This is a review article of Charles Beitz's 2009 book on the philosophy of human rights, The Idea of Human Rights. The article provides a charitable overview of the book's main arguments, but also raises some doubts about the depth of the distinction between Beitz's 'practical' approach to humans rights and its 'naturalistic' counterparts.
Introduction: The role of animals in philosophies of man -- Part I: What's wrong with animal rights? -- The right to remain silent -- Part II: Animal pedagogy -- You are what you eat : Rousseau's cat -- Say the human responded : Herder's sheep -- Part III: Difference worthy of its name -- Hair of the dog : Derrida's and Rousseau's good taste -- Sexual difference, animal difference : Derrida's sexy silkworm -- Part IV: It's our fault -- (...) The beaver's struggle with species-being : De Beauvoir and the praying mantis -- Answering the call of nature : Lacan walking the dog -- Part V: Estranged kinship -- The abyss between humans and animals : Heidegger puts the bee in being -- Strange kinship : Merleau-Ponty's sensuous stickleback -- Stopping the anthropological machine : Agamben's tick-tocking tick -- Psychoanalysis and the science of kinship -- Psychoanalysis as animal by-product : Freud's zoophilia -- Animal abjects, maternal abjects : Kristeva's strays -- Conclusion: Sustainable ethics. (shrink)
In this culmination of a lifetime's study, Joseph Cropsey examines the crucial relationship between Plato's conception of the nature of the universe and his moral and political thought. Cropsey interprets seven of Plato's dialogues-- Theaetetus , Euthyphro , Sophist , Statesman , Apology , Crito , and Phaedo --in light of their dramatic consecutiveness and thus as a conceptual and dramatic whole. The cosmos depicted by Plato in these dialogues, Cropsey argues, is often unreasonable, and populated by human (...) class='Hi'>beings unaided by gods and dealt with equivocally by nature. Masterfully leading the reader through the seven scenes of the drama, Cropsey shows how they are, to an astonishing degree, concerned with the resources available to help us survive in such a world. This is a world--and a Plato--quite at odds with most other portraits. Much more than a summary of Plato's thinking, this book is an eloquent, sometimes amusing, often moving guide to the paradoxes and insights of Plato's philosophy. (shrink)
As a pair of important categories in traditional Chinese culture, “ ming 命 (destiny or decrees)” and “ tian ming 天命 (heavenly ordinances)” mainly refer to the constraints placed on humanbeings. Both originated from “ ling 令 (decrees),” which evolved from “ wang ling 王令 (royal decrees)” into “ tian ling 天令 (heavenly decrees),” and then became “ ming ” from a throne because of the decisive role of “heavenly decrees” over a throne. “ Ming ” and (...) “ tian ming ” have different definitions: “ Ming ” represented the limits Heaven placed on the natural lives of humanbeings and was an objective force that men could not direct, but was embodied in humanbeings as their “destiny”; “ Tian ming ” reflected the moral ideals of humanbeings in their self-identification; It originated in man but had to be verified by Heaven, and it was therefore the true ordinance that Heaven placed on humanbeings. “ Ming ” and “ tian ming ” are two perspectives on the traditional relationship between Heaven and humanbeings, and at the same time Confucians and Daoists placed different emphasis on them. (shrink)
As a pair of important categories in traditional Chinese culture, "ming 命 (destiny or decrees)" and "tian ming 天命 (heavenly ordinances)" mainly refer to the constraints placed on humanbeings. Both originated from "ling 令 (decrees)," which evolved from "wang ling 王令 (royal decrees)" into "tian ling 天令 (heavenly decrees)," and then became "ming" from a throne because of the decisive role of "heavenly decrees" over a throne. "Ming" and "tian ming" have different definitions: "Ming" represented the limits (...) Heaven placed on the natural lives of humanbeings and was an objective force that men could not direct, but was embodied in humanbeings as their "destiny"; "Tian ming" reflected the moral ideals of humanbeings in their self-identification; It originated in man but had to be verified by Heaven, and it was therefore the true ordinance that Heaven placed on humanbeings. "Ming" and "tian ming" are two perspectives on the traditional relationship between Heaven and humanbeings, and at the same time Confucians and Daoists placed different emphasis on them. /// 摘要 "命" 与 "天命" 是传统文化中的-对重要范畴，主要指人所受到的限制。 二者都起源 "令", 由 "王令" "而" 天令又因 "天令" 对王权的决定作用从 而成为王权之 "命" 。"命" 与 "天命" 有不同规定 "命" 体现着天对人之自然 生命的限制，表现的是人所无法驾驭的客观力量，但落实于人并表现为人之 "命" ; "天命" 体现的则是人之自我确认的道德理想，其虽然出于人却又必须证之于天， 所以是天之真正的命于人者。命与天命，既体现了传统天人关系的双重视角，同时 也是儒道两家不同探索侧重的一个基本分野。. (shrink)
Niklas Luhmann is widely recognized as one of the most original thinkers in the social sciences today. This major new work further develops the theories of the author by offering a challenging analysis of the relationship between society and the environment. Luhmann extends the concept of "ecology" to refer to any analysis that looks at connections between social systems and the surrounding environment. He traces the development of the notion of "environment" from the medieval idea--which encompasses both human and (...) natural systems--to our modern definition, which separates social systems from the external environment. In Luhmann's thought, humanbeings form part of the environment, while social systems consist only of communications. Utilizing this distinctive theoretical perspective, Luhmann presents a comprehensive catalog of society's reactions to environmental problems. He investigates the spheres of the economy, law, science, politics, religion, and education to show how these areas relate to environmental issues. Ecological Communication is an important work that critically examines claims central to our society--claims to modernity and rationality. It will be of great importance to scholars and students in sociology, political science, philosophy, anthropology, and law. (shrink)
