Free-Will and Determinism

Topics: Scientific method, Sociology, Science Pages: 10 (3306 words) Published: December 7, 2012
The endless debate around the crisis in sociology and in social sciences in general, can be interpreted as the reissue of the discussion on their scientific status, in particular on the topic about the capacity to generate «legalform» propositions, as well as the plausibility of the explanation and the prediction based on the resulting products of knowledge of such a capacity.

Historically, this discussion was developed through antinomical positions as «understanding or comprehensive sciences versus natural ones»; «nomological versus ideografical sciences»; «determinism versus probabilism», and so on. In sum, who postulated that the social sciences are scientific and who postulated that they are not (or that they are «in their own way»).

We will outline our problematization about the epistemological hypothesis, which are on the base of the discussion.

The consequences for the generation of laws, about the fact of social contingency and individual freedom, could be visualized with the support of the resolution between determinism and indeterminism of the sociological laws.

The focuses to approach the topic of determinism are: a) as a property or characteristic and b) as a constant and univocal connection.

Let us exemplify a) like a propositional function `Fx', that is to say the group of individuals of a specific class (`x') that satisfies a certain predicate (`F') and that, in consequence, by means of a classified operation indicates us that the property or characteristic determines the members of a certain class.

Let us exemplify b), analogically to the equation x-1 = 0; where the unique solution is x = 1 (where the universe is IR).

What is supposed in both cases is a kind of invariance that has been used as argument to whom postulates that science deals with the «objective order» or the underlying real structure of the apparent reality. However, strictu sensu, is not more than the philosophical hypothesis that facilitates the scientific work. Nevertheless, the problem arises when diverse stream of thoughts confuse the epistemological statute of the legal propositions and, confusing it with the univocal description, they state that in the case of the social realities, such «objective order» does not exist, because, if it were, we would deny the human freedom. Taken to the extreme, such a position indicates that exists a radical separation between social realities investigations and the no-social ones, since in the first case the phenomena emerge endowed with intentionality and will, while in the second one, not. This would reveal the incapability of the pretense of apprehending the social reality, which would be ontologically slippery and not objective (because it is free). The will and the intentionality would only produce rather amorphous structures, unstable and ephemeral, elusive to a legal treatment.

But a brief exam indicates us the spurious nature of such a radical separation.

In the case of a), it would be necessary to state that all determination supposes an operation of «free» classification. The relevant character of the classificatory principle is given by some available theory that has been freely accepted by the scientific community.

In the case of b), we could make it complex by means of another equation such as x + y-1 = 0; what tells us that, although it expressed a rigid interdependence among x and y, another equation is needed to solve the problem; being indeterminate (where x,y e to IR).

Perhaps what the antinomical thinker would tell us it is that, in the case of the social realities, the classifications are not governed by the objectivity: no social phenomena is identical to another and the observer's reading always depends on his point of observation. But such an argument forgets the principle of indiscernibility of the identicals, which is worth in a no-empty way for the conceptual objects and worth in an empty way for the material objects. Regarding the material...
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