It is often supposed that the point of equality of opportunity is to create a level playing-field. This is understood in different ways, however. A common proposal is what I call the neutralization view: that people's social circumstances should not differentially affect their life chances in any serious way. I raise problems with this view, before developing an alternative conception of equal opportunity which allows some variations in social circumstances to create differences in life prospects. The meritocratic conception which I (...) defend is grounded in the idea of respect for persons, and provides a less demanding interpretation of fair access to qualifications; it nevertheless places constraints on the behaviour of parents, and has implications for educational provision in schools. (shrink)
Mason on the question: "What are the most important unsolved questions in political philosophy and/or related disciplines and what are the prospects for progress?" Political philosophy rarely, if ever, solves problems once and for all. Old problems usually persist despite attempts to resolve them, and even when they are successfully resolved, new ones arise from the ashes of the old. In my view, however, it would be a mistake to conclude from this that political philosophy makes no progress. We (...) should not measure progress in terms of problems solved or questions answered, but rather in terms of improved understanding. Progress occurs though clarifying the question that is being asked and by coming to a better understanding of which answers to that question are coherent. I think considerable progress has been made in the study of justice, in the sense that we understand the issues much better, though there are still many that we do not understand very well, for example, issues to do with the moral significance of national or state boundaries, and the issue of when justice requires people to bear the costs of their behaviour. I do not doubt that progress, in the sense of improved understanding, will be made on these issues as they come to the forefront of political philosophy. (shrink)
_Plato_ explores the thought of a man who, in a literary career of fifty years, generated ideas that have pervaded history from antiquity to today. After laying out the basics of Plato’s intellectual development and considering his complex relationship with Socrates, AndrewMason offers a thematic approach to help readers navigate through an often challenging body of work. Throughout, this concise volume traces the development of continuing themes in Plato’s dialogues and considers the relevance of these themes for (...) modern thought. Drawing on recent scholarship, this engaging introduction offers the ideal, up-to-date overview of a figure who remains essential reading in western history and philosophy. (shrink)
Can Rawlsian theory provide us with an adequate response to the practical question of how we should proceed in the face of widespread and intractable disagreement over matters of justice? Recent criticism of ideal theorizing might make us wonder whether this question highlights another way in which ideal theory can be too far removed from our non-ideal circumstances to provide any practical guidance. Further reflection on it does not show that ideal theory is redundant, but it does indicate that there (...) is a need for a non-ideal theory that does not consist simply in an account of how to apply the principles which are yielded by ideal theory to non-ideal circumstances in the light of what is feasible and an assessment of the costs of implementation. Indeed any non-ideal theory that can adequately address this question will have to be partially autonomous, drawing on a notion of legitimacy that is rather different to the one which lies at the heart of Rawlsian ideal theory. (shrink)
In an important piece of work Derek Parfit distinguishes two different forms of egalitarianism, ‘Deontic’ and ‘Telic’. He contrasts these with what he calls the Priority View, which is not strictly a form of egalitarianism at all, since it is not essentially concerned with how well off people are relative to each other. His main aim is to generate an adequate taxonomy of the positions available, but in the process he draws attention to some of the different problems they face. (...) I shall argue that there are forms of egalitarianism overlooked by Parfit which avoid the problems encountered by Deontic and Telic Egalitarians. (shrink)
Although the notion of an essentially contested concept may shed light on the logic of disputes over the proper application of some key political terms, it nevertheless plays no genuine role in explaining the intractability of these disputes. The notion of an essentially contested concept is defended against some influential criticisms, showing how it is possible for one conception of an essentially contested concept to be justifiably regarded as superior to other competing conceptions. Two possible answers are distinguished to the (...) question of why disputes over essentially contested concepts should be regarded as inevitable, but neither provides us with a plausible explanation for why they are so intractable. Disagreements over the proper use of key political concepts are better explained by features of moral and political discourse, such as the short reach of ?intellectual authority? and the fact that consensus is not one of its primary aims, in conjunction with empirical hypotheses from the social sciences, rather than by essential contestedness theses. (shrink)
This book examines a number of different accounts developed by philosophers and political theorists to explain why political disagreement is so extensive and persistent. The author argues that moral and political questions can have correct answers, but that not every reasonable person will necessarily be satisfied with these answers. He develops a framework that gives a role to the individual's reasons for his or her beliefs, but also to psychological and sociological factors, to explain the intractability of political disputes.
