What does it mean to lead a moral life?In her first extended study of moral philosophy, Judith Butler offers a provocative outline for a new ethical practice—one responsive to the need for critical autonomy and grounded in a new sense of the human subject.Butler takes as her starting point one’s ability to answer the questions “What have I done?” and “What ought I to do?” She shows that these question can be answered only by asking a prior question, (...) “Who is this ‘I’ who is under an obligation to give an account of itself and to act in certain ways?” Because I find that I cannot give an account of myself without accounting for the social conditions under which I emerge, ethical reflection requires a turn to social theory.In three powerfully crafted and lucidly written chapters, Butler demonstrates how difficult it is to give an account of oneself, and how this lack of self-transparency and narratibility is crucial to an ethical understanding of the human. In brilliant dialogue with Adorno, Levinas, Foucault, and other thinkers, she eloquently argues the limits, possibilities, and dangers of contemporary ethical thought.Butler offers a critique of the moral self, arguing that the transparent, rational, and continuous ethical subject is an impossible construct that seeks to deny the specificity of what it is to be human. We can know ourselves only incompletely, and only in relation to a broader social world that has always preceded us and already shaped us in ways we cannot grasp. If inevitably we are partially opaque to ourselves, how can giving an account of ourselves define the ethical act? And doesn’t an ethical system that holds us impossibly accountable for full self-knowledge and self-consistency inflict a kind of psychic violence, leading to a culture of self-beratement and cruelty? How does the turn to social theory offer us a chance to understand the specifically social character of our own unknowingness about ourselves?In this invaluable book, by recasting ethics as a project in which being ethical means becoming critical of norms under which we are asked to act, but which we can never fully choose, Butler illuminates what it means for us as “fallible creatures” to create and share an ethics of vulnerability, humility, and ethical responsiveness. Judtith Butler is the Maxine Elliot Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. The most recent of her books are Precarious Life: The Power of Mourning and Violence and Undoing Gender. (shrink)
Revisiting Edward Said's late proposals for a one-state solution, Butler has come to a startling suggestion: Jewish ethics not only demand a critique of Zionism, but must transcend its exclusive Jewishness in order to realize the ethical ...
Is a tower block, your unmade bed, your lavatory basin, or the bicycle chained to the gate next door a work of art? Why should a novel have a beginning, a middle, and an end; or even a story? Whether we recognise it or not, virtually every aspect of our life today has been influenced in part by the aesthetic legacy of Modernism. -/- In this Very Short Introduction Christopher Butler examines how and why Modernism began, explaining what it (...) is and showing how it has gradually informed all aspects of 20th and 21st century life. -/- Butler considers several aspects of modernism including some modernist works; movements and notions of the avant garde; and the idea of 'progress' in art. Butler looks at modernist ideas of the self, subjectivity, irrationalism, people and machines, and political definitions of modernism as a whole. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that John Dewey developed a philosophy of law that follows directly from his conception of democracy. Indeed, under Dewey’s theory an understanding of law can only follow from an accurate understanding of the social and political context within which it functions. This has important implications for the form law takes within democ- ratic society. The paper will explore these implications through a comparison of Dewey’s claims with those of Richard Posner and Ronald Dworkin; two other (...) theorists that inti- mately link law and democracy. After outlining their theories I will use the recent United States Supreme Court case, Citizens United, to discuss how practitioners of the three theo- ries would decide a case that implicates both the rule of law and democratic procedures. In order to do this judges following each theory, “Dews, Dworks and Poses,” are imagined. Ul- timately this paper will show that drastically different results to Citizens United would fol- low. The (tentative) conclusion of the paper is that Dewey’s conception of the relationship between democracy and law is a superior option to either that of Dworkin or Posner. (shrink)
Externalism holds, and internalism denies, that the individuation of many of an individual's mental states (e.g., thoughts about the physical world) depends necessarily on relations that individual bears to the physical and/or social environment. Many philosophers, externalists and internalists alike, believe that introspection yields knowledge of the contents of our thoughts that is direct and authoritative. It is not obvious, however, that the metaphysical claims of externalism are compatible with this epistemological thesis. Some (e.g., Burge, 1988; Falvey and Owens (F&O), (...) 1994) have sought to dispel the worry that there is a conflict, though they admit that if such a conflict exists, it spells trouble for externalism (see, e.g., F&O, 1994, p. 108). Boghossian has argued that there is indeed a conflict between externalism and introspective knowledge of content. Surprisingly, however, he also argues that there is a conflict between internalism and introspective knowledge of content. I will defend Boghossian's claim that there is a conflict between externalism and knowledge of content, but criticize his claim that there is a conflict between internalism and knowledge of content. (shrink)
