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  1.  30
    Wittgenstein and the Idea of a Critical Social Theory: A Critique of Giddens, Habermas, and Bhaskar.Nigel Pleasants - 1999 - Routledge.
    This book uses the philosophy of Wittgenstein as a perspective from which to challenge the idea of a critical social theory, represented pre-eminently by Giddens, Habermas and Bhaskar.
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  2.  19
    The Structure of Moral Revolutions.Nigel Pleasants - 2018 - Social Theory and Practice 44 (4):567-592.
    In the recent and not-too-distant past many of our parents, grandparents and forbears believed that a person’s skin colour and physiognomy, gender, or sexuality licensed them being regarded and treated in ways that are now widely recognised as blatantly unjust, disrespectful, cruel and brutal. But the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries have hosted a series of radical changes in attitudes, beliefs, behaviour and institutionalised practices with regard to the fundamental moral equality of what were once seen as different “kinds of (...)
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  3.  97
    Wittgenstein, Ethics and Basic Moral Certainty.Nigel Pleasants - 2008 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 51 (3):241 – 267.
    Alice Crary claims that “the standard view of the bearing of Wittgenstein's philosophy on ethics” is dominated by “inviolability interpretations”, which often underlie conservative readings of Wittgenstein. Crary says that such interpretations are “especially marked in connection with On Certainty”, where Wittgenstein is represented as holding that “our linguistic practices are immune to rational criticism, or inviolable”. Crary's own conception of the bearing of Wittgenstein's philosophy on ethics, which I call the “intrinsically-ethical reading”, derives from the influential New Wittgenstein school (...)
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  4.  27
    The Question of the Holocaust's Uniqueness: Was It Something More Than or Different From Genocide?Nigel Pleasants - 2016 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 33 (3):297-310.
    Dating back to the very beginning of our knowledge of the events that constituted the Holocaust, some historians, social scientists, philosophers, theologians and public intellectuals argue that it was a unique historical, or even trans-historical, event. The aim of this article is to clarify what the uniqueness question should be about and to ascertain whether there are good reasons for judging that the Holocaust is unique. It examines the core meanings of ‘unique’ that feature in the literature and identifies which (...)
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  5.  43
    Institutional Wrongdoing and Moral Perception.Nigel Pleasants - 2008 - Journal of Social Philosophy 39 (1):96–115.
  6. Marx and Wittgenstein: Knowledge, Morality and Politics.Gavin Kitching & Nigel Pleasants (eds.) - 2014 - Routledge.
    At first sight, Karl Marx and Ludwig Wittgenstein may well seem to be as different from each other as it is possible for the ideas of two major intellectuals to be. Despite this standard conception, however, a small number of scholars have long suggested that there are deeper philosophical commonalities between Marx and Wittgenstein. They have argued that, once grasped, these commonalities can radically change and enrich understanding both of Marxism and of Wittgensteinian philosophy. This book develops and extends this (...)
     
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  7.  17
    Ordinary Men: Genocide, Determinism, Agency, and Moral Culpability.Nigel Pleasants - 2018 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 48 (1):3-32.
    In the space of their 16-month posting to Poland, the 500 men of Police Battalion 101 genocidally massacred 38,000 Jews by rifle and pistol fire. Although they were acting as members of a formal security force, these men knew that they could avoid participation in killing operations with impunity, and a substantial minority did so. Why, then, did so many participate in the genocidal killing when they knew they did not have to? Landmark historical studies by Christopher Browning and Daniel (...)
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  8.  28
    Nothing is Concealed: De-Centring Tacit Knowledge and Rules From Social Theory.Nigel Pleasants - 1996 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 26 (3):233–255.
    The concept of “tacit knowledge” as the means by which individuals interpret the “rules” of social interaction occupies a central role in all the major contemporary theories of action and social structure. The major reference point for social theorists is Wittgenstein's celebrated discussion of rule-following in the Philosophical Investigations. Focusing on Giddens' incorporation of tacit knowledge and rules into his “theory of structuration”, I argue that Wittgenstein's later work is steadfastly set against the “latent cognitivism” inherent in the idea of (...)
