Re: An Unconstrained Anthropological Law

Ruby Rohrlich (rohrlich@GWIS2.CIRC.GWU.EDU)
Tue, 12 Sep 1995 16:53:31 -0400

But physicists give specific examples to illustrate what they're saying,
and the stuff that has been posted lately has been devoid of such
examples, that enliven instead of stultify. That's why, inmy post
yesterday, in discussing Gell-Mann'sbook, "The Quark and the Jaguar," I
repeated his striking example of the sentinel birds. That's also why I
tried to introduce some discussion of the culture of science, which is oh
so gendered, but most were not interested in god forbid anything smacking
of feminism. Ruby Rohrlich.

On Tue, 12 Sep 1995, SS51000 wrote:

> 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
> Graber