"The Moral Background"

Religious Diversity Colloquium Spring 2016

  • Date: Apr 26, 2016
  • Time: 14:00 - 15:30
  • Speaker: Gabriel Abend (New York University/Lichtenberg-Kolleg)
  • Gabriel Abend is an associate professor of sociology at New York University and a current fellow of the Lichtenberg-Kolleg. He got his undergraduate degree at the Universidad de la República (Montevideo, Uruguay) and his PhD at Northwestern University (Evanston, United States). One of his ongoing projects takes issue with prevalent approaches to morality, because of their overreliance on individuals’ judgments, neglect of thick concepts, and blindness to the moral background that makes moral life possible. It shows what sociological, anthropological, and historical contributions can help rectify these errors. Another line of research compares the epistemological assumptions of different social scientific communities—see his articles “The Meaning of ‘Theory’”; “Styles of Causal Thought: An Empirical Investigation” (with C. Petre and M. Sauder); and “Styles of Sociological Thought: Sociologies, Epistemologies, and the Mexican and U.S. Quests for Truth.” A third ongoing project examines how the brain figures in societies’ institutionalized understandings about love, art, religion, spirituality, empathy, and morality.
  • Location: MPI-MMG, Hermann-Föge-Weg 11, Göttingen
  • Room: Library Hall
"The Moral Background"

For more details please contact vdvoffice(at)mmg.mpg.de.

In his book, The Moral Background, Gabriel Abend develops a conceptual framework for the scientific study of morality and uses it to investigate the history of business ethics in the United States. According to Abend, morality consists of three levels: moral and immoral behavior, or the behavioral level; moral understandings and norms, or the normative level; and the moral background, which includes what moral concepts exist in a society, what moral methods can be used, what reasons can be given, and what objects can be morally evaluated at all. This background underlies the behavioral and normative levels; it supports, facilitates, and enables them. In his presentation, Abend will discuss chapter 1 (“The Moral Background”) and chapter 7 (“The Christian Merchant”).

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