As has been noted by Alvin Goldman, there are some very interesting similarities between his Veritistic Social Epistemology (VSE) and Sandra Harding's Feminist StandpointTheory (FST). In the present paper, it is argued that these similarities are so significant as to motivate an incorporation of FST into VSE, considering that (i) a substantial common ground can be found; (ii) the claims that go beyond this common ground are logically compatible; and (iii) the generality of VSE not only does (...) justice to the inclusive ambition of FST, but even solves a well-discussed problem for the latter. (shrink)
In the mid-1970s and early 1980s, several feminist theorists began developing alternatives to the traditional methods of scientific research. The result was a new theory, now recognized as StandpointTheory, which caused heated debate and radically altered the way research is conducted. The Feminist StandpointTheory Reader is the first anthology to collect the most important essays on the subject as well as more recent works that bring the topic up-to-date. Leading feminist scholar and one (...) of the founders of StandpointTheory, Sandra Harding brings together the a prestigious list of scholars--Dorothy Smith, Donna Haraway, Patricia Hill Collins, Nancy Hartsock and Hilary Rose--to not only showcase the most influential essays on the topic but to also highlight subsequent developments of these approaches from a wide variety of disciplines and intellectual and political positions. The Reader will be essential reading for feminist scholars. (shrink)
: Feminist standpointtheory remains highly controversial: it is widely advocated, used to guide research and justify its results, and yet is also vigorously denounced. This essay argues that three such sites of controversy reveal the value of engaging with standpointtheory as a way of reflecting on and debating some of the most anxiety-producing issues in contemporary Western intellectual and political life. Engaging with standpointtheory enables a socially relevant philosophy of science.
Over the past twenty-five years, numerous articles in Hypatia have clarified, revised, and defended increasingly more nuanced views of both feminist empiricism and standpoint feminism. Feminist empiricists have argued that scientific knowledge is contextual and socially situated (Longino 1990; Nelson 1990; Anderson 1995), and standpoint feminists have begun to endorse virtues of theory choice that have been traditionally empiricist (Wylie 2003). In fact, it is unclear whether substantive differences remain. I demonstrate that current versions of feminist empiricism (...) and standpoint feminism now have much in common but that key differences remain. Specifically, they make competing claims about what is required for increasing scientific objectivity. They disagree about 1) the kind of diversity within scientific communities that is epistemically beneficial and 2) the role that ethical and political values can play. In these two respects, feminist empiricists have much to gain from the resources provided by standpointtheory. As a result, the views would be best merged into “feminist standpoint empiricism.”. (shrink)
The claim that theoretical foundations are historically contingent does not draw the same intensity of fire as it did one or especially two decades ago. The aftermath of debates on the political boundaries created by foundations allows for a deeper exploration of the foundations of feminist theory. This article re-examines the (anti)-Hegelian foundations of the feminist standpoint put forward by Nancy Hartsock and argues that the Hegelian subject of the early Phenomenology of Spirit resists gender codification in its (...) experience of ongoing rediscovery and fallibility in knowing. The subject against which the feminist self was constituted does not fit the masculinity thought to be natural. Hegel’s master-slave dialectic and phenomenological subject reveal contradictions that cannot be resolved by an opposing feminist standpoint, and may provide resources that resist the rigid gender categories upon which the standpoint depends. Key Words: abstract masculinity • feminist standpoint • feminist theory • foundations • Nancy Hartsock • Hegel • master-slave dialectic • subjectivity. (shrink)
Feminist philosophy of science has been criticized on several counts. On the one hand, it is claimed that it results in relativism of the worst sort since the political commitment to feminism is prima facie incompatible with scientific objectivity. On the other hand, when critics acknowledge that there may be some value in work that feminists have done, they comment that there is nothing particularly feminist about their accounts. I argue that both criticisms can be addressed through a better understanding (...) of the current work in feminist epistemology. I offer an examination of standpointtheory as an illustration. Harding and Wylie have suggested ways in which the objectivity question can be addressed. These two accounts, together with a third approach, ‘model-based objectivity’, indicate there is a clear sense in which we can understand how standpointtheory both contributes to a better understanding of scientific knowledge and can provide a feminist epistemology. (shrink)
Scheler's critique of Husserl's theory of the world of the natural standpoint may be understood as a decisive factor in the transition of phenomenological philosophy from the "rationalism" of Husserl to the 'existentialism" of Heidegger. Husserl's theory that the value characteristics of the world are founded on the natural characteristics signifies, as we will show, that the individual objects of the world are "logical individuals." By criticizing this view, and by showing that it is really the value (...) characteristics which found the natural characteristics, Scheler demonstrated that the individual objects of the world are .'axiological individuals," which are prior to whatever logical structure the world may have. This viewpoint prepared the way for Heidegger's conception of the world as a system of referential relationships between different practical realities [seienden], which Heidegger conceived as being prior.. (shrink)
: Grebowicz argues from the perspective of Jean-François Lyotard's critique of deliberative democracy that the project of democratizing knowledge may bring us closer to terror than to justice. The successful formulation of a critical standpoint requires that we figure the political as itself a contested site, and incorporate this into our theorizing about the role of dissent in the production of knowledges. This essay contrasts Lyotard's notion of the differend with Chantal Mouffe's agonistic model.
