chapter  3
State, Ethics and Public Morality in American Sociological Thought
ByArthur J. Vidich, Stanford M. Lyman
Pages 13

The emergence of secular thought itself may be seen as a penetration of civil society by religious values. The development of two social science traditions, pragmatism and functionalism, bears on a set of intellectual and moral dilemmas common to both theology and sociology, especially when each seeks to define a public philosophy. The interest of America's philosophical pragmatists in the moral groundings of society, and particularly in the process by which the religious authority of Puritanism had been lost in the general movement toward secularization, was always explicit. In contrast, functionalists have assumed that society already had a moral grounding, and focus attention on the working out of that morality within social, political and economic institutions. Pragmatic thought had its beginnings in the work of Josiah Royce, who sought to uplift American society from its descent into amoral chaos and transform it into a veritable respiritualized national community.