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This chapter turns to the second ‘universalisation strategy’ developed by courts to conceal legal indeterminacy when environmental protection and human rights collide. It shows how courts rely on the authority and supposed objectivity of experts when interpreting conflicts and justifying their decisions. The argument unfolds in two parts. The first part analyses the role played by scientific experts in cases decided by the Court of Justice of the European Union. It critically assesses this expert-based managerial approach to conflict adjudication and highlights the risk of obstructing the protection of certain rights that do not fit a particular epistemic framework. The second part analyses the role played by specialised human rights experts in regional human rights courts in cases concerning Indigenous peoples and cultural minorities. A network of experts with particular institutional ties gets involved in such cases. These experts share a specific (legal) vocabulary and imaginary when speaking on behalf of the applicants, which courts replicate through cross-jurisdictional and cross-cultural referencing. This essentialises certain ways of living determined by artificial binaries of ‘traditional’ versus ‘modern’. What emerges is an empirically rich understanding of regional human rights courts’ reliance on specialised expertise with both bright and dark sides.
This second part delves into concrete cases of conflicts between environmental protection and human rights decided by regional human rights courts. Instead of focusing on the outcomes of each case, the analysis attends to the legal reasoning and justifications articulated by judges when decisions are reached, and courts come to a resolution of adversarial argumentations. How do regional human rights courts balance individual or collective human rights against the interest in environmental protection, when environmental protection and human rights collide? What emerges is a process where parties counter legal indeterminacy by granting weight to specific legal, political and normative goals in an idiom of universality – namely through justifications in the name of ‘universal interests’ or ‘universal truth claims’. Two strategies of ‘universal justification’ are induced from the cases. First, conflicts between environmental protection and human rights tend to be solved though a ‘universalisation strategy’ that rests on an invocation of the ‘general interest’. Second, a ‘universalisation strategy’ is visible when courts settle disputes by relying on the ‘objectivity’ and ‘authority’ provided by scientific or human rights experts. New argumentative dynamics are induced from a critical case-law analysis that reveals particular understandings of the human–environment relation, which engenders specific world-making effects.
This fragment’s argument refutes leading theoretical assumptions informing comparative law to the effect that comparatism can be objective and access truth, on one hand, and that it must be objective and access truth, on the other. Through a biographical sketch, this argument shows that there cannot be a comparison that is not informed by the comparatist’s predispositions and predilections, themselves having much to do with the cultural world that the comparatist embodies.
This Element discusses the problem of mathematical knowledge, and its broader philosophical ramifications. It argues that the challenge to explain the (defeasible) justification of our mathematical beliefs ('the justificatory challenge'), arises insofar as disagreement over axioms bottoms out in disagreement over intuitions. And it argues that the challenge to explain their reliability ('the reliability challenge'), arises to the extent that we could have easily had different beliefs. The Element shows that mathematical facts are not, in general, empirically accessible, contra Quine, and that they cannot be dispensed with, contra Field. However, it argues that they might be so plentiful that our knowledge of them is unmysterious. The Element concludes with a complementary 'pluralism' about modality, logic and normative theory, highlighting its surprising implications. Metaphysically, pluralism engenders a kind of perspectivalism and indeterminacy. Methodologically, it vindicates Carnap's pragmatism, transposed to the key of realism.
Retraces how Cassirer transforms Kant’s transcendental philosophy into a philosophy of culture in The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms. First, Cassirer abandons Kant’s notion of the category and instead models his conception of the symbol on the schema from The Critique of Judgment (2.1). Second, he understands such symbols as constituting not only the theoretical, practical, and aesthetic sphere, but all cultural domains, including myth, language, and the human sciences (2.2). This forces Cassirer to adopt two conceptions of objectivity: a constitutive conception that pertains to each cultural domain (or ‘symbolic forms’) and a regulative conception that befits human culture as a whole (2.3).
