An interpretation of John Rawls justice as fairness as a deliberative critical argumentative strategy for evaluating existing institutions is offered and its plausibility is discussed. I argue that justice as fairness aims at synthesizing the moral values claimed by existing social institutions into a coherent model of a well-ordered society in order to demand that these institutions stand up to the values that they promise. Understood in such a way, justice as fairness provides a set of idealizing mirrors through which (...) power dynamics in society can be viewed but does not function as a model for an ideal society. Key Words: distributive justice immanent criticism justice as fairness political liberalism public reason John Rawls reflective equilibrium. (shrink)
A number of scholars have discussed the possible affinities between Levinas and the kabbalah. In this essay, I explore the nexus between eros, secrecy, modesty, and the feminine in the thought of Levinas compared to a similar complex of ideas elicited from kabbalistic speculation. In addition to the likelihood that Levinas may have been influenced by the interrelatedness of these motifs in kabbalistic lore, I argue that he proffers an anti-theosophic interpretation of kabbalah, which accords with his rejection of the (...) dogma of incarnation and the related polemical depiction of Christianity as idolatry. The appropriation of the kabbalistic hermeneutic on the part of Levinas, therefore, entailed a major revision. In translating the ontological into the ethical, Levinas divests the secret of its secretive potency, but thereby fostered an esoteric reading of Jewish esotericism. (shrink)
Are mysticism and morality compatible or at odds with one another? If mystical experience embraces a form of non-dual consciousness, then in such a state of mind, the regulative dichotomy so basic to ethical discretion would seemingly be transcended and the very foundation for ethical decisions undermined. Venturing Beyond - Law and Morality in Kabbalistic Mysticism is an investigation of the relationship of the mystical and moral as it is expressed in the particular tradition of Jewish mysticism known as the (...) Kabbalah. The particular themes discussed include the denigration of the non-Jew as the ontic other in kabbalistic anthropology and the eschatological crossing of that boundary anticipated in the instituition of religious conversion; the overcoming of the distinction between good and evil in the mystical experience of the underlying unity of all things; divine suffering and the ideal of spiritual poverty as the foundation for transmoral ethics and hypernomian lawfulness. (shrink)
Much of the interest of critical realists in the hermeneutic character of social inquiry has been shaped by debates with critics. Critical realists insist that the meaningful character of societies does not exclude the possibility of treating them as objects that have causal powers and that these objects are more than the sum-total of their meanings. In what follows, I want to go beyond this debate. Working within critical realist ontology, the question I want to ask is what kind of (...) hermeneutics is required for the study of the causal powers of meaningful objects. If hypotheses about the causal powers of such objects can be confirmed only in dialogues, then what kind of dialogues and with whom are necessary for the understanding of causal powers? The question of the interpretation of causal objects is not merely a methodological one. Social structures are ontologically different from natural ones, and the nature of our understanding of meaningful objects is in part dependent on the way we come to apprehend them in thought. I argue that the approach to the understanding of the causal power of meaningful objects that has emerged in the debate between critical realists and their critics tends to view the study of causal powers as a dialogue between experts in the service of a more democratic society. Against this view, I suggest an understanding of the study of causal powers as a dialogue between critical social science and the public, a dialogue that takes place in the public sphere. (shrink)
We examine critically the interdependence between science and philosophy which Sklar asserts in Space, Time, and Spacetime. We find that such a view makes it difficult to criticize the ideas of science, like that of absolute space, on their own merits, without importing extraneous philosophical associations. It also impedes appreciation of the importance, and subtlety, of explanation in scientific theory. As a result, particular explanations, such as the one Newton offered of his bucket experiment, are dismissed facilely-- indeed, all geometric (...) explanation appears illegitimate--, and such general attitudes as conventionalism appear to lack rationale. (shrink)
The relationship between a class of structural forms and a single reduced form econometric model is discussed. These are shown to be empirically equivalent. It is made clear that choice of a particular structural form for estimation, rather than another of the same class, rests on a priori heuristic and computational considerations, not on empirical or logical grounds. Alternative scientific strategies are discussed briefly.
In April 1933, Albert Einstein was offered an ‘Extraordinary’ Chair of Physics at the University of Madrid. Einstein first accepted, then sought to withdraw without causing damage to the anti-Fascist Republican government. However, this proved an opportunity for the Spanish press to harness Einstein’s notoriety to their own programmes. This article discusses the genesis and resolution of this episode, which says much about Einstein and science and politics in modern Spain.
Philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries who worked within the tradition of modern natural law became interested in political economy in part as they attempted to reconcile two conflicting images of economic activity. On the one hand, from the legal point of view economic activity was understood as a morally neutral and benign activity that could be regulated by simple and clear rules of justice. On the other hand, it was seen as a realm of political struggle, manipulation, deceit (...) and the exercise of hidden forms of domination. This article examines the legal and moral contexts of Adam Smith's excursion into political economy by interpreting the roles played by these two images of the market in the theory of value articulated in book I of The Wealth of Nations. (shrink)
The idea of a 'property-owning democracy' became central to John Rawls's re-evaluation of his theory of justice. This article traces the origins of Rawls's concept of `property-owning democracy' first to the writings of the economist James Meade and then to those of early twentieth-century British conservatives, focusing on the question of how the meaning of democracy was defined and re-defined throughout this history. I argue that Rawls inherited a discursive matrix from the British conservatives in which the notion of 'property-owning (...) democracy' refers to the limits that should be set on democratic practices to make democracy compatible with the needs and interests of property-owners. In addition to tracing the genealogy of the idea of a 'property-owning democracy', the article points toward more recent attempts, partially inspired by Rawls's 'political turn', to re-examine the distribution of property-ownership from the perspective of what is required for viable democratic deliberations. The article ends with an addendum lamenting the fact that when George W. Bush's administration adopted the British ideas and policies associated with 'property-owning democracy' it chose to omit 'democracy' altogether and to describe its initiative as 'ownership society'. (shrink)