ABSTRACT In this wide-ranging interview Professor Douglas V. Porpora discusses a number of issues. First, how he became a Critical Realist through his early work on the concept of structure. Second, drawing on his Reconstructing Sociology, his take on the current state of American sociology. This leads to discussion of the broader range of his work as part of Margaret Archer’s various Centre for Social Ontology projects, and on moral-macro reasoning and the concept of truth in political discourse.
ABSTRACT In this wide-ranging interview, Bob Jessop discusses the development of, and many of the main themes in, his work over the last fifty years. He explains how he became interested in realism and Marxism; and he describes the various influences on his highly influential theory of the state. The discussion explores his strategic-relational approach, his thoughts on regulation theory, variegated capitalism, post-disciplinarity, cultural political economy and his ‘spatial-turn’, as well as neoliberalism, contemporary events and looming problems of climate change (...) and crisis. (shrink)
ABSTRACT In this essay I set and explore Buch-Hansen and Nielsen’s Critical Realism: Basics and Beyond. I then move on to discuss arising issues relevant to contemporary critical realism, including time, causation, technology and context dilemmas. I then provide a brief elaboration of recent work on and issues for ‘climate emergency’.
In this paper, we argue that trust is an important aspect of social reality, one that realist social theory has paid little attention to but which clearly resonates with a realist social ontology. Furthermore, the emergence of an interest in trust in specific subject fields such as organization theory indicates the growing significance of issues of trust as market liberalism has developed. As such, the emergence of an interest in trust provides support for Archer's characterisation of late modernity in The (...) Reflexive Imperative as a period of heterogeneity and greater incongruity. Commenting on this provides an opportunity to discuss the issue of habit in relation to trust and also the importance of the analysis of integration as a means to explain problems of trust. The commentary draws on examples from finance. (shrink)
In the following essay I use an extended commentary on Dave Elder-Vass’s The Reality of Social Construction to explore the issue of what progress in realism means. I set out and critique the concept of the norm circle in order to consider how an argument is developed as realist social theory and what limits that might have in terms of the recognized realist concept of adequacy. Specifically, I address the way realist social theory can become restricted to an internal exploration (...) of realism whilst issues of real world relevance are deferred. (shrink)
In the following review essay I provide some background in order to place Margaret Archer's edited Volume 3 text, Generative Mechanisms, in context of the series from which it derives. In doing so I provide some sense of the significance of the series. Thereafter, I provide an overview of the key substantive claims of the essays, with some comment on how they may be linked together in terms of the theme of the series.
In this article, I clarify some of the key concepts and commitments of realist social ontology in economics. To do so, I make use of a recent critique of Lawson’s Reorienting Economics by Mohun and Veneziani. Their article provides a useful foil because responding to their critique allows us to emphasize that realism’s claims are more conditional and less controversial than one might otherwise anticipate. The basic claim is that ontology matters and that explicit recognition and consideration of ontological issues (...) can be beneficial. However, developing a focus on ontology can create problems of interpretation among economists regarding what is being claimed and offered. I discuss some of these with reference to an adaption of Maki’s concept of economics imperialism and also with reference to Mary Morgan’s recent typology of experiments. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThe Centre for Social Ontology working group project has been exploring the concept of a Morphogenic Society since 2013. The project is now drawing to a close. One of the arising issues from the project has been whether such a society can be and is liable to be one of human flourishing. In this short paper, I explore one possible aspect of the concept of a Morphogenic Society.1 A Morphogenic Society may involve issues of ‘contingent necessity’. Contingent necessity may provide (...) one way to think about human flourishing, and this in turn may highlight the potential significance of the concept of a Morphogenic Society as a resource in positional argument for human flourishing. (shrink)
In this review article various aspects of Andrew Wright's Christianity and Critical Realism are explored. Wright claims that Trinitarian theology is essentially realist in its form and that realism can be used to defend or justify Trinitarian Christianity. The nature of the specific case brings to the fore a number of issues regarding the nature of reasoning and judgemental rationality for realists.
