s i n the world. Apparently, to Parsons, s c i e n t i f i c explana-t i o n whichjis, f o r a l l intents and purposes, a component of theory, i s adjudged by an eminently pragmatic c r i t e r i o n ; v i z . , success. (36) Although Parsons does not further amplify i n 12.9 t h i s regard, i t may be presumed that he i s pertaining to i t s u t i l i t y , i t s " f i t n e s s " with the data i n question, without encountering an instance where i t clashes with the th e o r e t i -c a l l y pertinent empirical observations. (37) Apparently, the same c r i t e r i o n i s applicable to a theory which provides the explanatory argument. Thus, i n summary form, Parsons makes the following assump-tions on r e a l i t y and observations on s c i e n t i f i c theory i n this, p a r t i c u l a r journal a r t i c l e : (a) Reality i s continuous and i s arranged i n convenient i d e n t i f i a b l e units by our creative interventions to understand the world. (fr) A concrete phenomenon'is characterized by numerous facets which, are explainable by d i f f e r e n t theories set at d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s of abstraction and containing d i f f e r e n t subject matter. (c) A theory does not throw l i g h t on (or explain) every angle and recess of a phenomenon; s t r i c t l y speaking, i t i s directed at a s p e c i f i c facet of the phenomenon.. (d) A theory i s abstract - i t i s universal; i t does not refer to s p e c i f i c phenomena only, but to s p e c i f i c facets of phenomena occurring i n any spatio-temporal context. 130 Ce) Any empirical concern or investigation invariably presupposes a theory e x p l i c i t or i m p l i c i t . (f) The c r i t e r i o n of the worth of a theory or explanation i s pragmatically determined by i t s success to take account of a wide domain of phenomena. Viewed i n the large, then, Parsons' r e f l e c t i o n s , b r i e f and few as they are, on the character and uses of s c i e n t i f i c theory i n t h i s a r t i c l e are devoid of serious l o g i c a l defect and are congruent i n large measure to what i s commonly conceived by philosophers of science to be the fundamental features of hypothetico-deductive theory. What i s remarkable about these views i s that Parsons formulated them when he was s t i l l i n the throes of his implacable opposition toward Positivism, the t h e o r e t i c a l approach u t i l i z e d i n the natural sciences, which he deemed malapropos to the s o c i a l sciences. Interestingly enough, Parsons' deliberations on s c i e n t i f i c theory, just outlined i n t h i s 1935 journal a r t i c l e are, with few exceptions here and there, those which the majority of i n d i v i d u a l s working i n the natural sciences embraced at that time I (38) D. The Structure of Social Action (1937) 1) An Exposition of Parsons' View of the General Features of S c i e n t i f i c Theory One of Parsons' most extensive discussions on 131 s c i e n t i f i c theory as such i n a l l h i s years as a s o c i o l o g i c a l t h e o r i s t i s probably contained i n the f i r s t and f i n a l chapters of h i s volume, The S t r u c t u r e of S o c i a l A c t i o n (1937)' As mentioned e a r l i e r , Parsons considers the dis c u s s i o n s on s c i e n t i f i c theory contained i n t h i s volume to be of immense moment f o r h i s subsequent t h e o r e t i c a l w r i t i n g s . With t h i s i n view, I propose to present and examine c r i t i c a l l y these arguments i n t h e i r manifold p a r t i c u l a r s and i m p l i c a t i o n s . (a) At the outset, Parsons conceptualizes s c i e n t i f i c theory as a c o n s t e l l a t i o n of " l o g i c a l l y i n t e r r e l a t e d "general concepts" of e m p i r i c a l reference". (39) I t should be noted that" Parsons 1 c a t e g o r i c a l l y s tresses "concepts" as being i n t e r r e l a t e d , not, as one would expect, p r o p o s i t i o n s , statements or laws. However, l e t us proceed f o r we s h a l l come to t h i s p o i n t l a t e r i n my c r i t i c i s m . I n a rather s u r p r i s i n g t u r n of argument — but in g e n i o u s l y put, to say the l e a s t — Parsons regards theory as. both an independent v a r i a b l e and a dependent v a r i a b l e (hO) i n the e v o l u t i o n of a science to i t s maturity. What he means by t h i s argument, admittedly somewhat reminiscent of an a n a