Sandra Harding is working on the reconstruction of scientific objectivity. Lorraine Daston argues that objectivity is a concept that has historically evolved. Her account of the development of "aperspectival objectivity" provides an opportunity to see Harding's "strong objectivity" project as a stage in this evolution, to locate it in the history of migration of ideals from moral philosophy to natural science, and to support Harding's desire to retain something of the ontological significance of objectivity.
The paper highlights the contemporary discussions on the concept of objectivity in feminist epistemology, in which it is taken in its historical development. Following the works of S. Harding, L. Code, D. Haraway, L. Daston. J. Tannoch-Bland and others the author focuses mainly on one of the topics in feminist epistemology, namely the problematic of the so called "situated knowledge" as related to the objectivity of knowledge. The paper also gives a brief outline of the transformation of "aperspective (...) objectivity" and its becoming a "perspective objectivity", which is closely related to the conception of a situated knowledge as the basis of the feminist standpoint theory. Attention is paid also to the concept of "strong objectivity", in which the ontological importance of the objectivity is stressed and the empirical-realistic core of the standpoint epistemology preserved. (shrink)
In Kant’s Organicism, Jennifer Mensch draws a crucial link between these spheres by showing how the concept of epigenesis—a radical theory of biological formation—lies at the heart of Kant’s conception of reason.
Recent work in experimental philosophy has indicated that intuitions may be subject to several forms of bias, thereby casting doubt on the viability of intuition as an evidential source in philosophy. A common reply to these findings is the ‘expertise defense’ – the claim that although biases may be found in the intuitions of non-philosophers, persons with expertise in philosophy will be resistant to these biases. Much debate over the expertise defense has centered over the question of the burden of (...) proof; must defenders of expertise provide empirical evidence of its existence, or should we grant the existence of philosophical expertise as a ‘default’ assumption? Defenders have frequently appealed to analogy with other fields; since expertise clearly exists in, e.g., the sciences, we are entitled to assume its existence in philosophy. Recently, however, experimentalists have begun to provide empirical evidence that biases in intuition extend even to philosophers. Though these findings don't yet suffice to defeat the default assumption of expertise the analogy argument motivates, they do force any proponent of the analogy argument to provide more specific and empirically informed proposals for the possible nature of philosophical expertise. (shrink)
Delusions play a fundamental role in the history of psychology, philosophy and culture, dividing not only the mad from the sane but reason from unreason. Yet the very nature and extent of delusions are poorly understood. What are delusions? How do they differ from everyday errors or mistaken beliefs? Are they scientific categories? In this superb, panoramic investigation of delusion Jennifer Radden explores these questions and more, unravelling a fascinating story that ranges from Descartes’s demon to famous first-hand accounts (...) of delusion, such as Daniel Schreber’s Memoirs of My Nervous Illness. Radden places delusion in both a clinical and cultural context and explores a fascinating range of themes: delusions as both individually and collectively held, including the phenomenon of folies á deux ; spiritual and religious delusions, in particular what distinguishes normal religious belief from delusions with religious themes; how we assess those suffering from delusion from a moral standpoint; and how we are to interpret violent actions when they are the result of delusional thinking. As well as more common delusions, such as those of grandeur, she also discusses some of the most interesting and perplexing forms of clinical delusion, such as Cotard and Capgras. (shrink)
Human beings naturally desire knowledge. But what is knowledge? Is it the same as having an opinion? Highlighting the major developments in the theory of knowledge from Ancient Greece to the present day, Jennifer Nagel uses a number of simple everyday examples to explore the key themes and current debates of epistemology.
