Political theory is contextualist when factual claims about context are part of the justification of normative political judgments. There are different kinds of contextualism depending on whether context is relevant for the formulation and justification of political principles, whether principles themselves are contextually specific, or whether context is only relevant for the application of principles. An important challenge to contextualism is the problem of critical distance: how can theories ensure a critical perspective if facts about the context to be evaluated (...) are also part of the justification for the normative judgments? Tariq Modood and Simon Thompson have defended what they call iterative contextualism, which combines elements of all three kinds of contextualism in an attempt to avoid the problem of critical distance. The present paper discusses Modood and Thompson’s iterative contextualism and whether it manages to avoid the problem of critical distance. (shrink)
I explore some of the ways that assumptions about the nature of substance shape metaphysical debates about the structure of Reality. Assumptions about the priority of substance play a role in an argument for monism, are embedded in certain pluralist metaphysical treatments of laws of nature, and are central to discussions of substantivalism and relationalism. I will then argue that we should reject such assumptions and collapse the categorical distinction between substance and property.
May discovered Diderot's copiously annotated copy of this anti-materialist tract by Hemsterhuis, known to many contemporaries as "the Dutch Plato"; this edition contains May's interesting introduction, a facsimile of the original text, and a transcription of all of Diderot's comments. The comments bear on infelicities of style as well as of thought, though the latter preponderate: the Lettre is not, alas, the product of a first-rate philosophical intellect. Diderot's strong objections to Hemsterhuis' crude theory of a moral organ can be (...) taken as complementing his Refutation of Helvetius, which dates from the same period.—W. L. M. (shrink)
Admitting to some departure from the Aristotelian classification, Jolivet divides human activities into three sorts: labor, play, and contemplation. He warns against the naturalizing effect of the Marxist notion of labor, defends play as the essentially superfluous, and argues for including art in his third category. A proper conception of human wisdom involves all three activities, although the speculative remains the highest, and the love of God is wisdom's fullest perfection. Based on a lecture series, the book is a clear, (...) rather non-technical, and contemporary re-working of some venerable ideas.--W. L. M. (shrink)
For Brun, the separation of men from existence, which expresses itself in various forms of anxiety, is the central concern of philosophy. While the separation of men from one another can be partly overcome by language and by modern technology's "conquests," the ontological separation cannot, the philosophic attitude of wonder can never be entirely replaced by nihil mirari. He takes issue with the philosophies of praxis which regard human action as the potential remedy for all separation. The thesis is defended (...) capably and passionately.--W. L. M. (shrink)
Pucelle tries to show how the idea of personal liberty is central to Green's ethics. Green's criticisms of other philosophers and the historical context of his philosophy are especially well handled. --W. L. M.
Robert Stern has argued that Levinas is a kind of command theorist and that, for this reason, Løgstrup can be understood to have provided an argument against Levinas. In this paper, I discuss Levinas’s use of the vocabulary of demand, order, and command in the light of Jewish philosophical accounts of such notions in the work of Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, and Emil Fackenheim. These accounts revise the traditional Jewish idea of command and I show that Levinas’s use of this (...) vocabulary is also revisionary. I show that in light of this tradition of discussion, Levinas’s use is not susceptible to the interpretation Stern proposes and thus that the Løgstrup-style argument cannot be used against Levinas. (shrink)
« Voici, cher lecteur, ce qui a fait le divertissement de quelques heures de loisir que je n’étais pas d’humeur d’employer à autre chose. Si cet ouvrage a le bonheur d’occuper de la même manière quelque petite partie d’un temps où vous serez bien aise de vous relâcher de vos affaires plus importantes, et que vous preniez seulement la moitié tant de plaisir à le lire que j’en ai eu à le composer, vous n’aurez pas, je crois, plus de regret (...) à votre argent que j’en ai eu à ma peine. »Nous reproduisons ici la traduction de Coste, celle-là même que Leibniz a sous les yeux en composant ses Nouveaux essais sur l’entendement humain. Elle a été faite en présence de Locke et avec son aide et acquiert ainsi la valeur d’un texte original. (shrink)
Kasm does not offer any concept of proof which is regulative for all metaphysics, for he is convinced that each metaphysical approach requires its own proper logic and methodology. Within this pluralistic framework he seeks to discern the structure of formal truth as expressed in the concept of proof inherent in various metaphysical approaches.--L. S. F.
Suppose that the ultimate point of ethics is to make the world a better place. If it is, we must face the question: better in what respect? If the good is prior to the right — that is, if the rationale for all requirements of the right is that they serve to further the good in one way or another — then what is this good? Is there a single fundamental value capable of underlying and unifying all of our moral (...) categories? If so, how might it defeat the claims of rival candidates for this role? If not, is there instead a plurality of basic goods, each irreducible to any of the others? In that case, how do they fit together into a unified picture of the moral life? These are the questions I wish to address, in a necessarily limited way. To many the questions will seem hopelessly old-fashioned or misguided. Some deontologists will wish to reverse my ordering of the good and the right, holding that the right constrains acceptable conceptions of the good. For many contractarians, neither the good nor the right will seem normatively basic, since both are to be derived from a prior conception of rationality. Finally, some theorists will reject the classification of moral theories in terms of their basic normative categories, arguing that the whole foundationalist enterprise in ethics should be abandoned. In the face of these challenges to the priority of the good, and in light of the many current varieties of moral skepticism and relativism, I cannot provide a very convincing justification for raising the questions I intend to discuss. (shrink)
Thought, according to Hegel, is not only the product of a faculty of a subject, or a means by which a thinking subject tries to grasp a world that is alien to him. It is also the very structure of the world, that is disclosed to a subject through the thinking activity of a subject. The fundamental question that crosses the whole post-Kantian philosophy is that of the relation between thought and reality, i.e. the question of whether reality depends on (...) the categorial requirements imposed by the thinking subject, or whether reality maintains some form of independence from the thinking subject. Seen from this standpoint, Hegel can be read both as an author who radicalizes Kant’s transcendental perspective, and also as a critic of that perspective. In other words, he can be seen as an idealist: according to Hegel, any philosophy is idealist if it claims that something finite, qua finite, is essentially connected with something other. He can also be seen as an anti-idealist: insofar as his philosophy aims to overcome a hyper-transcendentalist perspective, i.e. it is so since it rejects idealism as subjective idealism. Moreover, Hegel’s anti-idealism can be characterized as realism. This is because, if we admit that overcoming transcendentalism without falling back again on a pre-critical conception of thought and of reality involves an idea of thought which is not reducible to a "mentalistic" conception of it, we need to conceive of thought as something that is not alien to reality. Hegel conceives of thought as intimately connected with the world, as its own rational structure. This “realism” of thought is what makes Hegelian idealism, so to speak, anti-idealistic. Through this "realism" of thought Hegel pursues two goals. On the one hand, Hegel attempts to overcome a subjectivistic and instrumentalistic conception of thought, according to which a subject talks and relates to a reality that is always only a construction of him, and so it is necessarily the simulacrum of something that remains inaccessible in its truth. On the other hand, Hegel attempts to overcome a conception of reality characterized merely as alien and opposite to thought itself, and which is the counterpart of the subjectivistic and instrumentalistic conception of thought. By pursuing these two goals it should be gained a conception of reality which could warrant some form of objectivity, but which cannot be equated with the substantialistic conception of the pre-Kantian metaphysics. (shrink)