l y s i s i n the s o c i o l o g y of knowledge, i s t h i s . A theory does not n e c e s s a r i l y grow from an accumulation of e m p i r i c a l f a c t s , c o l -l o c a t e d without the a s s i s t a n c e of a theory. But a theory to; be s c i e n t i f i c a l l y acceptable must f i t the f a c t s , as i t were. 132 In other words, theory and fact interplay, the l a t t e r , i f clashing with the former, usually indicates the points at which the theory i s to be modified, or even discarded i n part or i n whole. Thus, fa c t s , the independent variable, engender changes or add to a theory's compass the dependent variable. Conversely, and most importantly, a s c i e n t i f i c theory furnishes a guide as to which types of empirical facts should be sought for examina-tio n and also furnishes indices which s p e l l out i n general terms the type of s c i e n t i f i c interests which may be f r u i t f u l l y pursued i n a d i s c i p l i n e . In consequence, then, s c i e n t i f i c theory i s an independent variable determining the type of facts to be investigated. That i s , a theory provides the cate-gories by means of which the relevant empirical data (facts) are i d e n t i f i e d . In t h i s fashion, confirmation or disconfirmation of the theory and, perhaps, the discovery of previously unknown facts i s usually achieved: I t goes without saying that a theory to be sound must f i t the facts but i t does not follow that the facts alone, discovered independently of theory, determine what the theory i s to be, nor that the theory i s not a.factor i n determining what facts w i l l be discovered, what i s to be the d i r e c t i o n of inte r e s t of s c i e n t i f i c investigation, (hi) Although Parsons' employment of the locutions, "independent v a r i a b l e s " and "dependent variables" seems awkward and suggest-ive of an empirical analysis i n the sociology of knowledge,, i t , nevertheless, serves to bring into sharp r e l i e f Parsons' argument that theory and the cumulation of facts are i n d i s -solubly intertwined. One does not proceed without the other. 133 ("b) AS f a i n t l y suggested i n the preceding remarks, Parsons, contends that a s c i e n t i f i c theory — or f o r that matter any k i n d of theory — i n v a r i a b l y precedes any observation of e m p i r i -c a l phenomena. Knowledge about the world — or more a c c u r a t e l y , knowledge about a s p e c i f i c aspect of the world -— i s v i r t u a l l y impossible by the i n d i s c r i m i n a t e a s s i m i l a t i o n of cou n t l e s s , d i s c r e t e (disparate or s i m i l a r ) observations of e m p i r i c a l phenomena. What i s r e q u i r e d to make sense of these almost i n f i n i t e sensory impressions i s a scheme of concepts and s t a t e -ments r e s p e c t i v e l y i d e n t i f y i n g and s p e l l i n g out c e r t a i n r e l a t i o n -ships of e m p i r i c a l events i n a general f a s h i o n . Knowledge of the world, then, issues from a p o i n t of view; i n a word, a theory or an aggregate of t h e o r i e s . Pure sensory data, as i t were, i s an e l l i p t i c a l expression f o r , they are always c o l -l e c t e d i n terms of a conceptual scheme (or, a t h e o r y ) . Broadly speaking, the a c q u i s i t i o n of knowledge from sensory experiences e n t a i l s the . i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of the sensory experiences i n t o concepts drained from a conceptual scheme which i n d i c a t e how these concepts r e l a t e to each other and, most imp o r t a n t l y , guide i n the f i r s t i n s t a n c e , the a t t e n t i o n and subsequent observations of the i n v e s t i g a t o r i n h i s a n a l y s i s of an e m p i r i c a l phenomenon.. This process i s not s o l e l y confined to the circum-spect and c r i t i c a l e n t e r p r i s e s of s c i e n t i f i c t h e o r i z a t i o n and i n v e s t i g a t i o n ; i t i s c o v e r t l y employed i n the common-sense 13*+ everyday language ( i n any language) where comments of an e m p i r i c a l nature are c o n s t a n t l y exchanged and u t i l i z e d . A w e l t e r of t a c i t t h e o r i e s (or conceptual schemes) are doubtless-r e l i e d upon. (h2) I n Parsons' view, these conceptual schemes are i m p l i c i t i n the language employed. Above a l l , then, theory i s an i n t e g r a l part of human thought; but p r