David Easton (June 24, 1917 – July 19, 2014) was a Canadian-born American political scientist. Easton, who was born in Toronto, Ontario, came to the United States in 1943. From 1947–97, he served as a professor of political science at the University of Chicago.
At the forefront of both the behavioralist and post-behavioralist revolutions in the discipline of political science during the 1950s and 1970s, Easton provided the discipline's most widely used definition of politics as the authoritative allocation of values for the society. He is renowned for his application of systems theory to the study of political science. Policy analysts have utilized his five-fold scheme for studying the policy-making process: input, conversion, output, feedback and environment. Gunnell argues that since the 1950s the concept of "system" was the most important theoretical concept used by American political scientists. The idea appeared in sociology and other social sciences but it was Easton who specified how it could be best applied to behavioral research on politics.
During his career he served as a key gatekeeper, as consultant to many prominent organizations and funding agencies, and author of numerous influential scholarly publications. He served on many boards and committees and was president of the American Political Science Association.
|Born||June 24, 1917|
|Died||July 19, 2014 (aged 97)|
|Known for||Political systems theory|
Easton earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto in 1939, his M.A. in 1943 and Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1947; an LL.D. at McMaster University in 1970 and he attended Kalamazoo College in 1972. He married Sylvia Isobel Victoria Johnstone and they raised one son. His move to California in 1997 was in part for the sake of his wife's health.
From 1944 to 1947 Easton was a teaching fellow at Harvard University. He was appointed assistant of political science at the University of Chicago in 1947; associate professor in 1953; professor in 1955; and was Andrew McLeish Distinguished Service Professor in Social Thought there in 1984. He was appointed Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of California, Irvine in 1997. As at Chicago, his teaching was aimed at graduate students, and the supervising of their theses. He assumed responsibility for UCI's fledgling graduate program, and over a number of years turned it into a dynamic and comprehensive program which equipped them to attract first-rate students. Inter alia this involved a compulsory course for new graduate students, which dealt with 19th and 20th century foundations of modern political science.
Easton was a member of the executive committee of the Inter-University Consortium for Political Research (1962–64); chairman of the Committee on Information and Behavioral Sciences Division, National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council (1968–70); and a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University (1957–58). He has served as a consultant to The Brookings Institution (1955); the Mental Health Research Institute of the University of Michigan (1955–56); the Canadian Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (1964–66); and as a Ford Professor (1960–61), funded by a grant from the Ford Foundation. Easton also served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Political Methodology, Youth and Society, and International Political Science Abstracts, and was editor of Varieties of Political Theory (1966).
Easton is a former president of the American Political Science Association (1968–1969), past president of the International Committee on Social Science Documentation (1969–1971), and vice president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was an active Behavioral Science Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, serving as a council member (1975–1984), chairman of its research and planning committee (1979–82), and a member of its executive board (1979–1984). He was a trustee and chairman of the Academy of Independent Scholars (1979–81); a member of the Committee on Higher Education of the Royal Society of Canada (1978–80); and also served as chairman of the Committee on Scientific Information Exchange of the American Political science Association (1972).
He travelled widely in the United States and Europe up to his 90th year.
Easton has been described as one of the "first generation of behavioral revolutionaries" in the discipline of political science. Like other early behavioralists, Easton initially sought to gain control over the masses of data being generated by social science research in the early 1950s, which they thought was overwhelming social scientists with quantitative and qualitative data in the absence of an organizing theoretical framework. Easton argued for development of a proper science of political studies that would produce reliable, universal knowledge about social phenomena, and that the purpose of scientific rules of procedure was to make possible the discovery of a highly generalized theory of politics. Easton's vision was one of a "general theory" of political science that would consist of a deductive system of thought so that a limited number of postulates, as assumptions and axioms, a whole body of empirically valid generalizations might be deduced in descending order of specificity and provide predictive causal explanations of political behavior.
Easton's book The Political System drove home the failure of 1950s political science to build anything resembling coherent theories of politics or to develop systematic techniques for gathering and analyzing data, with which such theories might be constructed. The most widely known and used definition of politics was provided by Easton in his identification of the political system with the "authoritative allocation of values for a society." This provided many political scientists with a useful guideline for delimiting the content of political science.
