The Problem of Rationality in the Social World
The problem suggested by the terms ‘rationality’ or ‘rational action’ as used in current literature is most certainly central to the methodology and epistemology of the scientific study of the social world. The terms themselves, however, are not only used with many different meanings — and this sometimes in the writings of the same author as, for instance, Max Weber — but they represent only very inadequately the underlying conceptual scheme. In order to bring out the concealed equivocations and connotations, and to isolate the question of rationality from all the other problems surrounding it, we must go further into the structure of the social world and make more extensive inquiries into the different attitudes toward the social world adopted, on the one hand, by the actor within his world, and, on the other hand, by the scientific observer of it.
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