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This article seeks to illuminate the relationship between two of the most important figures in American political thought: the pragmatist philosopher William James, and the pioneering civil rights leader and intellectual, W.E.B. Du Bois. As Harvard's first African American PhD, Du Bois was a critical figure in theorizing about race and identity. His innovative take on double consciousness has often been attributed to his contact with James who was one of Du Bois's most critical graduate professors at Harvard. But beyond the view of the two thinkers as intellectual collaborators, is the fraught history of liberal racial fraternal pairing and its role in shaping national identity. This article examines Du Bois and James's relationship in the context of that history, one marked by troubled associations between friendship and race.
Normativity matters in international politics, but IR scholarship will benefit from de-reifying ‘norms’ as units into a relational, configurational alternative. The alternative I propose here is the ‘normative configuration’: an arrangement of ongoing, interacting practices establishing action-specific regulation, value-orientation, and avenues of contestation. This responds to recent constructivist scholarship, particularly from relational sociology and practice theory, that implies the need for ontological and analytical alternatives to ‘norms’ as central concepts responsible for establishing rules, institutions, and values in social life. I offer a way of conceptualizing and analyzing normativity consistent with these alternative approaches. Namely, I have brought together a pragmatist theory of action with the social theories of a number of key relational social theorists and philosophers, oriented around a reading of what norms-talk actually does for social enquiry. I then outline a three stage process – de-reification, attributing agency, and tracing transactions – that allows scholars to study transformations in normative configurations. Finally, I discuss what this contributes to the recent turns toward practices and relations, as the latest direction in constructivist scholarship within the discipline.
This chapter explores the political philosophy of the original text, which was probably called the Daṇḍanīti. It shows that the original composition was characterized by a thoroughly empirical and pragmatic approach to politics. The statecraft tradition was devoted entirely to the political success of the king, and the only constraints recognized on his sovereign power are those arising from material conditions and practical circumstances. There is no conception in the original text that unseen mechanisms, such as the sacred law of dharma, had any effect on the development of successful state policy. Nor is the statecraft tradition guided by any "secular values" such as liberty, rights, or justice. Its focus is on discrete strategies that lead to the success of the king.
This article is an intervention in recent debates about conceptual and normative theorisations of human rights, which have been increasingly characterised by a divide between ‘moral’ and ‘practice-based’/’political’ understandings. My aim is to articulate an alternative, pragmatist understanding of human rights, one that is importantly distinct from the practice-based account with which it might be thought affiliated. In the first part of the article, I reveal the fundamental flaw in the practice-based account of human rights: I argue that it is undermined by the ontological thesis at its heart, which naturalises and reifies political arrangements and institutions that are radically contingent. In the second part, I identify, and outline the attractiveness of, a pragmatist normative account of human rights. In contrast to the practice-based approach, this pragmatist account construes human rights in ideational terms. The pragmatist understanding accepts both the contingency of our practices and the cultural limits to moral justification, while nevertheless retaining a commitment to the enterprise of normative philosophical conversation. I argue, in contrast to prevailing interpretations, that the international theory advanced by John Rawls exemplifies a pragmatist account of human rights and points a way forward for theoretically fruitful but appropriately circumscribed analysis of the concept.
This commentary argues for strengthening the dialogue between the social and natural sciences as part of a more comprehensive sustainable approach to ecological farming practices that go beyond a focus on specific labels and certifications. It nuances the approach provided by Home et al. in their study of Swiss farms converting to organic agriculture, in emphasizing the need to deepen the study of such farming practices by including a broad vision of global value chains and a pragmatic approach to innovation and the different stakeholders involved. Ultimately, it calls for a more complex approach to eco-agriculture in its widest sense, that goes beyond dichotomies about conversion, certification and labeling. This would provide alternatives for researchers and other actors to move forward in theory and practice.
