Article

Morality

Steven Hitlin

in Sociology

ISBN: 9780199756384
Published online February 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0097
Morality

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The study of morality was once central to social thought and a primary concern of philosophers throughout recorded history. From the dawn of the social sciences, morality was considered a primary aspect of human relations; for those writing around Adam Smith’s time, the words “social” and “moral” were often used interchangeably. Early sociologists were centrally concerned with the moral aspects of society, though the concept lost its prominence as the field turned more centrally toward issues of stratification and microinteraction. In psychology, work on morality has been scattered but has experienced a recent resurgence with the advent of neurological methods alongside a variety of different approaches to understanding prosocial behavior. The terms “prosocial” and “moral” are conceptually different, though in practice much of the work on “moral” behavior assumes a prosocial assumption of morality. This article offers an overview of the relevant sociological and psychological treatments of morality useful for developing a sociology of morality. Much of the important work is found in anthropology, developmental psychology, neuroscience, and social psychology. The study of morality is fundamentally interdisciplinary. This overview is slanted toward a focus on recent contributions.

Article.  8559 words. 

Subjects: Sociology ; Comparative and Historical Sociology ; Economic Sociology ; Gender and Sexuality ; Health, Illness, and Medicine ; Population and Demography ; Race and Ethnicity ; Social Movements and Social Change ; Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility ; Social Theory

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