What Is a Person? Rethinking Humanity, Social Life, and the Moral Good from the Person Up

ISBN-10: 0226765946
ISBN-13: 9780226765945
Edition: 2011
Authors: Christian Smith
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Description: What is a person? This fundamental question is a perennial concern of philosophers and theologians. But, Christian Smith here argues, it also lies at the center of the social scientist's quest to interpret and explain social life. In this ambitious  More...

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Book details

Copyright year: 2011
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 11/30/2011
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 528
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.75" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.540
Language: English

What is a person? This fundamental question is a perennial concern of philosophers and theologians. But, Christian Smith here argues, it also lies at the center of the social scientist's quest to interpret and explain social life. In this ambitious book, Smith presents a new model for social theory that does justice to the best of our humanistic visions of people, life, and society. Finding much current thinking on personhood to be confusing or misleading, Smith finds inspiration in critical realism and personalism. Drawing on these ideas, he constructs a theory of personhood that forges a middle path between the extremes of positivist science and relativism. Smith then builds on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, Anthony Giddens, and William Sewell to demonstrate the importance of personhood to our understanding of social structures. From there he broadens his scope to consider how we can know what is good in personal and social life and what sociology can tell us about human rights and dignity. Innovative, critical, and constructive, What Is a Person?offers an inspiring vision of a social science committed to pursuing causal explanations, interpretive understanding, and general knowledge in the service of truth and the moral good.

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Initial Arguments
The Emergence of Personhood
Key Theoretical Resources
Critical Engagements
The Reality of Social Construction
Excursus: Getting to Truth
Network Structuralism's Missing Persons
Persons and Mechanisms (Not) in Variables Sociology
Constructive Development
The Personal Sources of Social Structures
The Good
Human Dignity
Postscript
Index

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