Inside Ethics: On the Demands of Moral Thought

Alice Crary presents a deep challenge to certain widely shared assumptions about the nature and limits of ethical thought, along with a compelling invitation to think differently about the moral status and qualities of humans and animals. Most contemporary ethicists assume that any objective representation of human and animal life must be developed outside of ethics, using the normatively neutral methods of, for example, the natural sciences. Crary, in contrast, argues that humans and animals have empirically observable moral characteristics, recognition of which is crucial to moral thought, but which are inaccessible to us when we limit ourselves to neutral methods. Good, “world-guided” moral thought, according to Crary, requires the use of capacities such as moral imagination, the exercise of which is elicited by methods (including various narrative techniques) that are characteristic of the arts and humanities. Works employing such methods contribute directly to moral understanding by drawing us into the imaginative exploration of other moral perspectives.

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Ethics After Aristotle

This short but illuminating book opens the door on a little-known strand in Greek and Roman philosophy, Aristotelian ethics between Aristotle’s successor, Theophrastus (late fourth century BC) and the great Aristotelian commentator, Alexander of Aphrodisias (second/third century AD). The evidence for this topic is either indirect (especially in the Hellenistic period) or based on sources that raise difficult exegetical as well as interpretative questions. Recent scholarly work has gone some way to making this material more widely available, notably in Robert Sharples’ 2010 translation of sources for Peripatetic philosophy (200 BC-200 AD) and the essays on Peripatetic thought in the 2007 two-volume survey of ancient philosophy (100 BC-200 AD) edited by Sharples and Richard Sorabji.

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Responsible Belief: A Theory in Ethics and Epistemology

Rik Peels provides a comprehensive, original account of intellectual duties, doxastic blameworthiness, and responsible belief. The discussions, relating to work in epistemology as well as moral responsibility, are clear and often provide useful entries into the literature. Though I disagree with some of the main conclusions, the arguments are carefully laid out and typically merit a good amount of thought, even where one remains unconvinced. After providing an overview of the contents, I will specifically suggest that Peels’ theory fails to account for one important kind of doxastic obligation and doxastic blame.

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Philosophy for Business Students

Business schools are one of the more unusual locations to find philosophers, and yet there are quite a few business schools that do integrate philosophy into the curriculum beyond Business Ethics. London Business School runs a “Nobel Thinking” course, Copenhagen Business School offers a Master of Science in Business Administration and Philosophy, Macquarie Graduate School of Management in Australia’s philosophy-based “Foundations of Management Thought” is a core MBA course, and the University of Oxford offers the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) undergraduate degree. Yale, Carnegie Mellon, and Duke also offer similar programs.

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How to Change the World: Reflections on Marx and Marxism

In the 144 years since Karl Marx’s Das Kapital was published, the doctrine that bears his name has been embraced by millions in the name of equality, and just as dramatically has fallen from grace with the retreat of communism from the western world. But as the free market reaches its extreme limits in the economic and environmental fallout, a reassessment of capitalism’s most vigorous and eloquent enemy has never been more timely.

Eric Hobsbawm provides a fascinating and insightful overview of Marxism. He investigates its influences and analyses the spectacular reversal of Marxism’s fortunes over the past thirty years.

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Gramsci and Educational Thought

Gramsci’s entire project in the prison writings, centering on the notion of hegemony,
of which he does not provide a systematic exposition, is an educational project — education in the broadest sense possible. Education is central to the workings of hegemony in which every relationship is a pedagogical relationship. In other words, Peter Mayo to do justice to Gramsci’s writings that are of relevance to education, one should tackle Gramsci’s work holistically and not confine oneself to the track on schooling, or more precisely ‘the Unitarian school’, found in Notebook 4 and revised in Notebook 12. Gramsci’s pre-prison writings are also of great relevance here, together with some of his letters, since Gramsci accorded different forms of education, including adult education, great importance, considering their organization to be a key task of the Modern Prince that is the revolutionary party. This constitutes the subject of a well-informed chapter by John Holst, an attempt to see the several ‘altre vie’, which Gramsci explored for education, within the context of party work.

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Hegemony and education under neoliberalism: Insights from Gramsci

Based in a holistic exposition and appraisal of Gramsci’s writings that are of relevance to education in neoliberal times, this book—rather than simply applying Gramsci’s theories to issues in education—argues that education constitutes the leitmotif of his entire oeuvre and lies at the heart of his conceptualization of the ancient Greek term ‘hegemony’ that was used by other political theorists before him. Starting from this understanding, the book goes on to compare Gramsci’s theories with those of later thinkers in the development of a critical pedagogy that can confront Neoliberalism in all its forms.

“Antonio Gramsci meets education in this lucid and vivid tale of alternative education for critical democracy. Peter Mayo thinks with Gramsci to take the reader on a global ride through the history of revolutionary literacy movements in Latin America, the Mediterranean, and Global South. The book’s breadth of history, theory, and politics makes it essential reading for anyone interested in modes of emancipatory education and learning in neoliberal times.”

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Antonio Gramsci: A Pedagogy to Change the World

This volume provides evidence for the argument of a central place of pedagogy in the interpretation of Gramsci’s political theory. Gramsci’s view that ‘every relationship of hegemony is necessarily a pedagogical relationship’ makes it imperative to dismiss narrow and formal interpretations of his educational theories as applying to schooling only. This book argues that what is required rather is an inquiry into the Italian thinker’s broad conceptualization of pedagogy, which he thought of as a quintessential political activity, central to understanding and transforming society.

Preceded by a broad introduction that positions Gramsci in his context and in the literature, the essays in this book critically revisit the many passages of the Prison Notebooks and pre-prison writings where Gramsci addresses the nexus between politics and pedagogy. Some essays apply those concepts to specific contexts. The book for the first time brings to the attention of an English-speaking audience voices from the current historiography in Italy and Latin America.

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The Case for More Science and Philosophy Books for Children

For this reason, I take it as obvious that we should write science and philosophy books for children and teenagers. The issue is not to turn every kid into a future scientist. Despite all the hype about getting into STEM fields in college, our society doesn’t need millions of new PhDs in physics and biology every generation. But it does need citizens who are scientifically literate. This doesn’t just mean knowing the second law of thermodynamics—an isolated system’s entropy will increase over time—among other basic facts (though they certainly don’t hurt)! It means, more importantly, that they have developed a healthy respect for the scientific enterprise and are able to be properly critical of it when necessary.

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Phenomenology and Intercultural Understanding

This book, the fruition of twenty years of research and writing about phenomenology, carefully and insightfully traces the complex historical relations between phenomenology and non-Western thought over the last century. It also offers a critical diagnosis of the contemporary impediments to, and possibilities for, intercultural philosophy.

One key element of Lau’s argumentation is his sustained confrontation of the paradoxical relationship between phenomenology and non-Western and Asian philosophies with an original and provocative approach that is attentive and responsive to our intercultural embodiment and flesh. In particular, Lau’s intercultural reinterpretation of the phenomenological notion of flesh resituates the discourse of intercultural philosophy that is dominated by the more typical discussion of intercultural communication and understanding that characteristically occurs without reference to their fleshy and worldly embodiment.

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