Metaphilosophy is itself philosophy about philosophy. It is not something before or independent of philosophy. Both Kai Nielsen and Richard Rorty are deeply concerned (someone might say obsessively preoccupied) with metaphilosophy. They both are thoroughly historicist and contextualist resolutely rejecting any form of a transcendental or metaphysical turn. They argue against claims to absolute validity (as well as against absolutism in any form) and a natural order of reasons: some 'Reason' to which any rational agent must be committed. They (...) both see philosophy as a transitional genre first (historically speaking) from religion then metaphysics and more latterly from scientistic conceptions of the world. But they differ about what philosophy is transitional to. For Rorty it is historical narrative and utopian proposals; for Nielsen it is critical theory. Rorty claims this, Nielsen's intentions to the contrary notwithstanding, commits him to enlightenment rationalism. Nielsen replies that his form of critical theory is deeply historicist and contextual without being resolutely atheoretical. This plays out in political orientation to Nielsen's being a socialist while Rorty is a social democrat. (shrink)
This festschrift includes a dozen essays on issues that have been at the focus of Kai Nielsen's research, mainly issues in ethics and political philosophy. Among these are four essays on socialism and Marxism. There are also essays on philosophy of religion, epistemology, and meta-philosophy.
In my Contemporary Critiques of Religion and in my Scepticism , I argue that non-anthropomorphic conceptions of God do not make sense. By this I mean that we do not have sound grounds for believing that the central truth-claims of Christianity are genuine truth-claims and that we do not have a religiously viable concept of God. I argue that this is so principally because of three interrelated features about God-talk. While purporting to be factual assertions, central bits of God-talk, e.g. (...) ‘God exists’ and ‘God loves man-kind’, are not even in principle verifiable in such a way that we can say what experienceable states of affairs would count for these putative assertions and against their denials, such that we could say what it would be like to have evidence which would make either their assertion or their denial more or less probably true. Personal predicates, e.g. ‘loves’, ‘creates’, are at least seemingly essential in the use of God-talk, yet they suffer from such an attenuation of meaning in their employment in religious linguistic environments that it at least appears to be the case that we have in such environments unwittingly emptied these predicates of all intelligible meaning so that we do not understand what we are asserting or denying when we utter ‘God loves mankind’ or ‘God created the heavens and the earth’ and the like. When we make well-formed assertions, it appears at least to be the case that a necessary condition for such wellformedness is that we should be able successfully to identify the subject of that putative statement so that we can understand what it is that we are talking about and thus understand that a genuine statement has actually been made. But, where God is conceived non-anthropomorphically, we have no even tolerably clear idea about how God, an infinite individual, occupying no particular place or existing at no particular time, and being utterly transcendent to the world, can be identified. Indeed we have no coherent idea of what it would be like to identify him and this means we have no coherent idea of what it would be like for God even to be a person or an it. He cannot be picked out and identified in the way persons and things can. (shrink)
In this updated and revised version of his 2008 Society for Business Ethics presidential address, Richard Nielsen documents the characteristics and extent of the 2007–2009 economic crisis and analyzes how the ethics issues of the economic crisis are structurally related to a relatively new form of capitalism, high-leverage finance capitalism. Four types of high-leverage finance capitalism are considered: hedge funds; private equity-leveraged buyouts; high-leverage, subprime mortgage banking; and high-leverage banking.The structurally related problems with the four types of high-leverage finance (...) capitalism converged in something of a perfect economic storm. Explanations for the crisis are offered in the context of the type of the high-leverage finance capitalism system that permitted andfacilitated the economic crisis. Ethics issues and potential reforms are considered that may be able to mitigate the destructive effects of what Schumpeter referred to as the “creative destructive” effects of evolutionary forms of capitalism while realizing the Aristotelianeconomic ideal of creating wealth in such a way as to make us better people and the world a better place. (shrink)
