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Bogen has written an excellent book, packed with sensible and suggestive things about Wittgenstein's philosophy of language and about the problems that exercised him. Bogen treads successfully a narrow ridge few others have been able to tread. He has a very clear grasp of what both the earlier and the later Wittgenstein were up to, but he can stand back from Wittgenstein's work and present a lucid and dispassionate account of its philosophical strengths and weaknesses. He is not the kind of unsympathetic and unilluminating critic who regards the Wittgensteinian corpus as aphoristic, obscure and disorganized trivia. Nor is he the kind of acolyte who regards it as sufficient simply to refer his colleagues to the appropriate section of the Investigationswithout further explanation. Whatever thesis Bogen wants to find in Wittgenstein he documents fairly and carefully. Whatever view held by Wittgenstein Bogen wants to regard as penetrating or (even) correct, he usually defends himself independently of its being Wittgenstein's view and also of Wittgenstein's own arguments. Bogen also, in true Wittgensteinian fashion, makes throughout the book masterly use of the happy example. The net result is a book which can be read most profitably both by those interested in Wittgenstein and by those interested in the philosophy of language.
Tom Stoppard is justly praised by many for what are perceived as his technical skills as a dramatist—his wit, his seriousness, his mastery of parody and pastiche (the “country house” detective story in RIH and J, Shakespeare in RGD, Wilde and Joyce in T), his impressive control of dramatic structure (the overlapping of two dramatic worlds and the world of the audience in RIH, the use of a carefully elaborate set in J). Stoppard earns his place as a giant of modern drama from these qualities. They, however, are not what concern me here. His plays are also in various ways riddled with philosophy. My purpose in this paper is to examine the claim that he is a philosopher's dramatist, rather than a dramatist's dramatist or an ordinary thinking man's dramatist. I am not concerned with how far Stoppard himself as a matter of biographical fact may wish to make this claim, although Stoppard has made no secret of his fascination with Philosophy. I make the claim myself in order both to offer an interpretation of certain dramatic texts and to raise certain questions about philosophical method. I hope to show that to understand certain ways in which Stoppard's plays are philosophical is to appreciate something profound about the way in which philosophy and drama are akin—that is, I hope to make critical and (meta-) philosophical points, not historical or biographical points.
More nonsense, in my view, has been purveyed in print about Wittgenstein than about any other recent philosopher. Moreover, of this nonsense a great deal has been about Wittgenstein's notion of “criterion”. I have read, therefore, with an immense lightening of the spirit two recent studies of precisely this notion, each of which is both thorough and fundamentally sensitive to central elements of Wittgenstein's later thought which most philosophers, admirers as well as critics, have missed. Part One of Stanley Cavell's monumental The Claim of Reason deploys Wittgenstein's notion of “criterion” with telling effect in the initial exposition of Cavell's general view of human knowledge. John Canfield's Wittgenstein: Language and World is a very detailed and systematic presentation of Wittgenstein's notion of “criterion” itself, together with Canfield's reasons for judging it so important. The two books complement each other very well. There are differences between them as well as similarities, differences not merely of emphasis and nuance but of doctrine. As will emerge in subsequent pages, I believe Cavell's to be the deeper and subtler work. But Cavell's book is relatively inaccessible to those who do not have already some acquaintance with Wittgenstein's later thought and have not already made some attempt to think that thought for themselves (and parts of it are still inaccessible even to those who have!).
One stands in awe of this book, and of its display of erudition, acumen, wit, elegance, taste, and uninhibited failure to suffer fools gladly. Michael Tanner in lectures at Cambridge in 1961 remarked of the then recently published Aesthetics by Monroe Beardsley that in a sense one did not need any other book in aesthetics. Now, one will be sorely tempted to say exactly the same thing about TTTA. The claim would in either case be a mistake. To understand, however, the reason why in either case the claim would be a mistake, and to understand why it would in the case of Sparshott's book be a mistake for a reason very different from that for which it would in the case of Beardsley's book be a mistake, will be to understand Sparshott's consummate and unrepeata-ble achievement in TTTA. I shall return to this topic explicitly at the end of this review, though implicitly I shall never leave it.
