Durational ethics: Search, finding, and translation of Fauconnet’s “Essay on responsibility and liberty”

Jane I. Guyer


This paper introduces and explains the forum around my translation of the appendix to Paul Fauconnet’s 1920 book, entitled La responsibilité. Étude de sociologie, which resulted from his doctoral thesis. The appendix of this book is devoted to “The sentiment of responsibility and the sentiment of liberty.” The ideas in this piece on liberty were clearly developed in conversation with Durkheim and with other members of the group. My reading in the anthropology of ethics for papers of my own, led me to new work on liberty, but I found less attention than I expected in our contemporary anthropological scholarship to what I called durational ethics, which encompasses concepts such as responsibility, in the prospective sense, and fortitude. The following introduction explains this trajectory of exploration, which lead me to Fauconnet’s work, excerpts passages from a conference paper of mine entitled “Steadfastness and goodness,” and prefaces the translation. In addition, it profiles Fauconnet and offers a background to the concept of libre arbitre in Romance language thought, as differing from its usual translation as “free will” in the Germanic register of English.


responsibility, durational ethics, free will, L’Année Sociologique, Fauconnet, translation

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14318/hau4.1.022