This is a conversation held at the book launch for Christopher Insole’s Kant and the Divine: From Contemplation to the Moral Law, hosted jointly, in November 2020, by the Centre for Catholic Studies, Durham University, and the Australian Catholic University. The conversation covers the claim made by Insole that Kant believes in God, but is not a Christian, the way in which reason itself is divine for Kant, and the suggestion that reading Kant can open up new possibilities for dialogue (...) between Christian thinkers and contemporary forms of secular religiosity. (shrink)
A fundamental entity is an entity that is ‘ontologically independent’; it does not depend on anything else for its existence or essence. It seems to follow that a fundamental entity is ‘modally free’ in some sense. This assumption, that fundamentality entails modal freedom (or ‘FEMF’ as I shall label the thesis), is used in the service of other arguments in metaphysics. But as I will argue, the road from fundamentality to modal freedom is not so straightforward. The defender of FEMF (...) should provide positive reasons for believing it, especially in light of recent views that are incompatible with it. I examine both direct and indirect routes to FEMF. (shrink)
The “expertise defense” is the claim that philosophers have special expertise that allows them to resist the biases suggested by the findings of experimental philosophers. Typically, this defense is backed up by an analogy with expertise in science or other academic fields. Recently, however, studies have begun to suggest that philosophers' intuitions may be just as subject to inappropriate variation as those of the folk. Should we conclude that the expertise defense has been debunked? I'll argue that the analogy with (...) science still motivates a default assumption of philosophical expertise; however, the expertise so motivated is not expertise in intuition, and its existence would not suffice to answer the experimentalist challenge. I'll also suggest that there are deep parallels between the current methodological crisis in philosophy and the decline of introspection-based methods in psychology in the early twentieth century. The comparison can give us insight into the possible future evolution of philosoph.. (shrink)
During this period, when disciples were growing in number, a grievance arose on the part of those who spoke Greek, against those who spoke the language of the Jews; they complained that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution. When Americans think of ethnic conflict, conflict between blacks and whites comes to mind most immediately. Yet ethnic conflict is pervasive around the world. Azerbijanis and Turks in the Soviet Union; Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland; Arabs and Jews (...) in the Middle East; Maoris and English settlers in New Zealand; Muslims and Hindus in India and Pakistan; French and English speakers in Quebec; Africans, Afrikaaners, and mixed-race people in South Africa, in addition to the tribal warfare among the Africans themselves: these are just a few of the more obvious conflicts currently in the news. We observe an even more dizzying array of ethnic conflicts if we look back just a few years. Japanese and Koreans; Mongols and Chinese; Serbs and Croats; Christians and Buddhists in Viet Nam: these ancient antagonisms are not immediately in the news, but they could erupt at any time. And the history of the early Christian Church recounted in the Acts of the Apostles reminds us that suspicion among ethnic groups is not a modern phenomenon; rather, it is ancient. The present paper seeks to address the problem of ethnic conflict in modern western democracies. How can our tools and traditions of participatory governments, relatively free markets, and the common law contribute to some resolution of the ancient problems that we find within our midst? In particular, I want to focus here on the question of ethnic integration. (shrink)
Neurodiversity, the advocacy position that autism and related conditions are natural variants of human neurological outcomes that should be neither cured nor normalized, is based on the assertion that autistic people have unique neurological differences. Membership in this community as an autistic person largely results from clinical identification, or biocertification. However, there are many autistic individuals who diagnose themselves. This practice is contentious among autistic communities. Using data gathered from Wrong Planet, an online autism community forum, this article describes the (...) debate about self-diagnosis amongst autistic self-advocates and argues for the acceptance of the practice in light of the difficulties in verifying autism as a ‘natural kind.’ This practice can counteract discriminatory practices towards and within the autistic community and also work to verfiy autistic self-knowledge and self-expertise. This discussion also has important implications for other neurocommunities, neuroethical issues such as identity and privacy, and the emerging field of critical autism studies. (shrink)