A systematic comparison is made between the respective political theories of Machiavelli and Rousseau. Initially, the comparison centres upon key substantive claims made by each theorist with a view to estab lishing a general, thematic contrast. This is used as a basis for structur ing a further comparison between the respective authorial standpoints adopted by Machiavelli and Rousseau. It will be suggested that this comparison establishes, (a) that a connection can be made between sub stantive theory and authorial (...) class='Hi'>standpoint and, (b) that, in comparison, the authorial standpoint adopted by Machiavelli reflects a fidelity to the political which is absent in Rousseau. (shrink)
This essay explores how the social location of white traitorous identities might be understood. I begin by examining some of the problematic implications of Sandra Harding's standpoint framework description of race traitors as 'becoming marginal.' I argue that the location of white traitors might be better understood in terms of their 'decentering the center.' I distinguish between 'privilege-cognizant' and 'privilege-evasive' white scripts. Drawing on the work of Marilyn Frye and Anne Braden, I offer an account of the contrasting perceptions (...) and behaviors of white who animate one type of script and those who struggle to forge the other type. I use Maria Lugones account of identity and notions of 'world travel' and 'loving perception' and Aristotle's virtue theory to explicate the ways whites, and white feminists in particular, might cultivate a traitorous character conducive to an antiracist politics. (shrink)
Sara Ruddick's contemporary philosophical account of mothering reconsiders the maternal arguments used in the women's peace movements of the earlier part of this century. The culmination of this project is her 1989 book, Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace. Ruddick's project is ground-breaking work in both academic philosophy and feminist theory. -/- In this chapter, I first look at the relationship between the two basic components of Ruddick's argument in Maternal Thinking: the "practicalist conception of truth" (PCT) and (...) feminist standpointtheory (FST). I argue that Ruddick is never clear about the exact relation between the two components. These tensions point to a deeper problem in Ruddick's discussion of the critical power of maternal thinking. -/- The diversity of maternal practices presents a genuine challenge to Ruddick’s account. I argue that neither of the components she explores can adequately ground a feminist peace politics without first answering the question of who speaks for mothers. While I can suggest ways to make Ruddick's argument consistent, she still faces-despite her claims of universality- the deeper problem of reconciling her account of maternal practice with the genuine diversity of actual maternal practices. (shrink)
Jean Hyppolite describes Hegel’s project in the Phenomenology of Spirit as “the development and formulation of natural consciousness and its progression to science, that is to say, to philosophic knowledge, to knowledge of the absolute” (Hyppolite 1974, 4). This development or progression is the “work of consciousness engaged in experience,” as phenomenal knowledge necessarily leads to absolute knowledge. Thus from the very nature of consciousness one is led toward the absolute, which is both substance as well as subject. This paper (...) will argue that Hegel’s account of the development of consciousness and its progression towards knowledge has certain commonalities with feminist philosophy of science. Frequently, feminist theorists cite Hegel specifically in reference to his discussion of the master/slave relationship, or his discussion of ethics, two sections of the Phenomenology of Spirit in which Hegel explicitly attempts to delineate a role or place for women. Many of these sections do have decidedly antifeminist implications, as has been correctly pointed out by many scholars. Especially in the section on Antigone, where Hegel ascribes the private sphere of life in the home to woman and the public sphere of life in the polis to man, Hegel is clearly unconcerned with the subordination of women, prescribing means of resistance, or finding alternatives to promote the removal of women’s oppression.1 Although Hegel’s political and moral theory does not reflect a feminist perspective, in this paper I will argue that Hegel’s theory of knowledge, the progress towards absolute knowledge described above, has much in common with recent feminist epistemology and philosophy of science. A central implication of this conclusion is that feminist theorists would do well to regard Hegel not merely politically, as an example of another “dead white male” philosopher who participated in the