We invited five Cavell scholars to write on this topic. What follows is a vibrant exchange among Paola Marrati, Andrew Norris, Jörg Volbers, Cary Wolfe and Thomas Dumm addressing the question whether, in the contemporary political context, Cavell’s skepticism and his Emersonian perfectionism amount to a politics at all.
In What Is Posthumanism? he carefully distinguishes posthumanism from transhumanism (the biotechnological enhancement of human beings) and narrow definitions of the posthuman as the hoped-for transcendence of materiality.
In Animal Rites, Cary Wolfe examines contemporary notions of humanism and ethics by reconstructing a little known but crucial underground tradition of theorizing the animal from Wittgenstein, Cavell, and Lyotard to Lévinas, Derrida, ...
Bioregionalists have championed the utility of the concept of the watershed as an organizing framework for thought and action directed to understanding and implementing appropriate and respectful human interaction with particular pieces of land. In a creative analogue to the watershed, permaculturist Arthur Getz has recently introduced the term “foodshed” to facilitate critical thought about where our food is coming from and how it is getting to us. We find the “foodshed” to be a particularly rich and evocative metaphor; but (...) it is much more than metaphor. Like its analogue the watershed, the foodshed can serve us as a conceptual and methodological unit of analysis that provides a frame for action as well as thought. Food comes to most of us now through a global food system that is destructive of both natural and social communities. In this article we explore a variety of routes for the conceptual and practical elaboration of the foodshed. While corporations that are the principal beneficiaries of a global food system now dominate the production, processing, distribution, and consumption of food, alternatives are emerging that together could form the basis for foodshed development. Just as many farmers are recognizing the social and environmental advantages to sustainable agriculture, so are many consumers coming to appreciate the benefits of fresh and sustainably produced food. Such producers and consumers are being linked through such innovative arrangements as community supported agriculture and farmers markets. Alternative producers, alternative consumers, and alternative small entrepreneurs are rediscovering community and finding common ground in municipal and community food councils. Recognition of one's residence within a foodshed can confer a sense of connection and responsibility to a particular locality. The foodshed can provide a place for us to ground ourselves in the biological and social realities of living on the land and from the land in a place that we can call home, a place to which we are or can become native. (shrink)
Bringing these two emergent areas of thought into direct conversation in Before the Law, Cary Wolfe fosters a new discussion about the status of nonhuman animals and the shared plight of humans and animals under biopolitics.
Animal studies and biopolitics are two of the most dynamic areas of interdisciplinary scholarship, but until now, they have had little to say to each other. Bringing these two emergent areas of thought into direct conversation in _Before the Law_, Cary Wolfe fosters a new discussion about the status of nonhuman animals and the shared plight of humans and animals under biopolitics. Wolfe argues that the human-animal distinction must be supplemented with the central distinction of biopolitics: the difference between (...) those animals that are members of a community and those that are deemed killable but not murderable. From this understanding, we can begin to make sense of the fact that this distinction prevails within both the human and animal domains and address such difficult issues as why we afford some animals unprecedented levels of care and recognition while subjecting others to unparalleled forms of brutality and exploitation. Engaging with many major figures in biopolitical thought—from Heidegger, Arendt, and Foucault to Agamben, Esposito, and Derrida—Wolfe explores how biopolitics can help us understand both the ethical and political dimensions of the current questions surrounding the rights of animals. (shrink)
Text recycling, often called “self-plagiarism”, is the practice of reusing textual material from one’s prior documents in a new work. The practice presents a complex set of ethical and practical challenges to the scientific community, many of which have not been addressed in prior discourse on the subject. This essay identifies and discusses these factors in a systematic fashion, concluding with a new definition of text recycling that takes these factors into account. Topics include terminology, what is not text recycling, (...) factors affecting judgements about the appropriateness of text recycling, and visual materials. (shrink)
Galen Strawson and Saul Smilansky have offered a well-known argument that free will does not exist because the control involved is so robust that it would require influence over an infinite series of prior decisions. (Strawson 1986, 1994, 2002, Smilansky 2000, 2002) Unfortunately, while this metaphysical argument has attracted widespread attention, it has garnered few adherents. Thus, in order to improve the metaphysical argument against free will, I offer a new interpretation of the argument, its fundamental principle, and its relationship (...) to incompatibilism. I demonstrate that the central principle of the argument is just as defensible as the central principle of one of the major arguments for incompatibilism (namely, Robert Kane's argument from ‘ultimate responsibility' in Kane 1996). Therefore, the metaphysical argument against free will deserves much more respect than it currently receives. (shrink)