In Moody Minds Distempered philosopher Jennifer Radden assembles several decades of her research on melancholy and depression. The chapters are ordered into three categories: those about intellectual and medical history of melancholy and depression; those that emphasize aspects of the moral, psychological and medical features of these concepts; and finally, those that explore the sad and apprehensive mood states long associated with melancholy and depressive subjectivity. A newly written introduction maps the conceptual landscape, and draws out the analytic and (...) thematic interconnections between the chapters. Radden emphasizes and develops several new themes: the implications, theoretical phenomenological and moral, of recognizing melancholy and depressive states as mood states; questions of method, as they affect how we understand and characterize claims about melancholy and depression; and the persistence and force of cultural tropes linking such states to brilliance, creativity, and sagacity. Insights from literature and the history of medicine, psychology, and psychiatry are woven together with those from the more recent disciplines of feminist theory and cultural studies. This is interdisciplinary writing at its best-part analytic philosophy, and part history of ideas. (shrink)
Spanning 24 centuries, this anthology collects over thirty selections of important Western writing about melancholy and its related conditions by philosophers, doctors, religious and literary figures, and modern psychologists. Truly interdisciplinary, it is the first such anthology. As it traces Western attitudes, it reveals a conversation across centuries and continents as the authors interpret, respond, and build on each other's work. Editor Jennifer Radden provides an extensive, in-depth introduction that draws links and parallels between the selections, and reveals the (...) ambiguous relationship between these historical accounts of melancholy and today's psychiatric views on depression. This important new collection is also beautifully illustrated with depictions of melancholy from Western fine art. (shrink)
Testimony is an invaluable source of knowledge. We rely on the reports of those around us for everything from the ingredients in our food and medicine to the identity of our family members. Recent years have seen an explosion of interest in the epistemology of testimony. Despite the multitude of views offered, a single thesis is nearly universally accepted: testimonial knowledge is acquired through the process of transmission from speaker to hearer. In this book, Jennifer Lackey shows that this (...) thesis is false and, hence, that the literature on testimony has been shaped at its core by a view that is fundamentally misguided. She then defends a detailed alternative to this conception of testimony: whereas the views currently dominant focus on the epistemic status of what speakers believe, Lackey advances a theory that instead centers on what speakers say. The upshot is that, strictly speaking, we do not learn from one another's beliefs - we learn from one another's words. Once this shift in focus is in place, Lackey goes on to argue that, though positive reasons are necessary for testimonial knowledge, testimony itself is an irreducible epistemic source. This leads to the development of a theory that gives proper credence to testimony's epistemologically dual nature: both the speaker and the hearer must make a positive epistemic contribution to testimonial knowledge. The resulting view not only reveals that testimony has the capacity to generate knowledge, but it also gives appropriate weight to our nature as both socially indebted and individually rational creatures. The approach found in this book will, then, represent a radical departure from the views currently dominating the epistemology of testimony, and thus is intended to reshape our understanding of the deep and ubiquitous reliance we have on the testimony of those around us. (shrink)
Philosophers of language have long recognized that in opaque contexts, such as those involving propositional attitude reports, substitution of co-referring names may not preserve truth value. For example, the name ‘Clark Kent’ cannot be substituted for ‘Superman’ in a context like:1. Lois believes that Superman can flywithout a change in truth value. In an earlier paper , Jennifer Saul demonstrated that substitution failure could also occur in ‘simple sentences’ where none of the ordinary opacity-producing conditions existed, such as:2. Superman (...) leaps more tall buildings than Clark Kent does.Accounts focusing on opacity were unable to explain our ‘anti-substitution intuitions’ in such cases.In Simple Sentences, Substitution, and Intuitions, Saul extends her earlier work. She provides a comprehensive presentation and criticism of recent accounts of simple sentence substitution failure, and proposes a new approach drawing on psychological evidence about cognitive processing. Saul's purpose is not merely to solve the substitution puzzle cases, but to make …. (shrink)