Much recent work in applied legal and political theory has been preoccupied with the problem of the moral status of business organizations and corporations, and of the nature of their agency and personality. On the one hand, moral rights, such as rights to freedom and autonomy, are paradigmatically ascribed to natural, human persons; moral responsibility analogously seems therefore paradigmatically applicable to individuals. Organizations seemingly have no will or mind, no human feelings such as pleasure, pain, shame, and remorse. How can the language of rights and responsibility be applicable to them? On the other hand, it seems to be a fact that business organizations often do things that we human beings do—make deals, sign contracts, cause harm, and issue apologies. In ordinary and in legal discourse all the time we hear such things as, “Miller's Pulp Mill is responsible for its corrupt environmental practice”; “Philip Cosmetics Ltd. has the right to advertise its products”; and “Sunligt Co. is accountable for its irresponsible behavior.” How then are we to understand the attributions of organizational agency, personality, and responsibility that these statements presuppose? Are the predicates in these statements to be taken as having the same intension, or the same force, as similar ones predicated on natural persons? Or are the predications to be seen as extensions of meaning, justified or not? Or as exotic metaphors with no factual implications?
The interest of political theory in the acceptance of law is obvious. If one believes that a regime is legitimate only if it governs with the consent of the governed, then the notion of acceptance is deeply linked with the notion of legitimacy, a fundamental concern of political theory. The interest of legal theory in the notion of acceptance is less obvious. I construe it to arise in the following way. One central tradition in legal theory is that of positivistic or content-independent theories of law. Positivism, crudely speaking, is characterized by some form of the Separation Thesis—that the existence of law is one thing and its merit or demerit another. But if it is important for positivistic legal theory to mark the separation of law and the merits of law, then it must also be important to mark the separation between law and the acceptance of law. The existence of law must be one thing and its acceptance as meritorious another. In deference to the separation of existence and merit, positivism tries to find a content-independent account of the validity of law. Equally, in deference to the separation of law and acceptance, positivism tries to find a content-independent account of the acceptance of law. The topic of this paper is whether the separation of law and the acceptance of law is possible. I shall try to suggest, in service of a non-positivistic or content-dependent approach to law, that this separation is not possible. I will attempt to argue on the basis of points which legal positivism itself has acknowledged to form valid constraints on any theory of acceptance. My ambitious thesis is that positivism has presented us with the reasons for rejecting it. Even if that thesis is not made out, I have a less ambitious thesis which I am confident of securing, that the demand for an account of law which permits law to be accepted ‘for any reason whatever’ is not a theoryneutral demand which might decide between positivism and natural law theory. Rather, it is an expression of a prior commitment to positivism. It is the familiar demand of natural law theory that the convergence of attitudes towards law which makes for acceptance of law must be a convergence for the right kind of reasons; ones that have to do with the value of law.
The nature of authority has been much debated in legal and political philosophy, and the terminology is not stable. I shall begin by stipulating how I understand some of the key terms used in this paper1. I consider authority here as a property of laws and of legal systems. Authority must be distinguished primarily from power, efficacy, and validity. Authority is not the same as power. A person or institution may have the power to affect the way that people behave, but lack authority because he, she, or it is purely coercive. Authority is not the same thing as efficacy; efficacy simply means that there is conformity to the rules of the system, whether willing conformity or not. But it is possible for there to be conformity to the laws of a successful repressive system, and such a system would not have authority. Authority is not the same as validity. To be valid is to be pedigreed by the rule of recognition of the legal system. A legal rule may have that property, and yet lack authority because it is not a rule which there is any obligation to obey. If the law has authority, then the demands that the law makes of us are such that we ought to conform to them. Theorists sometimes distinguish between “legitimate authority” and “de facto authority”. It follows from the above that in my terminology “authority” means legitimate authority as that term has been typically understood, as authority which issues directives we have an obligation to obey. “Legitimate authority” is pleonastic.
Legal theory for the purposes of this essay is the theory of mundane law—that is, our law. The legal system of a modern Western democracy is the phenomenon legal theory is trying to represent perspicuously. Such a legal system may be characterized prephilosophically as an institutionalized normative system. The associated institutions include legislatures, courts, police forces, civil services, royal families, and the like. The associated norms are of three kinds—norms directly enjoining, permitting or proscribing behaviour on the part of the norm-subjectss; norms for facilitating the creation of social arrangements between norm-subjects; norms for the creation, variation, administration, application and enforcement of norms of the first two kinds.