Since Rorty, the crisis of method and interests in philosophy has been at the forefront of metaphilosophy. In this book, Kai Nielsen, one of the most prominent critics of philosophy-as-usual, examines critically the most important claims made on behalf of philosophy. After rejecting as chimerical the ambitious claims of traditional, especially foundational, epistemology and metaphysics, he presents the case for a more modest view of what philosophy can accomplish.Nielsen insists that philosophy must be devoted to actual problems of (...) real people in everyday life. Influenced substantively by Dewey and more methodologically by Rawls, he carves out a defensible terrain for philosophy to inhabit—a terrain cleared of the more extravagant but implausible claims made by traditional philosophy.Nielsen has been a major voice in debates about the scope of philosophy, and this latest work of his will be an important contribution to the “end of philosophy debate.”. (shrink)
Offensive street speech--racist and sexist remarks that can make its targets feel both psychologically and physically threatened--is surprisingly common in our society. Many argue that this speech is so detestable that it should be banned under law. But is this an area covered by the First Amendment right to free speech? Or should it be banned?In this elegantly written book, Laura Beth Nielsen pursues the answers by probing the legal consciousness of ordinary citizens. Using a combination of field observations (...) and in-depth, semistructured interviews, she surveys one hundred men and women, some of whom are routine targets of offensive speech, about how such speech affects their lives. Drawing on these interviews as well as an interdisciplinary body of scholarship, Nielsen argues that racist and sexist speech creates, reproduces, and reinforces existing systems of hierarchy in public places. The law works to normalize and justify offensive public interactions, she concludes, offering, in essence, a "license to harass."Nielsen relates the results of her interviews to statistical surveys that measure the impact of offensive speech on the public. Rather than arguing whether law is the appropriate remedy for offensive speech, she allows that the benefits to democracy, to community, and to society of allowing such speech may very well outweigh the burdens imposed. Nonetheless, these burdens, and the stories of the people who bear them, should not remain invisible and outside the debate. (shrink)
What happens in a conversation between a committed Atheist and a committed Christian? While agreeing to disagree on almost every detail, Kai Nielsen, Chair of the Department of Philosophy, University of Calgary, and Hendrik Hart, Senior Member in Philosophy at the graduate Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto, agree that it is not fruitless.
The problem this article is concerned with is the failure ofmany large organizations in formerly socialist countries and inpublic sectors of market economies to make effective, peaceful,and ethical transformation from command to market responsiveorganization and privatization. There are at least threeimportant behavioral causes of this problem. First, organizationtransformation is blocked because the organization tries tochange "all at once" before the organization has learned how toact successfully in a new for the organization environment as amarket responsive instead of a command organization (...) (Churchman,1971; Quinn, 1980; Nystrom and Starbuck, 1984; Mintzberg andWaters, 1985; Mintzberg, 1994; Goldman, 1994). Second,organization transformation is blocked because "all at oncechange" stimulates so much fear and political opposition thatchange is politically not possible (Argyris and Schon, 1974;Argyris, 1990; Goldman, 1994; Sachs, 1992). Third, organizationtransformation is blocked because the "guardian" ethics syndromeof command organization is less appropriate for market responsiveorganization than a "commercial" ethics syndrome (Jacobs, 1992;Harris, 1995). Gradual intrapreneurship (Burgelman, 1983; Nielsenet al., 1985) can serve as a peaceful and ethical transitionstrategy. Intrapreneurship can help bridge some of thecontradictions between "commercial" vs. "guardian" ethicssyndromes (Jacobs, 1992; Nielsen, 1996). (shrink)
Kap. Rhythmus Ce texte est une section du livre de C. Nielsen, Zeitatomistik und “Wille zur Macht”. Annäherungen an Nietzsche, Tübingen, Attempto, 2014, 134 S. Nous remercions chaleureusement Cathrin Nielsen de nous avoir autorisé à le reproduire ici. Das griechische Wort rhythmos bedeutet zunächst, ähnlich wie schema und tropos, lediglich das Moment der Distinktion und impliziert darin so etwas wie die Abstandnahme einer einförmigen Bewegung von sich selbst. Erst Platon verbindet ihn mit - Philosophie.
