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The Post-Secular in QuestionReligion in Contemporary Society$
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Philip Gorski, David Kyuman Kim, John Torpey, and Jonathan VanAntwerpen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814738726

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814738726.001.0001

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Durkheimian Sociology as Virtue Ethics

(p.77) Chapter Four Recovered Goods
The Post-Secular in Question

Philip S. Gorski

NYU Press

This chapter examines what Émile Durkheim could have meant by his statement that sociology is a “moral science” and whether the project it implied is a defensible one. Durkheim's goal was not only to study morality scientifically; he also proposed to put morality on a scientific footing—a goal that most contemporary sociologists would be uncomfortable with. This chapter argues that Durkheim's vision of “moral science” was inspired primarily by Aristotelian ethics and that it anticipated many of the ideas of virtue ethics and related schools of thought and research. It considers a number of reasons why there is a connection between Durkheim and Aristotle and why that connection has received so little attention. Finally, it explains why Aristotelian ethics was much better suited to Durkheim's purposes than was Kantianism or utilitarianism.

Keywords:   sociology, Émile Durkheim, moral science, morality, Aristotelian ethics, virtue ethics, Aristotle, Kantianism, utilitarianism

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