The Saving Lie: Truth and Method in the Social Sciences

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9780812237306: The Saving Lie: Truth and Method in the Social Sciences

This book explores the distinction between selflessness and self-interestedness, between acting for one's own advantage and acting, even when disadvantageous, for reasons of duty or conscience. This apparently straightforward contrast (exemplified in the difference between rational-choice models in economics and holistic models in social anthropology) is a source of confusion. This is so, F. G. Bailey argues, because people polarize and essentialize both actors and actions and uphold one or the other side of the contrast as concrete reality, as the truth about how the social world works. The task of The Saving Lie is to show that both versions are convenient fictions, with instrumental rather than ontological significance: they are not about truth but about power. At best they are tools that enable us to make sense of our experience; at the same time they are weapons we deploy to define situations and thus exercise control.

Bailey says that both models fail the test of empiricism: they can be at once immensely elegant and quite remote from anyone's experience in the real world. And since both models are "saving lies," we should accept them as necessities, but only to the extent they are useful, and we should constantly remind ourselves of their limitations. The wrong course, according to Bailey, is to promote one model to the total exclusion of the other. Instead, we should take care to examine systematically the rhetoric used to promote these models not only in intellectual discourse but also in defining situations in everyday life.

The book strongly and directly advocates a point of view that combines skepticism with a determination to anchor abstract argument in evidence. It is argumentative; it invites confrontation; yet it leaves many doors open for further thought.

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About the Author:

F. G. Bailey is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Anthropology, University of California, San Diego, and author of many books, most recently The Civility of Indifference, The Need for Enemies, and Treasons, Stratagems and Spoils.

Review:

"Ambitious, erudite, well worth a read."—Journal of Anthropological Research

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Book Description University of Pennsylvania Press, United States, 2003. Hardback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. This book explores the distinction between selflessness and self-interestedness, between acting for one s own advantage and acting, even when disadvantageous, for reasons of duty or conscience. This apparently straightforward contrast (exemplified in the difference between rational-choice models in economics and holistic models in social anthropology) is a source of confusion. This is so, F. G. Bailey argues, because people polarize and essentialize both actors and actions and uphold one or the other side of the contrast as concrete reality, as the truth about how the social world works. The task of The Saving Lie is to show that both versions are convenient fictions, with instrumental rather than ontological significance: they are not about truth but about power. At best they are tools that enable us to make sense of our experience; at the same time they are weapons we deploy to define situations and thus exercise control. Bailey says that both models fail the test of empiricism: they can be at once immensely elegant and quite remote from anyone s experience in the real world. And since both models are saving lies, we should accept them as necessities, but only to the extent they are useful, and we should constantly remind ourselves of their limitations. The wrong course, according to Bailey, is to promote one model to the total exclusion of the other. Instead, we should take care to examine systematically the rhetoric used to promote these models not only in intellectual discourse but also in defining situations in everyday life. The book strongly and directly advocates a point of view that combines skepticism with a determination to anchor abstract argument in evidence. It is argumentative; it invites confrontation; yet it leaves many doors open for further thought. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780812237306

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Book Description University of Pennsylvania Press. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Hardcover. 232 pages. This book explores the distinction between selflessness and self-interestedness, between acting for ones own advantage and acting, even when disadvantageous, for reasons of duty or conscience. This apparently straightforward contrast (exemplified in the difference between rational-choice models in economics and holistic models in social anthropology) is a source of confusion. This is so, F. G. Bailey argues, because people polarize and essentialize both actors and actions and uphold one or the other side of the contrast as concrete reality, as the truth about how the social world works. The task of The Saving Lie is to show that both versions are convenient fictions, with instrumental rather than ontological significance: they are not about truth but about power. At best they are tools that enable us to make sense of our experience; at the same time they are weapons we deploy to define situations and thus exercise control. Bailey says that both models fail the test of empiricism: they can be at once immensely elegant and quite remote from anyones experience in the real world. And since both models are saving lies, we should accept them as necessities, but only to the extent they are useful, and we should constantly remind ourselves of their limitations. The wrong course, according to Bailey, is to promote one model to the total exclusion of the other. Instead, we should take care to examine systematically the rhetoric used to promote these models not only in intellectual discourse but also in defining situations in everyday life. The book strongly and directly advocates a point of view that combines skepticism with a determination to anchor abstract argument in evidence. It is argumentative; it invites confrontation; yet it leaves many doors open for further thought. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Hardcover. Bookseller Inventory # 9780812237306

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Book Description University of Pennsylvania Press, United States, 2003. Hardback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. This book explores the distinction between selflessness and self-interestedness, between acting for one s own advantage and acting, even when disadvantageous, for reasons of duty or conscience. This apparently straightforward contrast (exemplified in the difference between rational-choice models in economics and holistic models in social anthropology) is a source of confusion. This is so, F. G. Bailey argues, because people polarize and essentialize both actors and actions and uphold one or the other side of the contrast as concrete reality, as the truth about how the social world works. The task of The Saving Lie is to show that both versions are convenient fictions, with instrumental rather than ontological significance: they are not about truth but about power. At best they are tools that enable us to make sense of our experience; at the same time they are weapons we deploy to define situations and thus exercise control. Bailey says that both models fail the test of empiricism: they can be at once immensely elegant and quite remote from anyone s experience in the real world. And since both models are saving lies, we should accept them as necessities, but only to the extent they are useful, and we should constantly remind ourselves of their limitations. The wrong course, according to Bailey, is to promote one model to the total exclusion of the other. Instead, we should take care to examine systematically the rhetoric used to promote these models not only in intellectual discourse but also in defining situations in everyday life. The book strongly and directly advocates a point of view that combines skepticism with a determination to anchor abstract argument in evidence. It is argumentative; it invites confrontation; yet it leaves many doors open for further thought. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780812237306

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Book Description University of Pennsylvania Press, United States, 2003. Hardback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.This book explores the distinction between selflessness and self-interestedness, between acting for one s own advantage and acting, even when disadvantageous, for reasons of duty or conscience. This apparently straightforward contrast (exemplified in the difference between rational-choice models in economics and holistic models in social anthropology) is a source of confusion. This is so, F. G. Bailey argues, because people polarize and essentialize both actors and actions and uphold one or the other side of the contrast as concrete reality, as the truth about how the social world works. The task of The Saving Lie is to show that both versions are convenient fictions, with instrumental rather than ontological significance: they are not about truth but about power. At best they are tools that enable us to make sense of our experience; at the same time they are weapons we deploy to define situations and thus exercise control. Bailey says that both models fail the test of empiricism: they can be at once immensely elegant and quite remote from anyone s experience in the real world. And since both models are saving lies, we should accept them as necessities, but only to the extent they are useful, and we should constantly remind ourselves of their limitations. The wrong course, according to Bailey, is to promote one model to the total exclusion of the other. Instead, we should take care to examine systematically the rhetoric used to promote these models not only in intellectual discourse but also in defining situations in everyday life. The book strongly and directly advocates a point of view that combines skepticism with a determination to anchor abstract argument in evidence. It is argumentative; it invites confrontation; yet it leaves many doors open for further thought. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780812237306

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