Far-reaching promises made by nanotechnology have raised the question of whether we are on the way to understanding humanbeings more and more as belonging to the realm of technology. In this paper, an increasing need to understand the technological re-conceptualization of humanbeings is diagnosed whenever increasingly “technical” interpretations of humans as mechanical entities are disseminated. And this can be observed at present in the framework of nanobiotechnology, a foremost “technical” self-description where a technical language (...) is adopted. The arena in which the decision is made on increasing the use of technological understanding to define mankind will not be found in the surgery room in which one works with implants, nor the NBIC-laboratory, in which “nerve plugs” are supposed to be developed. The thesis of this paper is that such arena is rather related to the manner in which concepts of humanity are associated with it, how we think and talk about ourselves, and which consequences we draw out of it. (shrink)
Prologue : on the freedom of non-identity -- Otherwise than human (toward sovereignty) -- What is human recognition? (on zones of indistinction) -- Desubjectivation (Michel Foucault's aesthetics of experience) -- Becoming animal (some simple ways) -- Derrida's cat (who am I?).
This new volume of philosophical papers by Bernard Williams is divided into three sections: the first Action, Freedom, Responsibility, the second Philosophy, Evolution and the Human Sciences; in which appears the essay which gives the collection its title; and the third Ethics, which contains essays closely related to his 1983 book Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. Like the two earlier volumes of Williams's papers published by Cambridge University Press, Problems of the Self and Moral Luck, this (...) volume will be welcomed by all readers with a serious interest in philosophy. It is published alongside a volume of essays on Williams's work, World, Mind, and Ethics: Essays on the Ethical Philosophy of Bernard Williams, edited by J. E. J. Altham and Ross Harrison, which provides a reappraisal of his work by other distinguished thinkers in the field. (shrink)
Censorship in the area of public health has become increasingly important in many parts of the world for a number of reasons. Groups with vested interest in public health policy are motivated to censor material. As governments, corporations, and organizations champion competing visions of public health issues, the more incentive there may be to censor. This is true in a number of circumstances: curtailing access to information regarding the health and welfare of soldiers in the Kuwait and Iraq wars, poor (...) health conditions in Aboriginal communities, downplaying epidemics to bolster economies, and so forth. This paper will look at the use of a computer worm (the benevolent health worm) to disseminate vital information in␣situations where public health is threatened by government censorship and where there is great risk for those who ‹speak out’. The discussion of the benevolent health worm is focused on the Peoples’ Republic of China (China) drawing on three public health crises: HIV/AIDS, SARS and Avian Influenza. Ethical issues are examined first in a general fashion and then in a specific manner which uses the duty-based moral philosophy of Confucianism and a Western human rights-based analysis. Technical, political and legal issues will also be examined to the extent that they better inform the ethical debate. (shrink)
Nietzsche called The Gay Science "the most personal of all my books." It was here that he first proclaimed the death of God -- to which a large part of the book is devoted -- and his doctrine of the eternal recurrence. Walter Kaufmann's commentary, with its many quotations from previously untranslated letters, brings to life Nietzsche as a human being and illuminates his philosophy. The book contains some of Nietzsche's most sustained discussions of art and morality, knowledge (...) and truth, the intellectual conscience and the origin of logic. Most of the book was written just before Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the last part five years later, after Beyond Good and Evil. We encounter Zarathustra in these pages as well as many of Nietzsche's most interesting philosophical ideas and the largest collection of his own poetry that he himself ever published. Walter Kaufmann's English versions of Nietzsche represent one of the major translation enterprises of our time. He is the first philosopher to have translated Nietzsche's major works, and never before has a single translator given us so much of Nietzsche. (shrink)
John Dupre warns that our understanding of human nature is being distorted by two faulty and harmful forms of pseudo-scientific thinking. Not just in the academic world but in everyday life, we find one set of experts who seek to explain the ends at which humans aim in terms of evolutionary theory, while the other set uses economic models to give rules of how we act to achieve those ends. Dupre demonstrates that these theorists' explanations do not work and (...) that, if taken seriously, their theories tend to have dangerous social and political consequences. For these reasons, it is important to resist scientism: an exaggerated conception of what science can be expected to do for us. Dupre restores sanity to the study of human nature by pointing the way to a proper understanding of humans in the societies that are our natural and necessary environments. Anyone interested in science and human life will enjoy this book--unless they are its targets. (shrink)
