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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)

ISBN  978-1-80073-920-8 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (April 2023)

eISBN 978-1-78533-694-2 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“All the chapters show, in their own way, that philosophical anthropology offers a very sophisticated approach to understand how humans live… The dialogue between anthropology and philosophy that underlies this volume has clearly enriched the understanding of ethical drives in human life.” • History of the Human Sciences

“Overall the text offers an insightful interdisciplinary discussion on the topics of morality and ethics, albeit a conflicted title and theme as is made evident by many of the authors’ concerns with the idea and term ‘moral engines’ throughout the volume. A fascinating read for those interested in the in the field regardless of what side of the fence one sits.” • Irish Journal of Anthropology

“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)


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