ChristopherMeckstroth’s book The Struggle for Democracy poses and attempts to solve a central problem of democratic theory: what he calls the ‘paradox of authorization’, whereby the very activity of spelling out the political content of democracy is said to potentially contradict its object, since the democratic theorist may end up substituting himself or herself for ‘the people’ in deciding what this form government amounts to in practice. In order to avoid this problem, Meckstroth suggests that the (...) political content of democracy ought to be extrapolated out of concrete political struggles, by submitting competing claims to represent the people’s will to a rational scrutiny that tests them for internal coherence. While pointing out the intrinsic interest and originality of this approach, the review also advances some reservations concerning the posited criterion’s capacity to perform all the work Meckstroth assigns it. In the end, the proposed solution to the ‘paradox of authorization’ may fall prey to... (shrink)
ChristopherMeckstroth’s book The Struggle for Democracy poses and attempts to solve a central problem of democratic theory: what he calls the ‘paradox of authorization’, whereby the very activity of spelling out the political content of democracy is said to potentially contradict its object, since the democratic theorist may end up substituting himself or herself for ‘the people’ in deciding what this form government amounts to in practice. In order to avoid this problem, Meckstroth suggests that the (...) political content of democracy ought to be extrapolated out of concrete political struggles, by submitting competing claims to represent the people’s will to a rational scrutiny that tests them for internal coherence. While pointing out the intrinsic interest and originality of this approach, the review also advances some reservations concerning the posited criterion’s capacity to perform all the work Meckstroth assigns it. In the end, the proposed solution to the ‘paradox of authorization’ may fall prey to it too, since on its own terms the criterion of internal coherence is insufficient to specify any determinate outcomes. This leaves it up to the theorist applying it to decide which concrete proposals best satisfy the test. (shrink)
In The Struggle for Democracy, ChristopherMeckstroth looks at history and context in the development of democratic theory to provide a principled way of sorting out deep conflicts over who has the right to speak for the democratic people. He tests this theory by applying it to contemporary debates over same-sex marriage, military intervention, and gun control.
Kant’s theory of international politics and his right of hospitality are commonly associated with expansive projects of securing human rights or cosmopolitan governance beyond state borders. This article shows how this view misunderstands Kant’s criticism of the law of nations tradition as handed down into the eighteenth century as well as the logic of his radical alternative, which was designed to explain the conditions of possibility of global peace as a solution to the Hobbesian problem of a war of all (...) against all in the state of nature. I resolve longstanding confusion over the meaning and justification of Kant’s right of “hospitality” by showing how it functions not as a freestanding positive claim demanding enforcement but as a way of ruling out specious justifications for war against those the traditional law of nations permitted one to label “enemies.” This poses important questions for contemporary theories of global justice. (shrink)
This article argues that populism, cosmopolitanism, and calls for global justice should be understood not as theoretical positions but as appeals to different segments of democratic electorates with the aim of assembling winning political coalitions. This view is called democratic realism: it considers political competition in democracies from a perspective that is realist in the sense that it focuses not first on the content of competing political claims but on the relationships among different components of the coalitions they work to (...) mobilise in the pursuit of power. It is argued that Laclau’s populist theory offers a sort of realist critique of other populists, but that his view neglects the crucial dynamics of political coalition-building. When the relation of populism to global justice is rethought from this democratic realist angle, one can better understand the sorts of challenges each faces, and also where and how they come into conflict. (shrink)
Aristotle has qualms about the movement of the soul. He contends directly, indeed, that ‘it is impossible that motion should belong to the soul’ (DA 406a2). This is surprising in both large and small ways. Still, when we appreciate the explanatory framework set by his hylomorphic analysis of change, we can see why Aristotle should think of the soul's motion as involving a kind of category mistake-not the putative Rylean mistake, but rather the mistake of treating a change as itself (...) capable of changing. (shrink)
Ad hominem arguments are generally dismissed on the grounds that they are not attempts to engage in rational discourse, but are rather aimed at undermining argument by diverting attention from claims made to assessments of character of persons making claims. The manner of this dismissal however is based upon an unlikely paradigm of rationality: it is based upon the presumption that our intellectual capacities are not as limited as in fact they are, and do not vary as much as they (...) do between rational people. When we understand rationality in terms of intellectual virtues, however, which recognize these limitations and provide for the complexity of our thinking, ad hominem considerations can sometimes be relevant to assessing arguments. (shrink)
Christopher Peacocke’s A Study of Concepts is a dense and rewarding work. Each chapter raises many issues for discussion. I know three different people who are writing reviews of the volume. It testifies to the depth of Peacocke’s book that each reviewer is focusing on a quite different set of topics.