In Chapter 4, I suggested that young children may experience a feeling of understanding, namely that something makes sense, before they acquire a concept of understanding. However, that subjective feeling may not meet an appropriate level of truth or correctness. Young children may feel they understand, when in fact they misunderstand. Adults recognize the possibility of misunderstanding. Thus, one of the identity conditions for understanding is that of truth or correctness.
The concluding chapter sketches a portrait of Kant the empiricist and highlights what is of broader philosophical interest in it. Kant has a keen understanding that empirical knowledge is gradually acquired through a process of revision and refinement. Empirical knowledge is not an epistemic state but a process – not a possession but an ongoing pursuit. This follows from making a regulative assumption a necessary condition of empirical experience and knowledge. Furthermore, only the complete but unattainable determination of the sensibly given by a complete system of causally explanatory concepts can ground the objectivity and truth science seeks. Empirical truth too is ultimately an end we continuously pursue. Our claims to knowledge and our attempts at scientific explanation lay claim to being objectively true. But they are in principle open to revision, refinement or outright rejection. The chapter further claims that Kant’s conception of the aesthetic purposiveness of nature is an account of the acquisition of our most fundamental empirical concepts of observation, which also explains the fact that what we most fundamentally perceive are unchanging simple objects and their salient sensible properties. Finally, it shows that the aesthetic condition of experience does not prey to the "myth of the given."
Chapter 4 contends with the Dialectic of the Teleological Power of Judgment and the discursivity of the understanding. It argues that a discursive understanding must think of the empirical world as ordered by an ideal system of universal concepts, which takes the form of a complete hierarchical taxonomy: from the most general empirical concepts to ever more specific concepts. It argues further that the assumption of a comprehensive hierarchy of concepts determining the sensibly given is Kant’s way of talking about the objective order of nature. Only the complete but unattainable determination of the sensibly given by a complete system of concepts can ground the claims to objectivity made in determinative judgments. Kant ultimately thinks of such a system and its concepts as not merely descriptive but as causally informative and thus explanatory as well. It is a transcendental condition of empirical experience and knowledge, which follows from the fact that we are discursive creatures in pursuit of objective knowledge. An important consequence is that empirical knowledge claims are always revisable and indeed defeasible. A further very important argument shows that the part-to-whole or mechanistic form of physical explanation is also grounded in the discursivity of our understanding.
This chapter explores Britten’s relationship with the critical press and various writers on music. The composer’s antipathy to critics is widely acknowledged, and his relationship with members of that circle could be contentious at times. In his article ‘Variations on a Critical Theme’, published in Opera in 1952, Britten addressed many of the concerns he had about music criticism in Britain and posited some remedies, but he only created further animosity in some quarters. Nevertheless, several music writers gained his confidence and respect, including Henry Boys, Donald Mitchell, and Hans Keller. Mitchell and Keller, in particular, attempted to elevate discourse about music in England and gave special attention to the works of Britten in their periodical Music Survey and in Boosey & Hawkes’s publication, Tempo, among other Britten-centred endeavours. The chapter focuses upon proponents and adversaries alike, including such disparate personalities as Eric Blom, Boys, Norman Demuth, Peter Evans, Frank S. Howes, Keller, Colin Mason, Mitchell, Eric Roseberry, Erwin Stein, Eric Walter White, and Virgil Thomson.
The absence of a singular first-person voice in music may simply indicate that such music is speaking in the plural, in the third person, or in some more objective manner. These questions are examined in the opening chapter of Part IV, ‘Hearing Others’. Looking first at the use of quotation, allusion, and intertextuality in Schumann’s music (in this, picking up the question of ‘whose voice?’ left at the close of Chapter 4), ‘Hearing Another’s Voice’ goes on to explore questions of intersubjectivity and the collective seen in the ‘objective’ tendency of Schumann’s music across the 1840s, the distinction between a divided subject and multiple subjects in the composer’s choral, orchestral, and chamber works, before considering the attempted union of self with world, the subjective with the objective, in two of his later songs, ‘Abendlied’ and ‘Nachtlied’. This eighth chapter thus focuses on those examples from Schumann’s music that have a generally positive ethos, when self and other can still be still distinguished.