In this article, we present a pragmatic approach to neuroethics, referring back to John Dewey and his articulation of the “common good” and its discovery through systematic methods. Pragmatic neuroethics bridges philosophy and social sciences and, at a very basic level, considers that ethics is not dissociable from lived experiences and everyday moral choices. We reflect on the integration between empirical methods and normative questions, using as our platform recent bioethical and neuropsychological research into moral cognition, action, and experience. Finally, we present the protocol of a study concerning teenagers’ morality in everyday life, discussing our epistemological choices as an example of a pragmatic approach in empirical ethics. We hope that this article conveys that even though the scope of neuroethics is broad, it is important not to move too far from the real life encounters that give rise to moral questions in the first place.
Common understandings of neuroethics, that is, of its distinctive nature, are premised on two distinct sets of claims: (1) neuroscience can change views about the nature of ethics itself and neuroethics is dedicated to reaping such an understanding of ethics, and (2) neuroscience poses challenges distinct from other areas of medicine and science and neuroethics tackles those issues. Critiques have rightfully challenged both claims, stressing how the first may lead to problematic forms of reductionism whereas the second relies on debatable assumptions about the nature of bioethics specialization and development. Informed by philosophical pragmatism and our experience in neuroethics, we argue that these claims are ill founded and should give way to pragmatist reconstructions; namely, that neuroscience, much like other areas of empirical research on morality, can provide useful information about the nature of morally problematic situations, but does not need to promise radical and sweeping changes to ethics based on neuroscientism. Furthermore, the rationale for the development of neuroethics as a specialized field need not to be premised on the distinctive nature of the issues it tackles or of neurotechnologies. Rather, it can espouse an understanding of neuroethics as both a scholarly and a practical endeavor dedicated to resolving a series of problematic situations raised by neurological and psychiatric conditions.
The Polish Peasant in Europe and America is one of the foundational works of American and world sociology, famous for its innovative qualitative methodology. Its authors proposed new theoretical ideas, including a concept of social causality and a new theory of personality combining a biologistic concept of temperament with a culturalist concept of character. Interpreters of the book still disagree about the extent of each author’s actual contribution to the work and about its scientific status in light of modern sociological theories. This article claims that to understand the book one has to take into account the previous intellectual trajectories of both authors. As a theoretical dialogue between representatives of two contrary approaches, the work may serve as an alternative to the supposed theoretical “convergence” offered two decades later by Talcott Parsons.
This essay differentiates between various branches of post-human scholarship as they relate to issues of colonial inequality, social action and politics. Through their critique of human exceptionalism, through their recognition of the vibrancy of matter, and in their potential connections with politically engaged scholarship, certain lines of post-humanist thought stand to make important contributions to archaeologies of long-term and colonial Indigenous history. I argue that these qualities offer nuanced perspectives on the plural colonial past and present of New England (north-eastern North America). I explore the prospects for a selectively post-human and pragmatic archaeology in connection with recent debates over stone landscapes. This approach makes room for various stakeholder narratives, finding possible common ground in a shared human condition between stakeholders, i.e. subject to ‘earth flows and lively stone’.
Merchant diasporas have long attracted the attention of scholars through the narrow prisms of ‘nations’ and states. The history of Amsterdam's Greek Orthodox merchants, together with the other cases—who left the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century and established a seemingly controversial range of networks involving the Dutch, Russian, Ottoman and Greek states there—is an oft-quoted example. This article draws attention to some of the problematic aspects of these perceptions of the relations between states and diaspora merchants. The main tenet of the article is that nation- and state-centred perspectives are limited in explaining the full scope of flexibility and pragmatism displayed by the diaspora merchants.
The concept of social progress I hope to rehabilitate will be local, far from locally complete, and permit only modest extensions; it will be pragmatic rather than teleological. In this way, it will hope to avoid treating the multiplicity of goods as if there were always the possibility of comparing them on a single scale, to abandon the idea of a final state toward which history is tending or should tend, and to substitute piecemeal accomplishments for utopian ends. Its emphasis on local comparisons will allow it to forgo sweeping historical comparisons, those juxtaposing the “enlightened” with “lesser breeds without the law,” or the “ancients” with the “moderns.” A restrained pragmatic concept of social progress honors the insights of critics of the notion of social progress, seeing them as questioning alleged presuppositions that can be given up.