A recent group of social scientists have argued that counterfactual questions play an essential role in their disciplines, and that it is possible to have rigorous methods to investigate them. Unfortunately, there has been little (if any) interaction between these social scientists and the philosophers who have long held that rigorous counterfactual reasoning is possible. In this paper, I hope to encourage some fresh thinking on both sides by creating new connections between them. I describe what I term "problem of (...) selecting antecedent scenarios," and show that this is an essential challenge in real-life counterfactual reasoning. Then, I demonstrate that the major extant theories of counterfactuals (especially the Lewis/Stalnaker theory and Igal Kvart's rival account) are unable to solve this problem. I show that there are instances of real-life counterfactual reasoning in the social sciences that are counterexamples to both of these accounts. And finally, I develop a new theory of how to select antecedent scenarios that overcomes these difficulties, and so would be part of a more adequate theory of counterfactuals (and counterfactual reasoning). (shrink)
Noel Hendrickson argues that the coarse-grained account of action individuation is unwittingly committed to the metaphysical thesis that all causation is deterministic. I show that the argument does not succeed. On one of the interpretations, all the argument shows is that the minimalists are committed to deterministic causation in a manner of speaking, which is quite compatible with sui generis indeterministic causation. On another, the problem is that minimalism is taken to be committed to a necessary identity claim where (...) the view is only committed to a contingent identity claim. I explore other strategies of saving the argument. In particular, I consider whether the argument will succeed if the designators in question are rigid. I argue that there are principled reasons for thinking that such a strategy must fail. (shrink)
The notion of fairness is frequently invoked in the context of food and agriculture, whether in terms of a fair marketplace, fair treatment of workers, or fair prices for consumers. In 2009, the Kellogg Foundation named fairness as one of four key characteristics of a “good” food system. The concept of fairness, however, is difficult to define and measure. The purpose of this study is to explore the notion of fairness, particularly as it is understood within alternative food dialogues. Specifically, (...) we wanted to answer the question of how alternative food entrepreneurs who are working to actualize fairness within local food networks understand this abstract notion. Using a multiple case study approach, the research for this project draws on semi-structured interviews that were conducted with key stakeholders in four alternative food businesses throughout the Midwest. (shrink)
Phillip Cary argues that Augustine invented or created the concept of self as an inner space--as space into which one can enter and in which one can find God. This concept of inwardness, says Cary, has worked its way deeply into the intellectual heritage of the West and many Western individuals have experienced themselves as inner selves. After surveying the idea of inwardness in Augustine's predecessors, Cary offers a re-examination of Augustine's own writings, making the controversial point (...) that in his early writings Augustine appears to hold that the human soul is quite literally divine. Cary goes on to contend that the crucial Book 7 of the Confessions is not a historical report of Augustine's "conversion" experience, but rather an explanation of his intellectual development over time. (shrink)
Metaphysics is the thoroughly empirical science. Every item of experience must be evidence for or against any hypothesis of speculative cosmology, and every experienced object must be an exemplar and test case for the categories of analytic ontology. Technically, therefore, one example ought for our present theme to be as good as another. The more dignified examples, however, are darkened with a patina of tradition and partisanship, while some frivolous ones are peculiarly perspicuous. Let us therefore imagine three lollipops, made (...) by a candy man who buys sticks from a big supplier and molds candy knobs on them. Lollipop No. 1 has a red round peppermint head, No. 2 a brown round chocolate head, No. 3 a red square peppermint head. The circumstance here which mainly provokes theories of subsistence and inherence is similarity with difference: each lollipop is partially similar to each other and partially different from it. If we can give a good account of this circumstance in this affair we shall have the instrument to expose the anatomy of everything, from an electron or an apple to archangels and the World All. (shrink)
The industrialization of agriculture not only alters the ways in which agricultural production occurs, but it also impacts the decisions farmers make in important ways. First, constraints created by the economic environment of farming limit what options a farmer has available to him. Second, because of the industrialization of agriculture and the resulting economic pressures it creates for farmers, the fact that decisions are constrained creates new ethical challenges for farmers. Having fewer options when faced with severe economic pressures is (...) a very different situation for farmers than having many options available. We discuss the implications of constrained choice and show that it increases the likelihood that farmers will consider unethical behavior. (shrink)
