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14.4.04

Vague Compromises

Since the nature-nurture thing came up in the previous post, I'd like to point out something that annoys me about assessments of some theoretical debates. People like to declare that debates like nature-nurture in psychology and structure-agency in sociology are settled or passe because the hardliners for each position have admitted that the real explanation is somewhere in between. I agree that in these cases, "a little from column A and a little from column B" is correct, but it's also not terribly specific. There remains a lot to be asked about what from column A and how much from column B. The problem is how you argue that without your opponents building straw men, or without radicalizing your own position -- e.g. taking a hard-line agency viewpoint in order to get more leverage to move the compromise solution a skosh away from the structure side.

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