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p. 798. Can the study of human behaviour be objective?locked

  • Stephen Gaukroger

Abstract

‘Can the study of human behaviour be objective?’ considers whether a purely functionalist explanation of human behaviour can really answer the questions of why certain behaviours occur. Functionalism works on the idea that we stand back from the phenomena being examined to investigate and assess them impartially as would be done for natural sciences. However, judgement needs to be exercised as human beings have intentional states, emotions, and the ability to form variable points of view. There needs to be a distinction between reasons and causes: giving the reasons someone has for doing something (or interpreting the behaviour) and giving the causes of their behaviour. Examples from anthropology, politics, and religion are given.

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