The Neo-Aristotelian ethical naturalism of Philippa Foot and Rosalind Hursthouse purports to establish a naturalistic criterion for the virtues. Specifically, by developing a parallel between the natural ends of nonhuman animals and the natural ends of human beings, they argue that character traits are justified as virtues by the extent to which they promote and do not inhibit natural ends such as self-preservation, reproduction, and the well-being of one’s social group. I argue that the approach of Foot and Hursthouse cannot (...) provide a basis for moral universalism, the widely-accepted idea that each human being has moral worth and thus deserves significant moral consideration. Foot and Hursthouse both depict a virtuous agent as implicitly acting in accord with moral universalism. However, with respect to charity, a virtue they both emphasize, their naturalistic criterion at best provides a warrant for a restricted form of charity that extends only to a limited number of persons. There is nothing in the natural ends of human beings, as Foot and Hursthouse understand these, that gives us a reason for having any concern for the well-being of human beings as such. (shrink)
One of the most noteworthy features of David Gauthier's rational choice, contractarian theory of morality is its appeal to self-interested rationality. This appeal, however, will undoubtedly be the source of much controversy and criticism. For while self-interestedness is characteristic of much human behavior, it is not characteristic of all such behavior, much less of that which is most admirable. Yet contractarian ethics appears to assume that humans are entirely self-interested. It is not usually thought a virtue of a theory that (...) its assumptions are literally false. What may be said on behalf of the contractarian? (shrink)
Plongé au cœur des nanos, Christophe Vieu souligne la diversité des secteurs touchés par l’approche nano. À l’idée d’une convergence des secteurs scientifiques, il oppose l’image d’une espèce invasive. Il se sent de ce fait investi d’une responsabilité de l’ensemble des technosciences.
In this interview, Christopher Norris discusses a wide range of issues having to do with postmodernism, deconstruction and other controversial topics of debate within present-day philosophy and critical theory. More specifically he challenges the view of deconstruction as just another offshoot of the broader postmodernist trend in cultural studies and the social sciences. Norris puts the case for deconstruction as continuing the 'unfinished project of modernity' and—in particular—for Derrida's work as sustaining the values of enlightened critical reason in various (...) spheres of thought from epistemology to ethics, sociology and politics. Along the way he addresses a number of questions that have lately been raised with particular urgency for teachers and educationalists, among them the revival of creationist doctrine and the idea of scientific knowledge as a social, cultural, or discursive construct. In this context he addresses the 'science wars' or the debate between those who uphold t. (shrink)
With the goal of understanding how Christopher Southgate communicates his in-depth knowledge of both science and theology, we investigated the many roles he assumes as a teacher. We settled upon wide-ranging topics that all intertwine: (1) his roles as author and coordinating editor of a premier textbook on science and theology, now in its third edition; (2) his oral presentations worldwide, including plenaries, workshops, and short courses; and (3) the team teaching approach itself, which is often needed by others (...) because the knowledge of science and theology do not always reside in the same person. Southgate provides, whenever possible, teaching contexts that involve students in experiential learning, where they actively participate with other students.We conclude that Southgate’s ultimate goal is to teach students how to reconcile science and theology in their values and beliefs, so that they can take advantage of both forms of rational thinking in their own personal and professional lives. The co-authors consider several examples of models that have been successfully used by people in various fields to integrate science and religion. (shrink)
The sovereignty of the people, it is widely said, is the foundation of modern democracy. The truth of this claim depends on the plausibility of attributing sovereignty to “the people” in the first place, and I shall express skepticism about this possibility. I shall suggest as well that the notion of popular sovereignty is complex, and that appeals to the notion may be best understood as expressing several different ideas and ideals. This essay distinguishes many of these and suggests that (...) greater clarity at least would be obtained by focusing directly on these notions and ideals and eschewing that of sovereignty. My claim, however, will not merely be that the notion is multifaceted and complex. I shall argue as well that the doctrine that the people are, or ought to be, sovereign is misleading in potentially dangerous ways, and is conducive to a misunderstanding of the nature of politics, governance, and social order. It would be well to do without the doctrine, but it may be equally important to understand its errors. Our understandings and justifications of democracy, certainly, should dispense with popular sovereignty. (shrink)
