主讲人：Jacob Hickman 杨百翰大学副教授
The “ethical turn” in anthropology over the last decade has spurred a number of debates. Some of the key frameworks that have emerged—such as the “ordinary ethics” position—took their starting points as arguing for a specifically anthropological response to an effectively deontological view of morality and ethics that pervades other disciplinary debates. In this paper I will argue that, while these critiques have helped advance an anthropology of morality in some respects, one problem is that moral realism seems to have been sacrificed on the altar of critiquing deontology. I will develop an argument that moral realism is fundamental to human nature, and as such must inform any comparative analysis of moral frameworks across societies or communities. As one example that I will briefly develop, ontological frameworks of concepts like personhood ground ethical thinking in important ways, and this relationship between ontology and morality provides a critical, if overlooked, insight into understanding the moral worlds of anthropologists’ interlocutors. In order to ground this argument ethnographically, I will provide an overview of some key insights from a transnationally comparative ethnography of morality and personhood across the life course among Hmong refugee families from Laos, some of whom permanently resettled in Thailand while their relatives ultimately resettled in the United States. I will develop a moral realist framework that I argue helps us better understand how ethical thinking and practice are changing throughout the Hmong diaspora, as Hmong adapt to dramatically different social contexts in the societies where they have migrated. While some theorists in the “ethical turn” debates might argue that these shifting moral outlooks across Hmong communities challenges the very notion of moral realism, I will argue that my comparative analysis of moral thinking and moral practice in these distinct Hmong communities actually reiterates the fundamental importance of moral realism to understanding human moral experience.