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  9. Wittgenstein and Basic Moral Certainty.Nigel Pleasants - 2009 - Philosophia 37 (4):669-679.
    In On Certainty, Wittgenstein’s reflections bring into view the phenomenon of basic certainty. He explores this phenomenon mostly in relation to our certainty with regard to empirical states of affairs. Drawing on these seminal observations and reflections, I extend the inquiry into what I call “basic moral certainty”, arguing that the latter plays the same kind of foundational role in our moral practices and judgements as basic empirical certainty does in our epistemic practices and judgements. I illustrate the nature and (...)
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  10.  40
    Moral Argument Is Not Enough: The Persistence of Slavery and the Emergence of Abolition.Nigel Pleasants - 2010 - Philosophical Topics 38 (1):159-180.
    Slavery seems to us to be a paradigm of a morally wrong institutionalized practice. And yet for most of its millennia-long historical existence it was typically accepted as a natural, necessary, and inevitable feature of the social world. This widespread normative consensus was only challenged toward the end of the eighteenth century. Then, within a hundred years of the emergence of radical moral criticism of slavery, the existing practices had been dismantled and the institution itself “abolished.” How do we explain (...)
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  11.  14
    Free Will, Determinism and the “Problem” of Structure and Agency in the Social Sciences.Nigel Pleasants - 2018 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 49 (1):3-30.
    The so-called “problem” of structure and agency is clearly related to the philosophical problem of free will and determinism, yet the central philosophical issues are not well understood by theorists of structure and agency in the social sciences. In this article I draw a map of the available stances on the metaphysics of free will and determinism. With the aid of this map the problem of structure and agency will be seen to dissolve. The problem of structure and agency is (...)
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  12. Social Criticism for 'Critical Critics'?Nigel Pleasants - 2003 - History of the Human Sciences 16 (4):95-100.
  13.  22
    Winch, Wittgenstein and the Idea of a Critical Social Theory.Nigel Pleasants - 2000 - History of the Human Sciences 13 (1):78-91.
    The received understanding of Winch’s critique of social science is that he propounded a radically relativist, anti-explanatory and a-critical conception of the legitimate task of ‘social studies’. This conception is presumed to be predicated upon an extension of Wittgenstein’s critique of philosophy. I argue, against this view, that Winch reads Wittgenstein through a Kantian framework, and that in fact he advanced a rigorously essentialist and universalist picture of ‘social phenomena’. It is Winch’s underlying Kantian metaphysics that has made his ideas (...)
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  14.  48
    Winch and Wittgenstein on Understanding Ourselves Critically: Descriptive Not Metaphysical.Nigel Pleasants - 2000 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 43 (3):289 – 317.
    This paper presents an 'internal' criticism of Winch's seminal 'Understanding a Primitive Society'. It distinguishes between two contrasting approaches to critical social understanding: (1) the metaphysical approach, central to the whole tradition of critical philosophy and critical social theory from Kant, through Marx to the Frankfurt School and contemporary theorists such as Habermas and Searle; (2) the descriptive approach, advocated by Winch, and which derives from Wittgenstein's critique of philosophical theory. It is argued, against a long tradition of 'critical theory' (...)
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  15.  28
    Marx and Wittgenstein: Knowledge, Morality and Politics.Gavin Kitching & Nigel Pleasants (eds.) - 2002 - Routledge.
    At first sight, Karl Marx and Ludwig Wittgenstein may well seem to be as different from each other as it is possible for the ideas of two major intellectuals to be. Despite this standard conception, however, a small number of scholars have long suggested that there are deeper philosophical commonalities between Marx and Wittgenstein. They have argued that, once grasped, these commonalities can radically change and enrich understanding both of Marxism and of Wittgensteinian philosophy. This book develops and extends this (...)
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  16.  13
    Would Aristotle Have Seen the Wrongness of Slavery If He Had Undergone a Course of Moral Enhancement?Nigel Pleasants - 2018 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 83:87-107.
    I agree with those proponents of bio-medical moral enhancement who claim that we face large-scale global moral problems which are currently un-recognised or un-acted upon. But I argue that the proposed bio-medical means for tackling them is misconceived. I show that both bio-medical and “traditional” conceptions of moral enhancement share a misleading picture of the relation between the moral psychology of individuals and the socially structured moral problems with which they are faced. The argument unfolds in three stages. First I (...)