1915 ist Ernst Troeltsch nach Berlin gezogen, wo er Professor für Philosophie wurde. Sein Wechsel aus der Heidelberger Theologischen Fakultät in die Philosophische Fakultät der Berliner Universität und sein zunehmendes Interesse am Historismus hat ihn nicht daran gehindert, theologische Studien fortzuführen. Ein Ergebnis dieser Studien war eine noch in Heidelberg geschriebene detaillierte Untersuchung über Augustins Theologie und im besonderen über De Civitate Dei. Troeltsch hat diese Studie unternommen, um zum einen eine Lücke in seinen Soziallehren der christlichen Kirchen und Gruppen (...) zu füllen und zum anderen wegen seinem zunehmenden Interesse an Augustins Philosophie. Das Ergebnis dieser Untersuchung ist Troeltschs Buch Augustin, die christliche Antike und das Mittelalter. Dieses Buch ist aus vielen Gründen ein bemerkenswertes Werk, unter anderem, weil es eine objektive und eine prägnante Untersuchung über Ethik und Naturgesetz darstellt. Troeltschs Buch über Augustin ist sehr wichtig zu untersuchen, aber genauso wichtig ist der Prozess, der ihn dazu geführt, es zu schreiben. Dabei handelt es sich um mehrere Rezensionen, die Troeltsch über Bücher zu Augustins Theologie, Ethik und politischer Philosophie geschrieben hat. Indem wir Troeltschs Rezensionen und sein Buch Augustin studieren, lernen wir nicht nur, was in seiner Sicht besonders wertvoll sei in den Schriften des großen Kirchenvaters, sondern wir lernen auch Troeltschs eigenes Denken zu Ethik, Geschichte und sogar Politik besser kennen.By 1915 Ernst Troeltsch had moved to Berlin where he became professor of philosophy. His move from the Faculty of Theology to philosophy and his increasing concern with historicism did not hinder him from continuing with his theological studies. One of the results of these studies was his detailed investigation of Augustine’s theology and he focused specifically on de Civitate Dei. Troeltsch undertook this study partially to rectify an omission in his Soziallehren der christlichen Kirchen und Gruppen and partially because of his increasing interest in Augustine’s philosophy. The result of this study was Troeltsch’s book Augustin, die christliche Antike und das Mittelalter. This is a remarkable work for many reasons, including that it was an objective and appreciative investigations on ethics and natural law – and it was written by a prominent Protestant theologian. However, this book has been mostly neglected which is unfortunate. Troeltsch’s book on Augustine is well-worth exploring but so is the process which led him to write it. That entails consulting the numerous reviews that Troeltsch wrote about a number of books devoted to certain aspects of Augustine’s theology, ethics, and political philosophy. By studying Troeltsch’s book reviews and his Augustin, we not only learn what Troeltsch regarded as so valuable in the writings of this particular Church Father, but we also learn about Troeltsch’s own thinking about ethics, history, and even politics. (shrink)
Medical analogies are commonly invoked in both Indian Buddhist dharma and Hellenistic philosophy. In the Pāli Canon, nirvana is depicted as a form of health, and the Buddha is portrayed as a doctor who helps us attain it. Much later in the tradition, Śāntideva described the Buddha’s teaching as ‘the sole medicine for the ailments of the world, the mine of all success and happiness.’ Cicero expressed the view of many Hellenistic philosophers when he said that philosophy is ‘a medical (...) science for the mind.’ He thought we should ‘hand ourselves over to philosophy, and let ourselves be healed.’ ‘For as long as these ills [of the mind] remain,’ he wrote, ‘we cannot attain to happiness.’ There are many different forms of medical analogy in these two traditions, but the most general form may be stated as follows: just as medicine cures bodily diseases and brings about physical health, so Buddhist dharma or Hellenistic philosophy cures mental diseases and brings about psychological health—where psychological health is understood as the highest form of happiness or well-being. Insofar as Buddhist dharma involves philosophy, as it does, both renditions of the analogy may be said to declare that philosophy cures mental diseases and brings about psychological health. This feature of the analogy—philosophy as analogous to medical treatment—has attracted considerable attention. (shrink)
Die in Band 4 versammelten Briefe zeigen Gottsched auf dem Gipfel seines Ruhmes und seiner Anerkennung als Dichtungstheoretiker, Sprachwissenschaftler, Philosoph, Theaterreformer und Publizist. Wiederkehrende Themen in der Korrespondenz sind neben der Einfuhrung des deutschen Sprachunterrichts an Gymnasien Fragen zur Dichtungstheorie, zur Ubersetzung fremdsprachiger Bucher und zur Drucklegung von Werken Gottscheds und seiner Briefpartner. Zu einem grossen, seine berufliche Existenz gefahrdenden Problem wird fur Gottsched zunehmend die Auseinandersetzung mit Vertretern der lutherischen Orthodoxie, von der die Briefe detailliert Zeugnis ablegen.".
