Gabriel Abend is Associate Professor of Sociology at New York University. He got his undergraduate degree at the Universidad de la República (Montevideo, Uruguay) and his PhD at Northwestern University (Evanston, United States).

One of his ongoing projects examines the uses to which neuroscience is put by various social actors and organizations, e.g., courts of law, policymakers, economists, marketing consultants, think tanks, university administrations, museums, pundits, and philosophers. How does the brain figure in societies’ institutionalized understandings about love, sex, art, beauty, religion, happiness, and, more generally, the nature of people’s lives and worlds? This project comprises sociological questions (what’s the case and why?), comparative-historical questions (what’s the case elsewhere and why?), and normative questions (is it a good thing that this be the case and what is to be done?).

Another project takes issue with recent scientific research on morality, because of its methodological overreliance on individuals’ judgments, neglect of thick concepts, and blindness to the “moral background” that makes moral life possible. Abend’s current research asks, too, why capitalist societies seem to favor particular kinds of business ethics, why social scientists seem to favor why-questions and causal explanations over other kinds of understanding, and why “Americans” seem to confound Uruguay and Paraguay.

Selected publications

  • Gabriel Abend. 2014. The Moral Background: An Inquiry into the History of Business Ethics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.