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Relational Reason, Morals and Sociality

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Edited By Elżbieta Hałas and Aleksander Manterys

Relational sociology draws attention to non-utilitarian aspects of sociality that reach beyond instrumental rationality, and presents the problem of relational reason. Shaping a civil society under cultural plurality requires reflection upon relational rationality. This book focuses on relational goods as an emergent effect of social relations, focusing on the issue of good life and the Good Society.

The relational approach involves viewing social relations neither as an expression of the system nor as an individual action, but as a human reality in its own right, based on reciprocity.

The authors explore the moral dimensions of sociality in various areas of social life. The aim is to enrich the understanding of relationality and of the significance of the relational theory of society.

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Elżbieta Hałas: Relational Care: Rethinking Altruism

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Elżbieta Hałas

Relational Care: Rethinking Altruism

Abstract: Altruism was among the key concepts of sociology at its beginnings, as well as in the works of almost all the authors belonging to the pantheon of the classics. The present decline of the postmodern formation coincides with re-emergence of the notion of altruism as one of the key concepts in social theory. Unlike theories of morality, where altruism is considered on the level of moral dispositions focusing on the good of Others, sociological studies focus on altruism in social relations. Altruism is articulated as a relational phenomenon: relational care.

Of key importance and significant from a relational sociological perspective is the non-normative understanding of ethics, broader than the concept of morality. This allows us to see altruism in a new light: as relational care.

Keywords: altruism, benevolence, ethos, relational care, social relations

The Road to the Concept of Altruism

Social thought has come a long way between ancient times and modernity, the age when sociology came into being. This new social science was to provide its own answers to the question raised by Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) regarding the possibility of social order under conditions of human nature. The problem couched in new terms as the egoism/altruism antinomy has an equally long history. The word “altruism” appears in the first half of the nineteenth century. It accompanies the forging of sociology’s theoretical vocabulary by August Comte (1798–1857)...

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