The question of Moral Action: A formalist position

Iddo Tavory

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article develops a research position that allows cultural sociologists to compare morality across sociohistorical cases. In order to do so, the article suggests focusing analytic attention on actions that fulfill the following criteria: (a) actions that define the actor as a certain kind of socially recognized person, both within and across fields; (b) actions that actors experience-or that they expect others to perceive-as defining the actor both intersituationally and to a greater extent than other available definitions of self; and (c) actions to which actors either have themselves, or expect others to have, a predictable emotional reaction. Such a position avoids both a realist moral sociology and descriptive-relativism, and provides sociologists with criteria for comparing moral action in different cases while staying attuned to social and historical specificity.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)272-293
    Number of pages22
    JournalSociological Theory
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Dec 2011

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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