Oxford University Press has just published my new book on early Confucian social thought, and what contemporary people might learn from it: Mastery, Dependence, and the Ethics of Authority. The publisher’s page is here. At present the cheapest way to purchase it is directly from Oxford, with a discount code for 30% off (AAFLYG6).
This comes with hearty thanks to Steve Angle and Bryan Van Norden, who were belatedly revealed as the press’s referees.
My guess, really just a guess, is that the discussion of role ethics or relational ethics might benefit from some direct attention to a couple of fallacies available for commission—one minor, one major. I don’t know whether they’re actually committed or directly discussed in the literature. Possible examples of each can be found in Henry Rosemont’s essay “Rights-Bearing Individuals and Role-Bearing Persons” (in Mary Bockover, ed., Rules, Rituals, and Responsibility: Essays Dedicated to Herbert Fingarette, Open Court 1991, pp. 71-101). I’ll make that my text. I don’t understand it.
Hans-Georg Moeller and Dan Sarafinas discuss contemporary debates on “political correctness” and related moral and social issues. They point to concepts such as virtue speech (“virtue signalling”), civil religion, “profilicity,” and the role of critique to better understand their nature.
Philosophy today runs the risk of once more becoming the “handmaiden of theology” by being put in the service of civil religion. The Kantian concept of critique is revived to reflect on contemporary dogmatism and associated power structures that lead to phenomena such as “competitive wokeness” in entertainment (Taylor Swift) or the need to write “diversity statements” in academia. The idea of a therapeutic rather than a normative philosophy is suggested and it is explained how society, along with critique, evolves rather than progresses.
Why do we need to produce “virtue speech”? We need it to be competitive in society and to bolster our public profiles. A new profile-based identity paradigm, called “profilicity,” is on the rise. It is replacing other identity paradigms such as sincerity and authenticity and provides not only individuals but also institutions (political parties, companies, universities, etc.) with identity value.
This conference should be of interest to anyone working on issues in comparative thought and philosophy. A terrific lineup of speakers and panelists (if I do say so myself). -HS
Over the last decade, the newly emerging field of “experimental philosophy” has posed a challenge to the claim that professional philosophers’ judgments about philosophically important thought experiments are universal. Rather, in a growing number of studies, it has been shown that people in different cultural groups – Asians and Westerners, males and females, people of high and low socio-economic status, people with different personality types, people of different ages, people with different native languages, etc. – have different intuitions about cases designed to explore what people think about knowledge, morality, free will, consciousness and other important philosophical issues. However, the extent and sources of this variation remain by and large unknown. The goal of this conference is to bring together anthropologists, psychologists, comparative philosophers, and experimental philosophers in order to further our understanding of the similarities and differences in the lay understanding of, on the one hand, knowledge, and, on the other, agency and person across cultures. Furthermore, we hope to sketch new avenues of research for philosophically sophisticated cross-cultural studies of the concepts of knowledge, person, and agency.
To the extent that the self is conceived as physical, embodied, and dynamic, the early Chinese “self” necessarily entails a different definition of “individual.” While there is no clear term in Classical Chinese that might translate consistently into “individual,” this latter term facilitates discussion of those aspects of the self that emphasize its particularity within a whole. We use the term “individual” here to refer to early Chinese notions of self that concern not so much the subjective, psychological sense of “self,” but the qualities of a person that mark him or her as a single, particular entity capable of exerting agency from within a web of relationships. In other words, we refer to the individual not as an atomistic, isolated, and undifferentiated part of a whole, but as a distinct organism that must serve particular functions and fulfill a unique set of relationships in the worlds of which he or she is a part. The individual is thus a unique participant in a larger whole—integral to both, the processes that define the whole, as well as to the change and transformation that stems from itself.