Determinism and the antiquated deontology of the social sciences

Abstract

This article shows how the social sciences rejected hard determinism by the mid-twentieth century largely on the deontological basis that it is irreconcilable with social justice, yet this rejection came just before a burst of creative development in consequentialist theories of social justice that problematize a facile rejection of determinism on moral grounds, a development that has seldom been recognized in the social sciences. Thus the current social science view of determinism and social justice is antiquated, ignoring numerous common and well-respected arguments within philosophy that hard determinism can be reconciled with a just society. We support this argument by briefly tracing the parallel development of stances on determinism in the social sciences and the deontological-consequentialist debate in philosophy. The article concludes with a brief consideration of deterministic consequentialist ethics, social justice, and the problems of egoism and altruism.

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2009-01-28

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