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Moral Engines: Exploring the Ethical Drives in Human Life

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Volume 5

WYSE Series in Social Anthropology

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Moral Engines

Exploring the Ethical Drives in Human Life

Edited by Cheryl Mattingly, Rasmus Dyring, Maria Louw, and Thomas Schwarz Wentzer

266 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-693-5 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (October 2017)

eISBN 978-1-78533-694-2 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $29.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“This is an excellent collection of essays that contributes to the growing anthropological literature on morality and ethics. It addresses the current debates in a new and useful way.” · Johan Rasanayagam, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen

“This stimulating volume suggests a new metaphor to reshape this central question to moral theory within an anthropological perspective.” · Samuel Leze, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon


In the past fifteen years, there has been a virtual explosion of anthropological literature arguing that morality should be considered central to human practice. Out of this explosion new and invigorating conversations have emerged between anthropologists and philosophers. Moral Engines: Exploring the Ethical Drives in Human Life includes essays from some of the foremost voices in the anthropology of morality, offering unique interdisciplinary conversations between anthropologists and philosophers about the moral engines of ethical life, addressing the question: What propels humans to act in light of ethical ideals?

Cheryl Mattingly is Professor of Anthropology at University of Southern California. She is a 2017 Guggenheim Fellow and has received numerous awards from the American Anthropological Association, including the Victor Turner Prize, the Stirling Prize and the New Millennium Prize. Her most recent book is Moral Laboratories: Family Peril and the Struggle for a Good Life (University of California Press 2014).

Rasmus Dyring is Assistant Professor at the Department of Philosophy and History of Ideas, Aarhus University. In dialogue with the anthropology of ethics, Dyring’s research aims at foregrounding the existential dimensions of ethical life. He has published several articles on this subject, for instance, “A Spectacle of Disappearance” (Tropos 2015).

Maria Louw is Associate Professor at the Department of Anthropology, Aarhus University. She is the author of Everyday Islam in Post-Soviet Central Asia (Routledge 2007) and a number of other publications focusing on religion, secularism, atheism and morality in Central Asia.

Thomas Schwarz Wentzer is Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy and History of Ideas, Aarhus University. He is author of Bewahrung der Geschichte: Die hermeneutische Philosophie Walter Benjamins (Philo-Verlag 2002), co-editor of Finite but Unbounded: New Approaches in Philosophical Anthropology (DeGruyter 2017).

Subject: Anthropology (General) Cultural Studies (General)


Cheryl Mattingly

Chapter 1. The Question of 'Moral Engines': Introducing a Philosophical Anthropological Dialogue
Rasmus Dyring, Cheryl Mattingly, and Maria Louw


Chapter 2. Ethics, Immanent Transcendence and the Experimental Narrative Self  
Cheryl Mattingly

Chapter 3. Being Otherwise: On Regret, Morality, and Mood
Jason Throop

Chapter 4. Haunting as Moral Engine: Ethical Striving and Moral Aporias among Sufis in Uzbekistan
Maria Louw

Chapter 5. Every Day: Forgiving after War in Northern Uganda
Lotte Meinert

Chapter 6. The Provocation of Freedom
Rasmus Dyring


Chapter 7. On the Immanence of Ethics
Michael Lambek

Chapter 8. Where in the World are Values? Exemplarity and Moral Motivation
Joel Robbins

Chapter 9. Fault Lines in the Anthropology of Ethics
James Laidlaw


Chapter 10. An Ethics of Dwelling and a Politics of Worldbuilding: Responding to the Demands of the Drug War
Jarrett Zigon

Chapter 11. Human, the Responding Being:  Considerations Towards a Philosophical Anthropology of Responsiveness
Thomas Schwarz Wentzer

Chapter 12. The History of Responsibility
Francois Raffoul


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