Categorization and the Moral Order by Lena Jayyusi

By Lena Jayyusi

First released in 1984, this can be a research of categorization practices: how humans categorize one another and their activities; how they describe, infer, and decide. The booklet provides a sociological research and outline of useful actions and makes a cogent contribution to the research of the way the ethical order really works in useful communicative contexts. one of the matters handled are: collectivity categorizations, the association of lists and outlines, ethical attribution and inferences, and the connection among criteria of morality and criteria of rationality.

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Example text

Demonstrate that she knows how to move the chess pieces correctly (this involves ~nowing that certain moves are permissible and others not). But if she does not make appropriate moves for the specific game in progress, she will be said not to know how to play chess well; the same holds if she loses every time she plays. But perhaps she is unable to make any appropriate moves at all (although all the moves she makes are strictly correct in terms of the formal constitutive rules); suppose she loses so quickly, can never foresee a threat from an opponent's piece, never notice a ~good opportunity for seizing an opponent's piece, etc.

A: It was not - well, any post that was set up - it was not a clearing station then, it was purely a first aid post on the 13th. What A has done in the data under consideration is to set up the categorization 'first-aider', a category whose relevance and nature can be seen to have been locally generated by the specifics of the situation under discussion - namely, by the object-category (first-aid post) and the bunch of activities that were correspondingly engaged in, whose outcome was the first-aid post (as an organization bounded by locality, resources and practices).

A consequence of this is that those activities performed, and habits engaged in, by particular individuals categorized under the 'type' rubric do not find their various explanations in their biography: they become de-historicized. Why Brian Smith, for instance, sleeps out in the open and has no job is not made an explainable and investigable matter - it is rather made out as a given attribute of Brian Smith. g. as in the Depression) but rather it is made out to be constitutive of Brian Smith and so constitutive of him, if need be, in spite of his biography.

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