Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

European Journal of Philosophy: Vol. 23, No. 2, June 2015

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

European Journal of Philosophy: Vol. 23, No. 2, June 2015

Article excerpt

The Neo-Hegelian Theory of Freedom and the Limits of Emancipation, BRIAN O'CONNOR

This paper critically evaluates what it identifies as the "institutional theory of freedom" developed within recent neo-Hegelian philosophy (by Robert Pippin and, in a different way, Axel Honneth). While acknowledging the gains made against the Kantian theory of autonomy as detachment, it is argued that the institutional theory ultimately undermines the very meaning of practical agency. By tying agency to institutionally sustained recognition it effectively excludes the exercise of practical reason geared toward emancipation from a settled normative order. Adorno's notion of autonomy as resistance is enlisted to develop an account of practical reason that is neither institutionally constrained nor without appropriate consideration of the historical location of the practical agent.

Heidegger and the Supposition of a Single, Objective World, DENIS MCMANUS

Christina Lafont has argued that the early Heidegger's reflections on truth and understanding are incompatible with "the supposition of a single objective world." This paper presents her argument, reviews some responses that the existing Heidegger literature suggests (focusing, in particular, on work by John Haugeland), and offers what is argued to be a superior response. Building on a deeper exploration of just what the above "supposition" demands (an exploration informed by the work of Bernard Williams and Adrian Moore), the author argues that a crucial assumption that Lafont and Haugeland both accept must be rejected, namely, that different "understandings of Being" can be viewed as offering rival perspectives on a common subject matter. The author develops this case by drawing on an alternative account of what a Heideggerian "understanding of Being" might be like.

Early Sartre on Freedom and Ethics, PETER POELLNER

This paper offers a revisionary interpretation of Sartre's early views on human freedom. Sartre articulates a subtle account of a fundamental sense of human freedom as autonomy, in terms of human consciousness being both reasons-responsive and in a distinctive sense self-determining. The aspects of Sartre's theory of human freedom that underpin his early ethics are shown to be based on his phenomenological analysis of consciousness as, in its fundamental mode of self-presence, not an object in the world (Section 1). Sartre has a multilevel theory of the reasons-sensitivity of consciousness. At one level, consciousness's being alive to reasons is a matter of the affective perception of values and disvalues as features of phenomenal objects (Section 2). This part of his theory, a development of Scheler's, is, however, situated within a broader phenomenological analysis resulting in the claim that the ultimate reasons acknowledged by consciousness neither are nor justifiably could be values adequately presentable as intentional objects. Consciousness's ultimate reasons are, in this sense, not given by the world but by itself (Section 3). Section 4 reconstructs and assesses Sartre's argument that consciousness cannot rationally have an ultimate end other than self-transparent ("authentic") freedom itself.

Norms and Habits: Brandom on the Sociality of Action, STEVEN LEVINE

In this paper I argue against Brandom's two-ply theory of action. For Brandom, action is the result of an agent acknowledging a practical commitment and then causally responding to that commitment by acting. …

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