In Chapter 2, I discuss theories of objectivism, or the requirement that all genuine knowledge be observer-independent and/or neutral. I provide a brief outline of objectivist accounts and distinguish these from objectivity. Drawing on historical analyses, I show how objectivity in science refers to a set of practices aimed at reducing variability in the recording and transmission of observations, but that objectivism is an overgeneralization of these practices into an incoherent epistemological mandate. I argue that objectivism is illusory, both because knowledge can never be produced independent of a historically situated knower and also because neither individuals nor human systems can be neutral. Objectivism, I claim, can only be performative and so serves as a cover for, rather than a defense against, institutionalized forms of privilege. Objectivist practices also dehumanize the subjects of scientific labor and so anesthetize the moral responsiveness of those who produce and consume research.
This book has looked at some familiar doctrines from a different perspective. The doctrines were that sensibility is a kind of mean and that intelligence is something single, separate, unmixed; the perspective was to see these doctrines as filling out Aristotle’s explanation of why it is in human nature to perceive and to understand beings. The core of that explanation is that sensibility and intelligence are “forms” or “measures” of their respective objects, perceptible and intelligible beings; to see the doctrines just alluded to as “filling out” this core is to see them as specifying those forms or measures (in the one case as a kind of mean, in the other as something simple, separate, or unmixed). The upshot is that there is a kind of priority of sensibility and intelligence to perceptible and intelligible beings. Some will find this upshot un-Aristotelian: doesn’t he hold that perceptible and intelligible beings are causes of and (therefore) prior to perceptual and intellectual knowledge? In this concluding chapter then I try to meet this and similar concerns, by way of clarifying the perspective I have been developing.
Beginning with Emily Dickinson’s circumscribed view of her environment, the book introduces readers to the sciences, technologies, and aesthetics of vision that inform a natural history of casualty. The nineteenth century’s declensionist narratives of species, race, and nature corresponds to narratives of a Euro-American expansion of civilization across the American continent. Dickinson’s techniques of seeing comprise what is theorized as a “sketch.” Through a feminist lens influenced by the new materialist turn in ecocriticism, the sketch is defined as an optical-textual apparatus that materially engages with the environment and that apprehends the fragile tenuousness of ecological relation. The chapter positions the sketch as a minor and partial view of nature against the dominant wide-sweeping historical romance of exploration, empire, and nation. Using Harriet Jacobs’s “loophole of retreat” as an example, the chapter lays out the ecological and epistemological stakes of critical sketches whose engagement with the discourse of declining natures nevertheless opens out to a view of their survival based upon precarious environmental relations. Reflecting the sketch’s partiality back onto literary critical methodologies, “partial reading” is proposed as a method that situates its own epistemological limits as an apprehension of the casualties produced by historicizing gestures.
In this chapter, I argue that rather than echoing a perception of fundamental rights as principles, and of law as practical reasoning, as the Alexyan theory would want it, the force of proportionality in French public law lies in its aura of value-proof objectivity and scientific correctness. The spread of proportionality thus expresses the mystery surrounding political moral choices in French legal thought. At the same time, it expresses domestic lawyers’ search for a legal science, exempt from subjective moral or ideological evaluations, which could rationalise such choices. Proportionality in French public law has not served so much as a tool for legal change, as the transplant account of its spread would suggest, but rather as a conceptual tool in the hands of the doctrine for systematising and justifying evolutions in domestic judicial review.
Objectivity is a key concept both in how we talk about science in everyday life and in the philosophy of science. This Element explores various ways in which recent philosophers of science have thought about the nature, value and achievability of objectivity. The first section explains the general trend in recent philosophy of science away from a notion of objectivity as a 'view from nowhere' to a focus on the relationship between objectivity and trust. Section 2 discusses the relationship between objectivity and recent arguments attacking the viability or desirability of 'value free' science. Section 3 outlines Longino's influential 'social' account of objectivity, suggesting some worries about drawing too strong a link between epistemic and ethical virtues. Section 4 turns to the value of objectivity, exploring concerns that notions of objectivity are politically problematic, and cautiously advocating in response a view of objectivity in terms of invariance.
