Choice and Morality in Anthropological Perspective
Essays in Honor of Derek Freeman
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This book explores choice behavior as constrained by culture, biology, and psychoanalytic processes in a variety of ethnographic contexts in Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Africa—the arena in which the controversy between Derek Freeman and anthropologist Margaret Mead's ideas of culture first developed. It also examines the interface between a nomothetic anthropology and a hermeneutic, idiographic anthropology, raising the critical question as to how ethnographic "knowledge" of another culture is achieved and transmitted to others.
Freeman rejects an exclusive reliance on either culture or biology as key to explaining human behavior, proposing instead an interactionist paradigm. Fundamental to this paradigm is choice behavior, which is intrinsic to our biology and basic to the formation of culture: for cultures are the accumulation of socially sanctioned past choices. However, the greater the freedom to choose, the greater the scope for good or bad, and the greater the need for ethics, rules, and laws for defining prohibited alternatives. Choice and Morality investigates these themes. Its authors examine the emergent nature of social reality as a result of choice behavior and illustrate the complexity of Freeman's theoretical position.
George N. Appell, Ph. D. is Senior Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology at Brandeis University. Triloki N. Madan is Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Economic Growth, University of Delhi, India.