In the following essay I set out the core argument expounded by Nicholas Rescher in regard of the link between reality and appearance, illustrating this argument based on chapter 6 of his Reality and its Appearance. Rescher’s argument overlaps with critical realist concerns based on his approach to metaphysical realism. I make the point that the argument exhibits the virtue of concision, but, as a result, suffers from under-elaboration in important areas; most particularly, an explicit engagement with standard philosophical problems (...) of appearance, such as Gettier, and, more generally, the fundamental issue of how appearance may or may not change in response to changes in the human condition. (shrink)
The rise of neo-integrative worldviews : towards a rational spirituality for the coming planetary civilization -- Beyond fundamentalism : spiritual realism, spiritual literacy and education -- Realism, literature and spirituality -- Judgemental rationality and the equivalence of argument : realism about God, response to Morgan's critique -- Transcendence and God : reflections on critical realism, the "new atheism", and Christian theology -- Human sciences at the edge of panentheism : God and the limits of ontological realism -- Beyond East and (...) West -- Meta-Reality (re-)contextualized -- Anti-anthropic spirituality : dualism, duality and non-duality -- "The more you kick God out the front door, the more he comes in through the window" : Sean Creaven's critique of transcendental dialectical critical realism and the philosophy of meta-Reality -- Resisting the theistic turn -- The pulse of freedom and the existential dilemma of alienation -- Meta-Reality, creativity and the experience of making art. (shrink)
The point of departure of David Ellerman's paper is that the role of labour in economics can be looked at in a fundamentally different way than has typically been the case. The paper's purpose is, therefore, oppositional. However, it cannot simply be dismissed. It is clearly articulated, well reasoned, and most importantly, thought provoking. It requires one to rethink how one conceives some basic issues in economics. As such, one does not need to be entirely convinced by the argument to (...) consider it worthy of dissemination. At the same time, if one subscribes to the ethic of structured or critical pluralism one must also consider the pressure points of the argument. Below, I briefly reconstruct Ellerman's core claims and provide some comment on that argument. Read David Ellerman's paper "The Labour Theory of Property and Marginal Productivity Theory". (shrink)
Surprisingly, over the decade or so since its publication, Bhaskar's Dialectic: The Pulse of Freedom has received relatively little in the way of systematic analysis either by critical realists or their critics. There have been, however, a number of critiques that have dealt with some of its themes and developments in a variety of contexts. In the following study, I assess the argument of Alex Callinicos. Callinicos' critique, though in many ways sympathetic, is fundamental to critical realism. Engaging with it (...) provides a means to develop and clarify a number of arguments about aspects of critical realism in general and also provides a useful staging point to set forth a basic and consistent ordering of inquiry for a critique of DPF. The initial purpose of the analysis is not so much a defence of DPF but an assessment of the construction of an argument brought to bear on it. I argue that the form of the argument deployed is problematic in a way that detracts from the substance of the critique of the content of DPF. This is not to suggest that DPF is immune to criticism but rather to suggest that a fuller analysis of the DPF argument and its potential remains to be made. The ultimate purpose of the analysis is to use this assessment of a strategy of critique—an argumentation schema or discursive form—to create an alternative approach to critically appraising DPF. Fundamental to Callinicos' argument is the nature of transcendental argument. (shrink)
Rescher is a key figure in ‘new American pragmatist philosophy’. His work shares many commonalities with critical realism and engaging with it is always a rewarding experience. In this paper I set out the key features of his work on evolution and intelligent design, Productive Evolution: On Reconciling Evolution with Intelligent Design, and then address the weaknesses in the argument. The central strength of the argument is its innovative approach to the meaning of intelligent design in its relation to evolution. (...) I use an analysis of the text to then consider what this suggests in terms of the nuance of immanent critique as realist concept. (shrink)
In the following short essay I set out the key insights and main arguments in Nick Hostettler’s Eurocentrism . This text is an important contribution to the potential for creative elaboration inherent in Roy Bhaskar’s Dialectic and is also a substantive achievement in its own right. Hostettler’s work provides a way to move beyond the partialities and tensions of eurocentrism and anti-eurocentrism by repositioning both in terms of the europic. There are, however, a number of potential limitations in the way (...) the argument is developed so far. Content Type Journal Article Category Review Essay Pages 99-111 Authors Jamie Morgan, Leeds Metropolitan University Journal Journal of Critical Realism Online ISSN 1572-5138 Print ISSN 1476-7430 Journal Volume Volume 12 Journal Issue Volume 12, Number 1 / 2013. (shrink)
Our aim is to explore and develop notions of objectivity that are useful and appropriate for critical realist empirical research. Part I explores the values associated with objectivity, Part II the linkages between objectivity and situated action. The introductory section of Part I explains why it is worthwhile in realist terms to develop the notion of objectivity; that is, develop it as opposed to remaining content with murky hidden notions or connotations that the term ‘objectivity’ brings to mind and that (...) tend to cause confusion in how it is accepted and rejected. This is important as a clarification exercise for social research. In Part II, we argue that the growth of knowledge requires engagement and critical analysis. We develop the idea that if subjects are engaging objectively with reality and its multiple standpoints, then the results will tend to be transformative. Again, our aim is to be of use to practical researchers by providing underlying arguments. Specifically, we argue that objectivity is a bridge between the subjectivities of subjects and the rest of the real world. (shrink)
