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Anthropology term paper

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"If the physical causation argument is generally correct, then supra-physical properties and entities have no direct effect on anything, and therefore they have no direct explanatory import for anything--regardless of whether supra-physical or super-organic properties or entities might be said to "exist" in some sense, and regardless of whether some people believe them to exist, and to have causal efficacy, and then act according to those mistaken beliefs. The physical causation argument implies further that event-laws, which are correlations among types of events, are not causal laws that "govern" and therefore explain the behavior of human beings and other physical entities. Explanatory laws should be conceptualized instead as being of two kinds, the first stating that a physical entity is of a certain kind if it has a certain constellation of physical properties, and the second stating that types of physical properties or entities interact in certain ways (O'Meara 1997, n.d.). The implications of this "physical account" for understanding human affairs might be referred to as "causal individualism" in order to distinguish it from "methodological individualism," which incorrectly allows mind/brain and society/individual causal dualism, and which incorrectly takes correlations among events as causal or (at least) explanatory laws, and then vainly strives to show how the supposedly causal terms referring to supra-physical properties and entities could be reduced to causal terms referring only to physical individuals. Consequently, it would be a mistake to assume, as Harris does ( 1997: 411), that causal individualism is just a terminological variant of methodological individualism, and therefore subject to the same time-worn criticisms. Causal individualism flatly denies the two major premises of methodological individualism: (1) the empirical premise that supra-physical properties and entities are causal properties and entities, and (2) the conceptual premise that correlations among types of events are causal laws."
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"Most attempts to define ritual proceed by formulating the universal qualities of an autonomous phenomenon. They maintain, however provisionally, that there is something we can generally call ritual and whenever or wherever it occurs it has certain distinctive features. Such definitions inevitably come to function as a set of criteria for judging whether some specific activities can be deemed ritual. As a result, these definitions of ritual are not complete when they set up a single universal construct; additional categories are needed to account for all the data that do not fit neatly into the domain of the original term. Definitions of ritual must go on to suggest, explicitly or implicitly, the nature and relation of non-ritual activity and various degrees of nearly-but-not-quite-ritual behavior. Hence, a good deal of writing about ritual involves extensive exercises in cleaning up all the data and terms that are not included in the main definition. As a taxonomic enterprise, universal categories have made undisputed contributions to the organization and extension of both empirical observation and particular knowledge systems. Yet with regard to the study of ritual, the initial usefulness of this approach may have begun to give way to a bewildering number of problems."
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"The experience with the zoning project led to further decreases in the participation of the research team in the community mental health program. The team was no longer concerned about the utility of their efforts to the clinical staff. They were concerned with the research needs of community groups, and justified their approach in terms of the preventative component of the community mental health approach. At this point they "discovered" the advocacy anthropology approach. Although community mental health programming was intended primarily to provide mental health care directly to patients, a certain portion of resources could be allocated to alleviating community-based causes of mental health problems, such as bad schools or little economic opportunity. The approach was successfully applied in a number of different contexts following the somewhat fortuitous "discovery" of the approach. The projects selected were related to community needs and the developing data base of the research team."
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