The distinction of science from all the philosophical disciplines is vital. It consists in deliberately investigating phenomena with the expectations derived from the theory in mind and seeing whether or not the facts actually found agree with these expectations. On the basis of this definition it may be said that the processes of action are related to and influenced by the attainment of the gratification or the avoidance of deprivations of the correlative actor, whatever they concretely be in the light of the relative personal structures that there may be. Hence, empirical study is ongoing 721. The comparison of the two is most instructive. The importance of this is clear.
In his theory of action there are four crucial elements. The distinctions among the four subsystems of action arefunctional. Indeed, as has been noted above, this is unlikely to happen. Each of these propositions has logical implications. It should already be evident that any such view is fundamentally incompatible with the view of the nature and status of theoretical systems which is a main foundation of this whole study.
As a result the actor is considering something with a future reference so that there is attainment, realization, or achievement — note that this is one of the instrumental pattern variables. Similarly, many norms regulate the action of indefinite numbers of collectivities and roles, but only specific sectors of their action. The very fact that they are defined at all implies that they are distinguished from others and that the facts which constitute their empirical reference are thereby, in certain aspects at least, specifically differentiated from others. Rather than explore these theorists for their particular theoretical contributions, Parsons considers the totality of their contributions as they contribute to the sum total of the scientific structure of the system of theory itself. From this theory, five particular theses have been concluded. The process of the carving out of positive concepts from residual categories is also a process by which the reconstruction of theoretical systems is accomplished as a result of which they may eventually be altered beyond all recognition.
A strict functionalist might explain certain religious practices, for instance, as being functional by contributing to a society's survival; however, such religious traditions will usually have been firmly established long before the question is finally settled of whether the society as a whole will actually survive. The object will be to discover whether the philosophical grounds for them are so cogent as to leave no alternative but to revise the earlier impression of the validity of what purported to be scientific evidence. In this sense, the best place to go to find the starting points of the breakdown of a system is to the work of the ablest proponents of the system itself. Not only are specific theoretical propositions which have been directly formulated with definite matters of fact in view subject to verification. They include notonly value components specified to appropriate levels in thestructure of a social system, but also specific modes of orientationfor acting under the functional and situational conditions ofparticular collectivities and roles. Indeed, if the term fact is properly interpreted it may be said that a theoretical proposition, if it has a place in science at all, is either itself a statement of fact or a statement of a mode of relations between facts. Of course this statement contains a considerable number of terms which have been, and still are, ambiguous in general usage.
But in the work of the ablest and most clear-headed proponents of a system these residual categories will often be not merely implicit but explicit, and will be quite clearly stated. In particular, the evidence gained from scientific sources, observation of fact and the theoretical consequences of these facts constitutes, in so far as it is sound, valid ground for criticism of philosophical views. Values take primacy in thepattern-maintenance functioning of social systems, for they areconceptions of desirable types of social systems that regulate themaking of commitments by social units. Parsons says that means cannot be selected at random or that any possible means of pursuing the ends are acceptable. This question is as will be seen, the most important single link between utilitarian positivism and the later phase of the theory of action.
But further, a theoretical system built up upon observations of fact will be found, as its implications are progressively worked out, to have logical consequences for fields of fact with which its original formulators were not directly concerned. It is by virtue of the zones of interpenetration that processes ofinterchange among systems can take place. The primary questions will, rather, be, what theoretical reasons did he have for being interested in these particular problems rather than others, and what did the results of his investigation contribute to the solution of his theoretical problems? Indeed, one kind of progress of theoretical work consists precisely in the carving out from residual categories of definite positively defined concepts and their verification in empirical investigation. At thesame time, he also participates in various other contexts ofinteraction, filling, for example, an occupational role. So one who performs well and follows all the common values of society will be ranked at the top and one which performs badly will be placed at the bottom.
The very fact that they are defined at all implies that they are distinguished from others and that the facts which constitute their empirical reference are thereby, in certain aspects at least, specifically differentiated from others. These intellectual influences were of no real importance in the formation of the thought of any of the other three. Parsons contributed to the field of social evolutionism and neoevolutionism. A role is never idiosyncratic to a particular individual, however. The latter is present only in so far as these bits of knowledge have become integrated with reference to fairly clear-cuheoretical systems. Integration refers to the allocation of rights and obligations, rewards and facilities to ensure the harmony of relations between members of the social system. The importance of certain problems concerning the facts will be inherent in the structure of the system.
Though the conduct of a man may be non-rational, however, the actor carries the illusion of rationality. His great achievement was to construct a system or general theory of social action to include all its aspects, drawing on several disciplines and reinterpreting previous theories. It is the ego which acts. A scientifically unimportant discovery is one which, however true and however interesting for other reasons, has no consequences for a system of theory with which scientists in that field are concerned. The verification part of theory requires that scientists continue to test theory against empirical fact. Social action presupposes the existence of other individual and some action by him. The way a person thinks, the way he perceives the world, the way he feels is an indispensable clue to his behaviour.