Re: An Unconstrained Anthropological Law

Danny Yee (danny@STAFF.CS.SU.OZ.AU)
Wed, 13 Sep 1995 11:28:29 +1000

Bob Graber writes:
> 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.

I don't think I really disagree with you about there being "laws" in
anthropology; I was primarily disagreeing with your definition of law,
where you earlier wrote:

| "All apples in this barrel are
| red." Indeed, the fact that we know that all apples are not red, and
| that we therefore know this proposition to be spatio-temporally
| constrained, suggests that we ought not consider it a law, despite the
| fact that it is of universal form.

Since there seems to be a consensus that biological species (and indeed
higher taxa) are historical individuals and not classes (Ghiselin,
Hull), any "law" about H. sapiens, however general it may appear,
is on a par with your statement about apples in a particular barrel.

> 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.

Just apples in a one small (round, blue) barrel :-).

Danny Yee.