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The Will in Cases of Moral Deviance: Towards the Re-Evaluation of a Forgotten Concept ?


Will is not a subject in anthropology. At least it has not been highlighted as such until a recent attempt from American phenomenologically-influenced anthropology reminded us of the widespread popular use of the concept, contrary to its lack of articulation within the discipline (Murphy and Throop, 2011). If we were to look back into the history of anthropology, the Culture and Personality American research trend of the 30s came closer to the concept when approaching psychological collective characteristics such as temperament as Margaret Mead did (Mead, 1963). But the existence of will could be also seen as an unspoken assumption behind Practice Theory with its emphasis on notions such as « agency » and « intentionality ». During the past decades close subjects have emerged: the anthropological research on morality, on emotions, on the body, which should be able to help consider the notion of will outside its initial psychological dimension. This is not to say that "will" has been absent from social research. Individual will has rather been the unquestioned axiom behind the two main methodological approaches in social sciences. The very foundation of social sciences has been shaken from the beginning by the fight between social determinist approaches that see culture as a "barrier to volition" and methodological individualism that see culture as a "sculptor of volition". While the first approach assumes that the individual will is absent, the second assumes that the freedom of choice (and will) is the basis of our social life. In this last perspective, will is often amalgamated with free choiceb see the homo economicus, rational (utilitarian) choice models. And when it is acknowledged that the will is constraint by culture (habitus) and morality, by emotions and other mental and physiological limits, it is on the model of bounded rationality 1 that it is described.
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hal-01610222 , version 1 (08-07-2020)


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Monica Heintz. The Will in Cases of Moral Deviance: Towards the Re-Evaluation of a Forgotten Concept ?. Moos, Thorsten and Rehmann-Sutter, Christoph and Schües, Christina. Randzonen Des Willens. Entscheidung Und Einwilligung in Grenzsituationen Der Medizin, Peter Lang, 2016. ⟨hal-01610222⟩
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