Health and beauty are the most important physical ideals. This paper seeks to compare and contrast these ideals, based on a value theory of human abilities. Health is comprehended as a potential ability to act grounded in bodily functions. Beauty is explained as a symbolising reference to happiness, physical beauty as a combination of organic orientation to purpose and virtuous orientation to action. Physical beauty is the implicit symbolic expression of mental and physical health. This teleological theory is tested and (...) exemplified using current stereotypes such as youthfulness, slimness and shapeliness. (shrink)
Ernst Fehr's experimental research on altruistic behaviour aims at superseding the classical homo oeconomicus in micro-economic behaviour theory. This essay discusses Fehr's results from two points of view: rst, in regard to the understanding of social action associated with the term "altruism"; second, in regard to the 'anthropological' strategy of research that is based on the laboratory method. Against the emphasis on altruism it will be argued that it misleads into providing a distorted description of social acting, and that, due (...) to insu cient clarity about motives for acting, Fehr's empirical results give evidence not of altruism but rather of phenomena of social recognition. The objection against the anthropological strategy will be that it makes visible only local phenomena within prevailing social conditions and that it thus assumes more than it explains. (shrink)
It is not easy to give up on a tradition that promises to rationalize, explain, and thereby ultimately help improve, society. This article narrates the history of Critical Theory in three stages, following the dynamics of its own self-criticism during distinct historical periods and within different societies. Horkheimer/Adorno, Habermas and Honneth are read as participating in a philosophical project of societal rationalism which can be criticized by appeal to a pragmatist view of social theories, and specifically the ‘pragmatic maxim’. In (...) spite of its post-metaphysical announcements, Critical Theory overextends itself when it seeks to reconcile fully the normative and the empirical. An alternative, and more explicitly ethical and empirically controllable, scheme for critical theories is suggested. (shrink)
The article gives an overview on arguments typically used within discussions on the ethical aspects of abortion. Five types of argument especially are analyzed more closely. Only one type withstands critical scrutiny: so-called interest-arguments, arguments referring to whether or when being killed (as involved in abortion) is against the interest of the fetus. In critical revision of a proposal due to Peter Singer the result is that abortion should be seen as morally neutral up to four months of pregnancy.
Foucault's twofold attack on the modern concept of power gives us something to think about. Backed by ingenious historical analyses he devises an idea of systemic an productive power, abstracted from the conceptual connections between power and individual power-sources, viz. power and restrictions of freedom. The article probes Foucault's historical sketches on these two tasks. It defends the less radical view of power as constraining interests and freedom.
“Having a moral right” in private and public debates probably is one of the most important arguments to bring some foundation to one’s claims. Within international law and politics, for example, one easily falls back on universal “human rights”, especially if neither a more subtle moral argument nor prudential reasons find a hold. But in some contrast to this agreement on the strong practical relevance of rights, both the conceptual analysis and normative justification of rights are rather controversial in moral (...) philosophy. There is, perhaps, a consensus on a constructivist understanding of rights, that is that rights have to be constructed from a basis of more “elementary parts” of morality. There is no agreement, however, on the exact character of these parts and their normative import within an overall construction of rights. It seems to be clear somehow that rights have to secure and promote interests — of a human and animal kind. Not so clear is the kind of foundation rights can be given within the sphere of interests, especially if this is understood in a reductive sense. Nevertheless, because the function of rights is to secure interests, the construction of rights from an understanding of interests seems to suggest itself. It is in the interest of all beings to have their interests secured and furthered by rights. Therefore, an “interest theory of rights” provides itself as a primary option — meaning thereby the justificatory, and not the directive side of rights. (shrink)