In the years 1738/39, Gottsched was mostly concerned with two events: his departure from the Deutsche Gesellschaft which he had been heading and the resulting developments, and the continuation of his disputes on the philosophy of Christian Wolff which he had been conducting with the Lutheran-Orthodox theologians. Through the support of the influential Imperial Count Ernst von Manteuffel, Gottsched now acquired strong political backing. This is documented by 52 of the total of 204 letters published in this volume, a correspondence (...) in whichMrs Gottsched also soon became involved. The letters of other correspondents also deal with Wolff s rationalist philosophy, as well as other very varied themes such as theater, teaching of the German language in schools, the problems of Leipzig students, newspaper polemics, planned translation projects and the competing editions of the writings of Martin Opitz, the father of German poetry, that were undertaken in Leipzig and Zurich.". (shrink)
We live in a morally flawed world. Our lives are complicated by what other people do, and by the harms that flow from our social, economic and political institutions. Our relations as individuals to these collective harms constitute the domain of complicity. This book examines the relationship between collective responsibility and individual guilt. It presents a rigorous philosophical account of the nature of our relations to the social groups in which we participate, and uses that account in a discussion of (...) contemporary moral theory. Christopher Kutz shows that the two prevailing theories of moral philosophy, Kantianism and consequentialism, both have difficulties resolving problems of complicity. He then argues for a richer theory of accountability in which any real understanding of collective action not only allows but demands individual responsibility. (shrink)
Expressives like damn and bastard have, when uttered, an immediate and powerful impact on the context. They are performative, often destructively so. They are revealing of the perspective from which the utterance is made, and they can have a dramatic impact on how current and future utterances are perceived. This, despite the fact that speakers are invariably hard-pressed to articulate what they mean. I develop a general theory of these volatile, indispensable meanings. The theory is built around a class of (...) expressive indices. These determine the expressive setting of the context of interpretation. Expressives morphemes act on that context, actively changing its expressive setting. The theory is multidimensional in the sense that descriptives and expressives are fundamentally different but receive a unified logical treatment. (shrink)
Philosophers from Hume, Kant, and Wittgenstein to the recent realists and antirealists have sought to answer the question, What are concepts? This book provides a detailed, systematic, and accessible introduction to an original philosophical theory of concepts that Christopher Peacocke has developed in recent years to explain facts about the nature of thought, including its systematic character, its relations to truth and reference, and its normative dimension. Particular concepts are also treated within the general framework: perceptual concepts, logical concepts, (...) and the concept of belief are discussed in detail. The general theory is further applied in answering the question of how the ontology of concepts can be of use in classifying mental states, and in discussing the proper relation between philosophical and psychological theories of concepts. Finally, the theory of concepts is used to motivate a nonverificationist theory of the limits of intelligible thought. Peacocke treats content as broad rather than narrow, and his account is nonreductive and non-Quinean. Yet Peacocke also argues for an interactive relationship between philosophical and psychological theories of concepts, and he plots many connections with work in cognitive psychology. (shrink)
Does our life have value for us after we die? Despite the importance of such a question, many would find it absurd, even incoherent. Once we are dead, the thought goes, we are no longer around to have any wellbeing at all. However, in this paper I argue that this common thought is mistaken. In order to make sense of some of our most central normative thoughts and practices, we must hold that a person can have wellbeing after they die. (...) I provide two arguments for this claim on the basis of postmortem harms and benefits as well as the lasting significance of death. I suggest two ways of underwriting posthumous wellbeing. (shrink)
I begin, as I shall end, with fictions. In a well-known tale, The Sandman , Hoffmann has a student, Nathaniel, fall in love with a beautiful doll, Olympia, whom he has spied upon as she sits at a window across the street from his lodgings. We are meant to suppose that Nathaniel mistakes an automaton for a human being . The mistake is the result of an elaborate but obscure deception on the part of the doll's designer, Professor Spalanzani. Nathaniel (...) is disabused quite by accident when he over-hears a quarrel between Spalanzani, who made Olympia's clockwork, and the sinister Coppelius, who contributed the eyes. (shrink)