Moral decisionism and its discontents

Gabriel Abend

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Decisionists use decision/choice concepts to understand and represent X: bees, Deep Blue, and Ron Carter make decisions. Explicit decisionists argue that X should be understood and represented using decision/choice concepts: it's correct to speak of bees', computers', and jazz improvisers' decision-making. Explicit anti-decisionists disagree: bees, computers, jazz improvisers, algorithms, and drug addicts aren't correctly understood and represented as decision-makers. Sociologists look at decisionism and explicit decisionism as social phenomena, which show up in discourses, practices, technologies, and organizations. I make a contribution to the sociology of decisionism and the sociology of morality by examining three kinds of explicit moral anti-decisionism: Murdochian, sociological/structural, and Confucian/Daoist. I show why these discontents are discontent, what theories and evidence they draw on, what assumptions they make, and how they conceive of morality without decision/choice concepts. Then, I consider how moral anti-decisionism might matter, how the sociology of decisionism might matter, and where to go from here (if anywhere).

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)59-83
    Number of pages25
    JournalJournal for the Theory of Social Behaviour
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 2019


    • Ron Carter
    • decision-making
    • decisionism
    • social theory
    • sociological theory
    • sociology of morality

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • General Psychology


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