Thursday, October 18, 2007

Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy

John Rawls, Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy, Samuel Freeman (ed.), Harvard University Press, 2007, 459pp., $35.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780674024922.

Reviewed by J. B. Schneewind, Johns Hopkins University

"John Rawls's Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy, edited by Barbara Herman, was published in 2000 by Harvard University Press. Rawls there discusses the moral philosophies of Hume, Leibniz, Kant, and Hegel. In the Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy (hereafter: LHPP) he covers Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Rousseau, John Stuart Mill, Marx, Sidgwick and Butler. Although Hume's view of justice is treated in both volumes, there is otherwise no significant overlap; and the discussion of it in LHPP has a different focus than that in the moral philosophy lectures. (Kant's political philosophy is covered briefly in the latter, pp. 362-6.)

Discussing Sidgwick, Rawls makes a remark that gives us a good way of understanding one of the things he is doing in all these lectures. "Sidgwick's originality . . . ," Rawls says, "lies in his view that a reasoned and satisfactory justification of any particular moral conception must proceed from a full knowledge and systematic comparison of the more significant moral conceptions in the philosophical tradition." (LHPP 379) In A Theory of Justice and his other systematic works Rawls touches on moral conceptions other than his own, but gives no full treatment of them. His historical lectures richly provide such comparisons. Rawls says that he is "trying to think through a few political conceptions, all the way through, if possible." (LHPP 139) He concentrates on political theories that he sees as the ancestors of various forms of liberal thought. He starts with social contract theories; discusses Hume's objections to such theories; presents a detailed discussion of Mill's non-contractual version of liberalism; and then considers Marx's criticisms of liberal capitalism. The lectures on Sidgwick clarify essential points of utilitarianism. Those on Butler elaborate on moral psychology and emphasize the importance of a thinker's background beliefs -- in this case deistic. They also contain significant remarks on method in ethical theory. But they do not directly address the political questions that are the focus of most of the lectures."

full here

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Kant: Rationality as Practical Reason

Kant: Rationality as Practical Reason, Onora O’Neill

Full text here

Sunday, August 12, 2007

After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory 25th anniversary edition

“After Virtue is a striking work. It is clearly written and readable. The nonprofessional will find MacIntyre perspicuous and lively. He stands within the best modern traditions of writing on such matters.” —New York Review of Books

“MacIntyre's arguments deserve to be taken seriously by anybody who thinks that the mere acceptance of pluralism is not the same thing as democracy, who worries about politicians wishing to give opinions about everything under the sun, and who stops to think of how important Aristotelian ethics have been for centuries.” —The Economist

When After Virtue first appeared in 1981, it was recognized as a significant and potentially controversial critique of contemporary moral philosophy. Newsweek called it “a stunning new study of ethics by one of the foremost moral philosophers in the English-speaking world. Now, twenty-five years later, the University of Notre Dame Press is pleased to release the third edition of After Virtue, which includes a new prologue “After Virtue after a Quarter of a Century.”

In this classic work, Alasdair MacIntyre examines the historical and conceptual roots of the idea of virtue, diagnoses the reasons for its absence in personal and public life, and offers a tentative proposal for its recovery. While the individual chapters are wide-ranging, once pieced together they comprise a penetrating and focused argument about the price of modernity. In the Third Edition prologue, MacIntyre revisits the central theses of the book and concludes that although he has learned a great deal and has supplemented and refined his theses and arguments in other works, he has “as yet found no reason for abandoning the major contentions” of this book. He remains “committed to the thesis that it is only from the standpoint of a very different tradition, one whose beliefs and presuppositions were articulated in their classical form by Aristotle, that we can understand both the genesis and the predicament of moral modernity.”

Alasdair MacIntyre is research professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of numerous books, including Whose Justice? Which Rationality? and Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopaedia, Genealogy, and Tradition, both also published by the University of Notre Dame Press.

Dialectics of the Self: Transcending Charles Taylor

"Chapter Two of this work provides a sustained critique of Taylor's short book A Catholic Modernity? (1999). This work provides the fullest statement so far of Taylor's personal religious outlook, and Fraser finds many problems with his statement of belief. As Fraser sees it, Taylor does not practice the openness to other belief systems that he preaches when it comes to comparing Christianity and Buddhism; his idea that theism provides a more robust source for unconditional love is unfounded; his choice of the sixteenth century Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci as a model for Catholics today is troubling, given Ricci's commitment to conversion rather than tolerance of other religions; and Taylor is ultimately incapable of providing a persuasive account of transcendence.

Fraser is careful to indicate that his critique of Taylor's Catholicism is not based on any hostility to religion, spirituality or transcendence: he is only attacking Taylor's handling of these issues. In Chapters 3-5, Fraser argues that thinkers in the Marxist tradition offer superior alternative ways for thinking about some of the questions of time, death, transcendence, moral and spiritual sources outside the subject, and the relationship of art to the modern identity. Thus Walter Benjamin and Ernst Bloch have better conceptions of transcendence and Theodore Adorno is more helpful in thinking about aesthetics and identity. Once again, the comparison with these figures is not adventitious: they are all thinkers with whom Taylor engages at some point or another. Fraser regrets Taylor's failure to fully exploit the resources they offer for thinking about the questions that concern him. In these comparisons, he sometimes identifies Taylor's commitment to theism as an obstacle to a fuller and more open reading of these thinkers (63, 77, 79, 85, 88, 101). In Chapter 4 he applies this line of argument in his discussion of James Joyce and the idea of epiphanies: Fraser offers a reading of Joyce that emphasizes non-theistic epiphanies and contrasts this with Taylor's more limiting theistic reading of Joyce."