Some years later, after Easton became President of the American Political Science Association, he led the charge of a new post-behavioralist revolution, arguing that political science research should be both relevant and action-oriented, so it might better serve the needs of society by solving social and political problems revealed during the 1960s. This new revolution was not a change in the methods of inquiry but a change in orientation that grew out of a deep discontent with the direction of contemporary political research and which advocated more attention to the public responsibilities of the discipline and to relevant research on contemporary political problems and issues. According to John Gunnell, this was the official birth announcement of the public policy enterprise in political science which became the basis of the self-image of orthodox political science in the 1970s. With this shift came a distinct de-emphasis of concern for establishing a general unified theory as the core of the discipline, and a retreat from any pointed confrontation with the history of political theory.
Easton is renowned for his application of systems theory to political science, and for his definition of politics as the "authoritative allocation of value" in A Framework for Political Analysis and A Systems Analysis of Political Life, both published in 1965.
Easton's principal research interest is in elaborating a systems analytical approach as a central means of understanding how political systems operate. In recent years he has turned to structural constraints as a second major element underlying political systems. He has written about the influence of political structure on various aspects of political life, on the state and development of political science, and on the political socialization of children.
In a reputational study of political scientists published in 1978, Easton ranked fourth among those most prominent during 1945–60, and second most prominent among those in the period 1960–70. In a subsequent reputational study based on number of times an author's publications were cited in publications of others, Easton ranked seventh among the twenty most significant political scientist contributors in the period 1970–79.
Easton has written several books and articles. A selection:
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The firm was founded in 1962 by the late William Doyle as William Doyle Antiques. In 1973, it was incorporated as William Doyle Galleries, Inc. Since 2001, it has been doing business as Doyle New York.Through the years, Doyle New York has auctioned the estates of such Hollywood legends as James Cagney, Gloria Swanson, Bette Davis, Rock Hudson, Rex Harrison, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Ruth Gordon. Doyle also auctioned the estates of musicians Louis Armstrong and Count Basie, as well as the stage gowns of opera diva Marian Anderson. More recently, Doyle auctioned the estate of Fashion Editor Carrie Donovan, spokeswoman for Old Navy; and the estate of Lady Sarah Consuelo Spencer-Churchill, sister of the Duke of Marlborough and granddaughter of American Heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. Doyle's auctioned in 2011 the contents (art, furniture, books, memorabilia) of the Upper East Side New York City bar and restaurant, located between 3 rd n Lexington avenues on 87th street.
Decorators and designers whose collections and estates were auctioned at Doyle New York include David Easton, Keith Irvine, Ronald Grimaldi, and Robert Denning. From the fashion world were the estates of Bonnie Cashin, Joe Eula and Geraldine Stutz; gowns from the collection of Marisa Berenson; and costume jewelry collections of Ann Getty and Brigid Berlin.
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John David Easton (March 4, 1933 – July 28, 2001) was an American professional baseball player. He signed with the Philadelphia Phillies after graduating from Princeton University and appeared in four Major League Baseball (MLB) games — one as a pinch runner in 1955 and three as a pinch hitter in 1959 — all for the Phillies. Easton went hitless in three at bats and failed to score a run as a baserunner. He threw and batted right-handed, standing 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) tall, and weighing 185 pounds (84 kg), during his playing days.
Easton graduated from Trenton Central High School and was a member of Princeton's Class of 1955. He also played varsity basketball for the Tigers and captained their baseball team.Easton made his MLB debut only days after signing his first pro contract, pinch running for veteran catcher Andy Seminick in the second inning of a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. He was not able to advance from second base when the Phils' rally was snuffed out by an inning-ending double play. However, Marv Blaylock, who had replaced Easton in the lineup, would score the only run of the game thirteen innings later, as the Phillies won, 1–0.Easton did not play in 1956 and much of 1957, serving in the United States Navy, but had an all-star year in 1958 for the Class A Williamsport Grays of the Eastern League, winning the batting title (.321), with 152 hits, including 35 doubles, ten triples, and 13 home runs. That earned him a second stint with the Phillies, to start the 1959 campaign, but in three pinch hitting appearances, Easton struck out all three times. He was sent back to the minors, and he retired after the 1959 campaign.
Easton graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from Princeton and became a manager for Public Service Electric & Gas Company (P S E & G) (a public utility), retiring in 1995. He died at age 68, after battling melanoma, July 28, 2001.Judith N. Shklar
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Presidents of the American Political Science Association