i m a r i l y , science i s i n t e r e s t e d i n i t s f u l l e l a b o r a t i o n and consistency f o r pur-poses of a f f o r d i n g l a r g e l y accurate d e s c r i p t i o n s and analyses \ of e m p i r i c a l phenomena i n which a s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t may express an i n t e r e s t . I t i s fundamental that there i s no e m p i r i c a l knowledge which i s not i n some sense and to some degree conceptually formed. A l l t a l k of "pure sense data", "raw experience" or the unformed stream of consciousness i s not d e s c r i p t i v e of a c t u a l experience, but a matter of methodological a b s t r a c t i o n , l e g i t i m a t e and important f o r c e r t a i n purposes but, neverthe-l e s s , a b s t r a c t i o n . In other words, i n P r o f e s s o r Henderson's phrase, a l l e m p i r i c a l observation i s " i n terms of a conceptual scheme". This i s true not only of s o p h i s t i c a t e d s c i e n t i f i c o bservation but of the simplest common-sense statements of f a c t . Conceptual schemes i n t h i s sense are inherent i n the s t r u c t u r e of language and, as anyone thoroughly f a m i l i a r w i t h more than one language knows, they d i f f e r i n important respects from one language to another. (*+3) To denigrate the s i g n i f i c a n c e of theory, e s p e c i a l l y i n science ( s o c i a l science i n p a r t i c u l a r ) i s , i t appears, to betray an i n s u f f i c i e n c y of s c i e n t i f i c knowledge and l o g i c a l technique almost verging on s c i e n t i f i c ignorance. To be sure, theory i s i n t e g r a l — and, above a l l , v i t a l i n a l l of i t s vast and c r u c i a l i m p l i c a t i o n s -- to science where a c r i t i c a l awareness of the conceptual apparatus and approaches and i n v e s t i g a t i v e techniques i s accepted as the paramount guiding r u l e i n s c i e n t i -f i c and p h i l o s o p h i c a l c i r c l e s . 135 (c) I t i s highly important to note here before continuing further i n another passage i n Chapter One of th i s tome, that Parsons amplifies as to what he means by a s c i e n t i f i c theory?.. (M+) As i t w i l l be seen i n short order, th i s conception of s c i e n t i -f i c theory i s somewhat discordant with his introductory char-a c t e r i z a t i o n of the nature of s c i e n t i f i c theory. In the l a t t e r case, however, a theory i s e s s e n t i a l l y an amalgam of statements of fact and abstract statements of relations between these f a c t s . Theory, then, i s a c o l l e c t i o n of statements of r e l a -tions between f a c t s , not as he previously stated, "a body of l o g i c a l l y i n t e r - r e l a t e d "general concepts"' of empirical reference". For Parsons, the facts which are c l e a r l y concrete statements about certain phenomena do not constitute the only propositions that can be uttered about the phenomena i n question. One must always remember that a s c i e n t i f i c theory i s abstract. This means that the facts which a s p e c i f i c theory e n t a i l s do. not furnish i n any way a thoroughgoing description of the concrete empirical phenomenon undergoing examination. Rather, 'however, the fa c t u a l statements secure t h e i r meaning and s i g n i -ficance by way of the conceptual scheme of which they are int e g r a l components. C^-5) Understood i n i t s proper sense, then, factual statements assert something, about a single facet of-the phenomenon with which the theory or conceptual scheme i s p r i n c i p a l l y concerned. (U-6) Thus, the facts about a phenomenon being investigated are selected by (or are important to) the i 136 % t h e o r e t i c a l scheme which i s being employed i n i t s analysis. Presumably, then, d i f f e r e n t theories employed i n regard to an analysis of-a p a r t i c u l a r phenomenon would almost invariably disclose d i f f e r e n t facts about the phenomenon i n question. Furthermore, from a l l these remarks i t c e r t a i n l y appears that, for Parsons,, s c i e n t i f i c theory f a c i l i t a t e s , more than anything else, adequate descriptions of c e r t a i n empirical phenomena. (d) Theory i n varying degrees comprises what Parsons terms "an integrated "system" (k?); i n other words, i t i s character-ized by a determinate l o g i c a l structure. This means the theory's c o l l e c t i o n of general