Volume 09 Abstracts

Volume 9, Number 1, Spring-Summer 2002


Is Practical Philosophy for Private Profit or Public Good?: A Critical View of the Practical Turn in Contemporary Philosophy
Patricia Shipley
Emeritus Reader in Occupational Psychology
University of London
Fellow, British Psychological Society
Fellow, Society for the Furtherance of the Critical Philosophy
Fernando Leal
Professor of Philosophy & Social Science
University of Guadalajara, Mexico
Fellow, Society for the Furtherance of the Critical Philosophy
This paper takes a critical look at the rise of the practice of philosophy in the market place in late modernity. Two main forms of such practice are identified: the practice of Socratic Dialogue in small groups in organisations and one-to-one philosophical counselling of individual ‘clients’. The relevance of professionalism for commercialised applied practical philosophy is discussed. Philosophical counsellors in particular may be at risk of engaging with vulnerable individuals who are in need of protection from practitioners who are not trained to deal with their problems. Psychology is the discipline which is most related to practical philosophy and it is growing in ethical awareness. This paper emphasises the importance of ethics for philosophy in practice. There is a pressing need for eternal vigilance by practitioners from such disciplines, whether professionalised or not, in the complex modern ‘runaway world’.


Dennett and the Quest for Real Meaning: In Defense of a “Myth”
David Beisecker
Department of Philosophy
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV 89154 USA
In several recent pieces, Daniel Dennett has advanced a line of reasoning purporting to show that we should reject the idea that there is a tenable distinction to be drawn between the manner in which we represent the way things are and the manner in which “blessedly simple” intentional systems like thermostats and frogs represent the way things are. Through a series of thought experiments, Dennett aims to show that philosophers of mind should abandon their preoccupation with “real meanings as opposed to ersatz meaning, ‘intrinsic’ or ‘original’ intentionality as oppose to derived intentionality.” In this paper, I lay out the case that Dennett builds against original intentionality, with the aim of showing that, once it has been properly clarified, the notion of original intentionality isn’t nearly the myth that Dennett makes it out to be.


Making A Game of Killing: Fantasy, Reality and the Violence at Columbine High School
Suzanne Laba Cataldi
Department of Philosophy
Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
Edwardsville, Illinois 62026-1433
This paper focuses on the disturbing mixture of fantasy with reality in the massacre at Columbine, where the perpetrators appear to have made a game or ‘fun’ of their killing. Because of the deception involved and despite their immersion in violent media, I argue that they could not have been totally confused about the difference between play and actual violence. Huizinga’s notion of play and Merleau-Ponty’s reversibility thesis are applied to the situation.


Ethicists as Architects: Revising Moral Theory Using All the Tools
Jean Chambers
Department of Philosophy
SUNY Oswego
Oswego, NY 13126
As James Coleman and Allan Gibbard have suggested, human morality may be viewed as a feedback control system. Each of the standard normative ethical theories emphasizes only part of this complex system. Social reform requires both new theoretical syntheses and a practical effort to better uphold ideal norms.


Information Ethics: An Environmental Approach to the Digital Divide
Luciano Floridi
Faculty of Philosophy, Department of Computer Science and Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy
Oxford University.
Wolfson College, Oxford, OX2 6UD, UK.
No Abstract


M. Fritzman
Department of Philosophy
Lewis & Clark College
Portland, Orgon 97219-7899
Habermas lapses into ethical socialism, but Althusser’s version escapes Habermas’ criticisms. While Habermas lapses into scientism, Althusser does not. Resistance to Althusser causes Habermas to either misread him or not read him at all. Theoretical and practical theses are proposed. The final section analyzes why this article responds so aggressively.


Socrates, Plato and the Tao
Edward J. Grippe
Humanities Department
Norwalk Community College
Norwalk, Connecticut 06854
This paper is a reconsideration of Platonic dialogues in the light of Taoist insights. The application of Socratic Ignorance to the entire corpus of Plato reveals the yin and yang not only in the internal dialogue between Socrates and Plato, but also between Plato and his reader. Furthermore, this approach brings to the surface the necessity of the dialectic relation between the yang of Western analysis and the yin of Asian intuition to the revelation of the Tao.