- How can anthropology improve our understanding of the interrelationship between nature and culture? - What can anthropology contribute to practical debates which depend on particular definitions of nature, such as that concerning sustainable development? Humankind has evolved over several million years by living in and utilizing 'nature' and by assimilating it into 'culture'. Indeed, the technological and cultural advancement of the species has been widely acknowledged to rest upon human domination and control of nature. Yet, by the 1960s, (...) the idea of culture in confrontation with nature was being challenged by science, philosophy and the environmental movement. Anthropology is increasingly concerned with such issues as they become more urgent for humankind as a whole. This important book reviews the current state of the concepts of 'nature' we use, both as scientific devices and ideological constructs, and is organised around three themes: - nature as a cultural construction; - the cultural management of the environment; and - relations between plants, animals and humans. (shrink)
In Moral Animals, Catherine Wilson develops a theory of morality based on two fundamental premises: first that moral progress implies the evolution of moral ideals involving restraint and sacrifice; second that humanbeings are outfitted by nature with selfish motivations, intentions, and ambitions that place constraints on what morality can demand of them. Normative claims, she goes on to show, can be understood as projective hypotheses concerning the conduct of realistically-described nonideal agents in preferred fictional worlds. Such claims (...) differ from empirical hypotheses, insofar as they cannot be verified by observation and experiment. Yet many, though not all, moral claims are susceptible of confirmation to the extent that they command the agreement of well-informed inquirers. With this foundation in place, Wilson turns to a defense of egalitarianism intended to address the objection that the importance of our non-moral projects, our natural acquisitiveness and partiality, and our meritocratic commitments render social equality a mere abstract ideal. Employing the basic notion of a symmetrical division of the co-operative surplus, she argues that social justice with respect to global disparities in well-being, and in the condition of women relative to men, depends on the relinquishment of natural and acquired advantage that is central to the concept of morality. (shrink)
Throughout the medieval and modern periods, in various sacred and secular guises, the unification of all forms of knowledge under the rubric of ‘science’ has been taken as the prerogative of humanity as a species. However, as our sense of species privilege has been called increasingly into question, so too has the very salience of ‘humanity’ and ‘science’ as general categories, let alone ones that might bear some essential relationship to each other. After showing how the ascendant Stanford School in (...) the philosophy of science has contributed to this joint demystification of ‘humanity’ and ‘science’, I proceed on a more positive note to a conceptual framework for making sense of science as the art of being human. My understanding of ‘science’ is indebted to the red thread that runs from Christian theology through the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment to the Humboldtian revival of the university as the site for the synthesis of knowledge as the culmination of self-development. Especially salient to this idea is science‘s epistemic capacity to manage modality (i.e. to determine the conditions under which possibilities can be actualised) and its political capacity to organize humanity into projects of universal concern. However, the challenge facing such an ideal in the twentyfirst century is that the predicate ‘human’ may be projected in three quite distinct ways, governed by what I call ‘ecological’, ‘biomedical’ and ‘cybernetic’ interests. Which one of these future humanities would claim today’s humans as proper ancestors and could these futures co-habit the same world thus become two important questions that general philosophy of science will need to address in the coming years. (shrink)
This history of human origin studies covers a wide range of disciplines. This important new study analyses a number of key episodes from palaeolithic archaeology, palaeoanthropology, primatology and evolutionary theory in terms of various ideas on how one should go about such reconstructions and what, if any, the uses of such historiographical exercises can be for current research in these disciplines. Their carefully argued point is that studying the history of palaeoanthropological thinking about the past can enhance the quality (...) of current research on human origins. The main issues in the present volume are the uses of disciplinary history in terms of present-day research concerns, the relative weight of cultural and other 'external' contexts, and continuity and change in theoretical perspectives. The book's overall approach is an epistemological one. It does not, in other words, primarily address anthropological data as such, but our ways of handling such data in terms of our most fundamental, but usually quite implicit theoretical presuppositions. (shrink)
A radical approach to the environment which argues that by harnessing the power of science for human benefit, we can have a healthier planet As a prizewinning theoretical physicist and an outspoken advocate for scientific literacy, James Trefil has long been the public's guide to a better understanding of the world. In this provocative book, Trefil looks squarely at our environmental future and finds-contrary to popular wisdom-reason to celebrate. For too long, Trefil argues, humans have treated nature as something (...) separate from themselves-pristine wilderness to be saved or material resources to be exploited. What we need instead is a scientific approach to the environment that embraces the human transformation of nature for our benefit. In Human Nature , Trefil exposes the benefits of genetically modified species, uncovers vital facts about droughts and global warming, and points to examples of environmental management where catering to humans reaps greater rewards than sheltering other species. By taking advantage of explosive advances in the sciences, we can fruitfully manage the planet, if we rise to the challenge. Like Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and Paul Ehrlich's Population Bomb, Human Nature promises to fundamentally alter the way we perceive our relationship to the Earth-but with optimism rather than alarm. (shrink)
