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Review "This work analyses the work of Emile Durkheim from the perspective of the sociology of morals--a perspective he himself proposed as a separate field of study in sociology and to which he devoted his life's work. No customer reviews. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. October 10, - Published on Amazon. Verified Purchase.

Some sociology studies involve intentionally deceiving subjects about the nature of the research. A more common case is a study in which researchers are concerned that if the subjects are aware of what is being measured, such as their reaction to a series of violent images, the results will be altered or tempered by that knowledge.

In the latter case, researchers are required to debrief reveal the deception and explain the true purpose of the study to subjects after the data is gathered.


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Dangerous Elements : Researchers working in dangerous environments may deceive participants in order to protect their own safety. The ethical problems with conducting a trial involving an element of deception are legion. Valid consent means a participant is aware of all relevant context surrounding the research they are participating in, including both risks and benefits. Failure to ensure informed consent is likely to result in the harm of potential participants and others who may be affected indirectly.

Code of Ethics

This harm could occur either in terms of the distress that subsequent knowledge of deception may cause participants and others, or in terms of the significant risks to which deception may expose participants and others. For example, a participant in a medical trial could misuse a drug substance, believing it to be a placebo. Two approaches have been suggested to minimize such difficulties: pre-consent including authorized deception and generic pre-consent and minimized deception.

Pre-consent involves informing potential participants that a given research study involves an element of deception without revealing its exact nature. This approach respects the autonomy of individuals because subjects consent to the deception. Research funding comes from grants from private groups or governments, and researchers must be careful to avoid conflicts of interest. Examine the process of receiving research funding, including avoiding conflicts of interest and the sources of research funding.

Many researchers fund their work by applying for grants from private groups or governments, but they must be careful to avoid a conflict of interest.


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  • The term often connotes funding obtained through a competitive process, in which potential research projects are evaluated and only the most promising receive funding. Such processes, which are run by government, corporations, or foundations, allocate scarce funds. Many researchers fund their work by applying for grants from private groups or governments, but they must be careful to avoid conflicts of interest. Most research funding comes from two major sources: corporations through research and development departments and government primarily carried out through universities and specialized government agencies.

    Some small amounts of scientific research are also carried out or funded by charitable foundations. In the United States, the government funding proportion in certain industries is higher, and it dominates research in social science and humanities. Government-funded research can either be carried out by the government itself, or through grants to academic and other researchers outside the government. An advantage to government sponsored research is that the results are publicly shared, whereas with privately funded research the ideas are controlled by a single group.

    Consequently, government sponsored research can result in mass collaborative projects that are beyond the scope of isolated private researchers. Funding of research by private companies is mainly motivated by profit, and are much less likely than governments to fund research projects solely for the sake of knowledge. The profit incentive causes researchers to concentrate their energies on projects which are perceived as likely to generate profits. Research funding is often applied for by scientists and approved by a granting agency to financially support research. The process of grant writing and grant proposing is a somewhat delicate process for both the granter and the grantee.

    Ethics and the Sociology of Morals by Emile Durkheim - fensconrectderp.tk

    The granter wants to choose the research that best fits their scientific principles, and the grantee wants to apply for research in which he has the best chances but also in which he can build a body of work toward future scientific endeavors. This interplay can be a lengthy process. However, most universities have research administration offices to facilitate the interaction between the researcher and the granting agency.

    If the funding source for a research project has an interest in the outcome of the project, this can represent a conflict of interest and a potential ethical breach. In other words, when research is funded by the same agency that can be expected to gain from a favorable outcome, there is a potential for biased results. Value neutrality is the duty of sociologists to strive to be impartial and overcome their biases as they conduct their research.

    Assigning moral values to social phenomena is an inescapable result of being part of society.

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    This inevitably renders truly value-free research inconceivable; however despite this, sociologists should strive for value neutrality. According to Max Weber, a German sociologist and philosopher who profoundly influenced social theory, value neutrality is the duty of sociologists to strive to be impartial and overcome their biases as they conduct their research, analyze their data, and publish their findings. Weber understood that personal values could distort the framework for disclosing study results.