The pragmatist theory of history, action, and sociality can be understood as the result of a specific interpretation of Darwin’s theory of evolution, which has nothing in common with teleological, reductionist, or social Darwinist evolutionary models. This historical claim will be developed in three steps. First, I will show why Darwin’s theory was so attractive to the classical pragmatists and how their conception of history was affected by their reading of Darwin. Second, I will illustrate how the pragmatist understanding of individual action was influenced by contemporary discussions in evolutionary theory, physiology, and psychology. Third, I will discuss pragmatism’s “cultural naturalism” (John Dewey), according to which a new, autonomous level of sociocultural change emerges as a result of the process of biological evolution. The reconstruction of pragmatist evolutionary thought not only aims to achieve a better historical understanding of pragmatism but also implies a systematic and theoretical claim. As will be argued in the last section of this paper, the timeliness and continuing relevance of pragmatism is largely due to the fact that it took shape in a transdisciplinary context and remained an “empirically responsible” theory (Erkki Kilpinen). Currently, various innovative developments within psychology, the cognitive sciences, neurophysiology, and ethology are connected with the core insights of pragmatism, thereby supporting the argument that pragmatism is still evolving.
This article discusses the advantages of a pragmatist theory of global democracy for understanding the political relevance of new phenomena such as the emergence of forms of private authority and transnational movements in tackling with global issues. The article shows in particular that the pragmatist notion of ‘publics’ offers promising insights and proves particularly promising for completing the transition from methodological nationalism to methodological cosmopolitanism that is required to understand new normative practices developing at the global level and to inquire into their conditions of validity. After having presented a basic outline of the pragmatist theory of democracy, I discuss the contribution of pragmatism to the critique of methodological nationalism and proceed then to examine and reject two alternative approaches to global politics – transnational public sphere theory and global representation theory – showing why they fail to overcome methodological nationalism. The last two sections explore private entrepreneurial authority in contexts of global governance and shows that pragmatism succeeds in explaining their political role, while the other two approaches fail.
The liberal principle of reciprocity requires that states maintain neutrality with respect to their citizens’ competing comprehensive worldviews (both religious and secular) while officially justifying the law and while adjudicating under it. But the very possibility of such liberal neutrality has come under attack in a post-Enlightenment world in which even foundational arguments for the principle of reciprocity itself are no longer taken for granted. This article offers a pragmatist path to the resolution of this liberal dilemma. It recommends a “default and challenge” model for legal justification and legitimation that is rooted in social-linguistic practice. By rooting justification and legitimation in practice, it is argued liberal neutrality can be preserved without need for appeals to controversial foundational commitments at any level of public political justification. The article closes with a fictional case study concerning abortion to show how politicians and courts can apply this method to preserve liberal neutrality while addressing even the most controversial issues.
The article analyzes the contested concept of global health through the lens of orders of worth. Drawing on pragmatist political and social theory, especially the work of Boltanski and Thévenot, I conceptualize orders of worth as moral narratives that connect visions of universal humankind to ideas about moral worth and deficiency. They thereby differ from the self/other narrative of political identity that is emphasized in International Relations scholarship. Orders of worth do not pitch a particularistic identity against foreign identities, but tie collective identity to a higher common good. They provide tools for moral evaluation and the justification of hierarchy. I use this heuristic to reconstruct four main conceptions of health in global politics: The order of survival, the order of fairness, the order of production, and the order of spirit. Each of them articulates a distinct political identity, as ‘we species’, ‘we liberals’, ‘we bodies’ and ‘we souls’, and implies different notions of virtuous and selfish conduct in the global community. These orders are derived from scholarly writings and the policies of global health institutions. Finally, I discuss the nature of compromises between the four orders regarding contested issues such as health emergencies or digital medicine.
