Free Public Reason examines the idea of public justification, stressing its importance but also questioning the coherence of the concept itself. Although public justification is employed in the work of theorists such as John Rawls, Jeremy Waldron, Thomas Nagel, and others, it has received little attention on its own as a philosophical concept. In this book Fred D'Agostino shows that the concept is composed of various values, interests, and notions of the good, and that no ranking of these is possible. (...) The notion of public justification itself is thus shown to be contestable. In demonstrating this, D'Agostino undermines many current political theories that rely on this concept. Having broken down the foundations of public justification, D'Agostino then offers an alternative model of how a workable consensus on its meaning might be reached through the interactions of a community of interpreters or delegates at a constitutional convention. (shrink)
I want to consider how the general characteristics of a discipline might facilitate ?social mechanisms for distributing knowledge? that do not depend on uniformity of use, but, in fact, on different uses by different people. Indeed, I want to show that the ways in which a discipline is organized afford the growth of knowledge and do so, in particular, by facilitating an approach to what Thomas Kuhn described as ?the essential tension? between, on the one hand, the traditional or customary (...) elements of disciplined enquiry, which are prerequisites for there being a community of enquiry, and, on the other hand, the innovative elements of disciplined enquiry, which are needed on account of the always already inadequate character of our engagement with the objects of enquiry. (shrink)
One of Thomas Kuhn's profoundest arguments is introduced in the 1970 “Postscript” to The Structure of Scientific Revolutions . Kuhn is discussing the idea of a “disciplinary matrix” as a more adequate articulation of the “paradigm” notion he'd introduced in the first, 1962, edition of his famous work . He notes that one “element” of disciplinary matrices is likely to be common to most or even all such matrices, unlike the other elements which serve to distinguish specific disciplines and sub-disciplines (...) from one another. This is the element which he calls “values”, which, as he notes , being common to a number of otherwise distinct disciplinary matrices, “do much to provide a sense of community to natural scientists as a whole”. On the other hand, they also do much, and crucially in Kuhn's view, to promote and sustain a healthy diversity among the practitioners who share any specific disciplinary matrix. In particular, Kuhn claims that “individual variability in the application of shared values may serve functions essential to science.”. (shrink)
Kuhn’s “essential tension” between conservative and innovative imperatives in enquiry has an empirical analogue—between the potential benefits of collectivization of enquiry and the social dynamic impediments to effective sharing of information and insights in collective settings. A range of empirical materials from social psychology and organization theory are considered which bear on the issue of balancing these opposing forces and an institution is described in which they are balanced in a way which is appropriate for collective knowledge production.
Discussion of the cognitive division of labor has usually made very little contact with relevant materials from other disciplines, including theoretical biology, management science, and design theory. This article draws on these materials to consider some unavoidable conundrums faced by any attempt to present a particular way of dividing tasks among a labor team as the uniquely rational way of doing this, given the interdependence of the underlying evaluative standards by which the products of a system of division of labor (...) will be judged. Divisions of labor will typically cut across these interdependencies in ways which leave the outcomes of a process of labor hostage to path dependencies and suboptimalities. Some attempts to avoid these results are shown to be unsuccessful. All these difficulties are compounded by the fact that, in many cases, the division of labor has to be constructed over a ground of values that is itself being constructed simultaneously with the products which they are invoked to assess. Key Words: risk spreading interdependency NK fitness landscapes complexity epistasis Kuhn modularity path dependency. (shrink)
To understand the continuing importance of John Rawls’s work, we need to understand the background, the object and the method of his fifty-year quest as a political thinker. The background to Rawls’s investigation was a (carefully circumscribed) acknowledgement of a certain kind of evaluative pluralism. The object of Rawls’s work was to develop a method of commensuration that would enable us, the free and equal citizens of a democratic society, to identify a common basis for our dealings, in search of (...) mutual benefit, with one another. Finally, the method used by Rawls in his work was broadly, though tacitly rather than explicitly, pragmatist in character, especially in the sense that Rawls was aiming, now explicitly, to develop principles of political association that generate their own support in the attitudes and actions of those whose behavior they are intended to guide. (shrink)
The Routledge Companion to Social and Political Philosophy is a comprehensive, definitive reference work, providing an up-to-date survey of the field, charting its history and key figures and movements, and addressing enduring questions as ...
Normal science involves persistent collective application of an agreed research agenda. Anomaly can threaten normal science, but so too can “undue persistence” in that agenda by a normal science peer group. We consider how “undue persistence” might be a collective effect of the common incentive structure that individual members of the peer group typically face in relation to their careers. To understand how “undue persistence” might be ameliorated, we consider the affordances of a peer’s membership of a departmental collegium, organized (...) on a different basis than the specialist peer group and hence able to supply the individual scholar with kinds of information and critical comment that may occasion off-agenda contributions to the specialty. The idea of brokerage is borrowed from the sociology of innovation to see how a scholar’s departmental colleagues might be able to broker new ways of thinking that can assist in the avoidance of “undue persistence”. (shrink)
Abstract It is usually attempted teleologically to demonstrate the rationality of the so?called scientific method. Goals or aims are posited (and their specification defended) and it is then argued that conformity with some body of methodological rules is conducive to the realization of these goals or aims. A ? deontological? alternative to this approach is offered, adapting insights of contemporary political philosophers, especially John Rawls and Bruce Ackerman. The ?circumstances of method? are defined as those circumstances in which it alone (...) makes sense to seek some method for the resolution of disputed issues. It is then shown that individuals who find themselves in these circumstances have reason to conduct themselves in conformity with certain simple rules of argumentation?have reason, indeed, in the very fact that they do so find themselves and altogether without reference to any goals or aims which it might be hoped to achieve. These rules require non?interference, responsiveness, relevance, and publicity, and are, arguably, the rules which define the concept (and which therefore provide a framework for various conceptions,) of scientific method. (shrink)
Philosophy of Social Science, that social scientific investigations do not and cannot meet the liberal requirement of "neutrality" most familiar to social scientists in the form of Max Weber's requirement of value-freedom. He argues, moreover, that this is for "institutional," not idiosyncratic, reasons: methodological demands (e.g., of validity) impel social scientists to pass along into their "objective" investigations the values of the people, groups, and cultures they are studying. In this paper, I consider the implications of Root's claims for the (...) use of social scientific results in the formation of policy in a democratic society. In particular, I argue that Root's results amplify familiar "post-modernist" conclusions: there is no "neutral" and "objective" basis for policy-making. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Ethical thinking about social science research is dominated by a biomedical model whose salient features are the assumption that only potential harms to subjects of research are relevant in the ethical evaluation of that research, and in the emphasis on securing informed consent in order to establish ethical probity. A number of counter‐examples are considered to the assumption, a number of defences against these counter‐examples are examined, and an alternative model is proposed for the ethical evaluation of social science (...) research: a model which can cope with the systemic harms which have been identified. This model is based on John Rawls's idea of original position reasoning and treats social science research as an institutional feature of the basic structure of society. (shrink)
An earlier version of this paper was prepared for a University of New England Social Sciences Seminar on ‘Religion and the Social Sciences’, organized by Professor of Philosophy peter forrest, to which it was presented on 14 June 1989.