The West's foremost translator of the I Ching, Richard Wilhelm thought deeply about how contemporary readers could benefit from this ancient work and its perennially valid insights into change and chance. For him and for his son, Hellmut Wilhelm, the Book of Changes represented not just a mysterious book of oracles or a notable source of the Taoist and Confucian philosophies. In their hands, it emerges, as it did for C. G. Jung, as a vital key to humanity's age-old collective (...) unconscious. Here the observations of the Wilhelms are combined in a volume that will reward specialists and aficionados with its treatment of historical context--and that will serve also as an introduction to the I Ching and the meaning of its famous hexagrams. (shrink)
The persistently high rates of sexual assault on college campuses have led to an increasing demand for a solution to the problem. In response, research in the field is growing rapidly. With any expanding field, proper focus needs to be given to ethical dilemmas that may arise when studying a sensitive topic. College students who have experienced a sexual assault are a highly vulnerable population. As the current literature is limited, this article considers the ethical implications of conducting research with (...) college sexual assault victims. Drawing upon the 2010 American Psychological Association Ethics Code, specific ethical concerns including respect for persons, competence, confidentiality and privacy, and beneficence and nonmaleficence are discussed. Recommendations for researchers studying sexual assault in college students are provided. (shrink)
Unique in its collation of major theorists rarely considered together, Critical Environments incorporates detailed discussions of the work of Richard Rorty, Walter Benn Michaels, Stanley Cavell, Humberto Maturana, Francisco Varela, Niklas ...
Future practitioners of sustainable agriculture and agroecology must have the capacity to address the wicked problems in the food system to make progress toward sustainability. Undergraduate sustainable agriculture students from a variety of backgrounds may struggle with the question, is the challenging and complex work of addressing wicked problems of agroecology for me? Our case study investigated sociocultural tensions associated with identity encountered when wicked problems teaching units were integrated into the Advanced Practices of Sustainable Agriculture course at a large, (...) Midwestern Land Grant University. The research and course employed a four-part framework that focused on attending to individual needs and identities, facilitating practice-based and community-based learning, engaging in problems situated in regional contexts, and supporting awareness of local and global political and ecological issues. Researchers used a community of practice theoretical lens, and focused on the sociocultural tensions that may have impacted individual and community identity formation. Two wicked problems teaching units are described by drawing upon documentation and audio recordings from planning meetings, course sessions, student and instructor interviews, and course artifacts. Vignettes were constructed to situate four interrelated types of sociocultural tensions encountered by instructors and students. These tensions reflected forces at the individual, community, local, and global levels which interact to influence learners’ capacity to become full participants in sustainable agriculture. The study fills a gap related to affective dimensions of learning like identity in agroecology education. Dilemmas and implications related to identity, pedagogy, and epistemology are discussed. (shrink)
There was once a lively debate concerning the individuation of events and whether, for example, “Brutus’s stabbing of Caesar” was the same action as “Brutus’s killing of Caesar.” More recently, I attempted to reinvigorate this debate by suggesting a new reason for distinguishing these two as separate actions: the inherent indeterminacy of Caesar’s death in “Brutus’s stabbing of Caesar” but not in “Brutus’s killing of Caesar” and further proposed that the debate was significant because it has intimate connections to theories (...) of causation. Katarzyna Paprzycka has carefully and thoughtfully shown that my original argument fails to cogently demonstrate the fine-grained theory of events because one cannot compellingly show that the determinacy with respect to Caesar’s death in “Brutus’s killing of Caesar” would transfer to “Brutus’s stabbing of Caesar.” However, the intuition behind the original argument may still survive as it is perhaps possible to argue directly that the best explanation for how there is an indeterminacy in “Brutus’s stabbing of Caesar” but not in “Brutus’s killing of Caesar” is that they are distinct events. In that case, there is still a “new” argument for a fine-grained theory of action individuation. (shrink)
Mid-Republican censors were bound by few formal restrictions in their lectiones of the Senate. So holds the scholarly communis opinio, at any rate, based primarily on Carolus Sigonius' emendation of Livy 23.23.6. This article shows Sigonius' emendation to be fatally flawed, however, and popular election to be a legal requirement for senatorial enrollment – and not just a social desideratum. This prerequisite is shown to originate in the fourth-century lex Ovinia, with ramifications for models of aristocratic rule at Rome, mid-Republican (...) political developments, and the curia itself. (shrink)