How do the arts give us pleasure? Covering a very wide range of artistic works, from Auden to David Lynch, Rembrandt to Edward Weston, and Richard Strauss to Keith Jarrett, Pleasure and the Arts offers us an explanation of our enjoyable emotional engagements with literature, music, and painting. The arts direct us to intimate and particularized relationships, with the people represented in the works, or with those we imagine produced them. When we listen to music, look at a purely abstract (...) painting, or drink a glass of wine, can we enjoy the experience without verbalizing our response? Do our interpretative assumptions, our awareness of technique, and our attitudes to fantasy, get in the way of our appreciation of art, or enhance it? Examining these questions and more, we discover how curiosity drives us to enjoy narratives, ordinary jokes, metaphors, and modernist epiphanies, and how narrative in all the arts can order and provoke intense enjoyment. Pleasurable in its own right, Pleasure and the Arts presents a sparkling explanation of the enduring interest of artistic expression. (shrink)
In this paper, I aim to show that the arguments offered and conclusions at which Rawls aims in his book, The Law of Peoples, are telling as to the intellectual legitimacy of his larger theoretical project. To show this I first investigate how (1) non-liberal peoples fit within the limitations Rawls describes in The Law of Peoples and (2) how liberal peoples would react to such rules. I argue from the answers to these questions to the further conclusion that by (...) spreading the principles and tools of A Theory of Justice and Political Liberalism to the international realm some assumptions implicit in the earlier works come out more clearly. The final section of the paper analyzes some of the implications of the newly exposed assumptions for Rawls's project of liberal justice. (shrink)
The role of content in computational accounts of cognition is a matter of some controversy. An early prominent view held that the explanatory relevance of content consists in its supervenience on the the formal properties of computational states (see, e.g., Fodor 1980). For reasons that derive from the familiar Twin Earth thought experiments, it is usually thought that if content is to supervene on formal properties, it must be narrow; that is, it must not be the sort of content that (...) determines reference and truth-conditions. An interesting alternative to this view has recently been proposed by Egan (1995). According to Egan, the explanatory role of content is such that contents must in general be broad to be explanatorily relevant. But Egan’s view involves a non-realist interpretation of content assignments. I will argue here that this non-realism about contents is undermotivated. A realist variation on her view of the explanatory role of content, however, would survive this criticism. This realist variation, I suggest, shares with the views of other commentators on Marr’s theory (e.g., Burge 1986; Shapiro 1993; forthcoming) certain commitments concerning the supervenience base of visual contents and processes. I will argue, however, that these commitments beg important questions regarding the individuation of cognitive states and processes. I conclude, contrary to Burge and Shapiro, that Marr’s theory does not favor anti-individualism. (shrink)
In this article I investigate the implications of antirealism, as characterized by Richard Rorty, for First Amendment jurisprudence under the United States Constitution. It is hoped that the implications, while played out in the context of a specific tradition, will have more universal application. In Section 1, Rortys pragmatic antirealism is briefly outlined. In Section 2, some effects of the elimination of the concept of truth for First Amendment jurisprudence are investigated. Section 3 argues for the conclusion that given the (...) antirealist stance, the Supreme Courts usage of the true/ false fact distinction is actually an uncritical allowance of viewpoint-based discrimination into speech protection that has potentially far-reaching and restrictive results for important speech. Finally, in Section 4 Rortys antirealism is combined with various traditional models of First Amendment analysis to see how it would function. The conclusions aimed at are twofold. First, that Rortian antirealism is compatible with the traditional models underlying First Amendment theory. Second, that a realization that truth is the result of, in Rortys words, intra-mundane discourse leads to an argument for different and potentially stronger and more farreaching protections to speech. (shrink)
These essays lay the groundwork for a practice of philosophical inquiry adequate to polytheistic or "Pagan" religious traditions, including in particular the non-reductive hermeneutics of myth and the theory of the polycentric divine manifold. Includes the previously published articles "The Theological Interpretation of Myth" and "Polycentric Polytheism and the Philosophy of Religion", as well as the previously unpublished essays "Neoplatonism and Polytheism" and "A Theological Exegesis of the Iliad, Book One".