Art and Religion in the Age of Denounced Master-Narratives
Vladimir Marchenkov
School of Comparative Arts
Ohio University
Athens, OH 45701-2979
Religious art within postmodernism is discussed. Postmodern art, I argue, projects the myth of a miraculously generating chaos which cannot be maintained as absolute and therefore postmodern art cannot be genuinely religious. The myth is adopted for ideological, not philosophical reasons and calls for alternatives to make religious art possible.


Why Aren’t Moral People Always Moral? An Argument for Considering Personality as the Foundational Link Between Biology and Context
Patricia Trentacoste
Department of Philosophy
Oakland University
Rochester, MI 48309-4401
In order or reduce internal dissonance and emotional pain, the personality plays a causal role in confabulating consistency among our beliefs, values and actions. To the extent that we are unaware of our own moral “blind spots,” a prima facie duty to engage in self-knowledge exists. Only then can we reduce injustices incurring from moral arrogance.


Volume 9, Number 2, Fall-Winter 2002


Cultural Recognition: Problematizing the Western Discourse of Multiculturalism
Courtney E. Cole
Binghamton University
Binghamton, New York
When assessing the history of Afrikaners domination in South Africa and its current fragile status in the new dispensation, what becomes clear is that their claims for cultural recognition and protection turn contemporary Western discourse regarding multiculturalism on its ear. In this paper, I organize my discussion of recognition of Afrikaners in contemporary South Africa by first giving some background on Afrikaners, as well as their history and current status in South Africa. I go on to examine how the notions of “cultural identity” and “cultural worth” problematize and complicate these ideas as they are employed in Western discourse of multiculturalism.


The Issue of the Cosmopolitan Identities and the Third Way between Cultural Embeddement and Liberal Autonomy
Krassimir Stojanov
Federal Armed Forces University Hamburg
Holstenhofweg 85 22043
Hamburg , Germany
This paper attempts to develop an alternative to both classical liberal claims about individual autonomy and communitarian claims about cultural embeddement of the individual. It shows a way to develop a new model of subjectivity through an interpretation at the level of a deeply located, coherent self. This self is the core of personal identity as a pluralisticly structured, decentralized, internalization of Ego – Alter Ego relationships. This concept is clarified by a critical interpretation and reformulation of Jeremy Waldron’s concept of cosmopolitan identities.


Beyond Cultural Survival: Transforming Subjectivity
Dawn Jakubowski
Department of Philosophy
University of Central Arkansas
This paper hinges on the idea that our subjectivities–how individuals come to an understanding about themselves, their relationship to each other and their place in the world–are profoundly affected by the intersubjective quality of recognition we receive from others. Rooted within the Hegelian dialectical perspective, the desire for recognition stems from the view that a major part of our identities are formed through social relations. Misrecognition, in its various forms, promotes fundamental injustices. This is a point that the traditional modernist approach to political philosophy bypasses because of its focus on procedural rather than ethical issues of injustice.


Reflections on Transnationalism: Defining the Refugee
Eddy Souffrant
Department of Philosophy
Howard University Washington, D. C.
This paper explores Charles Taylor’s conception of an inclusive liberal polity. It argues that contemporary immigration challenges even Taylor’s inclusive liberalism by revealing that liberalism is inherently exclusionary and that the exclusionary tendency reinforces liberalism’s peculiar ability to cultivate refugees at both the national and transnational levels.


Why the Heldian Model of Cosmopolitan Democracy Retains Its Promise Despite Kymlicka’s Criticisms
Gillian Brock
Philosophy Department
University of Auckland
Auckland, New Zealand
Recently there has been a resurgence of interest in cosmopolitanism. Cosmopolitans maintain that no national categories of people deserve special weight and that, instead, all people everywhere should be objects of moral concern. Arguably, the most developed of these accounts is the cosmopolitan democracy model articulated by David Held, so it is not surprising that it has received the most attention and criticism. In this paper, I outline Held’s model of cosmopolitan democracy and consider the objections Will Kymlicka raises to this account. I argue that Kymlicka’s objections do not undermine Held’s central claims and that Held’s cosmopolitanism remains a very promising model that deserves further attention.