Forecasting involves an underlying conceptualization of probability. It is this that gives sense to the notion of precision in number that makes us think of economic forecasting as more than simply complicated guesswork. We think of it as well-founded statement, a science and not an art of numbers. However, this understanding is at odds with the nature of social reality and the attributes of the forecaster. We should think differently about how we both anticipate and make the future and what (...) this means. Foresight is perhaps a more appropriate term. This paper addresses two issues that rarely receive attention in the field of economics. First, why is there a continued high demand for economic forecasts despite their lack of success in anticipating significant turning points in any given system? Second, what are forecasts actually assuming about the nature of a system and the future state of the world? In the paper I approach these issues indirectly. My intention is to highlight their significance by setting out a series of arguments that encapsulate the characteristics of a forecaster required to match a common understanding of what forecasting is intended to do. The structure of this paper is unusual for a contribution in the field of economics. It follows a format more commonly used in analytical philosophy when the author wants to focus on a problem and where the intention is to provoke further questioning, rather than supply ready answers. As such, it should not be read as a comprehensive account of all possible approaches to methods or philosophies of forecasting and attendant issues of probability. Three points are worth stating at the outset as a guide to what follows: Forecasting tends to forget that it is conjecture and what that really means. Its scientism overburdens how it is articulated and how it is perceived. We tend to think of forecasting as degrees of precision in prediction and of successful prediction as successful description of phenomena at some future point. There is, as the following discussion demonstrates, something basically inconsistent within the implications of this minimalism. Since the greater part of the credibility of, and authority of, economics resides in its claims to effective forecasting these points are highly relevant to the state of the discipline. Read the Open Peer Discussion on this paper ». (shrink)
In the following review essay I explore the limitations of effective and constructive critique of Tony Lawson’s realism in economics as articulated in Ontology and Economics. In the first section I summarize the different framing procedures that shape the different critiques. In the second section I illustrate the limitations this creates using Caldwell’s contribution and in the third section I explore the way Lawson is conditioned to respond in terms of contestation, clarification and restatement. In the fourth section I add (...) some additional detail based on Samuelson’s approach to modelling in order to illustrate what is at issue between Caldwell and Lawson and to emphasize what this suggests in terms of a common pattern across the contributions to the text. In the fifth section and in the conclusion I link the limitations of the various critiques found in Ontology and Economics to a basic issue of the vulnerability of realism to critique in order to make some suggestions regarding constructive critique and development for realism in economics. (shrink)
Our aim is to explore and develop notions of objectivity that are useful and appropriate for critical realist empirical research. In Part I, we provided an initial definition that introduced the idea that objectivity is a value that must be chosen but that its significance is rooted in a series of other epistemological and ontological matters. We also addressed why it is worthwhile in realist terms to develop the notion of objectivity, and began to develop a revision of the concept (...) to recognise the role of subjectivities. This, we maintain, is an important clarification in developing social research. Part II explores the linkages between objectivity and situated action. In Part II we argue that the growth of knowledge requires engagement and critical analysis. We develop the idea that if subjects are engaged through multiple standpoints, then objectivity becomes significant as a lever of agency in the service of dialogue and debate and of transformations. Again, our aim is to be of use to practical researchers by providing underlying arguments. Specifically, we argue that objectivity is a bridge between the subjectivities of subjects and the rest of the real world. In so doing, the paper works through various desirable characteristics of an adequate theorisation of knowledge that could make objectivity part of the ontological underpinnings as well as the daily practices of a realist researcher. Objectivity thus links philosophical work to the everyday work of realist researchers. (shrink)
The following essay sets out the background developments in mathematics and set theory that inform Alain Badiou’s Being and Event in order to provide some context both for the original text and for comment on Chris Norris’s excellent exploration of Badiou’s work. I also provide a summary of Badiou’s overall approach.
In the following short essay I set out the key insights and main arguments by chapter of Alison Assiter’s Kierkegaard. This text is an important contribution to the general subject matter of realizable well-being. In a final section I discuss possible elaborations and limitations and challenges to the problem of morals and ethics that can and are developed from a metaphysic of the person.
This volume is the first of a trilogy which investigates, from a broadly realist perspective, the place, and challenges, of the human in contemporary social orders. The authors, all members of the Centre for Social Ontology, ask what is specific about humanity's nature and worth, and what are their main challenges in contemporary societies? Examining the ways in which recent advances in technology threaten to blur and displace the boundaries constitutive of our shared humanity, Realist Responses to Post-Human Society: Ex (...) Machina explores the philosophical and ethical questions raised by these developments, and discusses the dangers posed by the combination of transhumanism with post-humanist social theories and antihumanist practices, institutions and ideologies. (shrink)