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Social Philosophy Today

Volume 18, 2002
Truth and Objectivity in Social Ethics

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Displaying: 1-10 of 17 documents


1. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 18
Cheryl Hughes Preface
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2. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 18
Introduction
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part i: new critical perspectives
3. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 18
Charles W. Mills Defending the Radical Enlightenment
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In this paper, I differentiate “two Enlightenments,” the mainstream Enlightenment and what I call the “radical Enlightenment,” that is, Enlightenment theory (rationalism, humanism, objectivism) informed by the fact of social oppression. Marxism can be seen as the pioneering example of radical Enlightenment theory, but it is, of course, relatively insensitive to gender and race issues, so we also need to include Enlightenment versions of feminism and critical race theory. I defend the radical Enlightenment against (on one front) the mainstream Enlightenment criticism that it is either already included in the latter, or if excluded, justifiably so, and (on the other front) against anti-Enlightenment criticisms (poststructuralism and some multiculturalists) that in whatever form, Enlightenment theory cannot adequately address social oppression.
4. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 18
William C. Pamerleau Ethical Uncertainty, Nietzschean Freedom, and the Continuing Need for an Existential Perspective
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Both existentialists and ethicists have made much of the concept of freedom. While these two camps make very different use of the concept, the relationship between the two is important: the nature and limits of freedom have an important bearing on moral responsibility, while the moral obligations to promote the development of freedom require that we understand just how free thinking is possible. In this paper, I will make some general observations about the prevailing trends in moral thought, both theoretically and culturally. I argue that now as much as in the past, existentialist descriptions of how freedom is experienced are a crucial complement to theoretical work on morality. Specifically, I argue that the uncertainty of our moral horizons and suspicions of the degree to which we are really free makes Nietzsche’s view of freedom a good fit for the ethical work that faces us in the twenty-first century.
5. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 18
Noel E. Boulting Science as a Paradigm in the Formation of Socio-Ethical Judgments
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Whether science can be regarded as value-neutral remains a contestable issue. Much of that debate is confused because it is not made clear exactly what the term science is meant to include. Three conceptions can be delineated: the iconic, the indexical, and the interpretative. The iconic employs a wide usage of the term science to include any process of inquiry. The indexical refers to the way the outcomes of inquiry can be made subject to testing and criticism. The interpretative conception, growing out of the iconic, emphasizes the methodology of science, marking it off from other forms of inquiry. These three conceptions of science—delineated in the writings of Charles Peirce—have haunted debates in the philosophy of science during the twentieth century. But whichever conception is adopted, none of these three can offer a satisfactory account of the way in which socio-ethical judgments come to be formed for their application in everyday life.
part ii: truth and ideology
6. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 18
Haim Gordon, Rivca Gordon Heidegger's Understanding Of Truth And The Situation In The Gaza Strip
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This paper suggests that one of the reasons for the lack of understanding of what is happening in the Gaza Strip is our current understanding of truth. This understanding of truth, which has prevailed for 2500 years, holds that truth is the accordance of a statement with facts. Together with our recording some of the abuses of human rights in the Gaza Strip, which have all but been ignored, the paper suggests that Martin Heidegger’s understanding of truth as “aletheia,” as unconcealment, may lead to a better knowledge of what is truly occurring in the Gaza Strip.
7. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 18
Jordy Rocheleau Communications Theory and the Future of Ideology Critique: Problems in the Normative and Explanatory Foundations of Critical Social Theory
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Though the concept of ideology appears central to the explanation of the perseverance of systematic domination, the coherence and viability of the concepthave been repeatedly questioned. The status of the concept of ideology in critical theory has become one of simultaneous dependence and suspicion. While Habermas has been reluctant to develop the concept in his communications theory, this paper argues that ideology can be usefully and coherently defined in terms of distorted communication. It is shown that this discourse theoretical concept of ideology can meet the central normative and explanatory challenges facing the concept.
8. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 18
Jami L. Anderson The White Closet
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Whiteness theorists argue that whiteness has two essential features. First, whiteness colonizes, appropriates and controls the Other. Whiteness is, then, racist.Second, whiteness is constructed unwittingly. Whites are, it is claimed, unaware of the harms they inflict on a genocidal scale because whiteness, like the air we breathe, is “invisible” to those who construct it and are constructed by it. Whiteness is, then, innocent. I think defining whiteness as innocent racism is troubling for two reasons. First, it leaves whites unaccountable for the acts of racism they perpetuate. Second, I think that the claim that whiteness is invisible “like the air we breathe,” while a powerful and fascinating metaphor, is mistaken. I will argue that whiteness is closeted; and while the closet makes the acknowledgement of whiteness difficult, it does not make it impossible. Thus, though closeted, whites are morally accountable for the acts of racism they commit.
part iii: objectivity in environmental ethics
9. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 18
Sharon Anderson-Gold Objective Value in Environmental Ethics: Towards a Reconstituted Anthropocentric Ethic
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In this paper I explore and reject the claim that an anthropocentric ethic necessarily excludes recognition of the intrinsic value of nature. Part One reviews thereasons for attributing intrinsic value to nature and considers how a teleological view of nature can transform the role of the moral subject and the nature of moral judgment. Following Tim Hayward, I argue that anthropocentrism does not entail “speciesism” and can accommodate the extension of moral consideration to non-human nature, thus reconstituting an anthropocentric ethic. In Part Two, I apply these principles to Kant’s notion of natural purposiveness. I argue that Kantian ethics, a paradigm of anthropocentric ethics, cannot be considered speciesist because nature must be evaluated from the perspective of the highest good. I conclude that the highest good requires the promotion of a form of sustainable development that includes strong ecological values.
10. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 18
Jeremy Bendik-Keymer A Sense of Ecological Humanity
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Many cultures understand that being a flourishing human involves respectful relationships with the wider universe of life on Earth. Call this, “a sense of ecological humanity.” In this paper, I explore conceptual resources available for developing such a way of being. To this end, I explore two modes of practical reasoning. The first is analogical extension, which understands the respect due human life as the source of a like respect for non-human life. The second is analogical implication, which comes to self-respect out of respect for nature. These modes excavate two sides of an ecological relationship possible within our already existing sense of humanity, allow us to know ourselves more profoundly, and limit our capacity for wantonness. Our capitalist culture would do well to mature through these forms of practical reasoning.