oppression of women; but also epistemologically, as a possible ally in the creation of better theories of knowledge that will regard the experience of culturally situated subjects as important sources of knowledge.2 This conclusion will be argued in two ways. First, I will illustrate how Hegel reconceptualizes the relationship between subject and object, and subject and community, and the related notion of objectivity. This type of objectivity will be shown to be a variety of “dialectical objectivity,” following Allan Megill’s delineation of four senses of objectivity. This reading of Hegelian subject-object relations and objectivity will then be compared to Sandra Harding’s concept of “strong objectivity,” a very similar type of dialectical objectivity which stands as an excellent example of current feminist epistemology and standpointtheory. From this similarity, it will be shown that Hegelian and feminist epistemology have much more in common than previously thought. (shrink)
Feminist philosophy of science appears to present problems for the ideal of value-free science. These difficulties also challenge a traditional understanding of the objectivity of science. However, feminist philosophers of science have good reasons for desiring to retain some concept of objectivity. The present essay considers several recent and influential feminist approaches to the role of social and political values in science, with particular focus on feminist empiricism and feminist standpointtheory. The similarities and difference, as well as (...) the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches are explored. The essay concludes with suggestions for future research in the area of feminist epistemology and philosophy of science. (shrink)
Feminist science criticism has mostly focused on the theories of the life sciences, while the few studies about gender and the physical sciences locate gender in the practice, and not in the theories, of these fields. Arguably, the reason for this asymmetry is that the conceptual and methodological tools developed by (feminist) science studies are not suited to analyze the hard sciences for gender-related values in their content. My central claim is that a conceptual, rather than an empirical, analysis is (...) needed; one should be looking for general metaphysical principles which serve as the conceptual foundation for the scientific theory, and which, in other contexts, constitute the philosophical foundations of a worldview that legitimates social inequalities. This position is not being advocated anywhere in the philosophy of science, but its elements are to be found in Helen Longino's theory of science, and in the social epistemology and ontology of Georg Lukács. (shrink)
“A dynamic developmental theory of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) predominantly hyperactive/impulsive and combined subtypes” is a major contribution linking comparative psychology with clinical developmental neuropsychopathology. In this commentary, I place some critical remarks concerning the theory's explanation of sleep problems, inhibition, error monitoring, and motor control.
In recent and not so recent years, fallacy theory has sustained numerous challenges, challenges which have seen the theory charged with lack of systematicity as well as failure to deliver significant insights into its subject matter. In the following discussion, I argue that these criticisms are subordinate to a more fundamental criticism of fallacy theory, a criticism pertaining to the lack of intelligibility of this theory. The charge of unintelligibility against fallacy theory derives from a (...) similar charge against philosophical theories of truth and rationality developed by Hilary Putnam. I examine how Putnam develops this charge in the case of the conception of rationality pursued by logical positivism. Following that examination, I demonstrate the significance of this charge for how we proceed routinely to analyse one informal fallacy, the fallacy of petitio principii. Specifically, I argue that the significance of this charge lies in its issuance of a rejection of the urge to theorise in fallacy inquiry in general and petitio inquiry in particular. My conclusion takes the form of guidelines for the post-theoretical pursuit of fallacy inquiry. (shrink)
The purpose of the simultaneous measurement of noncommuting quantum observables can be viewed as the joint estimation of parameters of the density operator of the quantum system. Joint estimation involves the application of a multiply parameterized operator-valued measure. An example related to the simultaneous estimation of the position and velocity of a particle is given. Conceptual difficulties attending simultaneous measurement of noncommuting observables are avoided by this formation.