Through examining Douglass's and Fanon's concrete experiences of oppression, Cynthia R. Nielsen demonstrates the empirical validity of Foucault's theoretical analyses concerning power, resistance, and subject-formation. Going beyond merely confirming Foucault's insights, Douglass and Fanon expand, strengthen, and offer correctives to the emancipatory dimensions of Foucault's project. Unlike Foucault, Douglass and Fanon were not hesitant to make transhistorical judgments condemning slavery and colonization. Foucault's reticence here signals a weakness in his account of human being. This weakness sets him at cross-purposes (...) not only with Scotus, but also with Douglass and Fanon. Scotus's anthropology provides a basis for transhistorical moral critique; thus he is a valuable dialogue partner for those concerned about social justice and human flourishing. (shrink)
Cet article a déjà paru dans Beiträge zur geistigen Situation der Gegenwart Jg. 8, Heft 3. Nous remercions Cathrin Nielsen de nous voir permis de la reproduire ici. Im Oktober 1887, also knapp zwei Jahre vor seinem geistigen Zusammenbruch, schreibt Nietzsche an Hermann Levi in München : „Vielleicht hat es nie einen Philosophen gegeben, der in dem Grade im Grund so sehr Musiker war, wie ich es bin“. Wenig später vertraut er seinem engen Freund Heinrich Köselitz alias Peter Gast (...) an : es - XIXe siècle – Nouvel article. (shrink)
Scientists use models to understand the natural world, and it is important not to conflate model and nature. As an illustration, we distinguish three different kinds of populations in studies of ecology and evolution: theoretical, laboratory, and natural populations, exemplified by the work of R.A. Fisher, Thomas Park, and David Lack, respectively. Biologists are rightly concerned with all three types of populations. We examine the interplay between these different kinds of populations, and their pertinent models, in three examples: the notion (...) of “effective” population size, the work of Thomas Park on /Tribolium/ populations, and model-based clustering algorithms such as /Structure/. Finally, we discuss ways to move safely between three distinct population types while avoiding confusing models and reality. (shrink)
The problem this article focuses on is not the isolated individual act of corruption, but the systematic, pervasive sub-system of corruption that can and has existed across historical periods, geographic areas, and political-economic systems. It is important to first understand how corrupt and unethical subsystems operate, particularly their network nature, in order to reform and change them while not becoming what we are trying to change. Twelve key system elements are considered that include case examples from Asia, Latin America, the (...) Mediterranean, and North America. A key operating feature of corruption sub-systems is that they are relatively stable networks rather than exceptional, independent, individual events. Drawing on social network, social movement, and action-learning theories, six theory building propositions concerning ethical corruption reform are developed. (shrink)
Numerous studies have replicated the finding of mentation in both rapid eye movement (REM) and nonrapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. However, two different theoretical models have been proposed to account for this finding: (1) a one-generator model, in which mentation is generated by a single set of processes regardless of physiological differences between REM and NREM sleep; and (2) a two-generator model, in which qualitatively different generators produce cognitive activity in the two states. First, research is reviewed demonstrating conclusively that (...) mentation can occur in NREM sleep; global estimates show an average mentation recall rate of about 50% from NREM sleep – a value that has increased substantially over the years. Second, nine different types of research on REM and NREM cognitive activity are examined for evidence supporting or refuting the two models. The evidence largely, but not completely, favors the two-generator model. Finally, in a preliminary attempt to reconcile the two models, an alternative model is proposed that assumes the existence of covert REM sleep processes during NREM sleep. Such covert activity may be responsible for much of the dreamlike cognitive activity occurring in NREM sleep. Key Words: cognition in sleep; dreaming; NREM sleep; REM sleep; sleep mentation. (shrink)
