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date: 07 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Durkheim’s writings on morality are examined, distinguishing his earlier, more familiar account from later developments that advance new ideas relevant to present-day debates. The question is raised of the extent to which familiar criticisms of Durkheim’s sociology of morality are justified and ways are suggested in which sociologists and anthropologists can gain from reconsidering Durkheim on morality. His attempts to demarcate the scope of the sociology of morals against the claims of the philosophers and psychologists of his time are, it is argued, relevant to how sociologists of morality should view today’s philosophers and psychologists. Durkheim’s influence on current work by sociologists of morality is considered: positive influence, whether acknowledged or not, and negative, in response to what are seen as inadequacies of Durkheim’s approach. It is suggested that apparently non-Durkheimian studies of trust, collective action, and the evolution of social norms are nonetheless Durkheimian in their object of inquiry.

Keywords: ethics, values, obligation, judgments, demarcation, philosophers, psychologists, sacred, sociology of morality

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