This paper traces the ethnocentric structure of U.S.-published anthologies in global ethics and related fields and it examines the ethical and philosophical implications of such ethnocentrism. The author argues that the ethnocentric structure of prominent work in global ethics not only impairs the field's ability to prepare students for global citizenship but contributes to the ideological processes that maintain global inequities. In conclusion, the author makes a case that fuller engagement with global-South and indigenous writers on global issues can encourage (...) U.S. students and scholars to examine more closely the ideologies that order our lives and to risk the kind of selfexamination that is necessary in order to build effective relationships with diverse global communities. (shrink)
In asking scholars to reflect on the structures and practices of academic knowledge that render alternative knowledge traditions irrelevant and invisible, as well as on the ways these must change for the academy to cease functioning as an instrument of westernization rather than as an authentically global and diverse intellectual commons, the editor of this special issue of the Journal of Academic Ethics is envisaging a world much needed and much resisted. A great deal of the conversation about diversity in (...) higher education emphasizes, rightly, the need for an international and ethnically diverse population of scholars and students. Less attention is paid to the value of cognitive diversity—the diversity of cognition generated by cognitive disabilities. As one aspect of intellectual diversity, cognitive diversity promises novel ways of thinking and new understandings of what knowledge is, who makes it, and how it is made. The unique value of cognitive diversity is its insistence on a radical shift in our conception of who can know and who can produce knowledge. Insisting on the inclusion, as scholars, of persons with minds labelled disabled, an epistemology of disability pushes us to reform the much criticized but still dominant notion of the expert and scholar as able-bodied and hyper-rational. (shrink)
This article reflects critically on the methodology of one feminist research project which is ongoing as we write. The project is titled “Assessing Development: Designing Better Indices of Poverty and Gender Equity” and its aim is to develop a better standard or metric for measuring poverty across the world. The authors of this article are among several philosophers on the research team, which also includes scholars from the disciplines of anthropology, sociology and economics. This article begin by explaining why a (...) new and better poverty metric is needed and why developing such a metric requires an alternative methodological approach inspired by feminism. It then describes our methodological goals and strategies and summarizes our research findings, showing how they diverge from standard assessments as a result the feminist methods we used. We conclude with some methodological lessons we learned and questions that we think remain to be addressed. (shrink)
For over twenty years Nancy Hartsock has been a powerful voice in the effort to forge a feminism sophisticated and strong enough to make a difference in the real world of powerful political and economic forces. This volume collects her most important writings, offering her current thinking about this period in the development of feminist political economy and presenting an important new paper, “The Feminist Standpoint Revisited.”Central themes recur throughout the volume: in particular, the relationships between theory and (...) activism, between feminism and Marxism, and between postmodernism and politics. Readers will appreciate Hartsock’s account of how so much of her theoretical work grew directly out of the demands of the activist life. The Feminist Standpoint Revisited is an important record and a timely reevaluation of the development of feminist thought, as well as a contribution to current work. It will be a valuable resource for feminist theorists in a wide variety of disciplines. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that the distinction between epistemic privilege and epistemic authority is an important one for feminist epistemologists who are sympathetic to feminist standpointtheory. I argue that, while the first concept is elusive, the second is really the important one for a successful feminist standpoint project.
Feminist standpointtheory posits feminism as a way of conceptualizing from the vantage point of women's lives. However, in current work on feminist standpoint the material links between lives and knowledges are often not explained. This essay argues that the radical marxist tradition standpointtheory draws on-specifically theories of ideology post-Althusser-offers a systemic mode of reading that can redress this problem and provide the resources to elaborate further feminism's oppositional practice and collective subject.