In discussing methodological and ethical codes for working with children there is a danger that young people can become homogenised as a social category. In this paper we examine the way in which common methodological and ethical dilemmas, such as accessing potential interviewees or gaining consent, can become more complex and significant when the research involves work with a 'vulnerable' group of children or youth. Here, we draw on our own experience of working with self-identified lesbian and gay young people, (...) to demonstrate that research with sexual minorities is particularly sensitive because of the specific laws which frame (or until recently have framed) homosexuality and because of the way in which children are popularly constructed as asexual or innocent. In doing so we also highlight the importance of finding a safe space where interviews can be conducted in privacy and confidence. (shrink)
The author considers the way in which psychic life is generated by the social operation of power, and how that social operation of power is concealed and fortified by the psyche that it produces. Power is no longer understood to be 'internalized' by an existing subject, but the subject is spawned as an ambivalent effect of power, one that is staged through the operation of conscience. To claim that power fabricates the psyche is also to claim that there is a (...) fictional and fabricated quality to the psyche. The figure of a psyche that 'turns against itself' is crucial to this study, and offers an alternative to describing power as 'internalized'. Although most readers of Foucault eschew psychoanalytic theory, and most thinkers of the psyche eschew Foucault, the author seeks to theorize this ambivalent relation between the social and the psychic as one of the most dynamic and difficult effects of power. (shrink)
The comparison drawn by the Neoplatonist Olympiodorus between the Stoic doctrine of the reciprocal implication of the virtues and the Neoplatonic doctrine of the presence of all the gods in each helps to elucidate the latter. In particular, the idea of primary and secondary “perspectives” in each virtue, when applied to Neoplatonic theology, can clarify certain theoretical statements made by Proclus in his Cratylus commentary concerning specific patterns of inherence of deities in one another. More broadly, the “polycentric” nature of (...) Neoplatonic theology provides a theoretical articulation for henotheistic practices within polytheism without invoking evolutionist notions of “monotheistic tendencies.” The Neoplatonic distinction between the modes of unity exhibited by divine individuals (“henads”) and ontic units (“monads”), which is integral to the polycentric theology, also provides a theoretical basis for the non reductive crosscultural comparison between deities. The polycentric theology thus offers a promising foundation for a polytheistic philosophy of religion. (shrink)
Connectionism provides hope for unifying work in neuroscience, computer science, and cognitive psychology. This promise has met with some resistance from Classical Computionalists, which may have inspired Connectionists to retaliate with bold, inflationary claims on behalf of Connectionist models. This paper demonstrates, by examining three intimately connected issues, that these inflationary claims made on behalf of Connectionism are wrong. This should not be construed as an attack on Connectionism, however, since the inflated claims made on its behalf have the look (...) of cures for which there are no ailments. There is nothing wrong with Connectionism for its failure to solve illusory problems. (shrink)
Julia Kristeva attempts to expose the limits of Lacan's theory of language by revealing the semiotic dimension of language that it excludes. She argues that the semiotic potential of language is subversive, and describes the semiotic as a poeticmaternal linguistic practice that disrupts the symbolic, understood as culturally intelligible rule-governed speech. In the course of arguing that the semiotic contests the universality of the Symbolic, Kristeva makes several theoretical moves which end up consolidating the power of the Symbolic and (...) paternal authority generally. She defends a maternal instinct as a pre-discursive biological necessity, thereby naturalizing a specific cultural configuration of maternity. In her use of psychoanalytic theory, she ends up claiming the cultural unintelligibility of lesbianism. Her distinction between the semiotic and the Symbolic operates to foreclose a cultural investigation into the genesis of precisely those feminine principles for which she claims a pre-discursive, naturalistic ontology. Although she claims that the maternal aspects of language are repressed in Symbolic speech and provide a critical possibility of displacing the hegemony of the paternal/symbolic, her very descriptions of the maternal appear to accept rather than contest the inevitable hegemony of the Symbolic. In conclusion, this essay offers a genealogical critique of the maternal discourse in Kristeva and suggests that recourse to the maternal does not constitute a subversive strategy as Kristeva appears to assume. (shrink)
This article defends linguistic descent in contrast to the possibility of linguistic ascent or the formal mode in metaphysics. We can go both ways, but metaphysics metaphysically defined presupposes metaphysics conceptualstically defined, which presupposes metaphysicas ontologially defined. Predicates implie abstract concepts (categories in metaphysics), and abstract oncepts presuppose the concrete qualities from which they are abstracted. A distinction is made between any quality and that which has the quality. This article contains a refutation of Kant on the ontological argument. Being, (...) conceived as instantiation, is a predicate once we posit universal properties instantiated by whatever is. The article, in the author's subequent work, leads to an explicit nominalism which asserts universals only as practical postulates of theoretical reason, i.e., logical discourse. Qualities are unique, not open to multiple instantiation. (shrink)
Bordo argues that the "theoretics of heterogeneity" taken too far prevents us from being able make generalizations or broadly conceptual statements about women. I argue that the political efficacy of feminism does not depend on the capacity to speak from the perspective of "women" and that the insistence on the heterogeneity of the category of women does not imply an opposition to abstraction but rather moves abstract thinking in a self-critical and democratizing direction.
