An Unconstrained Anthropological Law

Tue, 12 Sep 1995 09:57:22 CDT

D. Yee's belief that requiring spatio-temporal unconstrainedness places
too great a constraint on the term "law," while not unreasonable, is
accompanied by a serious overstatement--i.e., that only physics then
could produce laws. I don't see things as nearly so bleak. So far as
we know, all human societies, in all times and places, undergo
structural differentiation, functional differentiation, and
politico-economic stratification as they increase in number of people
contained. There is no evidence, I believe, for a single exception to
this, while there are volumes of evidence supporting it. A more
rigorous, related lawlike generalization (my own) states that in all
growing human populations, the number of societies will increase as
rapidly as the population, unless geographical expansion is inhibited
(so that density increases). There are problems with these laws,
involving such things as vagueness of terms and difficulties in
operational definition and empirical evaluation; but the problems seem
different from problems in physics only in degree, not in kind. --Bob