Foundations of Functionalism
THERE are certain problems in seeking to identify the intellectual foundations of the functionalist style in public law with a particular political ideology. It is clear that, if normativist style has its roots in conservatism and liberalism, similarly one may say that the functionalist style has a certain affinity with a political theory of socialism. That statement must be qualified, however, if for no other reason than that there is no one theory of socialism to which the main adherents of a functionalist style would subscribe. It may therefore be more accurate to identify the functionalist style with those who adopt a collectivist social ontology. As a result, the foundations of functionalism may best be revealed by examining intellectual orientations rather than, in a strict sense, a political ideology. This is the method which I shall adopt. The three primary intellectual influences on the functionalist style which we shall examine are those of sociological positivism, evolutionary social theory, and pragmatism in philosophy.
Sociological positivism emerged mainly in the nineteenth century and particularly flourished in the French intellectual tradition. The aim of this school has been to pursue the attempt to elevate the study of social phenomena to the positive or scientific state. The emphasis has been on establishing laws governing these phenomena and creating a predictive science of social facts. In order to assess its influence we will consider the work of Auguste Comte and Emile Durkheim, as leading exponents of the tradition, and will also examine the application of their theories to the questions of government and law by considering the work of Léon Duguit.
The second influence we shall examine is the British attempt in the latter half of the nineteenth century to reconcile a tension between the romantic-historical and the positivist approaches to society by developing theories of social evolution. Although almost entirely forgotten now, during the late nineteenth century Spencer Herbert Spencer