Analyses of care work typically speak of three necessary roles of care: the care worker, the care recipient, and an economic provider who makes care materially possible. This model provides no place for addressing the difficult political questions care poses for liberal representative democracy. I propose to fill this space with a new caring role to connect the care unit to the political sphere, as the economic provider connects the care unit to the economic sphere. I call this role that (...) of the “care claimant.” The labor of claiming care consists in the development, expression, and advancement of the interests of the care unit. The argument for employing this fourth care role begins by comparing Nel Noddings's phenomenological care unit to Sara Ruddick's family-based analysis. It then moves to discuss the way Eva Kittay emphasizes the dependency of the charge and its political ramifications to illustrate the need for a care claimant. After distinguishing the care claimant from the other roles of care, I examine the power relationships in the care unit and the position of the care claimant in the public sphere. (shrink)
In part 1 of Enquiry 12, Hume presents a skeptical argument against belief in external existence. The argument involves a perceptual relativity argument that seems to conclude straightaway the double existence of objects and perceptions, where objects cause and resemble perceptions. In Treatise 1.4.2, Hume claimed that the belief in double existence arises from imaginative invention, not reasoning about perceptual relativity. I dissolve this tension by distinguishing the effects of natural instinct and showing that some ofthese effects supplement the Enquiry’s (...) perceptual relativity argument. The Enquiry’s skeptical argument thus reveals the fundamental involvement of natural instinct in any belief in external existence. (shrink)
In Treatise 1.4.2, David Hume seeks to explain how we come to believe in the external existence of bodies. He offers a complicated psychological account, where the imagination operates on the raw data of the senses to produce the ‘vulgar’ belief in the continued existence of the very things we sense. On behalf of philosophers, he presents a perceptual relativity argument that purports to show that the vulgar belief is false. I argue that scholars have failed to appreciate Hume's peculiar (...) formulation of the perceptual relativity argument and its relation to his psychological account of the vulgar belief. On my interpretation, in order to account for all the premises that Hume explicitly offers, the argument is best interpreted as beginning with a reductio that opposes the effects of the senses and the imagination in the vulgar belief. Thus Hume can be interpreted as identifying an ‘antinomy’ in the habits of the vulgar mind that produce belief in bodies. (shrink)
`The first and only book to explore, at once, the field of my work and its limits, with both the intimacy and distance required: doubling and shadowing. It gives me great pleasure to find something that, beyond commentary, sees what I see and at the same time what I am unable to see' - Jean Baudrillard Baudrillard is a controversial figure. His work tends to fascinate and infuriate readers in equal numbers. Yet there is no doubting his importance to the (...) key debates in culture and theory of the last ten years. A prolific author, readers sometimes find it difficult to tease out the consistencies in Baudrillard's arguments. This book seeks to redress the balance. It aims to go beyond his writings on consumer objects, the Gulf War and America, to identify the fundamental logic that underpins his writings. It does this through a series of close readings of his main texts, paying particular attention to the form and internal coherence of his arguments. The book contends that, just as Baudrillard himself grapples with the problems of how to criticize self-defining systems, so we cannot simply hold Baudrillard up against external standards but must seek to judge him on his own terms. Jean Baudrillard: A Defence of the Real will be an indispensable text for all those interested in social theory who want a general introduction to Baudrillard's work. (shrink)
This paper discusses the relation between cognitive and implementational levels of analysis. Chalmers (1990, 1993) argues that a connectionist implementation of a classical cognitive architecture possesses a compositional semantics, and therefore undercuts Fodor and Pylyshyn's (1988) argument that connectionist networks cannot possess a compositional semantics. I argue that Chalmers argument misconstrues the relation between cognitive and implementational levels of analysis. This paper clarifies the distinction, and shows that while Fodor and Pylyshyn's argument survives Chalmers' critique, it cannot be used to (...) establish the irrelevance of neurophysiological implementation to cognitive modeling; some aspects of Chater and Oaksford's (1990) response to Fodor and Pylyshyn, though not all, are therefore cogent. (shrink)
Owens (1993) argues that one cannot accept the anti-individualistic conclusions of arguments inspired by Twin Earth thought experiments and still maintain that folk psychological states causally explain behavior. Saidel (1994) has argued that Owens' argument illegitimately individuates the contents of folk psychological states widely and causal powers narrowly. He suggests that causal powers may well be wide, and that the conditions that militate in favor of wide content also militate in favor of wide causal powers; mutatis mutandis for narrow content (...) and narrow causal powers. I argue that these suggestions are in error, and hence that Saidel's criticism is ineffective. Owens' original point is therefore likely to stand. (shrink)
