Critical Moral Anthropology

It has become clear through time that most anthropologists have neglected certain issues of morality and ethics. Given that an in-depth investigation reveals that anthropologists have continuously made research of factors associated to norms, such a stance is undoubtedly a source of considerable debate. Based on this analysis, it is evident that such an argument lacks the best possible rebuttal, especially in light of the fact that morality and ethics are two of the most rapidly expanding themes in the discipline of anthropology. Going by the latest trends, it is evidently clear that the evolution experienced under such a particular domain as is currently observed works more as an ethical turn since early 2000.

Over time, one aspect that has constantly been of significant importance to philosophers is the question pertaining to morality. Moral questions is a growing concern for a majority of philosophers, who ideally have the understanding that indeed, morals and ethics are indeed of substantive importance. One of the major challenges in addressing such an issue has been with the social scientists who for a while have made little progress in addressing morals and moralities. Such a directional approach remains controversial as human moral dimension remains one of the foundational settings for both anthropology and science. An in-depth analysis of such occurrences reveals the underlying problem associated with such occurrences, which attribute the existence of the paradox. From such studies, some piece of evidence available in addressing the paradox is the existing tension between prescriptive and descriptive elements of social sciences. Some of the questions that emerge from such understanding seek to determine whether moralities contribute towards the establishment of a better understanding of social life and whether the major objective attributed to the science of morals is the betterment of an existing society. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, various sociologists have made significant strides in an attempt to address a value-free study of value judgment in the examination of the role played by ethics, most especially in the time when the spirit of capitalism was an emerging issue in the societies.

For the case of anthropology, the most critical problem associated with the issue has been that of confrontation of other cultures, which attributes the entrance of other moralities from the different cultures. With such a confrontation, there was the emergence of the discussion between relativism and universalism, as attributed to the existence of various values and norms across the globe as well as the transformations they have undergone over the time. With such occurrences, one is asked whether it is necessary to affirm some of the norms and values as superior to others or whether all should be considered as being incommensurable. Ideally, a majority of the anthropologists both from the American and French backgrounds conformed to the second view as the most appropriate considering the discovery of historical catastrophes as prompted by the ideologies of human hierarchy. Such a discussion has equally become a subject of consideration with the recent emergence of the issue of female excision (genital mutilation), with a significant majority of the females making arguments for the morally prompted discussions and research on various practices considered to be unacceptable in the societies.

With the existence of such difficulties; scientific, political, and ethical perspectives, it is clearly evident that elements of morality and morals have become a major area of concern in the past century, and as such makes a clear representation of the evolution that continues to occur in the broader contemporary societies, in which the element of morals have become of great importance in addressing views in the public sphere. Today, a significant number of active domains focus more on the element of moral justifications and evaluations. With such changes in the evolving circumstances, there has equally been a growing existence of questions related to the element of morality, which can no longer be ignored, most especially by the social scientists based on the consideration that their expertise has often been solicited on such occasions.

Based on such perspectives, it is critically important to make a clear understanding that the differences existing between the methodological and theoretical aspects of social sciences standing on one side with philosophy standing on the other. However, having evolutionary and cognitive sciences on one side could equally present a case of individual approaches to moral problems. Going by the observable trends, it is clearly evident that philosophers, biologists, and psychologists ideally operate on the basis of reduction where the various elements of moral dilemma experienced give rise to simple alternatives, which ideally never make any reflection of realities; rather, work on mechanisms of making conceptualization productions. Latest trends reveal the establishment of universal moral grammar, which works as the elementary form of form pertaining to moral judgments and sentiments. On the contrary, anthropologists, historians, as well sociologists are often considered to be making a deal with complex and more impure situations. Ideally, such an occurrence is common considering that it is human nature and an aspect of the social action. Furthermore, the differential element between moral issues as well as the political, legal, and religious elements remain significantly blurred. For the social scientists, it is evidently clear that indeed there exists nothing as moral grammar as murder, while being condemned in certain quarters, it equally becomes an element of praise in other cultural environments, depending on the context of occurrence.

From the above occurrences, the conception of ‘Towards a Critical Moral Anthropology’ came into existence with the aim of apprehending the existing complexity and impunity pertaining to morals in the contemporary society. The program of ‘Towards a Critical Moral Anthropology’ has both the theoretical and empirical dimensions in which from one side there exists the proposal of critical inquiry into the new anthropology field based on the elements of morals and moralities, based on the relation of moral issues to the political and historical formation backgrounds. From the other perspective, ‘Towards a Critical Moral Anthropology’ makes an implication of the manner of treatment of minorities and immigrants’ treatment by the various institutions such as prisons, police, and justice. From such a viewpoint, it is clearly evident that such a context, there is significant difficulty in the establishment of the sincerity of various cultures in addressing certain elements. From a different perspective; however, it is clearly evident that in the paradoxical view, the severer a judgment is, the greater the level of the judges getting convinced that the judgment made on a certain issue is indeed fair. Besides, a majority of the current policy makers focus more on the circulation of norms and values as occurs between macro social as well as the micro social forums.

‘Towards a Critical Moral Anthropology’ therefore has its focus on two major elements; the investigation of the central legacies of moral anthropology and the features of contributions from the pioneers in the field of moral anthropology. In the case of the investigation of the central legacies of moral anthropology, it is clearly evident that the formation of the moral facts and values goes around the context of local moralities as well as from the frontiers that exist between the elements of humanitarianism, politics, and moralities. The book goes ahead to address the elements of the rich future of anthropology without making any diminishing on the aspects of ethical and moral debts that a majority of the contemporary anthropologist owe to their predecessors. Anthropologists for a long time have done significant studies on the distant and isolated ethnic groupings, thereby making a discovery that their place equally exists at home. At home, there exists the aspect that certain social worlds stand less exotic as compared to the previously considered primitive societies. Thus, the inquiry into the element of morals and moralities stand as significant aspect towards the possibility of making a simultaneous seizure on the shared norms and values across the various social worlds as attributed to the differences in cultural affiliations. ‘Towards a Critical Moral Anthropology’ makes an inclusion of the classical together with the recent materials that shed light on the continued debate pertaining to relativism and humanitarianism, with the responsibility of appropriate research as well as the effective regulation of such research.

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