The introduction of the concept of latent function in social
research leads to conclusions which show that 'social life is not as simple
as it first seems.' For as long as people confine themselves to certain
consequences (e.g. manifest consequences), it is comparatively simple for
them to pass moral judgments upon the practice or belief in question.
Moral evaluations, generally based on these manifest consequences, tend
to be polarized in terms of black or white. But the perception of
further (latent) consequences often complicates the picture. Problems
of moral evaluation (which are not our immediate concern) and problems
of social engineering (which are our concern) both take on the additional
complexities usually involved in responsible social decisions (1968, p.