'Moral Time' Awarded for New Understanding of Human Conflict

May 30, 2012 — Sociologist Donald Black, University Professor of the Social Sciences at the University of Virginia, proposes a new explanation of human conflict in his recent book, "Moral Time." The American Sociological Association's section on Altruism, Morality and Social Solidarity has given its inaugural Outstanding Published Book Award to the 2011 book.

The award is to be given annually to the author of a theoretical analysis, research monograph or reader published within the last five years that increases knowledge and understanding of the section's themes: altruism, morality and/or social solidarity.

Black offers a radically new understanding of human conflict, a fundamental and inescapable feature of social life. Conflict is ubiquitous and inevitable, but people generally dislike it and try to prevent or avoid it as much as possible. Why, then, do clashes of right and wrong occur? And why are some more serious than others?

In "Moral Time," published by Oxford University Press, Black presents a new theory of conflict that provides answers to these and many other questions.

Randall Collins, a sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, called "Moral Time" a masterwork of sociological theory.

Black's theory of moral time seeks to reveal the causes of conflict in all human relationships, from marital and other close relationships to those between strangers, ethnic groups and entire societies. Moreover, the theory explains the origins and clash of right and wrong not only in modern societies, but also across the world and across history, from conflict concerning sexual behavior to bad manners and dislike in everyday life. Black also provides surprising insights into the postmodern emergence of the right to happiness and the expanding rights of humans and non-humans across the world.