Cosmopolitanism as a Moral Imperative
Jon Mahoney
Dept. of Philosophy
Auburn University
Auburn, AL 36849
In this paper I consider and respond to two arguments against cosmopolitanism, the membership needs argument and the preferential treatment argument. I argue that if there are reasonable grounds for endorsing universal norms such as human rights, then there are no reasonable grounds for rejecting moral cosmopolitanism.


The Intrinsic Value of Cultures
Dr Neil Levy
Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics
Department of Philosophy
University of Melbourne
Parkville, VIC 3010 Australia
Our intuitions concerning cultures show that we are committed to thinking that they are intrinsically valuable. I set out the conditions under which we attribute such value to cultures, and show that coming to possess intrinsic value is a matter of having the right kind of causal history.


Light Trucks, Road Safety and the Environment
Nicholas Dixon
Department of Philosophy
Alma College
Alma, MI
Driving light trucks creates the risk of significant harm to other people. Compared to regular cars, light trucks endanger the occupants of other vehicles more and have a markedly more negative impact on the environment. Consequently, many people who currently drive light trucks ought to switch to smaller vehicles.


Expertise and Epistemology: Can Laypersons Assess the Claims of Experts?
Jason Borenstein
School of Public Policy
Georgia Institute of Technology
The purpose of this paper is to explore whether laypersons can competently evaluate the specialized claims offered by experts. Since it is a lack of knowledge about a subject area that makes someone a layperson with respect to that area, the layperson may be unable to understand and assess what an expert knows.


Thinking, Philosophical Counseling, and the Purity of Philosophical Method
Mark Letteri
2586 Ida Road
Windsor, Ontario N8W 3A5, Canada
In “A General Framework for Philosophical Counseling,” Hakam Al-Shawi argues that “philosophical counseling must . . . avoid relying on any first-order philosophical assumptions.” In this light, I explore whether and to what extent an applied Heideggerian approach to the amelioration of human life – in this case, Daseinsanalysis – satisfies this criterion. I focus on the orienting reality of a mortal, interpreting questioner dwelling in particular circumstances. Such an approach, as I construe it here, seems largely compatible with Al-Shawi’s understanding of what can properly count as philosophical counselling.


Shusterman’s Epicurean Aesthetics
Joseph Grünfeld
Nesbitt College
Drexel University
Philadelphia, PA 19104
For Shusterman, all experience is a form of understanding, but this makes it difficult for him to explain how we can be mistaken about our experience. His preference for rap remains idiosyncratic, as is his notion of the art of living. In spite of his postmodernist stance, he continues to generalize about what he takes to be the body and about the nature of art. But what “works” in art depends on a variety of subjective factors we come to know only by hindsight. What he dismisses as intellectualist bias in modern art and linguistic philosophy has deep roots in our culture: a demand for precision and verifiability that make science and technology possible. This is not a mere puritanical prejudice.


George Berkeley’s Embodied Vision
Steven Schroeder
College of Arts
Shenzhen University
Shenzhen City, China
Taking up John of Salisbury’s dictum that we read ancient texts to improve our eyesight, this article returns to an “old” book for “new” insight into the perennial philosophical problem of visual perception. A careful reading of Berkeley’s essay on vision improves our eyesight in at least four ways: First, it reminds us that the most interesting aspects of visual perception are not “primary” but “derivative.” Second, it reminds us that our relationship with the world is an interactive process of making connections and proposes some ways in which those connections and the process of making them might be brought to consciousness and subjected to critical examination. Third, it reminds us of the extent to which making connections is a linguistic process: we live in language as surely as we live in the world, and the processes by which we take our places in the world are forms of language. Fourth, it introduces a concept of “levels” and movement between them that is particularly important to computational models that may result in nonhuman analogues of human vision.