Lochner represents a crucial case in American constitutional law. An investigation of the decision highlights important philosophical aspects of the place of law in a democratic society. Analysis of contemporary stances on Lochner, the actual Lochner opinion (including the dissents by Harlan and Holmes) and how judges following the legal philosophies of John Dewey, Ronald Dworkin and Richard Posner (“Dews,” “Dworks,” and “Poses”) would have decided the case shows that Dewey’s theory of law and democracy emerges as the most attractive (...) alternative. (shrink)
This paper presents arguments against two crucial elements of recent versions of the Two-Worlds interpretation of Plato. I argue first that in addition to knowledge of the forms, Plato allows beliefs about them as well. Then I argue that Plato sees knowledge as a state in which the subject is conscious of information about the forms. Thus, the infallibility of knowledge must be understood in a way that is consistent with its being informational. Finally, I argue that my conclusions about (...) knowledge do not preclude the possibility that cognition of forms has a direct, nonrepresentational aspect. (shrink)
The “exchange paradox”—also referred to in the literature by a variety of other names, notably the “two-envelopes problem”—is notoriously difficult, and experts are not all agreed as to its resolution. Some of the various expressions of the problem are open to more than one interpretation; some are stated in such a way that assumptions are required in order to fill in missing information that is essential to any resolution. In three experiments several versions of the problem were used, in each (...) of which the information given was sufficient to determine an optimal choice strategy when it exists or to justify indifference regarding keeping or trading when such a strategy does not exist. College students who were presented with the various versions of the problem tended to base their choices on simple heuristics and to give little evidence of understanding the probabilistic implications of the differences in the problem statements. (shrink)
Aristotle is sometimes committed to a pattern of inference that moves from complexity of functioning to complexity in the entity’s metaphysical structure. This article argues that Aristotle rejects this inference in the case of the basic essence, the ultimate differentia that determines the kind to which the entity belongs. Specifically, the functional difference between active and passive reasoning in humans is not matched in the structure of the basic human essence. The basic essence is an immediate unity in the strong (...) sense that it is wholly without structural parts. Complex rational functioning emerges from a metaphysically simple basic essence.Aristote adopte parfois un schèma d’inference passant de la complexité du fonctionnement d’une entité à celle de sa structure métaphysique. Cet article soutient qu’Aristote rejette cette inférence dans le cas des essences élémentaires, qui constituent l’ultime différence permettant de déterminer le genre auquel l’entité appartient. Plus précisément, la différence fonctionnelle entre les raisonnements actif et passif chez l’humain n’est pas réfléchie dans la structure de son essence élémentaire. L’essence élémentaire est une unité immédiate au sens fort, ce qui veut dire qu’elle est entièrement dépourvue de parties qui en composeraient la structure. Le fonctionnement rationnel complexe provient d’une essence élémentaire qui est métaphysiquement simple. (shrink)
The paper is an examination of the ways and extent to which neuroscience places constraints on cognitive science. In Part I, I clarify the issue, as well as the notion of levels in cognitive inquiry. I then present and address, in Part II, two arguments designed to show that facts from neuroscience are at a level too low to constrain cognitive theory in any important sense. I argue, to the contrary, that there are several respects in which facts from neurophysiology (...) will constrain cognitive theory. Part III then turns to an examination of Connectionism and Classical Cognitivism to determine which, if either, is in a better position to accomodate neural constraints in the ways suggested in Part II. (shrink)
This paper presents a new take on how argument dependencies in natural language are established and constrained. The paper starts with a rather standard view that (quantificational) argument dependencies are operator-variable dependencies. The interesting twist the paper offers is to eliminate the need for syntax that serves to enforce what the operator-variable dependencies are. Instead the role of ensuring grammatical and generally unambiguous forms is taken up by semantics imposing what are dependency requirements for any interpretation to go through at (...) evaluation time. With this viewpoint there emerges an essential need for localities as the hiding of (embedded) expression material, together with a (limited) form of garbage collection to release grammatical resources used in the current locality for reuse in subsequent localities. (shrink)
