Group Ontology and Nation States

The analytic debate on social ontology can sometimes be far removed from what happens in the social sciences, so I am happy to have found a potential overlap. I currently work on my upcoming group ontology talk. My talk will concern what the metaphysical limits of group membership.

Group membership is a pecular thing from the perspective of metaphysics. As has been argued by various authors (Uzquiano 2004, Effingham 2010, Ritchie 2013) it cannot be reduced to set membership or mereological parthood. My talk will hopefully reveal more about its ontological role.

But group membership might also play an important role in the history of European nation states. I presume the following (simplified) historical picture taken from or at least inspired by Charles Tilly’s Coercion, Capital, and European States: The European nation states grew out of numerous armed conflicts and outright wars. A large number of small municipialities, dukedoms, city-states and the occassional empire, fought against one another until those left standing became modern nation states.

To survive this selection process, the states had to draw as many resources as feasible from their population. To make the people willing to support the war, they had to be co-opted in one way or another. The states increasingly provided services to their population and offered them a voice – or perhaps one should say that without starting to listen to their subjects states could not acquire the resources they needed. Continue reading “Group Ontology and Nation States”

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Quote of the Week: Dewey on Social Judgements

The evils in current social judgments of ends and policies arise […] from importations of judgments of value from outside inquiry. The evils spring from the fact that the values employed are not determined in and by the process of inquiry […].

-John Dewey, Late Works Volume 12, p. 496

The quote illustrates Dewey’s emphasis on the epistemic endeavour of inquiry. The values which lead our social judgements should arise out of this endeavour, at least as far as Dewey is concerned.

The quote also reveals how moralising Dewey can be concerning social judgments. He does not merely accuse the judgements of being bad, he accuses them of being evil. I find this moralising aspect of his theory the hardest to justify. In the end, I do not see how he can defend it without contradicting himself or accepting a fundamental revision to this theory.

If you want, you can add here the usual paragraph about defending the value of inquiry/science/truth in the age of alternative facts.

A Dialogue: At the Demonstration. Part II

This is the second part of a short, introductory dialogue. For the first part go here.


G: So do you agree with the following: You believe that one ought to act with the safe belief that there is a clearly right path in public matter, which is a political position, while I hold that one ought not to act with such a safe belief, which is political position insofar it denies your political position?

L: That is a completely different matter, not a political disagreement. This is disagreement between us is all about belief and certitude, not about how to spend one’s life. The disagreement is only about what to believe and so on, not about what one ought to do.

G: Are you not here at this demonstration because you believe the government ought not to act the way it does?

L: Yes, but… Continue reading “A Dialogue: At the Demonstration. Part II”

A Dialogue: At the Demonstration. Part I

As I wrote in my very first blog post, I want to try things out in this blog. In this post I am trying something new for me, I publish the first part of a dialogue I have written.

The topics of the dialogue are mostly introductory. There are important philosophical issues touched upon without these issues being simplified, but the text does not presuppose any prior knowledge of philosophy.

Readers acquainted with ancient philosophy will be quick to spot the influence of Platonic dialogues. However, the positions the speakers take are not quite the same you find in typical dialogues by Platon. I leave to my readers to formulate, what exactly the difference is.

Note that I am not a native speaker when it comes to English and the literary quality might suffer because of this. If you find any orthographic or grammatical mistakes I would be happy to be corrected in the comments. Continue reading “A Dialogue: At the Demonstration. Part I”

What I Am Reading: Four Papers on Hegel’s Theory of the State. Part II

Portrait of G. W. F. Hegel
G. W. F. Hegel

I continue with my discussion of four paper on Hegel’s theory of the state as presented in his Philosophy of Right by discussing the last two papers. For the first two papers by Riedel and Sedgwick see this post. The papers I discuss this time are by Hans-Martin Jaeger and Thom Brooks.

  • Jaeger, Hans-Martin. 2002: “Hegel’s Reluctant Realism and the Transnationalisation of Civil Society”. In: Review of International Studies. Volume 28. Issue 3. 497-517.
  • Brooks, Thom. 2004. “Hegel’s Theory of International Politics: A Reply to Jaeger”. In: Review of International Studies. Volume 30. Issue 1. 149-152.

While the first two papers discussed how Hegel’s theory of the state in the Philosophy of Right relates to philosophical positions which historically precede Hegel, the last two paper discuss Hegel in relation to current theories of the state. Continue reading “What I Am Reading: Four Papers on Hegel’s Theory of the State. Part II”

What I Am Reading: Four Papers on Hegel’s Theory of the State. Part I

G.W.F. Hegel
G.W.F. Hegel

Lately I have read the following four papers on Hegel’s theory of the state in his Philosophy of Right:

  • Riedel, Manfred. 1962:“Tradition und Revolution in Hegel’s ‘Philosophie des Rechts’ ”. In Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung. Volume 15. Issue 2. 203-230.
  • Sedgwick, Sally. 2001: “The State as Organism: The Metaphysical Basis of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right”. In: The Southern Journal of Philosophy. Volume 31. Issue 1. 171-188.
  • Jaeger, Hans-Martin. 2002: “Hegel’s Reluctant Realism and the Transnationalisation of Civil Society”. In: Review of International Studies. Volume 28. Issue 3. 497-517.
  • Brooks, Thom. 2004. “Hegel’s Theory of International Politics: A Reply to Jaeger”. In: Review of International Studies. Volume 30. Issue 1. 149-152.

In this post I discuss the first two papers and in a follow-up post, I am going to cover the other two. Continue reading “What I Am Reading: Four Papers on Hegel’s Theory of the State. Part I”