propositions are l o g i c a l l y related to each other. Thus, any s i g n i f i c a n t empirical addition or a l t e r a t i o n to one proposition materially affects i n the same manner the other propositions of the same theory. A proposition has l o g i c a l implications for the other propositions. I t i s impor-tant to note, however, that these l o g i c a l relations, between the general propositions of a theory do not depend on any one general proposition i n the sense that a l l the propositions of a theory are derivable from one main proposition, as i t were. Clearly, i f t h i s were the case, as Parsons argues, a theory would be constituted'of e s s e n t i a l l y one proposition, thereby, impairing i t s s c i e n t i f i c value since i t would be surely taut-ologous and hence, vacuous, (h-8) In consequence of the l o g i c a l i n t e r r e l a t i o n s h i p s of the theory's various propositions, a theory i s recognized as a "system". However, i t i s to be noted 137 that a t h e o r e t i c a l system gravitates toward a l b g i c a l l y closed structure which means that i t becomes a self-contained unit, a l l assumptions and implications rendered e x p l i c i t . This occurs when the l o g i c a l implications of each of a theory's constituent general propositions i s , so to,speak, restated i n another proposition belonging to the same th e o r e t i c a l system. 0+9) According to Parsons, a " l o g i c a l closure" 1 does not necessarily imply that the propositions of a theory are deducible from only one proposition of the same system - i f thi s were-so, as just noted here, the formulation of theory would indeed become a f r u i t l e s s , tautologous enterprise. In Parsons' view, l o g i c a l closure represents a property of great moment for a theoreti c a l system. A general proposi-t i o n which does not f i n d i t s statement i n another general proposition of the same th e o r e t i c a l system can be said to r e l y for i t s raison d'etre on a number of unspoken assumptions which have not been rendered e x p l i c i t or perhaps are merely gratuitous assertions without l o g i c a l foundation i n the theory. (50) And, by various measures, they must be prised out-to the best of one's a b i l i t i e s from what has been e x p l i c i t l y presented. Since, to be sure, science i s a j o i n t explanatory and c r i t i c a l , endeavor, i t i s one of the cardinal objectives of any appraisal of a s c i e n t i f i c theory i n a substantive f i e l d to illuminate these presupposed general propositions which give meaning to the employed concepts and s p e c i f i c statements. The implications 138 flowing from such an undertaking greatly contribute to the enrichment of a d i s c i p l i n e ' s t h e o r e t i c a l scope and subsequently i t s range of empirical knowledge which doubtless i s , on the balance, a d i r e c t resultant of an improved th e o r e t i c a l scheme. One caveat, however, must be entered at t h i s point. To Parsons, i t i s indeed almost axiomatic that a l l s c i e n t i f i c theories eventually become closed systems i n a l o g i c a l sense. But this should not be confounded with an "empirically closed" system which a r b i t r a r i l y precludes, for a variety of erroneous reasons, the adducement of certain types and accounts of empirical i n f o r -mation - a test of certain claims about the world. (51) Accord-ing to Parsons, t h i s development i s comparable to the c o n s t r i c t -ing perspectives of empiricism (or the commission of a f a l l a c y , that of r e i f i c a t i o n ) which doggedly adheres to certain observ-ables as the true accounts of the world and eschews a l l theorizing of an abstract nature, a standpoint, as Parsons pointedly- observes, which t a c i t l y adopts a t h e o r e t i c a l bias but obstinately refuses to acknowledge i t and prefers to think otherwise-. Interestingly enough, Parsons i l l u s t r a t e s the various facets of a l o g i c a l l y closed t h e o r e t i c a l system by considering "a system of simultaneous equations". Such a system i s determinate, i . e . , closed, when there are as many independent equations as there are indep-endent variables. I f there are four equations and only three variables, and no one of the equations i s derivable from the others by algebraic manipulation then there i s another variable missing. Put i n general l o g i c a