The essay combines a specific and a more general theme. In attacking ‘the doctrine of the sanctity of human life’ Singer takes himself thereby to be opposing the conviction that human life has special value. I argue that this conviction goes deep in our lives in many ways that do not depend on what Singer identifies as central to that ‘doctrine’, and that his attack therefore misses its main target. I argue more generally that Singer’s own moral (...) class='Hi'>philosophy affords only an impoverished and distorted sense of the value of human life and humanbeings. In purporting to dig below the supposedly illusion–ridden surface of our thinking about value, Singer in fact often leads us away from the robust terrain of our lived experience into rhetorical, and sometimes brutal, fantasy. (shrink)
The German philosopher Robert Spaemann provides an important contribution to a number of contemporary debates in philosophy and theology, opening up possibilities for conversation between these disciplines. He engages in a dialogue with classical and contemporary positions and often formulates important and original insights which lie beyond common alternatives. In this study Holger Zaborowski provides an analysis of the most important features of Spaemann's philosophy and shows the unity of his thought. The question 'Who is a person?' is (...) of increasing significance: Are all humanbeings persons? Are there animals that can be considered persons? What does it mean to speak of personal identity and of the dignity of the person? Spaemann provides an answer to these questions: Every human being, he argues, is a person and, therefore, 'has' his nature in freedom. In order to understand the person, Spaemann explains, we have to think about the relation between nature and freedom and avoid the reductive accounts of this relation prevalent in important strands of modern thought. Spaemann develops a challenging critique of modernity, incorporating analysis of modern anti-modernisms and showing that these are also subject to a dialectical development, perpetuating the problematic shortcomings of many features of modern reasoning. If we do not want to abolish ourselves as persons, Spaemann reasons, we need to find a way of understanding ourselves that evades the dialectic of modernity. Thus, he reminds his readers of 'self-evident' knowledge: insights that we have once already known, but tend to forget. (shrink)
Images of the human is the collective effort of thirteen philosophy professors to address the questions humanbeings have been asking for centuries. The book presents selections from the major works of eighteen of the best-known philosophers from ancient to modern times. Each chapter focuses on the writings of a different philosopher - from Plato to Nietzsche, Augustine to Sartre - and includes an introduction and critical comentary.
This book presents a study of the nature and conditions of historical knowledge, conducted through a study of the relevant theories of Hume, Hegel and Vico. It is usually thought that in order to establish historical facts, we have to have a theory of human nature to support our arguments. Hume, Hegel and Vico all subscribed to this view, and are therefore discussed in detail. Professor Pompa goes on to argue that there is in fact no way of discovering (...) anything about human nature except through historical investigation. It is necessary therefore to find a different way of thinking about how we discover historical facts. This is done in the last chapter where, in opposition to almost all present views, it is argued that we must have a framework of inherited knowledge before we can believe in anything which results from historical enquiry. (shrink)
In this unique and mind-expanding book, addressed to general readers as well as students of philosophy, Creel Froman establishes a fascinatingly new way of looking at human behavior. His principal themes are: What does life mean? How do we arrive at answers to such a question? What is the answer? In a skillful blending of fiction and scholarship, using dialogue, prose, and poetry, he makes his points regarding the human condition.
When the human understanding of beasts in the past is studied, what are revealed is not only the foundations of our own perception of animals, but humans contemplating their own status. This book argues that what is revealed in a wide range of writing from the early modern period is a recurring attempt to separate the human from the beast. Looking at the representation of the animal in the law, religious writings, literary representation, science and political ideas, what (...) emerges is a sense of the fragility of humanity, a sense of a species which always requires an external addition--property, civilization, education--to be fully human. (shrink)
What is, what was the human? This book argues that the making of the human as it is now understood implies a renogotiation of the relationship between the self and the world. The development of Renaissance technologies of difference such as mapping, colonialism and anatomy paradoxically also illuminated the similarities between human and non-human. This collection considers the borders between humans and their imagined others: animals, women, native subjects, machines. It examines border creatures (hermaphrodites, wildmen, and (...) cyborgs) and border practices (science, surveying, and pornography). (shrink)