The “expertise defense” is the claim that philosophers have special expertise that allows them to resist the biases suggested by the findings of experimental philosophers. Typically, this defense is backed up by an analogy with expertise in science or other academic fields. Recently, however, studies have begun to suggest that philosophers' intuitions may be just as subject to inappropriate variation as those of the folk. Should we conclude that the expertise defense has been debunked? I'll argue that the analogy with (...) science still motivates a default assumption of philosophical expertise; however, the expertise so motivated is not expertise in intuition, and its existence would not suffice to answer the experimentalist challenge. I'll also suggest that there are deep parallels between the current methodological crisis in philosophy and the decline of introspection-based methods in psychology in the early twentieth century. The comparison can give us insight into the possible future evolution of philosophical methodology. (shrink)
In this book, McMahon argues that a reading of Kant’s body of work in the light of a pragmatist theory of meaning and language leads one to put community reception ahead of individual reception in the order of aesthetic relations. A core premise of the book is that neo-pragmatism draws attention to an otherwise overlooked aspect of Kant’s "Critique of Aesthetic Judgment," and this is the conception of community which it sets forth. While offering an interpretation of Kant’s aesthetic theory, (...) the book focuses on the implications of Kant’s third critique for contemporary art. McMahon draws upon Kant and his legacy in pragmatist theories of meaning and language to argue that aesthetic judgment is a version of moral judgment: a way to cultivate attitudes conducive to community, which plays a pivotal role in the evolution of language, meaning, and knowledge. (shrink)
According to current definitions of civil disobedience, drawn from the work of John Rawls and Carl Cohen, eco-saboteurs are not civil disobedients because their disobedience is not a form of address and/or does not appeal to the public's sense of justice or human welfare. But this definition also excludes disobedience by a wide range of groups, from labor activists to hunt saboteurs, either because they are obstructionist or because they address moral concerns other than justice or the public weal. However (...) earlier definitions of civil disobedience were not so narrow. I review the development of the current definition and the circumstances of its acceptance. I argue that the circumstances which help to explain the attractiveness of the Rawls/Cohen formulations in the 1970s are no longer applicable and that the question of civil disobedience should be revisited. I suggest a wider definition according to which at least some types of eco-sabotage would be civil disobedience. (shrink)
We argue that violent political protest is justified in a generally just society when violence is required to send a message about the nature of the injustice at issue, and when it is not ruled out by moral or pragmatic considerations. Focusing on protest as a mode of public address, we argue that its communicative function can sometimes justify or require the use of violence. The injustice at the heart of the Baltimore protests—police brutality against black Americans —is a paradigmatic (...) case of this sort, because of the relationship of the police to the injustice and the protests against it. (shrink)
Testimony is a crucial source of knowledge: we are to a large extent reliant upon what others tell us. It has been the subject of much recent interest in epistemology, and this volume collects twelve original essays on the topic by some of the world's leading philosophers. It will be the starting point for future research in this fertile field. Contributors include Robert Audi, C. A. J. Coady, Elizabeth Fricker, Richard Fumerton, Sanford C. Goldberg, Peter Graham, Jennifer Lackey, Keith (...) Lehrer, Richard Moran, Frederick F. Schmitt, Ernest Sosa, and James Van Cleve. (shrink)
Jennifer Lackey presents a ground-breaking exploration of the epistemology of groups, and its implications for group agency and responsibility. She argues that group belief and knowledge depend on what individual group members do or are capable of doing, while being subject to group-level normative requirements.