Gerhard Lenski's ecological-evolutionary typology of human societies, based on the level of technology of a society and the nature of its physical environment, is a powerful predictor of various dimensions of social inequality. Analysis of comparative data shows that while some dimensions of the stratification system (such as measures of social complexity) exhibit a monotonic trend of increasing inequality with level of technology from the hunting-and-gathering to the agrarian type, others (such as measures of freedom and sexual inequality among males) (...) exhibit a pattern of "agrarian reversal" in which inequality increases from the hunting-and-gathering to the advanced horticultural type but then declines with the agrarian type. Theoretical and empirical implications of the agrarian reversal pattern for the study of social inequality are discussed. (shrink)
Frantz Fanon offers a lucid account of his entrance into the white world where the weightiness of the ‘white gaze’ nearly crushed him. In chapter five of Black Skins, White Masks, he develops his historico-racial and epidermal racial schemata as correctives to Merleau-Ponty’s overly inclusive corporeal schema. Experientially aware of the reality of socially constructed (racialized) subjectivities, Fanon uses his schemata to explain the creation, maintenance, and eventual rigidification of white-scripted ‘blackness’. Through a re-telling of his own experiences of racism, (...) Fanon is able to show how a black person in a racialized context eventually internalizes the ‘white gaze’. In this essay I bring Fanon’s insights into conversation with Foucault’s discussion of panoptic surveillance. Although the internalization of the white narrative creates a situation in which external constraints are no longer needed, Fanon highlights both the historical contingency of ‘blackness’ and the ways in which the oppressed can re-narrate their subjectivities. Lastly, I discuss Fanon’s historically attuned ‘new humanism’, once again engaging Fanon and Foucault as dialogue partners. (shrink)
Organizational ethics and institutional theories are extended by recovering Weberian and Pre-Weberian theorizing that emphasized the joining of ethics and institutional theories. Understanding how ethics and institutional systems influence each other can advance our understanding of the nature and causes of structural organizational ethics issues and help guide potential reforms. We consider the interplay of these elements during the recession of 2008–2009, highlighting how structural ethics problems may have to be addressed at the institutional levels and not solely the individual (...) or organizational levels. (shrink)
Foucault’s later writings continue his analyses of subject-formation but now with a view to foregrounding an active subject capable of self-transformation via ascetical and other self-imposed disciplinary practices. In my essay, I engage Foucault’s studies of ancient Greco-Roman and Christian technologies of the self with a two-fold purpose in view. First, I bring to the fore additional continuities either downplayed or overlooked by Foucault’s analysis between Greco-Roman transformative practices including self-writing, correspondence, and the hupomnemata and Christian ascetical and epistolary practices. (...) Second, I add exegetical support to recent arguments denying Foucault’s advocacy for the death of the subject per se. In fact, my analyses show that Foucault’s ethico-aesthetic turn and its corresponding concern with self-transformation and self-(re)constitution via ascetical practices assumes a subject with rational and volitional capacities. Without these capacities, the art of living Foucault describes is not possible. (shrink)
This year’s topic is “Genomics and Philosophy of Race.” Different researchers might work on distinct subsets of the six thematic clusters below, which are neither mutually exclusive nor collectively exhaustive: (1) Concepts of ‘Race’; (2) Mathematical Modeling of Human History and Population Structure; (3) Data and Technologies of Human Genomics; (4) Biological Reality of Race; (5) Racialized Selves in a Global Context; (6) Pragmatic Consequences of ‘Race Talk’ among Biologists.
