1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

"Angles on Ethical Life: Psychological Affordances, Historical Objects, and the Ethnographic Stance"

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What does an ethnographic perspective on ethics help make visible?  This talk is meant to add breadth to the study of ethics while also posing a methodological challenge to anthropological habits.  It aims to situate the ethnographic stance in a more productive relationship to the causal explanations of psychology and the normative reasoning of philosophy. Focusing on ordinary social interactions, I argue that the ethnographic stance allows us to look in two directions.  In one, ethical life draws on psychological affordances.  In the other, interaction is where people are most often induced to account for themselves.  When explicit reasons and justifications result, they may become historical objects like moral codes or theories of justice.  These in turn become new affordances for ethical life.

  • Reception follows in Brooks Commons, 1st Floor




Event Date: 
Friday, 27 September 2013 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Webb Keane
Speaker Title: 
George Herbert Mead Collegiate, Professor Anthropology University of Michigan