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31. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 11
William L. McBride Consumerist Cultural Hegemony Within a Cosmopolitan Order—Why Not?
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The issue that I wish to address is, why protest and criticize the increasing hegemony of what has been called the “culture of consumerism”? This “why not?” objection encompasses three distinct sets of questions. First, is not resistance to it akin to playing the role of King Canute by the sea? Second, is not acceptance of it dictated by the current liberal philosophical consensus that acknowledges and endorses an inevitable diversity in different individuals’ conceptions of what is good, and must not this consensus itself be taken as a given by all who are opposed to political and religious totalitarianisms? Third, does not cosmopolitanism, regarded as a value-orientation favorable to the dissolution or at least minimization of national boundaries and the practices of exclusivity associated therewith, make common cause in the present historical conjuncture with this same trend? I will argue for a “No” answer to all of these questions.
32. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 11
Jonathan L. Gorman Justice and Toleration: A Western Perspective on Philosophy and Social Justice
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Are there independent standards of justice by which we are to measure our activities, or is justice itself to be understood in relativistic terms that vary with locality or historical period? I wish to examine briefly how far two inconsistent positions can both be accepted. I suggest that perhaps our ordinary understanding of reality itself—and in particular political reality—is essentially the outcome of a time of contest, and that there are areas of political reality where matters may be best seen as still being contested. I thus question the need for a single internally consistent point of view, as if it alone were the answer to any particular political problem, and propose that a shared belief that reality is inconsistent may be a viable solution. Using the political scenario of Northern Ireland, I argue that justice requires the deliberate and institutionalised toleration of inconsistent views of the world.
33. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 11
Neil MacCormick Rhetoric and the Rule of Law
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The thesis that propositions of law are intrinsically arguable is opposed by the antithesis that the Rule of Law is valued for the sake of legal certainty. The synthesis considers the insights of theories of rhetoric and proceduralist theories of practical reason, then locates the problem of indeterminacy of law in the context of the challengeable character of governmental action under free governments. This is not incompatible with, but required by the Rule of Law, which is misstated as securing legal certainty. Defeasible certainty is the most that is desirable or achievable.
34. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 11
Olúfémi Táíwò On the Limits of Law at Century’s End
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In this paper, I examine the generally accepted idea that law has definite limits to what it can be used to achieve. Toward this end, I discuss the limits of law as suggested by the Truth Commissions and the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRC), and summarize the divergences between law and the TRC. I suggest reasons why law may not serve or may underserve the purpose of healing and reconciliation in our time and conclude that the TRC is at best a reminder to us of the limits of law as a principle of social ordering.
35. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 11
Rex Martin Rawls on Constitutional Consensus and the Problem of Stability
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This paper lays out the background and main features of Rawls’s new theory of justice. This is a theory that he began adumbrating about 1980 and that is given its fullest statement in his recent book Political Liberalism. I identify the main patterns of justification Rawls attempts to provide for his new theory and suggest a problem with one of these patterns in particular. The main lines of my analysis engage Rawls’s idea of constitutional consensus and his account of political stability.
36. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 11
Gabriel Vargas Lozano Liberal Democracy and Radical Democracy: The Two Faces of Janus
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While the word “democracy” has proliferated in social and political discourse in recent decades, I suggest that the liberal democracy of the past, connected as it is (especially in the West) to the market economy, is insufficient for the challenges facing the contemporary Latin American context. I assess and criticize democratic ideas in order to suggest that the way forward is radical democracy based on socio-economic and political justice. These, however, have to be articulated at a variety of levels, from that of local and indigenous peoples to that of national and international relations.
37. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 11
Peter A. French The Meaning of Democracy: A Western Perspective
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I suggest that part of the reason the on-going debate in the West between the liberal democrats and the communitarians about the future and/or the ills of democracy is futile because both sides are committed to conceptually different accounts of democracy. The roots of communitarianism in the Athenian polis and that of liberalism in the atomistic individualism of the Enlightenment are contrasted in order to discern the motivating visions and overarching structures of both. Whereas communitarian democracy is willdominated, liberal democracy is choice-dominated. My purpose here is not to argue for the supremacy of one over the other, but to call attention to the distinctions between the two that are often blurred in contemporary discussion about democracy.
38. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 11
James P. Sterba Reconciling Public Reason and Religious Values
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Philosophers who hold that religious considerations should play some role in public debate over fundamental issues have criticized Rawls’s ideal of public reason for being too restrictive in generally ruling out such considerations. In response, Rawls has modified his ideal so as to explicitly allow a role for religious considerations in public debate (others, such as Robert Audi, have also offered accounts of public reason along similar lines). Nevertheless, some critics of Rawls’s ideal of public reason, such as Nicholas Wolterstorff, remain unsatisfied. In this paper, I will argue that once Rawls’s ideal of public reason is correctly interpreted, it will be possible to reconcile that ideal with much of the role its critics want religion to have in public debate.
39. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 11
Jorge J. E. Gracia Philosophy in American Public Life: De Facto and De Jure
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My focus here is on two questions: Does philosophy have a place in contemporary American public life? and should philosophy have a place in American public life? Because my answer to the first question is negative, I also will discuss some of the reasons why I believe philosophy does not play a role in American public life. I suggest that philosophers have been excluded from the public conversation in part because the work of philosophy entails criticism and challenge—activities best accomplished from “outside” of the structures of power. This means that we have a role in public life, but it is an indirect role, as teachers and critics, not as advisers and active participants.
40. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 11
Sirkku Kristiina Hellsten Communitarianism and Western Thought
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Within the Western tradition we can find important and interesting philosophical differences between the continental European and the Anglo-American ethical and political outlooks towards biotechnology. The Anglo-American attitude appears based on naturalistic and empiricist views, while continental European viewpoints are built on idealistic liberal humanism. A Northern European view integrates both of the above-mentioned liberal traditions. The main problem is that although these different outlooks can be said to be liberal in their common promotion of equality, autonomy, and individual rights, they still tend to conflict. I purpose to explicate the main differences of these liberalisms and to analyze how they affect the ethical views towards biotechnology in the Western world. Secondly, I will search for the shared values involved in these approaches in order to find common ground for open discussion on the ethical problems involved in biotechnological development.