This issue contains two articles. The first is a reappraisal of the sociology of William Graham Sumner, the pioneering American sociologist who is usually dismissed as a Social Darwinian when he was in fact a Pragmatist. It argues that his method of analysis, which is to judge a social institution by its consequences, and to discard dated institutions on the scrapheap of history, remains a valid way to approach policy questions. Sumner's approach is applied to his own treatment of slavery and to still current debates about affirmative action.
The second article is a prospectus for what can be called "philosophical sociology", which is the idea that philosophical questions having to do with justice and mind and epistomology can be reduced to sociological questions which compare real live situations to one another. There is always evidence out there, always an alternative situation to be explored, so that questions that are thought intractable can be solved by giving content to what is otherwise thought as metaphysical and so without content--but in that case what would the question be about?
The purpose of this e-journal is to use in tandem the techniques of literary criticism and social structural analysis to illuminate American politics and the various institutions in American society and sometimes matters more global, like religion or war, by turning an eye on the events and objects and performances that are considered art and entertainment, those defined broadly enough to include whatever is covered in newspapers and other media. Another concern is to pick up the texture of social life, both in the United States and in general, through the analysis of those events, objects and performances that are to be found in everyday life.