Partial Reason: Critical and Constructive Transformations of Ethics and Epistemology

By Sally E. Talbot | Go to book overview

problematising any assumption that there is a world against which theories can be checked, by explicitly renouncing the premise of unpremisedness, and by objecting to the pejorative use of the notion of partiality. The alternatives that I draw out of this critique of foundationalism and for which I have argued in this chapter with the concept of partial reason are, first, that we might replace the notion of truth as a regulatory ideal by securing the notions of truth and knowledge in the universally operative requirement for the elaboration of the context in which we function as knowers 73; second, that we might replace the insistence on the individual agent's epistemic authority with a concept of the authority of selves-in-relation; finally, that we might replace the notion of a totalising common language with the mutual understanding that is commonality.

In my final chapter I link the concept of partial reason with ethical care and show how the ethic of care is illuminated when it is understood in terms of the partial reason by which it is informed.


NOTES
1.
I emphasise that these judgments and arguments are philosophical to counter the response from nonfeminist philosophers that feminism is about politics and sociology rather than philosophy. Ann Garry considers the "extraphilosophical" tag in 'A Minimally Decent Philosophical Method? Analytic Philosophy and Feminism,'16.
2.
Fox Keller, "'The Gender/Science System,'"43.
3.
Longino, "'Can There Be a Feminist Science?,'"213.
4.
Harding, The Science Question in Feminism, 24.
5.
Code, "'Taking Subjectivity into Account,'"21.
6.
Seller, "'Realism versus Relativism: Towards a Politically Adequate Epistemology,'"170.
7.
My understanding of context and the link between context and care can be distinguished from the understandings that give rise to contextualism and situation ethics. Noddings, Caring, 28, argues that care is not like the act utilitarianism of situation ethics because care is not consequentialist. Held, "'Feminist Moral Inquiry and the Feminist Future,'"160, says feminist ethics generally is not like situation ethics because "it does not embrace a pure case-by-case approach." Sherwin, "'Feminist Ethics,'" draws some crucial distinctions between the role of context in feminist and in other "context-specific" ethics.
8.
Malpas, "'Speaking the Truth,'"165.
9.
Ibid., 162.
10.
Quine, "'Two Dogmas of Empiricism,'"45.
11.
Malpas, "'Speaking the Truth,'"171.
12.
Fricker, "'Knowledge as Construct,'"96.
13.
Ibid., 107.
14.
See Malpas, "'Speaking the Truth,'"164 passim for the idea that "understanding the notion of truth itself" depends on "distinguish[ing] what is asserted in our speaking, what is held true, from what is true."
15.
Gilligan, In a Different Voice, 140.
16.
Ibid., 149-150. Gilligan draws the metaphor from Margaret Drabble The Waterfall ( Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969).
17.
See Chapter 3 for my discussion of three central aspects of the "relatedness" of selves-in-relation.

-183-

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Partial Reason: Critical and Constructive Transformations of Ethics and Epistemology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Philosophy ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents VII
  • Preface IX
  • Acknowledgements XI
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 6
  • Chapter 1 People Standing Alone: A Critique of Liberal Moral Theory 9
  • Notes 29
  • Chapter 2 a Necessary Corrective? Responses That Fill the Gaps 37
  • Notes 57
  • Chapter 3 Theorising Connection as Primary: Understandings of Selves-In-Relation 63
  • Notes 85
  • Chapter 4 Seeing Together: Care as Disposition 91
  • Notes 113
  • Chapter 5 Understanding Partiality: Problematising Conceptions of Knowledge and Knowing 121
  • Notes 149
  • Chapter 6 Partial Reason: the Epistemological Imperatives of Partiality 157
  • Notes 183
  • Chapter 7 Care: the Ethical Imperatives of Partiality 187
  • Notes 213
  • Bibliography 219
  • Index 231
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