Questions to explore after reading “Reductionism, When Are the Answers

Too Easy?” 

            These questions are all based on materials in this essay.  Don’t give routine or perfunctory answers.  Search you own experience, and make sure you base your answers on that.  Even when I ask you to explain something in the text, use your own words and thoughts.

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            These questions are meant to exercise your skill and imagination in readingsocial science theory, andanalyzing social processes.  Real reading of real writing is not easy; it takes practice. Social analysis, likewise, is not in your genetic code, and certainly not available from mainstream journalists or politicians: that’ll be the day.  No, it has to be learned, and learned from sources outside of what passes for “the mainstream.”

            Just answer the each question in two or more paragraphs, but each time you make a new point, make anew paragraph, as many as ittakes.

            Short paragraphs are good.  Punchy.

1.  Is “theory” a difficult term for you?  In what contexts (where and from whom) have you heard the term before now?  How about outside of class?  What was it used to mean there?  How is/was it often misused?  What’s wrong with saying, “Oh, that’s just a theory”?  What does Strange say it means?  What does he say is important about theory in the first two paragraphs?

2.  Have you heard of ADHD (or ADD) before now?  Where and in what context?  How were its causes explained to you, or how did you imagine it could be explained? (If you have never heard of it before, say so, and move on to the next Q.)

3.  Answer the question at the end of section I about your first critical reaction to the chemical- genetic explanation of ADHD given so far.  How does it (the theory/explanation) of ADHD sound to you at this point?  Be frank.  What other human actions (complex behaviors or traits) have you heard described as having genetic, or hormonal, or biological causes (make a list)?

(The remaining questions, but especially 4, 5, 7, 8, and 10, demand a little more detail, as well as more soul-searching.)

4. a) What are the possible shortcomings stated here (but translate into you own words) with the chemical-genetic explanation of Isabelle’s ADHD?  b)  What can be said to be missing from the chemical-genetic explanation/theory?  c) What is meant by “blaming the victim”?  Do you feel the chemical/genetic theory does this to Isabelle?  How so, or how not? What is your reaction to the other examples mentioned here of blaming the victim?  Do they?

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