l terms: the propositions stated i n the four equations l o g i c a l l y involve an assumption which i s not stated i n the d e f i n i -t i o n of the three variables. (52^ .13,9 A l o g i c a l l y closed t h e o r e t i c a l system as the type Parsons envisages c l e a r l y does not leave c r u c i a l assumptions to be rendered e x p l i c i t by conjecture or to chance. However, i t i s worthwhile to repeat once again that, f o r Parsons, a l o g i c a l l y closed t h e o r e t i c a l system i s not synonymous with the s c i e n t i f i -c a l l y destructive notion of "empirical closure". •Ce) For Parsons, i t i s beyond doubt that the general proposi-tions of a theory always pertain to the empirical world. Should, however, t h i s not be the case, the proposition would automatic-a l l y f o r f e i t i t s s c i e n t i f i c status. A statement expressly belonging to a p a r t i c u l a r theory can be construed, with due q u a l i f i c a t i o n s taken into account, either as an assertion of fact or the "statement of a mode of relations betxreen f a c t s " , much, of course, depending on the l e v e l of abstraction of the proposition i n question. (53) Just p r e c i s e l y what constitutes these q u a l i f i c a t i o n s (or c r i t e r i a ) i s mot mentioned, apart from the condition of a c e r t a i n l e v e l of abstraction. Thus, i n view of these considerations -— fragmentary though they may be -— and those e a r l i e r discussed, Parsons contends that i f knowledge of facts i n a sphere of study i s changed, then, one proposition of the theory involved w i l l of necessity require change and, by implication, other related propositions of that theory w i l l likewise undergo a l t e r a t i o n mainly owing to t h e i r l o g i c a l i n t e r r e l a t i o n . Accordingly, as Parsons U+o remarks, "the structure of the the o r e t i c a l system i s changed." However, i t i s decisive to note that the change i n the knowledg of f a c t , for Parsons., i s not merely a change pure and simple, but an "important change i n our knowledge of fact i n the f i e l d i n question". (55) By t h i s , i t should be understood that Parsons means a " s c i e n t i f i c importance of change" (56) i n the sense that the fact has implications for a the o r e t i c a l system by means of which i t was discovered. This i s to be contrasted with a s c i e n t i f i c a l l y unimportant discovery of a fact which possesses no implication f o r , as Parsons terms i t , a. system of theory even though i t may be intere s t i n g for other, less s c i e n t i f i c reasons. Even a simple observation, however incon^ sequential i t may appear from various standpoints, may have immeasurably profound l o g i c a l consequences for a th e o r e t i c a l system s p e c i f i c a l l y i n the sense that i t may strengthen the claims of the system or i t may cause the system to be modified or, i f the case demands i t , obviated and another compatible theory formulated i n i t s stead. I t may'be noted.that the notions of " t r i v i a l i t y " and "inconsequence!! as applied to empirical discoveries, themselves presuppose an i m p l i c i t t h e o r e t i c a l framework which enables such a judgment.to be effected without reliance on the whims and fancies of the the o r i s t or researcher. Parsons i l l u s t r a t e s t h i s argument concerning s c i e n t i f i c a l l y important and t r i v i a l changes i n l l+l our knowledge of f a c t by b r i e f l y c o n s idering the theory of r e l a t i v i t y i n the f i e l d of p hysics. I t i s probably safe to say that a l l the changes of f a c t u a l knowledge which have l e d to the r e l a t i v i t y theory, r e s u l t -i n g i n a very great t h e o r e t i c a l development, are completely t r i v i a l from any p o i n t of view except t h e i r relevance to the s t r u c t u r e of a t h e o r e t i c a l system. They have not, f o r i n s t a n c e , a f f e c t e d i n any way the p r a c t i c e of e n g i n -eering or n a v i g a t i o n . (57) A theory, then, d i r e c t s our a n a l y t i c a l a t t e n t i o n s to an area of the e m p i r i c a l world where p e r t i n e n t f a c t s as regards our s c i e n t i f i c problems and questions are to be found and, a d d i t i o n -a l l y , permits the a p p r a i s a l of the s i g n i f i c a n c e of these f a c t s . As w e l l as s t a t i