The publication of a book in 2020 that argues against repatriation, on the grounds that it is incompatible with the necessary objectivity required for the production of scientific knowledge, raises issues that most scholars consider long settled. Rather than engage in a detailed review, this commentary revisits the reasons why claims of contributing to universal knowledge are insufficient to justify exploitation of the physical remains, and cultural property, of people who object to specific lines of research and reminds readers that academic freedom is a mitigated freedom that is rooted in responsibilities and norms agreed on within disciplines, all of which today accept repatriation as part of the necessary redress of legacies of exploitation.
This is the first study of Renaissance architecture as an immersive, multisensory experience that combines historical analysis with the evidence of first-hand accounts. Questioning the universalizing claims of contemporary architectural phenomenologists, David Karmon emphasizes the infinite variety of meanings produced through human interactions with the built environment. His book draws upon the close study of literary and visual sources to prove that early modern audiences paid sustained attention to the multisensory experience of the buildings and cities in which they lived. Through reconstructing the Renaissance understanding of the senses, we can better gauge how constant interaction with the built environment shaped daily practices and contributed to new forms of understanding. Architecture and the Senses in the Italian Renaissance offers a stimulating new approach to the study of Renaissance architecture and urbanism as a kind of 'experiential trigger' that shaped ways of both thinking and being in the world.
I draw on Heidegger and Zwicky to challenge the notion that underlying divergent perspectives of an entity there must be something that is ‘the same’; instead, sameness is disclosed within particular world-disclosures. I focus on Heidegger's concepts of world and truth as foundation for thinking about different human worlds. I introduce Zwicky's work on gestalts, internal relations, truth as asymptotic limit, and metaphors; the concept of metaphoricity of Being helps us think through how it is that no thing underlies the different perspectives of a phenomenon, and yet that there are limits for disclosures.
In this chapter, Simon Truwant claims that the philosophy of symbolic forms formulates a critique of and response to two dialectically related crises of culture: an intellectual crisis resulting from a lack of overall cultural unity and orientation, and a political crisis resulting from the political sphere overstepping its legitimate boundaries. First, this chapter analyses Cassirer’s accounts of these crises, and their interconnection, in terms of objectivity and truth. On this basis, it appears that Cassirer provides a useful philosophical framework for tackling not only the crisis of Western culture at the beginning of the twentieth century but also the “post-truth condition” that haunts it today. Next, by invoking Kant’s idea of the “cosmopolitan conception of philosophy,” Truwant argues that the philosophy of symbolic forms was set up to deal with this twofold crisis from the very beginning. This means that Cassirer’s later writings on the sociopolitical task of philosophy did not break with his systematic writings from the 1920s but rather revealed the motivation for his earlier thought.
In Section 1 of An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, Hume claims that those who deny the reality of morals are disingenuous. He notes that philosophy has had a history of disagreements about whether morals originate in reason or sentiment. Throughout his book, Hume applies an experimental method to find the “universal principles” from which morality is derived. Then, in Appendix 1, he argues for the origin of these principles in sentiment or taste, a product of “the human fabric.” Reason, Hume says, discovers objects “as they really stand in nature, without addition or diminution.” Taste “has a productive faculty, and gilding or staining all natural objects with the colours, borrowed from internal sentiment, raises, in a manner, a new creation.” How can the quest for universal principles find a satisfactory answer in taste, a “productive” faculty? How is the notion that morality is a “new creation” consistent with an insistence on the reality of moral distinctions? Are the deliverances of taste, which are prompts to virtue, also judgments that can be evaluated as true or false? This essay shows that, on a proper reading, the elements of Hume’s moral epistemology in the second Enquiry are largely consistent.