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Josh Brandt

At the outset of the Republic, Polemarchus advances the bold thesis that “justice is the art which gives benefit to friends and injury to enemies”. He quickly rejects the hypothesis, and what follows is a long tradition of neglecting the ethics of enmity. The parallel issue of how friendship (and other positive relationships) affects the moral sphere has, by contrast, been greatly illuminated by discussions both ancient and contemporary. This article connects this existing work to the less explored topic of the normative significance of our negative relationships. I explain how negative partiality should be conceptualized through reference to the positive analogue, and argue that at least some forms of negative partiality are justified. I further explore the connection between positive and negative relationships by showing how both are justified by ongoing histories of encounter (though of different kinds). However, I also argue that these relationships are in some important ways asymmetrical (i.e. friendship is not the mirror image of enmity).

Colm Shanahan

Abstract

I will argue that, due to the level of attention given to comparing and contrasting Socratic Intellectualism with the Republic, the question of the possibility of akrasia in Plato’s thought has not yet been adequately formulated. I will instead be focusing on Plato’s Symposium, situating Alcibiades at its epicentre and suggesting that his case should be read as highlighting some of Plato’s concerns with Socratic Intellectualism. These concerns arise from the following position of Socratic Intellectualism: knowing the greater good will necessarily entail doing good, and will thereby remove the motivational content of prior knowledge of what is good. Through Alcibiades, Plato explores the possibility of a negative reaction to knowledge of the greater good. Importantly, rather than simply arising as a result of being overcome by the passions, Alcibiades’ negative reaction assumes that rational freedom is required to reject the greater good (virtue) in favour of the lesser.

After Darwin

Morality in a Secular World

Jeff O’Connell and Michael Ruse

Abstract

In the second half of the nineteenth century, many people lost their faith in the Christian God. Nevertheless, they were eager to show that this move towards a secular world picture did not mean the end of morality and that it could continue as much before. In a Darwinian age this was not possible and the Christian cherishing of the virtue of meekness was replaced by a moral respect for vigor and effort directed both towards self-realization and to the well-being of society. We compare the British moves to those promoted by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. There are significant similarities but also differences that reflect the British industrialized notion of progress versus the German idealistic notion of progress.

Thomas J. Coleman III, Kenan Sevinç, Ralph W. Hood Jr. and Jonathan Jong

Abstract

In accordance with Terror Management Theory research, secular beliefs can serve an important role for mitigating existential concerns by providing atheists with a method to attain personal meaning and bolster self-esteem. Although much research has suggested that religious beliefs are powerful defense mechanisms, these effects are limited or reveal more nuanced effects when attempting to explain atheists’ (non)belief structures. The possibility of nonbelief that provides meaning in the “here and now” is reinforced by the importance placed on scientific discovery, education, and social activism by many atheists. Thus, these values and ideologies can, and do, allow for empirically testable claims within a Terror Management framework. Although religious individuals can and largely do use religion as a defense strategy against existential concerns, purely secular ideologies are more effective for atheists providing evidence for a hierarchical approach and individual differences within worldview defenses. Evidence for and implications of these arguments are discussed.

Neil Davidson

Abstract

This article is a response to some of the criticisms made of How Revolutionary were the Bourgeois Revolutions? by Gerstenberger, Post and Riley. In particular, it focuses on two issues of definition – that of capitalism and the capitalist nation-state – which arise from the book’s ‘consequentialist’ claim that bourgeois revolutions are defined by a particular outcome: the establishment of nation-states dedicated to the accumulation of capital.

Luis Tapia Mealla

Abstract

René Zavaleta set out to deepen the explanation of the history of Bolivia by developing a set of ideas about long-term structures of pre-Hispanic and colonial origin and their forms of overlap. This paper analyses the conceptual structure of Zavaleta’s proposal and the place of history within it.

Media and Witchcraft Accusation in Northern Ghana

A Study of the Dagomba Community

Leo Igwe

Abstract

There has been a growing visibility of witchcraft beliefs in the African media. The dominant paradigm in the academic literature on witchcraft is that the media reinforce witchcraft beliefs by disseminating information and ideas that are related to witchcraft accusations and witch hunting. However, a careful examination shows that this is not always the case because the media serve other counter purposes. Using ethnographic data from the Dagomba area in Northern Ghana and the concept of forum shopping, this paper explores how accused persons in the Dagomba communities utilize the limited media coverage to enhance their responses to witchcraft accusations. Apart from disseminating information regarding the activities of assumed witches, the media publicize perspectives that reject witchcraft notions.

Anastasia E. Somerville-Wong

Abstract

This paper, by the founder of the UK based Secular Liturgies Network and Forum, explores the concept and purpose of secular liturgy, and the potential for liturgical events in modern secular societies. It examines the practice of writing secular liturgy, discusses potential contributions from atheists, agnostics, humanists and religious progressives, and considers the new pastoral roles that may evolve alongside a secular liturgies movement. The author argues that secular liturgies and liturgical events have the potential to enrich secular culture, nurture community, facilitate healthy social interaction, advance ethical thought, promote creative writing and other arts, and galvanise people in their efforts towards sustainability and the creation of cultures and environments of health.

Brian Kelly

Abstract

For more than a generation, historical interpretations of emancipation in the United States have acknowledged that the slaves played a central role in driving that process forward. This is a critically important advance, and one worth defending. But it is also a perspective whose influence seems increasingly precarious. This article explores the complex relationship between the slaves’ ‘revolution from below’ and the bourgeois revolution directed from above, in part through an appraisal of W.E.B. Du Bois’s argument about the ‘slaves’ general strike’ and the wider revolutionary upheaval encompassing civil war and reconstruction. Grounded in a close familiarity with sources and interpretive trends, the article offers a detailed reading of shifting perspectives in current historiography, a comprehensive review of left engagement with Du Bois’s work, and an extended ‘critical and sympathetic’ appraisal of his major work from within the framework of the Marxist tradition.