This paper argues that a combination of increasing inequality, hypocrisy, population growth and adverse global environmental change imperils our civilisation. Selected examples of existing inequality and the immoral treatment of human beings are provided from countries of the Asia Pacific. There is also limited discussion of the global eco-social crisis, stressing the links between environmental scarcity and the human responses of resentment, conflict, terrorism and ill-governance. The essay contends that just as the lives of unborn humans similar to us are (...) of interest and value to bio-ethicists, so too should be the lives and descendants of people who are unlike us, even if such people are perceived to be substantially different to ourselves in terms of status, culture and spending power. It is argued that it is in the interests of ourselves, society, and global civilisation that the lives of such people are considered and where possible improved in order to foster the “sustainability transition” needed to secure our collective future. The essay concludes with a discussion of an important element for securing our future: the development and implementation of alternative economic systems which will provide more accurate indicators of global progress. (shrink)
This article seeks in the Platonic philosophers of late antiquity insights applicable to a new discipline, the philosophy of Pagan religion. An impor¬tant element of any such discipline would be a method of mythological hermeneutics that could be applied cross-culturally. The article draws par¬ticular elements of this method from Sallust and Olympiodorus. Sallust’s five modes of the interpretation of myth (theological, physical, psychical, material and mixed) are discussed, with one of them, the theological, singled out for its applicability to all (...) myths and because it interprets myth in reference exclusively to the nature of the Gods and their relationship to a model of the cosmos in its totality. The other modes of interpretation, while useful in particular contexts, are not uniformly applicable to all myths, interpret the myths as concerning things other than the Gods themselves, and interpret the myths with reference to particular sectors of the cosmos. Accordingly, it is from Sallust’s theological mode of interpre¬tation that the new method draws its inspiration. From Olympiodorus the method derives strategies for interpreting basic narrative attributes that myths share with all stories. Thus temporal sequence is interpreted as an ascent, from our perspective, from less perfect to more perfect manifestations of the powers of the Gods. Passivity, conflict, and transitive relations in general between the Gods are interpreted as expressing attributes of the cosmos to the constitution of which the Gods dedicate their energies, rather than as placing constraint upon the Gods themselves. The article concludes with a series of broad principles meant to guide the new method. (shrink)
Through an analysis of the US Supreme Court's case Heller this paper argues that legal process can be pragmatically reconceptualized so as to create information necessary to decide complex social issues. This is in contrast to other more standard conceptions of law as more emphasizing what information ought to be excluded.
This paper develops a semantics with control over scope relations using Vermeulen’s stack valued assignments as information states. This makes available a limited form of scope reuse and name switching. The goal is to have a general system that fixes available scoping effects to those that are characteristic of natural language. The resulting system is called Scope Control Theory, since it provides a theory about what scope has to be like in natural language. The theory is shown to replicate a (...) wide range of grammatical dependencies, including options for, and constraints on, ‘donkey’, ‘binding’, ‘movement’, ‘Control’ and ‘scope marking’ dependencies. (shrink)
Popular images of rights almost always emphasize their protective qualities. But who is really protected? In this paper it is argued that contemporary rights talk, because of faulty underlying assumptions, systematically favors prejudice and big property interests. Further, once the mistaken assumptions are surrendered, and it is realized that all rights are affirmative, a less systematically misleading debate can be created within the realm of rights discourse.
Although Colman's criticisms of orthodox game theory are convincing, his assessment of progress toward construction of an alternative is unnecessarily restrictive and pessimistic. He omits an important multidisciplinary literature grounded in human evolutionary biology, in particular the existence and function of social emotions experienced when facing some strategic choices. I end with an alternative suggestion for modifying orthodox game theory.
This article vindicates human rights, not as natural rights holding wherever human beings are, but as reducible to one historically constructed right to freedom of thought and its universal modes. Universal morality is elicited from international human rights law. To be moral is first to help engender everywhere either mere inner recognition of the validity of rights or mere outer compliance with their requirements; and to engender finally inner recognition expressed in a duty of outer observance. Human rights ethics replaces (...) the rights consciousness common in the West with a duty consciousness. This universal rational morality supersedes utilitarianism, Kantianism, and other rational theories. Yet moralities making no rational claim on all (e.g., Christian, Buddhist) may flourish within human rights ethics as the universal ethical minimum. (shrink)