Available from UMI in association with The British Library. Requires signed TDF. ;In this thesis, I argue against the following common philosophical explanations of political disagreement: firstly, the view that those who disagree about political issues do so because they completely fail to understand each other; secondly, the view that political disagreement is value-laden and persists because disputes over values, unlike disputes over facts, are not amenable to rational resolution; thirdly, the general view that moral and political arguments are, in (...) principle, rationally unsettlable. I also consider the view that moral and political reasoning is open-ended and, as a result, that there is always something inconclusive about political argument. I argue that there are, indeed, a number of ways in which moral and political reasoning is open-ended, but maintain that none of these ways is sufficient to explain fully the existence and intractability of moral and political disputes in developed capitalist societies. ;I defend an alternative conception of how political disagreement should be explained. I make a distinction between rational and non-rational explanations of political disagreement and claim that, in general, philosophical explanations of political disagreement are rational ones because they appeal simply to the reasons those who disagree about political issues have for making the judgements they do. Instead, I urge that we should seek non-rational explanations for the holding of political beliefs and then construct explanations of political disagreement out of them. I defend an empirical model which attempts to do this. This model appropriates some aspects of an account of the construction of gender proposed by N. Chodorow, and employs the results of some research performed by C. Gilligan on the different ways in which men and women reason about moral and political issues. I apply the model to the work of two contemporary political theorists: John Rawls and Robert Nozick. (shrink)
The paper demonstrates its ‘CSR at a tipping point’ thesis by juxtaposing views of corporate social responsibility (CSR) as essential for business and societal sustainability against those that see CSR as unaffordable or irrelevant in the current economic climate. Drawing from Kohlberg's seminal theory of moral development, CSR is conceptualised as the development of organisation moral reasoning, and the proposition is illustrated by demonstrating inter-disciplinary similarities in levels of ethical concern within different approaches to the practice of marketing, human resource (...) management (HRM) and performance management. Levels of concern for CSR are related to environmental and firm-specific drivers and constraints that influence the CSR dynamic. Environmental influences on organisational CSR stances emanate from a range of stakeholder constituencies, while the importance accorded to CSR is also influenced by firm-specific factors such as the organisation's stage of development, strategy and leadership. The paper's identification of inter-disciplinary similarities in the varying levels of concern for CSR and its delineation of CSR drivers and constraints contribute to CSR theory, and these frameworks also represent analytical tools that managers can use to assess or to change an organisation's CSR stance. The multi-level perspective on CSR adopted by the paper links an organisation's overall or ‘macro’ CSR stance to the ‘meso’ levels of CSR represented by practice within its specialist functions. It proposes that the ‘CSR at a tipping point’ proposition is assessed by utilising the conceptual model in the paper within a case-study research design to determine whether specific organisations – identified as ‘CSR-positive’ ones by their relatively high level of concern for stakeholder welfare – are changing the importance they accord to CSR as a result of the new business context, and the extent to which practice in their marketing, HRM and performance management functions are shapers or consequences of this. (shrink)
: Focusing on a textbook controversy that emerged in Kanawha County, West Virginia, in 1974, Mason explores the discursive production of white ethnicity in the rhetorical, visual, and political strategies used during an organized protest against the new multicultural curriculum adopted by the local school board. What the author finds puzzling is the ways in which these productions of "soul" and "nation" enabled unlikely political alliances between national conservative elites and the local, historically left-leaning working class protesters. The author (...) argues that "soul" is reproduced through racialized discourse signifying the spiritual and ethnic purity of whiteness, the consolidation of white ethnicity, and the spirit of white resistance, articulated through campaigns to save children from future captivity in an "alien" world. Through this on-site theoretical analysis, the author demonstrates how a right-wing narrative of victimhood facilitates the reproduction of ethnic identification among the protesters, whose whiteness apparently can be jeopardized by reading the "wrong" books. (shrink)
Focusing on a textbook controversy that emerged in Kanawha County, West Virginia, in 1974, Mason explores the discursive production of white ethnicity in the rhetorical, visual, and political strategies used during an organized protest against the new multicultural curriculum adopted by the local school board. What the author finds puzzling is the ways in which these productions of "soul" and "nation" enabled unlikely political alliances between national conservative elites and the local, historically left-leaning working class protesters. The author argues (...) that "soul" is reproduced through racialized discourse signifying the spiritual and ethnic purity of whiteness, the consolidation of white ethnicity, and the spirit of white resistance, articulated through campaigns to save children from future captivity in an "alien" world. Through this on-site theoretical analysis, the author demonstrates how a right-wing narrative of victimhood facilitates the reproduction of ethnic identification among the protesters, whose whiteness apparently can be jeopardized by reading the "wrong" books. (shrink)
Jeffrey A. Mason has written an informative, accessible guide to today's most popular form of philosophical writing, the journal-length essay. The Philosopher's Address does what no other book on the market has attempted: it takes the reader behind the scenes of the writing process to expose the rhetorical underpinnings of philosophical texts. Mason argues that readers need to understand why philosophical writing is constructed as it is, and to be aware of the rhetorical devices by which authors seek (...) to persuade them if they are to engage fully with these texts. This book is intended for a broad audience of specialists and students alike. Professional scholars will appreciate Mason's astute discussion of current trends within analytic philosophy, while students will benefit greatly from his comprehensive understanding of the social context in which philosophical discourse is produced, its various and competing schools of thought, and the theoretical concepts that inform them. (shrink)
This important collection of essays by Andrew Feenberg presents his critical theory of technology, an innovative approach to philosophy and sociology of technology based on a synthesis of ideas drawn from STS and Frankfurt School Critical Theory. The volume includes chapters on citizenship, modernity, and Heidegger and Marcuse.