One of the most fundamental premises of feminist philosophy is the assumption of an invidious asymmetry between the genders that has to be overcome. Parallel to this negative account of asymmetry we also find a positive account, developed in particular within the context of so-called feminist philosophies of difference. I explore both notions of gender asymmetry. The goal is a clarification of the notion of asymmetry as it can presently be found in feminist philosophy. Drawing upon phenomenology as well as (...) feminist difference theory , I argue that a gender asymmetry does exist that cannot-as in the first assumption-be transformed into symmetry. (shrink)
Can ethical character be stimulated and enabled? Cognitive understanding of organizational ethics issues is important and necessary, but not sufficient. Ethical behavior does not emerge automatically. Effective political method is necessary. While it may be difficult to teach ethical character, nonetheless, skill development with respect to joined ethics understanding and action-learning methods can help us develop the skills and confidence we need to actualize our ethical characters and social concerns. An action-learning approach to organizational ethics can help stimulate and enable (...) ethical character. (shrink)
Cheyne and Girard characterize felt presence during sleep paralysis attacks as a pre-hallucinatory expression of a threat-activated vigilance system. While their results may be consistent with this interpretation, they are nonetheless correlational and do not address a parsimonious alternative explanation. This alternative stipulates that FP is a purely spatial, hallucinatory form of a common cognitive phenomenon—social imagery—that is often, but not necessarily, linked with threat and fear and that may induce distress among susceptible individuals. The occurrence of both fearful and (...) non-fearful FPs in a multiplicity of situations other than sleep paralysis attacks supports the notion that FPs are hallucinatory variants of social imagery and that they are not necessarily bound to threat-activated vigilance. Evidence linking FPs with anxiety disorders supports the notion that the distress they evoke may be mediated by a more general affective distress personality factor. To illustrate the predominantly spatial character of FP hallucinations, similarities between FP and phantom limbs are summarized and the possibility that these two phenomena are parallel expressions of a mirror neuron system is considered. (shrink)
Virginia Held, best known for her landmark book Rights and Goods, has made an indelible mark on the fields of ethics, feminist philosophy, and social and political thought. Her impact on a generation of feminist thinkers is unrivaled and she has been at the forfront of discussions about the way in which an ethic of care can affect social and political matters. These new essays by leading contemporary philosophers range over all of these areas. While each stands alone, the essays (...) together demonstrate the lasting value of Held's work to the field. Includes an afterword by Held. (shrink)
This article explains how the private equity-leveraged buyout type of financial institution (PE-LBO) operates as a form of finance capitalism. PE-LBO capitalism is described and compared with other types of capitalism such as family business capitalism, managerial capitalism, and other forms of finance capitalism such as shareholder value capitalism. Ethical and social issues structurally related to the PE-LBO form are analyzed. Potential reforms and/or solutions are considered.
We present results from a study about women and employee-elected board members, and fill some of the gaps in the literature about their contribution to board effectiveness. The empirical data are from a unique data set of Norwegian firms. Board effectiveness is evaluated in relation to board control tasks, including board corporate social responsibility (CSR) involvement. We found that the contributions of women and employee-elected board members varied depending on the board tasks studied. In the article we also explored the (...) effects of the esteem of the women and employee-elected board members, and we used creative discussions in the boardroom as a mediating variable. Previous board research, including research about women and employee-elected directors, questions if the board members contribute to board effectiveness. The main message from this study is that it may be more important to ask how, rather than if, women and employee-elected board members contribute, and we need to open the black box of actual board behavior to explore how they may contribute. (shrink)
Wittgenstein did not write on the philosophy of religion. But certain strands of his later thought readily lend themselves to what I call Wittgensteinian Fideism. There is no text that I can turn to for an extended statement of this position, but certain remarks made by Winch, Hughes, Malcolm, Geach, Cavell, Cameron and Coburn can either serve as partial statements of this position, or can be easily used in service of such a statement. Some of their contentions will serve as (...) targets for my argumentation, for as much as I admire Wittgenstein, it seems to me that the fideistic conclusions drawn by these philosophers from his thought are often absurd. This leads me back to an inspection of their arguments and the premisses in these arguments. (shrink)