    While he accepted that some aspects of research design might be influenced by personal values, he declared that it was entirely inappropriate to allow them to shape the interpretation of the responses.

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    Max Weber : Max Weber was a German sociologist, philosopher, and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself. Sociologists, Weber stated, must establish value neutrality, a practice of remaining impartial, without bias or judgment, during the course of a study and in publishing results. To do this, they must be conscious of their own personal values. As Durkheim argues, the categories are the natural, sui generis result of the co-existence and interaction of individuals within a social framework.

    Sociological Ethics

    What is more, not only does society institute the categories in this way, but different aspects of the social being serve as the content of the categories. For example, the rhythm of social life serves as the base for the category of time, the spatial arrangement of the group serves as a base for the category of space, the social grouping of society for example in clans or phratries serves as a base for the category of class as in the classification of items , and collective force is at the origin of the concept of an efficacious force, which was essential to the very first formulations of the category of causality.

    Another category of utmost importance is the category of totality, the notion of everything, which originates from the concept of the social group in total. The categories are not, of course, used only to relate to society. Rather, they extend and apply to the entire universe, helping individuals to explain rationally the world around them. As a result, the ways in which individuals understand the world through the categories can vary in important ways. As Steven Lukes has pointed out, Durkheim does not distinguish between the faculties of categorical thinking, such as the faculty of temporality, and the content of these faculties, that is dividing time into set units of measurement.

    Ethics and the Sociology of Morals

    Instead, Durkheim views both the capacity and the content of categorical thought as stamped onto the individual mind by society at the same time. There may be different classifications within a society, for example, but in order for an individual to recognize these classifications in the first place, they must have prior possession of the ability to recognize classifications. Another vital role that society plays in the construction of human knowledge is the fact that it actively organizes objects of experience into a coherent classificatory system that encompasses the entire universe.

    With these classificatory systems it becomes possible to attach things one to another and to establish relations between them.

    Moral Standards vs Non-Moral Standards - General Ethics - PHILO-notes Whiteboard Edition

    This allows us to see things as functions of each other, as if they were following an interior law that was founded in their nature and provides order to an otherwise chaotic world. What is more, Durkheim argues that it was through religion that the very first cosmologies, or classificatory systems of the universe, came into being, in the form of religious myth.

    Religion was thus the first place where humans could attempt to rationally explain and understand the world around them. As a result, Durkheim argues that the evolution of logic is strongly linked to the evolution of religion though both ultimately depend upon social conditions. This leads to the claim that religion is at the origin of much, if not all, of human knowledge.

    This argument has a far reach, affecting even the way in which modern science views itself. Following Durkheim, while modern science might claim to have no kinship with religion and in fact claim to be opposed to religion, it is in effect through religion that the conceptual and logical thought necessary for scientific thinking originated and was first elaborated.

    With such a theory of knowledge, Durkheim reveals himself to be a cultural relativist, arguing that each culture has a network of self-referential logic and concepts that creates truths that are legitimate and, while not necessarily grounded in the reality of the physical world, are grounded within the reality of their respective social framework. Truths of this nature Durkheim calls mythological truths. Thus, while, there are objective truths about the world to be discovered, it would be mistaken to think that reality exists independently, or is logically antecedent, of it being represented through society, since it is only through collective effort that these scientific truths are discovered, and thus come to being.

    Scientific truths, while of a special nature, are also in an important way bound by the limits of society.


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    In the end, Durkheim strives to account for a total sociology of knowledge. And, since the world exists only as far as it is thought, and since the world is totally thought only by society, the world takes its shape in society. In other words, society establishes, from the outset, the limits of possibility for rationality, linguistic expression, and knowledge in general. Early in his life, as in Division , he argued that human societies could exist on a secular basis without religion.

    But later in his life he saw religion as a more and more fundamental element of social life. By the time he wrote Forms , Durkheim saw religion as a part of the human condition, and while the content of religion might be different from society to society over time, religion will, in some form or another, always be a part of social life. Durkheim also argues that religion is the most fundamental social institution, with almost all other social institutions, at some point in human history, being born from it.