In this collection of original essays, international scholars put Asian traditions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism, into conversation with one or more contemporary feminist philosophies, founding a new mode of inquiry that attends to diverse voices and the complex global relationships that define our world. -/- These cross-cultural meditations focus on the liberation of persons from suffering, oppression, illusion, harmful conventions and desires, and other impediments to full personhood by deploying a methodology that traverses multiple philosophical styles, historical (...) texts, and frames of reference. Hailing from the discipline of philosophy in addition to Asian, gender, and religious studies, the contributors offer a fresh take on the classic concerns of free will, consciousness, knowledge, objectivity, sexual difference, embodiment, selfhood, the state, morality, and hermeneutics. One of the first anthologies to embody the practice of feminist comparative philosophy, this collection creatively and effectively engages with global, cultural, and gender differences within the realms of scholarly inquiry and theory construction. -/- http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-16624-9/asian-and-feminist-philosophies-in-dialogue. (shrink)
True to his longstanding bias against grand unifying theories, Hacking chooses to pursue these questions by focusing on a specific case of memory-thinking: the history of multiple personality. His excavation of the contemporary terrain leads him, however, to the surprisingly grand conclusion that the various sciences of memory—including neurological studies of localization, experimental studies of recall, and studies in the psychodynamics of memory—all emerged in connection with attempts to “scientize the soul,” as a result of which spiritual battles have been (...) recast as scientific controversies “where we suppose there is such a thing as knowledge to be had”. (shrink)
Similarity and difference, patterns of variation, consistency and coherence: these are the reference points of the philosopher. Understanding experience, exploring ideas through particular instantiations, novel and innovative thinking: these are the reference points of the artist. However, at certain points in the proceedings of our Symposium titled, Next to Nothing: Art as Performance, this characterisation of philosopher and artist respectively might have been construed the other way around. The commentator/philosophers referenced their philosophical interests through the particular examples/instantiations created by the (...) artist and in virtue of which they were then able to engage with novel and innovative thinking. From the artists’ presentations, on the other hand, emerged a series of contrasts within which philosophical and artistic ideas resonated. This interface of philosopher-artist bore witness to the fact that just as art approaches philosophy in providing its own analysis, philosophy approaches art in being a co-creator of art’s meaning. In what follows, we discuss the conception of philosophy-art that emerged from the Symposium, and the methodological minimalism which we employed in order to achieve it. We conclude by drawing out an implication of the Symposium’s achievement which is that a counterpoint to Institutional theories of art may well be the point from which future directions will take hold, if philosophy-art gains traction. (shrink)
_Happy Lives, Good Lives_ offers a thorough introduction to a variety of perspectives on happiness. Among the questions at issue: Is happiness only a state of mind, or is it something more? Is it the same for everyone? Is it under our control, and if so, to what extent? Can we be mistaken about whether we are happy? What role, if any, does happiness play in living a good life? Is it sometimes morally wrong to pursue happiness? Should governments promote (...) happiness through public policy? Asking and answering these questions is worthwhile not only as an intellectual exercise, but also as a means of gaining practical insight into how best to pursue a happy life. (shrink)
Introduction -- Elucidating complexity theories -- Complexity in the natural sciences -- Complexity in social theory -- Towards transdisciplinarity -- Complexity in philosophy: complexification and the limits to knowledge -- Complexity in ethics -- Earth in the anthropocene -- Complexity and climate change -- American dreams, ecological nightmares and new visions -- Complexity and sustainability: wicked problems, gordian knots and synergistic solutions -- Conclusion.
In contentless experience there is an absence of mental content such as thought, perception, and mental imagery. The path to contentless experience in meditation can be taken to comprise the meditation technique, and the experiences on the way to the contentless “goal-state/s”. Shamatha, Transcendental, and Stillness Meditation are each said to access contentless experience, but the path to that experience in each practice is not yet well understood from a scientific perspective. We have employed evidence synthesis to select and review (...) 135 expert texts from those traditions. In this paper we describe the techniques and interim-states based on the expert texts and compare them across the practices on key dimensions. Superficially, Shamatha and Transcendental Meditation appear very different to Stillness Meditation in that they require bringing awareness to a meditation object. The more detailed and systematic approach taken in this paper indicates that posturally Shamatha is closer to Stillness Meditation, and that on several other dimensions Shamatha is quite different to both other practices. In particular, Shamatha involves greater measures to cultivate attentional stability and vividness with respect to an object, greater focusing, less tolerance of mind-wandering, more monitoring, and more deliberate doing/control. Achieving contentless experience in Shamatha is much slower, more difficult, and less frequent. The findings have important implications for taxonomies of meditation and for consciousness, neuroscientific, and clinical research/practice, and will provide new and useful insights for meditation practitioners. (shrink)