Marcuse's Reason and Revolution was the first Hegelian Marxist text to appear in English, the first systematic study of Hegel by a Marxist, and the first work in English to discuss the young Marx seriously. It introduced Hegelian and Marxist concepts such as alienation, subjectivity, negativity, and the Frankfurt School's critique of positivism to a wide audience in the United States. When the book first appeared, it was attacked sharply from the standpoint of empiricism and positivism by Sidney Hook, (...) among others. Since 1960, new critiques of Marcuse's book have been developed from varying perspectives, especially by the "scientific" Marxist Lucio Colletti, the critical theorist Douglas Kellner, and the Marxist humanist Raya Dunayevskaya. From the postmodernist camp, Jacques Derrida has discussed some of the same themes as did Marcuse, especially around the issues of negativity and difference. It is argued, however, that Derrida's reading of Hegel is more problematic than Marcuse's, especially with regard to the project of constructing a critical social theory. (shrink)
‘‘Theoretical biology’’ is a surprisingly heter- ogeneous field, partly because it encompasses ‘‘doing the- ory’’ across disciplines as diverse as molecular biology, systematics, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Moreover, it is done in a stunning variety of different ways, using anything from formal analytical models to computer sim- ulations, from graphic representations to verbal arguments. In this essay I survey a number of aspects of what it means to do theoretical biology, and how they compare with the allegedly much more restricted (...) sense of theory in the physical sciences. I also tackle a recent trend toward the presentation of all-encompassing theories in the biological sciences, from general theories of ecology to a recent attempt to provide a conceptual framework for the entire set of biological disciplines. Finally, I discuss the roles played by philosophers of science in criticizing and shap- ing biological theorizing. (shrink)
What should our theorizing about social justice aim at? Many political philosophers think that a crucial goal is to identify a perfectly just society. Amartya Sen disagrees. In The Idea of Justice, he argues that the proper goal of an inquiry about justice is to undertake comparative assessments of feasible social scenarios in order to identify reforms that involve justice-enhancement, or injustice-reduction, even if the results fall short of perfect justice. Sen calls this the “comparative approach” to the theory (...) of justice. He urges its adoption on the basis of a sustained critique of the former approach, which he calls “transcendental.” In this paper I pursue two tasks, one critical and the other constructive. First, I argue that Sen’s account of the contrast between the transcendental and the comparative approaches is not convincing, and second, I suggest what I take to be a broader and more plausible account of comparative assessments of justice. The core claim is that political philosophers should not shy away from the pursuit of ambitious theories of justice (including, for example, ideal theories of perfect justice), although they should engage in careful consideration of issues of political feasibility bearing on their practical implementation. (shrink)
In his widely influential statement of just war theory, Michael Walzer exempts conscripted soldiers from all responsibility for taking part in war, whether just or unjust (the thesis of the moral equality of soldiers). He endows the overwhelming majority of civilians with almost absolute immunity from military attack on the ground that they aren't responsible for the war their country is waging, whether just or unjust. I argue that Walzer is much too lenient on both soldiers and civilians. Soldiers (...) fighting for a just cause and soldiers fighting for an unjust one are not morally equal. A substantial proportion of civilians in a democracy are responsible, to a significant degree, for their country's unjust war. Moreover, under certain (admittedly rare) circumstances, some of them are legitimate targets of military attack. This has bearing on settling moral accounts in the wake of war and the issue of forgiving the wrongs done in its course: possible candidates for such forgiveness are much more numerous than is usually assumed. (shrink)
Are government restrictions on hate speech consistent with the priority of liberty? This relatively narrow policy question will serve as the starting point for a wider discussion of the use and abuse of nonideal theory in contemporary political philosophy, especially as practiced on the academic left. I begin by showing that hate speech (understood as group libel) can undermine fair equality of opportunity for historically-oppressed groups but that the priority of liberty seems to forbid its restriction. This tension between (...) free speech and equal opportunity creates a dilemma for liberal egalitarians. Nonideal theory apparently offers an escape from this dilemma, but after examining three versions of such an escape strategy, I conclude that none is possible: liberal egalitarians are indeed forced to choose between liberty and equality in this case and others. I finish the paper by examining its implications for other policy arenas, including markets in transplantable human organs and women’s reproductive services. (shrink)
