the utility Of formalization in Sociology

The formal arguments tend to be lateros, do not always move substantially things and, in general, are more difficult to make the arguments (and statements) to informal normally do in Sociology.But they have one great advantage, which I think is crucial. To avoid this kind of things:

In the course of criticizing utilitarianism and the attempts of these approaches to explain altruism, Hans Joas and Wolfgang Kobl in ‘Social Theory. Twenty Introductory Lectures’ say the following to purpose of altruism in biology

The answer that theses scholars came up was structured in almos identical way, in that they believed it possible to affirm that such altruistic behavior always aries in cases where it increases the ‘reproductive fitness’ of the species, at least in the long term. Once again, altruism was ‘elegantly’ traced back to genetic egotism. None of this is terribly persuasive’ (page 105)

Now, as part of the differences is that the biologists formalized the argument in a model, it turns out that it is completely irrelevant whether someone looks ‘terribly persuasive’. The argument works and is well built (and in general, the terms are relatively well defined so that it is not necessary to put reproductive fitness between quotation marks), and obtains as a consequence the conclusion. If I want to criticize I have to do something more than just say ‘none of this is terribly persuasive’, I need to prove that the argument does not work (i.and that his premises are bad, the connections are not sufficiently well-done), or to show empirically that is not the case (well, it happens that in such and such a species…).

But, of course, that means to really work to develop theory, and not simply to stay in the ‘it seems to me that…’.

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