Re: Single cause theories

carter pate (CPATE@UTCVM.UTC.EDU)
Fri, 21 Apr 1995 10:19:19 EDT

Thanks to both Diane and Nick for your responses on Wed. Apr. 19.

Like Nick, I welcome Diane's comments and find little to disagree with.
I haven't participated in the mathematics thread, but from my earlier work with
multiple regression and analysis of variance, (which badly needs upgrading),
I wonder if they may not be helpful in a model which accounts for multiple
causal variables with varying strengths, but little strict determinism?
As Diane says, "We're dealing with humans!"

Are we overly dependent upon the laboratory approach to "hard sciences"
which assumes "all else held constant"? Do too many social philosophers accept
the logic of the laboratory, forgetting this assumption? If we must take our
models from inorganic or organic sciences, why not consider meteorology or
earthquake prediction, or even eclogy or medical pathology as more appro-
priate than astronomy, "hard" physics, etc.? These sciences have similar
problems of "hard" laws and predictions to our own. Culture and consciousness
make more specific Spencer's "superorganic" in that they also cannot be
reduced to inorganic or organic levels. Borrowing a metaphor is valid, if it h
elps communicate an idea, but let's not become prisoners of our metaphors!

----------------------------Original message----------------------------
(from Nick):
While Carter admitted the clumsiness of the one-theory model in most fields,
he then went on to try and force incest into that category."

(I don't understand how I am "forcing incest into that category." Am I
exaggerating the way earlier theorists battled over their favorite one-theory
models? Is an ecclectic approach attempting to pull several plausible, if
questionably universal, "pressures" FORCING the whole into a one-theory
model? Should we declare a pox on Newton and Einstein?

This statement is well taken:)

For instance, to follow up on the incest idea, there is no humanity-wide
since-the-beginning sentiment against incest. If this were the case, then
why would it have been necessary to pass spirtual and legal edicts against it?

(I share this idea completely. It is the major evidence that the incest taboo
is learned, rather than instinctive. Aren't all the other theories I listed,
various attempts to explain how and why it is learned in so many societies?)

(Nick's next idea smacks or evolutionism:)

Given the context of the idea you could argue I supposed that only once a
certain economic or social level was reached was the taboo enforced, but this
seems a bit of a stretch to me, and I strongly doubt it can be backed up by
actual analyzation.

(If this were pushed back to the very debateable level of the origin or
language or symbolic thought, I would take it seriously, but more as a
"conditional cause" than an "effective cause." Back to Bidney and Aristotle,