Philip R. Shields
Beloit College
In our contemporary society it is widely recognized that public discourse has become increasingly polemical and polarized, as claims to truth and justice are cynically dismissed as manipulative power plays. We argue first that this growth of power politics reflects the triumph of the objectifying stance of the social sciences, and the consequent loss of any distinction between legitimate and illegitimate power, and second that it is ad hominem to dismiss or accept people’s arguments simply because of their identity interests, their positionality, instead of considering the explicit meaning and validity of what they say. By adopting the objectifying perspective of the social sciences, identity theorists on the left and the right reduce “power” to coercion and fail to appreciate the power of persuasion, and the normative conditions that make rational agency possible. This tendency is ultimately contemptuous of human dignity because it undermines the rational agency and moral responsibility of everyone concerned, from the objectified human subjects to the objectifying theorists.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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DOI 10.5840/ipq2022118180
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