Es soll die These begründet werden, daß die Suche nach Wahrheitskriterien als philosophische Anstrengung sinnlos ist, weil einerseits mit Wahrheit ein Absolutheitsanspruch der Erkenntnis erhoben werden muß, andererseits aber ein solcher Anspruch mit Hilfe von Wahrheitskriterien nicht eingelöst werden kann. Die Begründung faßt den spezifischen Geltungscharakter des Wahrheitsanspruchs und einen unausweichlichen Regreß bei Wahrheitsfragen als geeignete Hinweise auf, daß und wieso Wahrheitskriterien logisch unmöglich sind; daß und wieso die Erkenntnispraxis darunter keinen Schaden erleidet; daß und wieso Wahrheit als die regulative (...) Rolle verstanden werden soll, welche der Wahrheitsanspruch in der Erkenntnis hat. (shrink)
The article argues for a synthesis between analytical philosophy and social sciences as relevant and necessary. The motivation and framework of such a synthesis is outlined on the basis of a critical social science. The authors illuminate such a perspective negatively in a critique of empirical and theoretical sociology, then positively in a clarification of the critical standpoint. Four theses, two under each aspect, are defended: 1. Concerning empirical social sciences: Neither the quantitative nor the qualitative paradigm of empirical social (...) science is able to put forward adequate methods for social research. Instead, the development of reconstructive methods is proposed to combine the advantages and eliminate the disadvantages of the quantitative and qualitative paradigms. 2. Concerning theoretical sociology: Macrosociological theories tend to resist empirical corrobation. Pure theoretical and philosophical justification abounds instead. In this situation the tools of analytic theory of science are proposed in order to c1arify the necessary steps towards a further development of theories, which can be empirically tested. 3. Concerning the critique of society: A critical social science must incorporate a theory of a just society in order to analyse social institutions in a normative way. In this context an ethical realist approach is offered which tries to fulfil two conditions for sociologically relevant normative reasonings: satisfaction of individual interests and the rational consensus of all persons concerned. 4. Concerning critique of ideology: The tools of analytic philosophy can be given new application by combining them with an ana-lysis of interests under the tide of critique of ideology. (shrink)
Some goods cannot, according to MacLean, be dealt with adequately by cost-benefit analysis. An explanation for this thesis is given, linking these goods to the altruism implied in intimate social relations. MacLean's argument is then shown to be insufficient when extended to matters of public relevance. The integration of political values and economic costs should be possible, on a level doing justice to both.
Critical social science has to acknowledge that every fundamental critique of society implies the justification of alternative norms and institutions. Several current objections against such an explicitly normative understanding of critical social science are discussed. The following outline of a theory of a just society tries co meet two demands: the rational consensus of all individuals concerned and the satisfaction of individual interests. In societies characterized by class struggles, however, these two aims turn out co be incompatible. Therefore an ethical (...) realist approach is offered which takes into account the clarification and normative reinterpretation of interests. The tools of analytic philosophy can be given new application in combina-tion with an analysis of interests under the title of a critique of ideology. (shrink)
Morality and society in moral philosophy are rarely brought into direct contact, at least not at a fundamental level of justification. David Copp develops an account of practical and moral rationality that could constitute a radical change. According to Copp moral theory has to be 'society-centered' rather than focussing on the individual. This article is devoted to the moral content and structural features of a socially centered moral theory, and along those lines to its critical assessment. Concluding, it will seek (...) to present an argument why moral philosophy ought not place society at the centre of its view. (shrink)
Die analytische Handlungstheorie ist gegenwärtig in einem Stadium, in dem sie sich anschickt, ihre vor allem von D. Davidson fixierte Programmatik zu verlassen. Unter den zwei Bedingungen, Beschreibungsabhängigkeit und Gründe-Ursachen-Synthese, gewinnt, anders als bei Davidson, die Erstere zunehmend größeres Gewicht. Den hoffnungsvollen Übergang zu einer holistisch-kontextuellen Handlungstheorie belegen drei neuere Diskussionen, deren Verlauf geschildert wird: das Wiedergewinnen der Absichten in Bratmans Plänetheorie, die Suche nach nicht auf Glauben/Wünsche-Paare reduzible Handlungsgründe und das Entdecken der Akteursaktivität, einschließlich der Rolle des normativ rekonstruierten (...) Akteurs. (shrink)
