Reading: Arlie Hochschild “Strangers in Their Own Land”

It took me a while, but I finally found the time to read Arlie Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land.  The book addresses burning questions: How came the USA to be so politically divided? How does the other side relative to Hochschild, that is the right-wing tea-party, see the divide? How do emotions influence the political allegiances?

But being a philosopher I want to discuss the methodology and underlying theory of the book instead of those juicy topics. I hope that this discussion is at least as interesting. In fact, the philosophical aspect might be of more lasting interest. The political landscape of the US will shift sooner or later, while the insights for sociological theory might stay with us for a long time. And at the end of this post, politics creeps in after all. Continue reading “Reading: Arlie Hochschild “Strangers in Their Own Land””

Dennett’s FBtBaB: Chapter Twelve

I continue my series of short comments on Daniel Dennett’s From Bacteria to Bach and Back. These comments are mainly written for an online forum, in which undergraduate students of Professor Dennett post. Each time I raise a point about one chapter. This time I comment on chapter twelve.

How Much Work Can Memes Do for Explaining the Origin of Language? Continue reading “Dennett’s FBtBaB: Chapter Twelve”

What I Am Reading: Lynne Rudder Baker – Human Persons as Social Entities

Lynne Rudder Baker’s paper offers a sustained argument for what a number of people might have thought before and even proposed informally: Humans persons are social entities and therefore should be taken to be a part of social ontology.

Here is the Abstract of the paper:

The aim of this article is to show that human persons belong, ontologically, in social ontology. After setting out my views on ontology, I turn to persons and argue that they have first-person perspectives in two stages (rudimentary and robust) essentially. Then I argue that the robust stage of the first-person perspective is social, in that it requires a language, and languages require linguistic communities. Then I extend the argument to cover the rudimentary stage of the first-person perspective as well. I conclude by enumerating ways in which human persons differ from nonhuman animals.

Baker’s argument for this makes heavy use of her other works in metaphysics and especially those on personality. The main concepts are explained in this paper, but many questions might be left open, which can be answered by consulting her other work. As I see it, the outcome is a paper in which Baker justifies a thought, the thought that human persons are social entities, that is in the air by integrating the though into her own metaphysical system.

There are some worries, however, concerning her arguments for human beings as social entities. There are always some worries. Here are few: Continue reading “What I Am Reading: Lynne Rudder Baker – Human Persons as Social Entities”

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”

What I Am Reading: Pettit – Groups with Minds of Their Own

Socializing Metaphysics
Socializing Metaphysics

Pettit, Philip. 2003: “Groups with Minds of Their Own”. In: Schmitt, Frederick F. (ed.). Socializing Metaphysics. Rowman & Littlefield. Lanham. 167-193.

For my research on group agency I have read many texts by Philip Pettit, this book chapter, however, escaped my attention so far, so it was time to catch up. The basic idea is familiar to everyone who has read others texts on group agency by Pettit, especially the book Group Agency which Pettit co-authored with Christian List. In “Groups with Minds of Their Own” Pettit puts the basic idea the following way:

“Rational unity is a constrain that binds the attitudes of the collectivity at any time and across different times, and the satisfaction of that constrain means that those attitudes cannot be smoothly continuous with the corresponding attitudes of members.” (p. 184)

Pettit claims that groups face a pressure to meet certain constrains, but that to meet these constrains, it is often necessary that the attitudes of the group cannot be continuous, or at least not smoothly continuous, with that of the members. The decisions a group makes can in appropriate situations bind it to basic norms of rationality like coherence over time, which pushes the group to accept attitudes, notably representational and motivational attitudes, which are not shared by the majority of the member and in some cases by no members at all. Continue reading “What I Am Reading: Pettit – Groups with Minds of Their Own”