The traditional requirements upon the waging of a just war are ostensibly independent, but in actual practice each tenet is subject ultimately to the interpretation of a legitimate authority, whose declaration becomes the necessary and sufficient condition. While just war theory presupposes that some acts are absolutely wrong, it also implies that the killing of innocents can be rendered permissible through human decree. Nations are conventionally delimited, and leaders are conventionally appointed. Any group of people could band together to (...) form a nation, and any person could, in principle, be appointed the leader of any nation. Because the just war approach assumes absolutism while implying relativism, the stance is paradoxical and hence rationally untenable. (shrink)
Realists about practical reasons agree that judgments regarding reasons are beliefs. They disagree, however, over the question of how such beliefs motivate rational action. Some adopt a Humean conception of motivation, according to which beliefs about reasons must combine with independently existing desires in order to motivate rational action; others adopt an anti-Humean view, according to which beliefs can motivate rational action in their own right, either directly or by giving rise to a new desire that in turn motivates the (...) action. I argue that the realist who adopts a Humean model for explaining rational action will have a difficult time giving a plausible account of the role that desire plays in this explanation. I explore four interpretations of this role and argue that none allows a Humean theory to explain rational action as convincingly as an anti-Humean theory does. The first two models, in different ways, make acting on a reason impossible. The third allows this possibility, but only by positing a reason-sensitive desire that itself demands an explanation. The fourth avoids this explanatory challenge only by retreating to an empty form of the Humean view. In contrast, an anti-Humean theory can provide an intuitively plausible explanation of rational action. I conclude that the realist about reasons should adopt an anti-Humean theory to explain rational action. (shrink)
Amartya Sen argues that for the advancement of justice identification of ‘perfect’ justice is neither necessary nor sufficient. He replaces ‘perfect’ justice with comparative justice. Comparative justice limits itself to comparing social states with respect to degrees of justice. Sen’s central thesis is that identifying ‘perfect’ justice and comparing imperfect social states are ‘analytically disjoined’. This essay refutes Sen’s thesis by demonstrating that to be able to make adequate comparisons we need to identify and integrate criteria of comparison. This is (...) precisely the aim of a theory of justice (such as John Rawls’s theory): identifying, integrating and ordering relevant principles of justice. The same integrated criteria that determine ‘perfect’ justice are needed to be able to adequately compare imperfect social states. Sen’s alternative approach, which is based on social choice theory, is incapable of avoiding contrary, indeterminate or incoherent directives where plural principles of justice conflict. (shrink)
Judgment aggregation theory, or rather, as we conceive of it here, logical aggregation theory generalizes social choice theory by having the aggregation rule bear on judgments of all kinds instead of merely preference judgments. It derives from Kornhauser and Sager’s doctrinal paradox and List and Pettit’s discursive dilemma, two problems that we distinguish emphatically here. The current theory has developed from the discursive dilemma, rather than the doctrinal paradox, and the final objective of the paper is (...) to give the latter its own theoretical development along the line of recent work by Dietrich and Mongin. However, the paper also aims at reviewing logical aggregation theory as such, and it covers impossibility theorems by Dietrich, Dietrich and List, Dokow and Holzman, List and Pettit, Mongin, Nehring and Puppe, Pauly and van Hees, providing a uniform logical framework in which they can be compared with each other. The review goes through three historical stages: the initial paradox and dilemma, the scattered early results on the independence axiom, and the so-called canonical theorem, a collective achievement that provided the theory with its specific method of analysis. The paper goes some way towards philosophical logic, first by briefly connecting the aggregative framework of judgment with the modern philosophy of judgment, and second by thoroughly discussing and axiomatizing the ‘general logic’ built in this framework. (shrink)
This introduction to the special issue on empirically informed moral theory sketches the more important contributions to the field in the past several years. Attention is paid to experimental philosophy, the work of philosophers like Harman and Doris, and that of psychologists like Haidt and Hauser.
