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Moral EntanglementsConserving Birds in Britain and Germany$
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Stefan Bargheer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226376639

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226543963.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 26 February 2021

A Pragmatist Theory of Morality

A Pragmatist Theory of Morality

(p.18) Chapter 1 A Pragmatist Theory of Morality
Moral Entanglements

Stefan Bargheer

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 1 outlines the contribution to the sociology of morality. It advances a theory of moral valuation informed by the pragmatism of John Dewey. Following this theory, it is argued that valuations are entangled in practices and institutions. The differences between the practices and institutions of work and play account for the peculiarities of the valuation of birds in Britain and Germany as well as their trajectory over time. In Britain, birds derived their meaning in the context of the game of bird watching as a leisure activity. Here birds are now as then the most popular and best protected taxonomic group of wildlife due to their particularly suitable status as toys in a collecting game, turning nature into a playground. In Germany, by contrast, birds were initially part of the world of work. They were protected as useful economic tools, rendering services of ecological pest control in a system of agricultural production modeled after the factory shop floor. A purely moral valuation of birds was formulated in opposition to this purely economic one. Changes in the valuation of birds in both countries are shown to be tied to chances in the practices and institutions in which they are entangled.

Keywords:   sociology of morality, pragmatism, theory of valuation, John Dewey, play, work, institutions, practices

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