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  17.  36
    Review Essays : A Wittgensteinian Social Theory?Nigel Pleasants - 1996 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 26 (3):397-416.
  18.  44
    Nonsense on Stilts? Wittgenstein, Ethics, and the Lives of Animals.Nigel Pleasants - 2006 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 49 (4):314 – 336.
    Wittgenstein is often invoked in philosophical disputes over the ethical justifiability of our treatment of animals. Many protagonists believe that Wittgenstein's philosophy points to a quantum difference between human and animal nature that arises out of humans' linguistic capacity. For this reason - its alleged anthropocentrism - animal liberationists tend to dismiss Wittgenstein's philosophy, whereas, for the same reason, anti-liberationists tend to embrace it. I endorse liberationist moral claims, but think that many on both sides of the dispute fail to (...)
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  19.  57
    Free to Act Otherwise? A Wittgensteinian Deconstruction of the Concept of Agency in Contemporary Social and Political Theory.Nigel Pleasants - 1997 - History of the Human Sciences 10 (4):1-28.
    The concept of agency, defined counterfactually as the freedom to 'act otherwise', occupies a central place in much of contemporary social and political theory. In criticizing this concept of agency I deploy what I call an 'immanent critique', focusing upon Bhaskar's 'transcendental realism' and Rorty's anti-realist theory of linguistic contingency. Invoking Wittgenstein's argumentation from On Certainty, I go on to contend that agency and freedom cannot be 'known' in the way that social and political theorists assert. I proceed to criticize (...)
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  20.  85
    The Epistemological Argument Against Socialism: A Wittgensteinian Critique of Hayek and Giddens.Nigel Pleasants - 1997 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 40 (1):23 – 45.
    Hayek's and Mises's argument for the impossibility of socialist planning is once again popular. Their case against socialism is predicated on an account of the nature of knowledge and social interaction. Hayek refined Mises's original argument by developing a philosophical anthropology which depicts individuals as tacitly knowledgeable rule-followers embedded in a 'spontaneous order' of systems of rules. Giddens, whose social theory is informed by his reading of Wittgenstein, has recently added his sociological support to Hayek's 'epistemological argument' against socialism. With (...)
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  21.  45
    Rich Egalitarianism, Ordinary Politics, and the Demands of Justice.Nigel Pleasants - 2002 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 45 (1):97 – 117.
  22.  37
    A Philosophy for the Social Sciences: Realism, Pragmatism, or Neither? [REVIEW]Nigel Pleasants - 2003 - Foundations of Science 8 (1):69-87.
    Philosophers of science seek to discover theessential features of science. Having donethis, these features are then proffered as a`benchmark' against which any putative sciencecan be assessed for its scientificity. Socialscientists, in particular, are much concernedwith achieving the status of genuine science.When considering the status of the socialsciences, philosophers of science also seek todiscern the essential, and differentiating,characteristics of the object of study, namely,social phenomena as such. This paper provides acritical examination of two apparentlydiametrically opposed approaches to philosophyof science, namely, realism (...)
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  23.  18
    The Concept of Learning From the Study of the Holocaust.Nigel Pleasants - 2004 - History of the Human Sciences 17 (2-3):187-210.
  24. Marx and Wittgenstein: Knowledge, Morality and Politics.Gavin Kitching & Nigel Pleasants (eds.) - 2013 - Routledge.
    At first sight, Karl Marx and Ludwig Wittgenstein may well seem to be as different from each other as it is possible for the ideas of two major intellectuals to be. Despite this standard conception, however, a small number of scholars have long suggested that there are deeper philosophical commonalities between Marx and Wittgenstein. They have argued that, once grasped, these commonalities can radically change and enrich understanding both of Marxism and of Wittgensteinian philosophy. This book develops and extends this (...)
     
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  25. Towards a Critical Use of Marx and Wittgenstein.Nigel Pleasants - 2002 - In G. N. Kitching & Nigel Pleasants (eds.), Marx and Wittgenstein: Knowledge, Morality and Politics. Routledge. pp. 35--160.