This paper seeks to analyse small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) managers' representations of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and CSR communication in a corporate communication perspective. The basic question is: how strategic is CSR communication in SMEs? Corporate communication and CSR theories are used to establish an ideal typology of CSR concepts informing an analysis of qualitative data in the form of interviews with three middle managers in two Danish SMEs. A CSR communication model published earlier by the authors is challenged (...) from a SME perspective. Results from an Internet-based questionnaire survey of 1071 SMEs pave the way for the analysis. Our analysis shows that SME managers clearly have an inside-out approach to CSR, with a strong emphasis on the internal (corporate culture) dimension. However, SMEs and/or SME managers tend not to communicate externally about the CSR activities of the company. Based on these findings, the paper argues that CSR communication in SMEs is challenged by the global economy and is under revision. The contribution of the paper is to provide an insight into SMEs' present stage in relation to a possible future approach to strategic CSR communication. The paper also reminds us that SMEs have no interest in turning their local and authentic practice into a forced marketing and branding exercise, leaving them with an artificial picture of who they are and strive to be in the future. They should keep on acting locally but force themselves to think globally. (shrink)
Frederick Douglass, in his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, describes how his sociopolitical identity was scripted by the white other and how his spatiotemporal existence was likewise constrained through constant surveillance and disciplinary dispositifs. Even so, Douglass was able to assert his humanity through creative acts of resistance. In this essay, I highlight the ways in which Douglass refused to accept the other-imposed narrative, demonstrating with his life the truth of his being—a human being unwilling to (...) be classified as thing or property. As I engage selected passages and key events from Douglass's narrative, I likewise explore the ways in which the resistance tactics. (shrink)
Decision making for incompetent patients is a much-discussed topic in bioethics. According to one influential decision making standard, the substituted judgment standard, the decision that ought to be made for the incompetent patient is the decision the patient would have made, had he or she been competent. Although the merits of this standard have been extensively debated, some important issues have not been sufficiently explored. One fundamental problem is that the substituted judgment standard, as commonly formulated, is indeterminate in content (...) and thus offers the surrogate little or no guidance. What the standard does not specify is just how competent one should imagine the patient to be, and what else one ought to envision about the patient’s hypothetical outlook and the circumstances surrounding his or her decision making. The article discusses this problem of underdetermined decision conditions. (shrink)
In recent works, Shlomi Segall suggests and defends a luck egalitarian approach to justice in health. Concurring with G. A. Cohen’s mature position he defends the idea that people should be compensated for “brute luck”, i.e. the outcome of actions that it would be unreasonable to expect them to avoid. In his defense of the luck egalitarian approach he seeks to rebut the criticism raised by Norman Daniels that luck egalitarianism is in some way too narrow and in another too (...) wide to uphold justice in health and health care distribution. He points out that a pluralistic outline of luck egalitarianism taking into account the moral requirement of meeting everyone’s basic needs can avoid this line of criticism. In this article I argue against the application of such pluralistic luck egalitarianism in matters of health distribution. First of all, Segall has not shown that luck egalitarianism handles well health distributions above a threshold of basic needs. Secondly, his way of avoiding Elizabeth Anderson’s abandonment objection is theoretically problematic. Finally, I argue that luck egalitarianism in general fails to acknowledge the moral foundation of health and health care as a basic human entitlement. Thus I conclude that luck egalitarianism fails to take health needs seriously and that it cannot therefore uphold justice in health. (shrink)
Internal due process systems are the formal mechanisms thatmany organizations use to address and resolve ethics conflicts.Problematical due process systems such asinvestigation-punishment and grievance-arbitration systemsnarrowly constrain the political and moral space needed formeaningful ethics voice, praxis, and community. The relativelyuncommon employee board and mediator-counselor types of systemscan help solve such problems. The employee board andmediator-counselor systems permit questioning not only of guiltwith respect to policy violations but also the appropriateness ofthe policies as well as potential biases in an organization'sembedded tradition-system (...) that may be contributing to unethicalbehavior. Theoretical implications for organization ethics,praxis, community, and integrative social contracts theories areexplored. Several case examples are discussed. (shrink)
There can be ethical understanding of organizational policy issues and that is important. However, there can be policy understandingabout what the organization should do without understanding of individual level responsibility. There can be cognitive understanding of both policy and individual level ethics responsibilities and that is important. However, there can be cognitive understanding without affective, emotive concern. Intellectual understanding without affective concern can lead to understanding without motivation. There can be cognitive understanding and affective concern and that is important, but (...) not enough. There can be cognitive understanding and affective concern without effective political method. An action-learning approach to organizational ethics can join cognitive understanding of policy and individual level issues with both affective concern and effective political method. Joining of cognitive understanding, affective concern, and effective political method can stimulate and enable ethical character. (shrink)