The Īśvara Gītā, translated by Andrew J. Nicholson in Lord Śiva’s Song: The Īśvara Gītā, is a quintessentially Hindu post-Vedic devotional text. Extolling Lord Śiva as the highest Truth, it sets out to establish its credentials in ways typical of the devotional traditions: it is located in one of the Purāṇas, already considered to be the fifth Veda by the time of the Chandogya Upaniṣad, thereby appropriating the paramount sacrosanctity of the Śruti tradition. It adopts the setting of Sūta’s (...) address to the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya, made famous by the Bhāgavata Purāṇa for its own outer narrative frame. It engages the great sage Vyāsa as its primary narrator, thereby invoking the cachet of the foremost authority.. (shrink)
After canvassing with good grace the make-up of cyberspace Andrew Murray wonders, in his recent book The Regulation of Cyberspace, which role traditional lawmakers are left to play in the new cyber-regulatory environment. Murray describes the static `command and control' regulatory model as disruptive and ineffective, and supports instead a dynamic, complimentary, and symbiotic regulatory model, which he presents under the features of an autopoietic environment and systems dynamics theory.Regulatory models, explains Andrew Murray in his recent book The (...) Regulation of Cyberspace, intervene when a `disruptive innovation', such as the Internet, creates a regulatory vacuum. As cyberpaternalists suggest, however, the lack of traditional legal-regulatory control systems does not mean total freedom within cyberspace . On the contrary, as the author contends, `regulators of all forms rush to fill in this vacuum' so that the traditional regulatory mechanism is replaced by private regulatory systems acting, as Joel Reidenberg exposed, as `proxies' to the traditional regulatory system . Murray shares this point, but also gives credit to the views of cyberlibertarians. Cyberlibertarians argue that traditional command and control models are at last ineffective, even when they operate through proxies. In cyberspace, so they claim, regulators and regulatees mingle with each other to such an unheard-of extent that regulatory interventions cannot be effective unless regulatees co-operate actively.In his book, professor Andrew Murray treasures the sound arguments advanced by the cyberlibertarian and cyberpaternalist camps, and draws lessons from both in order to build a dialectic confrontation between static instrument and dynamic instrument thinking in the regulation of cyberspace. He consecrates the pars destruens of his work to explain why lawmakers should eschew the static approach and adheres to the pars construens to expand on a more dynamic and `smarter' regulatory model. (shrink)
Intellectual historian Andrew Jewett sets an enormous task for himself: to trace the history and context of science and values relations over the course of some hundred-odd years of U.S. history. He does this to further an argument that science was once explicitly connected to the study of human values, and that the story that explains how science became value neutral is a contingent one. It could have happened differently, he argues, and it should have. Furthermore, because that history (...) is contingent, we are free to still change our academic habits and to allow the social sciences to be sciences alongside the natural and physical sciences. The reason this would be worth doing, according to Jewett, is.. (shrink)
Egan argues against Lewis’s view that properties are sets of actual and possible individuals and in favour of the view that they are functions from worlds to extensions (sets of individuals). Egan argues that Lewis’s view implies that 2nd order properties are never possessed contingently by their (1st order) bearers, an implication to which there are numerous counter-examples. And Egan argues that his account of properties is more commensurable with the role they play as the semantic values of predicates than (...) is Lewis’s. (shrink)
In this response to Andrew Benjamin, I examine the manner in which Working With Walter Benjamin interweaves destruction and inauguration to account for the ‘othering’ of the social order. The question of where to locate the normative index of a radically altered social and political world is particularly at issue. While Professor Benjamin argues that the ontological fabric of human relationality bears a ‘counter-measure’ to State sovereignty and capitalism, I insist on the power of concrete historical struggles against oppression (...) to prefigure and orient a transformed world. (shrink)
Advertising and Consumption: Advertising and Social Change by Ronald Berman, Beverley Hills and London: Sage, , 1981, pp 159, £11.95 and £5.50 The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981 pp 248, £1.75 Conspicuous Consumption by Roger S Mason, Farnbrough: Gower, 1981, pp x + 156, £9.50 Channels of Desire by Stuart Ewen and Elizabeth Ewen, New York and London: McGraw-Hill, 1982, pp viii + 312, $7.95.