Today philosophy falls apart into a “theoretical” and a “practical” sub-discipline, a situation to the detriment of both. On the back of a sketch of three stages of Western philosophy a diagnosis is made as to the practical origin of the theoretical/practical split, which also already contains within it the clue for a therapy. Both parts of philosophy could be set on a convergent path by recognizing two practical conflicts underlying philosophical problems: the biographical conflict of accepting the world and (...) the social conflict of accepting others. A non-reductivist study of these conflicts might mitigate the present alienation within philosophy. (shrink)
Myers' offer of cooperation as a medicine for ailing moral theories is welcomed as potentially helpful, even if his handling of it is diagnosed as implicitly one-sided consequentialist. His search for an ethically "substantive way of engaging with others'' is shown as not coherent with his remarks on the tasks cooperation as an ethical concept has to fulfil. Instead, it is proposed that the concept be disentangled from the micro-problems Myers' wants it to solve, and that it be read more (...) freely, from the perspective of Rawls' conception of cooperation. (shrink)
Sustainability is currently the term dominating environmental policy. Its extensive political diffusion is in stark contrast, however, to the extent to which there is agreement over its meaning. Its ability to motivate is not in question, but a certain scepticism surrounds its ideological content. Since ideological terms have no objective basis, it is therefore important for the purposes of environmental policy to establish whether such scepticism is justified.
Since Hobbes' Leviathan was published in 1651, the 'problem of order' has been known for some time. Despite this long gestation period for social theory even today we do not have a universally agreed upon answer to this 'problem'. One of the reasons behind this lacuna may be the overly dispersed work being done in the economic and sociological traditions. Whereas one tradition favours 'collective action' as a central answer, the other thinks of the problem itself being dissolved by the (...) acceptance of 'socialized man'. Here, an attempt is made to offer the phenomenon of 'cooperation' as a promising middle ground for both traditions. To underline the importance of cooperation as an elementary social activity, first, cooperation is shown as working in tandem with its rival 'competition'. Secondly, several conceptual analyses of what is included in collective action and cooperation are offered. These analyses, thirdly, are deepened by an overview of the motivational bases potentially advancing cooperation. Overall, an awareness of the self-creating character of cooperation is explored, and put forward as the most feasible way of answering the classical problem of order. (shrink)
Among philosophers and social scientists, Hume’s idea of justice is generally identified with a system of rules based on mutual advantage, their moral quality playing either an insignificant or no part at all. This conventional or contractarian model, respectively, is not adequate to the special institution of morality or, in Hume, to the virtues, artificial or natural. It is not self-interest but sympathy in combination with the indirect passions of pride and humility that gives conventions their moral quality and social (...) relevance. This article suggests exegetic and systematic reasons for the normative importance of Hume’s moral psychology, which should open the way to a developing morality much more in agreement with actual Western societies than a static morality based on self-interest would allow. (shrink)
This critical review concentrates on four important parts of Raimo Tuomela's analytical theory of social action. It examines the book's reconstructions of social action, of practical reasoning in this context, of social norms and it investigates its claim to a conceptual individualism. The result is critical in several aspects. Tuomela's most original idea in the analysis of joint action, that of we-intentions, is not broad enough to cover more than a part of social action in the commonly understood sense. His (...) 'social' practical reasoning incorporates an implausible premiss. The game-theoretical reconstruction of social norms strikes one as unlikely to be fulfilled in social reality. Hardly any of these analyses back up the individualist claims of Tuomela's project. (shrink)
During the last years Anglosaxon discussion about Marx and Marxism has been characterized by an intensified interest in historical materialism as a general theory of history. The most extensive, careful and analytically rigorous among several new treatments is the one by G. A. Cohen, which is the subject of four critical articles in the present issue of ANALYSE & KRITIK. To make these articles and Cohen's project understandable to the German reader, an attempt is made in the following to summarize (...) the main arguments of Cohen's defence of historical materialism and of the ensuing comprehensive and detailed discussion. (shrink)