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Moral, Believing AnimalsHuman Personhood and Culture$
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Christian Smith

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195162028

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195162028.001.0001

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Human Culture(s) as Moral Order(s)

Human Culture(s) as Moral Order(s)

(p.7) TWO Human Culture(s) as Moral Order(s)
Moral, Believing Animals

Christian Smith

Oxford University Press

The ideas of culture and action are central in sociology and social theory. This chapter argues that the most adequate approach to theorizing human culture must be a normative one that conceives of humans as moral, believing animals and human social life as consisting of moral orders that constitute and direct social action. Human actions are necessarily morally constituted and propelled practices. And human institutions are inevitably morally infused configurations of rules and resources. One of the central and fundamental motivations for human action is to act out and sustain moral order, which helps constitute, direct, and make significant human life itself. Human persons nearly universally live in social worlds that are thickly webbed with moral assumptions, beliefs, commitments, and obligations. This chapter also explores the long-standing false dichotomies of “culture” versus “society” in sociological theory. In its addendum, it tries to justify why are humans moral animals?

Keywords:   human cultures, sociology, social action, believing animals, moral assumptions

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