The principle of liberal neutrality requires governments to avoid acting to promote particular conceptions of the good life. Yet by determining who uses natural resources and how, environmental policy makers can affect the availability of resources needed by individuals to carry on meaningful lives and in doing so can effectively privilege some versions of the good life at the expense of others. A commitment to liberal neutrality by implication promotes environmental policy that accommodates competing activities in order to provide a (...) wide range of resources that can support diversity in individual lives. It also encourages caution with regard to legislation based on deep ecology, the intrinsic value of species, and the fear of impending environmental catastrophe. (shrink)
The concept of minimal risk has been used to regulate and limit participation by adolescents in clinical trials. It can be understood as setting an absolute standard of what risks are considered minimal or it can be interpreted as relative to the actual risks faced by members of the host community for the trial. While commentators have almost universally opposed a relative interpretation of the environmental risks faced by potential adolescent trial participants, we argue that the ethical concerns against the (...) relative standard may not be as convincing as these commentators believe. Our aim is to present the case for a relative standard of environmental risk in order to open a debate on this subject. We conclude by discussing how a relative standard of environmental risk could be defended in the specific case of an HIV vaccine trial among adolescents in South Africa. (shrink)
This book shares the recent debates by systemic functional linguistics and other linguistic forums. Its principal focus is on how we use language to make meaning of the world, on how the systems and structures of the ideational function of language represent the realisation of our experiences of the world around us. The volume captures the endeavours of scholars working in different contexts, disciplines and languages around the world. Their contributions explore what underlies experiential and logical meaning-making through specific analyses (...) of recently-created, contextually diverse, single texts or collections of texts, from mono- to multimodal texts. The issues addressed are: layers of meaning through the transitivity system; agency and subjectivity; what kinds of participants and circumstances are associated with various processes and how these vary across languages; new ways of researching and capturing the interaction of the experiential function with the other functions of language - interpersonal, textual and logical - in communicative contexts; how multimodality and new ways of modelling experience semiotically influence the work of linguists, linguistic description and application. The book displays the dynamic dialogue on theoretical and applied interests of scholars interested in functional linguistics and working in a wide range of academic contexts. At post-graduate level advanced students will benefit from new perspectives, the innovative thinking and research accounts that make up the collection. The papers highlight the flexibility of systemic functional linguistic approach and exemplify how it can offer deeper and further insights into potential ways of exploring meaning-making by drawing on recent seminal developments in ideation. (shrink)
The paper by Cary Wolfe is an abridged translation of the chapter »Animal Studies«, Disciplinarity, and the (Post)Humanities from the monograph (Minnesota 2009). Wolfe discusses the relation between (trans-)disciplinarity and posthumanism with reference to concepts by Derrida, Foucault and Luhmann, allowing to consider a form of social communication in which human subjects still may participate, but no longer are their sovereign initiators. German Der Text von Cary Wolfe ist eine gekürzte Übersetzung des Kapitels »Animal Studies«, Disciplinarity, and the (...) (Post)Humanities aus der Monographie What is Posthumanism? (Minnesota 2009). Wolfe diskutiert die Beziehung zwischen (Trans-)Disziplinarität und Posthumanismus im Rückgriff auf Konzepte von Derrida, Foucault und Luhmann, die eine Form von gesellschaftlicher Kommunikation zu denken erlauben, an der menschliche Subjekte zwar noch teilhaben, aber deren souveräne Urheber sie nicht mehr sind. (shrink)
Abstract. The modern concept of the inner self containing a private inner world has ancient philosophical and religious roots. These begin with Plato's intelligible world of ideas. In Plotinus, the intelligible world becomes the inner world of the divine Mind and its ideas, which the soul sees by turning “into the inside.” Augustine made the inner world into something merely human, not a world of divine ideas, so that the soul seeking for God must turn in, then up: entering into (...) itself and then looking above itself at the intelligible light of God. In modernity, “ideas” become the immediate object of every act of mental perception, the essential inner objects of the mind's eye. Locke makes the inner space inescapably private, excluding the divine inner light. Postmodern attempts to reconceive the relation of mind and world, rejecting the modern conception of a private inner self, will need to deal with lingering Platonist intuitions about the immediacy of the mind's vision. (shrink)