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|Title:||Freedom, Rationality and the Explanation of Religious Action: A Critical Examination of Martin Hollis' Philosophical Thoughts on Social Action|
|Authors:||Dawson, Lorne L.|
|Abstract:||<p>This thesis examines the methodological context, nature, strengths and weaknesses of an unconventional approach to the explanation of human action: 'the argument from rationality.' The study focuses on Martin Hollis' innovative presentation of this alternative method of social science. The argument from rationality proposes that in the explanation of human actions consideration must be given to an asymmetry in modes of explanation: nonrational actions are subject to causal analyses, but rational actions are their own explanations. A rational action, that is, is a free action; and the social scientist is under a methodological obligation to discover whether an action is free prior to formulating a causal explanation. The argument from rationality suits the needs of students of the social scientific study of religion. With its development and legitimation two points of antagonism between the scientific and the religious worldviews are ameliorated. The argument from rationality directly curbs the reductive thrust of scientific accounts of religion by giving methodological voice to the freedom of will asserted by the great religious traditions. Indirectly, the epistemological framework of the argument indicates that reference to the transcendent is a conceptual a priori of 'talk of religion,' just as rational human agency is for 'talk of human action.' The thesis has three parts. First, the parameters of the problem of human freedom are established through discussion of the two sociologies conflict. the positivism-humanism debate, and the struggle of determinists and libertarians. Second, the epistemological and methodological legitimacy of the argument from rationality is argued through a critique of positivist and conventionalist alternatives and the specification of the analytical constituents of Hollis' qualified idealist perspective. Third, the argument is applied to the debate over reductionism in religious studies and defended against the charges of vacuity and decisionism by proposing that the rationality of an action is a question of 'degrees' and hence open to empirical investigation.</p>|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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