This essay, by the editor of Common Knowledge, introduces the sixth and final installment of “Fuzzy Studies,” the journal's “Symposium on the Consequence of Blur.” Suggesting that “Fuzzy Studies” should be understood in the context of a desultory campaign against zeal conducted in the journal for almost twenty years, he explains that the editors' assumption has been that any authentic case for the less adamant modes of thinking, or the less focused ways of seeing, needs to be unenthusiastic and carefully (...) ramified. To establish the distinction between overenthused and unemphatic approaches to blur, he contrasts the ecstatically amorphous “Blur building” (on Switzerland's Lake Neuchâtel) with examples of classical Chinese landscape painting. Elizabeth Diller and Richard Scofidio, in their book blur: the making of nothing, chronicle the development of their plans for the Blur building and, in the process, inadvertently show that, to overbear various negative associations of blur and fog, the authors/architects grew self-contradictorily emphatic about the need to produce de-emphasis in architecture and in modern life. Perl shows how this self-contradiction appears also in phenomenology-inflected writings on blur by T. J. Clark, Yve-Alain Bois and Rosalind Kraus, J.-P. Sartre, and Georges Bataille, but not in the work of the phenomenologist (and sinologist) François Jullien, whose book The Great Image Has No Form analyzes the role of blur in classical Chinese art theory and practice. Where traditional Western painting, Jullien argues, calls for voyeuristically intense focus, traditional Chinese painting stimulates “dé-tente, relaxation or ‘untensing’.” Intense focus on a blur is still, Perl observes, an intense focus. In describing a painting by the Yuan Dynasty master Ni Zan, Perl concludes that the only way to be un-self-contradictorily positive about fuzziness, whether in logic or aesthetics, is to de-reify and de-differentiate with the aim of achieving blandness. (shrink)
Jennifer McKitrick offers an opinionated guide to the philosophy of dispositions. In her view, when an object has a disposition, it is such that, if a certain type of circumstance were to occur, a certain kind of event would occur. Since this is very common for this to be the case, dispositions are an abundant and diverse feature of our world.
This essay, by the editor of Common Knowledge, introduces the sixth and final installment of “Fuzzy Studies,” the journal's “Symposium on the Consequence of Blur.” Suggesting that “Fuzzy Studies” should be understood in the context of a desultory campaign against zeal conducted in the journal for almost twenty years, he explains that the editors' assumption has been that any authentic case for the less adamant modes of thinking, or the less focused ways of seeing, needs to be unenthusiastic and carefully (...) ramified. To establish the distinction between overenthused and unemphatic approaches to blur, he contrasts the ecstatically amorphous “Blur building” with examples of classical Chinese landscape painting. Elizabeth Diller and Richard Scofidio, in their book blur: the making of nothing, chronicle the development of their plans for the Blur building and, in the process, inadvertently show that, to overbear various negative associations of blur and fog, the authors/architects grew self-contradictorily emphatic about the need to produce de-emphasis in architecture and in modern life. Perl shows how this self-contradiction appears also in phenomenology-inflected writings on blur by T. J. Clark, Yve-Alain Bois and Rosalind Kraus, J.-P. Sartre, and Georges Bataille, but not in the work of the phenomenologist François Jullien, whose book The Great Image Has No Form analyzes the role of blur in classical Chinese art theory and practice. Where traditional Western painting, Jullien argues, calls for voyeuristically intense focus, traditional Chinese painting stimulates “dé-tente, relaxation or ‘untensing’.” Intense focus on a blur is still, Perl observes, an intense focus. In describing a painting by the Yuan Dynasty master Ni Zan, Perl concludes that the only way to be un-self-contradictorily positive about fuzziness, whether in logic or aesthetics, is to de-reify and de-differentiate with the aim of achieving blandness. (shrink)
The suffering of war refugees is often regarded as a wrong-less harm. Although war refugees have been made worse off in severe ways, they have not been wronged, because no one intentionally caused their suffering. In military parlance, war refugees are collateral damage. As such, nothing is owed to them as a matter of justice, because their suffering is not the result of intentional wrongdoing; rather, it is the regrettable and unintended result of necessary and proportionate wartime actions. So, while (...) the warring national or extra-national groups might help war refugees, such aid is regarded as humanitarian, not as justice.I challenge the view that war refugees are harmed but not wronged when those harms directly result from necessary and proportionate wartime actions. War refugees are innocent bystanders, and so are an exception to the principle that permits defense by any necessary and proportionate means. Just as an individual may not kill or seriously harm an innocent bystander to save herself, so too national or extra-national groups may not create refugees to win a war. If such groups do create war refugees during the legitimate pursuit of military goals, they have wronged those refugees, and so owe them recompense. (shrink)
Jennifer Church presents a new account of perception, which shows how imagining alternative perspectives and possibilities plays a key role in creating and validating experiences of self-evident objectivity. She explores the nature of moral perception and aesthetic perception, and argues that perception can be both literal and substantive.