Review of International Studies has seen a debate over the value of security. At its heart this is a debate about ethics: concerning the extent to which security is a ‘good’ and whether or not security politics produces the kind of world we want. More recent contributions focus on the extent to which security is ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. However, this article argues that the existing debate is limited and confusing: key authors use the terms ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ in different, and, at times, contradictory ways. The article clarifies the roots of the existing debate, and then draws out two different uses of the terms positive and negative: an analytic frame and a normative frame. In response, it proposes a pragmatist frame that synthesises the existing uses, drawing on pragmatism and practice-centred approaches to analyse the value of security in context. The contribution of the article is thus twofold: it both clarifies the existing debate and suggests a solution. This is key because the debate over the value of security is crucial to thinking about how we want to live.
This rejoinder responds to criticisms by Jan Klabbers and Ino Augsberg of ‘The New Legal Realist Approach to International Law’ (Leiden Journal of International Law, Volume 28:2, 2015). The New Legal Realism brings together empirical and pragmatic perspectives in order to build theory regarding how law obtains meaning, is practised, and changes over time. In contrast with conceptualists, such as Augsberg, legal realists do not accept the priority of concepts over facts, but rather stress the interaction of concepts with experience in shaping law's meaning and practice. Klabbers, as a legal positivist, questions the value of the turn to empirical work and asks whether it is a fad. This rejoinder contends that the New Legal Realism has deep jurisprudential roots in Europe and the United States, constituting a third stream of jurisprudence involving the development of sociolegal theory, in complement with, but not opposed to, analytic and normative theory.
Neural reuse is a form of neuroplasticity whereby neural elements originally developed for one purpose are put to multiple uses. A diverse behavioral repertoire is achieved by means of the creation of multiple, nested, and overlapping neural coalitions, in which each neural element is a member of multiple different coalitions and cooperates with a different set of partners at different times. Neural reuse has profound implications for how we think about our continuity with other species, for how we understand the similarities and differences between psychological processes, and for how best to pursue a unified science of the mind. After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain (2014; henceforth After Phrenology in this Précis) surveys the terrain and advocates for a series of reforms in psychology and cognitive neuroscience. The book argues that, among other things, we should capture brain function in a multidimensional manner, develop a new, action-oriented vocabulary for psychology, and recognize that higher-order cognitive processes are built from complex configurations of already evolved circuitry.
The New Legal Realist approach to international law builds from a jurisprudential tradition that asks how actors use and apply law in order to understand how law obtains meaning, is practised, and changes over time. The article addresses the jurisprudential roots of the New Legal Realism, its core attributes, and six important components in the current transnational context. In the pragmatist tradition, the New Legal Realism is both empirical and problem-centred, attending to both context and legal normativity. What is new is the rise of transnational activity that gives rise to an enlarged scope of transnational problem-solving through international law in radically new ways across areas of law, and the growth of empirical study of these phenomena. The article concludes by addressing the potential risks of the New Legal Realist approach in terms of scientism and relativism, and it responds to them.
One of the key functions or purposes of international law (and law in general for that matter) is to provide long-term stability and legal certainty. Yet, international legal rules may also function as tools to deal with non-permanent or constantly changing issues, and rather than stable, international law may have to be flexible or adaptive. Prima facie, one could think of two main types of temporary aspects relevant from the perspective of international law. First, the nature of the object addressed by international law or the ‘problem’ that international law aims to address may be inherently temporary (temporary objects). Second, a subject of international law may be created for a specific period of time, after the elapse of which this entity ceases to exist (temporary subjects). These types of temporariness raise several questions from the perspective of international law, which are hardly addressed from a more conceptual perspective. This volume of the Netherlands Yearbook of International Law aims to do exactly that by asking the question of how international law reacts to various types of temporary issues. Put differently, where does international law stand on the continuum of predictability and pragmatism when it comes to temporary issues or institutions?