Full review here

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Kant between freedom and truth

"I am myself by inclination a seeker after truth. I feel a consuming thirst for knowledge and a restless desire to advance in it, as well as a satisfaction in every step I take. There was a time when I thought that this alone could constitute the honor of mankind, and I despised the common man who knows nothing. Rousseau set me right. This pretended superiority vanished and I learned to respect humanity. I should consider myself far more useless than the common laborer if I did not believe that one consideration alone gives worth to all others, namely, to establish the rights of man." (Kant, Schriften XX, 44, quoted in Beiser, 1992, p. 30).

With this, as Beiser shows in his masterful study, Kant virtually abandons the search for truth and replaces it with a utilitarian conception of truth whereby truth becomes subservient to humanity.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Noesis is a limited area search engine for open access,

academic philosophy on the Internet.

Thursday, January 11, 2007



The World Congresses of Philosophy are organized every five years by the International Federation of Philosophical Societies in collaboration with one of its member societies, which assumes responsibility for the organization of the Congress.

The XXII World Congress of Philosophy will be held from July 30 through August 5 in Seoul under the auspieces of the Korean Philosophical Association. It has several aims, which are to be understood as complementary.

To call attention to the importance of philosophcial reflection on philosophy itself, especially critical reflection on the diverse forms taken by contemporary philosophy and the history of philosophy.

To reflect on the tasks and functions of philosophy in the contemporary world, taking account of the contributions, expectations, and gaps in philosophical awareness that are associated with other disciplines such as the natural and humane sciences, with political, religious, social, economic, financial, technological, etc. activities, as well as with diverse cultures and traditions.

The first Congress to be held in Asia, the Seoul Congress presents a clear invitation to rethink the nature, roles, and responsibilities of philosophy and of philosophers in the age of globalization. It is committed to paying heed to the problems, conflicts, inequalities, and injustices connected with the development of a planetary civilization that is at once multiculural and techno-scientific.

The main theme of the Congress will be developed, according to the tradition of the World Congress, in the following four plenary sessions and five symposia.


1. Rethinking Moral, Social and Political Philosophy: Democracy, Justice and Global Responsibility

2. Rethinking Metaphysics and Aesthetics: Reality, Beauty and the Meaning of Life

3. Rethinking Epistemology, Philosophy of Science and Technology: Knowledge and Culture

4. Rethinking History of Philosophy and Comparative Philosophy: Traditions, Critique and Dialogue


1. Conflict and Tolerance

2. Globalization and Cosmopolitanism

3. Bioethics, Environmental Ethics and Future Generations

4. Tradition, Modernity and Post-modernity: Eastern and Western Perspectives

5. Philosophy in Korea


Aesthetics and Philosophy of Arts
Ancient Philosophy
Applied Ethics
Approaches to Philosophy
Bioethics and Medical Ethics
Buddhist Philosophy
Business Ethics
Comparative Philosophy
Confucian Philosophy
Human Rights
Images and Symbols
Logic and Philosophy of Logic
Medieval Philosophy
Modern Philosophy
Persons and Identity
Philosophical Anthropology
Philosophical Hermeneutics
Philosophy of Cognitive Science
Philosophy of Communication and Information
Philosophy and Economics
Philosophy and Environment
Philosophy and Future Generations
Philosophy and Gender
Philosophy and Literature
Philosophy for Children
Philosophy in Africa: Contemporary Issues
Philosophy in Asia and the Pacific: Contemporary Issues
Philosophy in Europe: Contemporary Issues
Philosophy in Latin America: Contemporary Issues
Philosophy in North America: Contemporary Issues
Philosophy of Action
Philosophy of Culture
Philosophy of Education
Philosophy of History
Philosophy of Language
Philosophy of Law
Philosophy of Mathematics
Philosophy of Mind
Philosophy of Natural Sciences
Philosophy of Nature
Philosophy of Religion
Philosophy of Social Sciences
Philosophy of Sport
Philosophy of Technology
Philosophy of Values
Social and Political Philosophy
Taoist Philosophy
Teaching Philosophy
Theory of Knowledge
Time and Memory


Submit both (a) two paper copies of approximately 6 pages (1800 words) typewritten and double-spaced, with 1.5cm margins on all sides of the text, accompanied by a 10-20 line abstract, and (b) an electronic version, either on disk or as an attachment to an e-mail message. Both should be addressed to the Korean Organizing Committee and should include an indication, prominently displayed, of the section for which the contributed paper is intended and of the language in which it has been written.

The International Program Committee reserves the right to accept or not accept papers on the basis of criteria of quality. Only papers of a philosophical nature will be considered for inclusion in the program.


June 1, 2007 is the deadline for the receipt of contributed papers and for proposals for round-tables and poster sessions. Papers and proposals received after this deadline, but before January 1, 2008 may be accepted, if space is still available.

Send papers and proposals for round-table and poster sessions to the Korean Organizing Committee




* $175 for early registration prior to June 1, 2007
* $200 for registration prior to January 1, 2008
* $225 for registration after January 1, 2008
* $100 for accompanying person
* $80 for students

Accommodation and Flights: to be announced later

Book Exhibition: to be announced later

Jinho Kang
Assistant Professor
Department of Philosophy
Seoul National University
Associate Secretary General, Korean Organizing Committee