Contemporary discussions of the positive relation between rational choice and moral theory are a special case of a much older tradition that seeks to show that mutual agreement upon certain moral rules works to the mutual advantage, or in the interests, of those who so agree. I make a few remarks about the history of discussions of the connection between morality and self-interest, after which I argue that the modern theory of rational choice can be naturally understood as (...) a continuation of this older tradition. I then go on to argue for a controversial three-fold thesis: (1) that grounding a theory of morality in terms of rational self-interest is the only epistemologically respectable way to proceed with the justification of moral principles; (2) that despite this, most of the contemporary explorations of rational choice foundations for moral principles do not work—that the models of rational choice to which they appeal yield less than the substantial results that they are intended to yield; but (3) that if one rethinks just what it means to be rational, one can find in fact a promising way to connect the two—specifically through the development of a theory of genuinely cooperative activity. (shrink)
Many environmental problems are longitudinal collective action problems. They arise from the cumulative unintended effects of a vast amount of seemingly insignificant decisions and actions by individuals who are unknown to each other and distant from each other. Such problems are likely to be effectively addressed only by an enormous number of individuals each making a nearly insignificant contribution to resolving them. However, when a person’s making such a contribution appears to require sacrifice or costs, the problem of inconsequentialism arises: (...) given that a person’s contribution, although needed (albeit not necessary), is nearly inconsequential to addressing the problem and may require some cost from the standpoint of the person’s own life, why should the person make the effort, particularly when it is uncertain (or even unlikely) whether others will do so? In this article I argue that justifications for making the effort to respond to longitudinal collective action environmental problems are, on the whole, particularly well supported by virtue-oriented normative theories, on which character traits are evaluated as virtues and vices consequentially or teleologically and actions are evaluated in terms of virtues and vices. If ethical theories are to be assessed on their theoretical and practical adequacy, and if providing a compelling response to the problem of inconsequentialism is an instance of such adequacy, then this is a reason for preferring virtue-oriented ethical theory over non-virtue-oriented ethical theories, such as Kantian, act utilitarian, and global utilitarian theories. (shrink)
Sandra Harding's feminist standpoint epistemology makes two claims. The thesis of epistemic privilege claims that unprivileged social positions are likely to generate perspectives that are “less partial and less distorted” than perspectives generated by other social positions. The situated knowledge thesis claims that all scientific knowledge is socially situated. The bias paradox is the tension between these two claims. Whereas the thesis of epistemic privilege relies on the assumption that a standard of impartiality enables one to judge some perspectives (...) as better than others, the situated knowledge thesis seems to undermine this assumption by suggesting that all knowledge is partial. I argue that a contextualist theory of epistemic justification provides a solution to the bias paradox. Moreover, contextualism enables me to give empirical content to the thesis of epistemic privilege, thereby making it into a testable hypothesis. (shrink)
Be;atrice Longuenesse considers the three aspects of Kant's philosophy, his epistemology and metaphysics of nature, moral philosophy, and aesthetic theory, under one unifying standpoint: Kant's conception of our capacity to form judgments. She argues that the elements which make up our cognitive access to the world have an equally important role to play in our moral evaluations and our aesthetic judgments. Her book will appeal to all interested in Kant and his thought, ranging over Kant's account of our (...) representations of space and time, his conception of the logical forms of judgments, sufficient reason, causality, community, God, freedom, morality, and beauty in nature and art. (shrink)
Are there good grounds for thinking that the moral values of action are to be derived from those of character? This virtue ethical claim is sometimes thought of as a kind of normative ethical theory; sometimes as form of opposition to any such theory. However, the best case to be made for it supports neither of these claims. Rather, it leads us to a distinctive view in moral epistemology: the view that my warrant for a particular moral judgement (...) derives from my warrant for believing that I am a good moral judge. This view seems to confront a regress-problem. For the belief that I am a good moral judge is itself a particular moral judgement. So it seems that, on this view, I need to derive my warrant for believing that I am a good moral judge from my warrant for believing that I am a good judge of moral judges; and so on. I show how this worry can be met, and trace the implications of the resulting view for warranted moral judgement. (shrink)
This article explores the advantages of using a range of actual cases in doing political theory. This sort of approach clarifies what is at stake in alternative theoretical formulations, draws attention to the wisdom that may be embedded in existing practices, and encourages theorists to confront challenges they might otherwise overlook and to think through the implications of their accounts more fully.