Although Elizabeth Anscombe’s work on causation is frequently cited and anthologized, her main arguments have been ignored or misunderstood as havingtheir basis in quantum mechanics or a particular theory of perception. I examine her main arguments and show that they not only work against the Humean causaltheories of her time, but also against contemporary attempts to analyze causation in terms of laws and causal properties. She shows that our ordinary usage does not connect causation with laws, and suggests that philosophers (...) emphasize laws for mostly historical reasons. Moreover, she argues that the core of causation is derivativeness, which is as neglected now as when she wrote. Her focus on derivativeness indicates to us how we can both avoid the position that the causal “because” is truth-functional and yet still hold that causal statements are really explanatory. (shrink)
Although this thesis is denied by much recent scholarship, Ockham holds that the ultimate ground of a moral judgement's truth is a divine command, rather than natural or non-natural properties. God could assign a different moral value not only to every exterior act, but also to loving God. Ockham does allow that someone who has not had access to revelation can make correct moral judgements. Although her right reason dictates what God in fact commands, she need not know that God (...) so commands. Ockham's divine-command theory plays an important role in the shift away from a nature-based ethics, and it anticipates contemporary problems concerning truth in meta-ethics. (shrink)
(2003). Contemporary ‘vehicularity’ and ‘romanticism’: debating the status of ideas and intellectuals. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy: Vol. 6, The Public Role of Intellectuals, pp. 51-66. doi: 10.1080/1369823042000241267.
This article addresses the question of utopia through some reflections on the work of the Russian writer Andrei Platonov (1899-1951). Platonov's work represents an inspirational series of investigations into the circumstances of utopia: not so much utopia as fantasy, nor utopia as actualized in failure, nor even dystopia, but what is here termed `actually existing utopia'. As such his work captures aspects of utopianism that may have been largely opaque to the investigations of either literary versions of the utopian imagination (...) or utopian versions of social science. Platonov shows us an `anthropological' dimension inherent within the utopian impulse: that we are, so to speak, `utopological' beings. And to this dimension of ourselves he applies a critical style that is not straightforwardly anti-utopian or dystopian but what is called here `counter-utopian'. (shrink)
By way of a selective comparison of the work of Georges Canguilhem and Henri Bergson on their respective conceptions of ‘problematology’, this article argues that the centrality of the notion of the ‘problem’ in each can be found in their differing conceptions of the philosophy of life and the living being. Canguilhem’s model, however, ultimately moves beyond or away from (legislative) philosophy and epistemology towards the question of ethics in so far as his vitalism is a means of signalling the (...) refusal of the supposition that all of the dimensions of life are or might be in our possession. Michel Foucault’s project, though directed for the most part to very different subject-matter, worked out a similar logic in the historical problematology of the sciences of ‘man’ and mentalities of government and power; and the results were equally ethical in so far as Foucault’s nominalist historical problematology entailed the refusal of any idea that all of the dimensions of our anthropological ‘essence’ are, or could be, likewise, in our possession. (shrink)
This article argues that the notion of the archive is of some value for those interested in the history of the human sciences. Above all, the archive is a means of generating ethical and epistemological credibility. The article goes on to suggest that there are three aspects to modern archival reason: a principle of publicity whereby archival information is made available to some or other kind of public; a principle of singularity according to which archival reason focuses upon questions of (...) detail; and a principle of mundanity, whereby the privileged focus of archival reason is said to be the commonplace dimension of everyday life. (shrink)
Who is speaking in the history of social thought? The question of the authentic voice of social thought is typically posed in terms that tend to be either ambitiously theoretical or carefully methodological. Thus histories of social thought frequently offer either a résumé of general ideas about society (say from Montesquieu to Parsons) or a survey which gets bogged down in a rather tedious, nit-picking debate about empirical methodology. This paper is something of a preview of a pro jected attempt (...) on the part of the authors to capture the voice of social thought in rather different terms. Our three theses are: (1) that those who speak 'in the name of society' have just as frequently been doctors and bureaucrats as opposed to 'social philosophers' or professional sociologists; correlatively, (2) that the creative voice of social thought has more often been technical, problem-centred and tied up with par ticular rationalities of government as opposed to being either exclu sively theoretical or merely responsive to 'objective problems' in society; and, (3) that if sociology today struggles for a voice in which to speak this may be in some part due to the ways in which the past history of social thought has typically been conceived. (shrink)
Despite the enormous influence of Michel Foucault in gender studies, social theory, and cultural studies, his work has been relatively neglected in the study of politics. Although he never published a book on the state, in the late 1970s Foucault examined the technologies of power used to regulate society and the ingenious recasting of power and agency that he saw as both consequence and condition of their operation. These twelve essays provide a critical introduction to Foucault's work on politics, exploring (...) its relevance to past and current thinking about liberal and neo-liberal forms of government. Moving away from the great texts of liberal political philosophy, this book looks closely at the technical means with which the ideals of liberal political rationalities have been put into practice in such areas as schools, welfare, and the insurance industry. This fresh approach to one of the seminal thinkers of the twentieth century is essential reading for anyone interested in social and cultural theory, sociology, and politics. (shrink)