While much of our knowledge relies on testimony or the words of others, until recently few philosophers had much to say about the nature of testimony or how we learn from another's words, but testimony has now become a popular topic. Jennifer Lackey's Learning from Words: Testimony as a Source of Knowledge is a useful and intelligent guide, a well informed and appreciative but critical and provocative commentary on a large and growing body of literature.According to Lackey, most of (...) the literature assumes that testimony can spread but not create knowledge, much as memory can be a reminder of old but not a source of new truth. Lackey maintains that the assumption is mistaken and offers an account of testimony, according to which, testimony can give rise to new knowledge as well as transmit old truths from one person to another.In her introduction, Lackey characterizes what she calls the belief view of testimony and suggests that this view dominates today's literature. On the belief view, testimony is a vehicle for expressing belief, and when I tell you that p, I express my belief that p with the intention …. (shrink)
A dramatic shift in British and French ideas about empire unfolded in the sixty years straddling the turn of the nineteenth century. As Jennifer Pitts shows in A Turn to Empire, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, and Jeremy Bentham were among many at the start of this period to criticize European empires as unjust as well as politically and economically disastrous for the conquering nations. By the mid-nineteenth century, however, the most prominent British and French liberal thinkers, including John Stuart (...) Mill and Alexis de Tocqueville, vigorously supported the conquest of non-European peoples. Pitts explains that this reflected a rise in civilizational self-confidence, as theories of human progress became more triumphalist, less nuanced, and less tolerant of cultural difference. At the same time, imperial expansion abroad came to be seen as a political project that might assist the emergence of stable liberal democracies within Europe. Pitts shows that liberal thinkers usually celebrated for respecting not only human equality and liberty but also pluralism supported an inegalitarian and decidedly nonhumanitarian international politics. Yet such moments represent not a necessary feature of liberal thought but a striking departure from views shared by precisely those late-eighteenth-century thinkers whom Mill and Tocqueville saw as their forebears. Fluently written, A Turn to Empire offers a novel assessment of modern political thought and international justice, and an illuminating perspective on continuing debates over empire, intervention, and liberal political commitments. (shrink)
This book confronts the threats of epistemic relativism and Pyrrhonian scepticism to analytic philosophy. Epistemic relativists reject absolute notions of knowledge and justification, while sceptics claim that knowledge and justification of any kind are unattainable. If either of these views is correct, then there can be no objective basis for thinking that one set of methods does a better job of delivering accurate information than any other set of methods. Philosophers have generally sought to resist these threats by responding to (...) the argument that seems to motivate both positions: the Agrippan trilemma. Steven Bland argues that this is a mistaken strategy. He surveys the most influential responses to the Agrippan trilemma, and shows that none of them succeeds in undermining epistemic relativism. Bland also offers a new, dialectical strategy of challenging epistemic relativism by uncovering how epistemic methods depend on one another for their applications. By means of this novel analysis, the book concludes that there are principled reasons to prefer naturalistic to non-naturalistic methods, even if these reasons do little to ease the threat of scepticism. (shrink)