File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_1999/bhaskar.9904, message 53

Date:          Fri, 23 Apr 1999 13:36:37 GMT
Subject:       Re: BHA:International law a subset of critical morality

Hi Tobin,

Thanks for the measured response. Perhaps one consequence of us all 
having moral sensibilities is that we all fly off the handle 
sometimes. One reason I became upset was that it seemed to me that 
your response to Jonathan marked a step backwards from what you had 
rightly described as the more fruitful tone of the discussion. I 
remain a little unhappy about the implication that those of us who 
did'nt agree with your position did'nt give a damn about the Kosovo 
Albanians and also the implication about dogma which seems to 
translate sometimes as "ideas one disagrees with" (stratagies of 
condensension?). My own tendency to fly off the handle during the 
discussion was partly motivated by my horror at the consequences of 
the NATO intervention for them (and my rather crude remarks about 
Kant reflected this). But perhaps this is simply part of the 
proliferation of misunderstandings you refer to. 

These concerns, importantly, are related to how I would argue with 
the "concerned individual" (I absolutely agree with your point about 
the importance of this). Consequentialism is, I think, an important 
part of the argument. Like Ruth, I was influenced by an account of 
morality based on virtue rather then rights, but, the events of the 
last two weeks and the discussions on this list has at least placed 
deep questions in my mind about the deontological critique of 
consequentialism (in particular the ideological motivation and/or 
uses to which such a critique can be put). I am aware of course that 
"moral theory" and the way it poses these questions is a highly 
reified manner of speaking of such issues.

Which brings me onto your reference to Bordieu, buried deeply in your 
polemic with Jonathan. At the most superficial level some of the 
remarks by other contributers, most recently around your own 
arguments with my-self and others seem as Bordieu once put it "almost 
designed for the delight of the sociologist". This perhaps reached its 
peak in the rather fruitless debate about Bhaskar's style reaching a 
particulerly "delightful" pitch in the debates about the "average 
Phd". I intend nothing polemical or "flame-like" in these remarks. I 
simply mean that the (more recent) exchange between Mervyn and Ruth 
involves more then standards of etiquette. Or rather etiquette can 
mask other kinds of deeper differences. There is a danger that 
theoretical and philosophical differences can be shifted to the 
terraine of etiquette thus subtly shifting the rules of the game and 
the variouse kinds of cultural capital available to people (is it the 
tone or the issues being raised that are problematical? If it is both 
why don't we try and untangle them?) Is the curiouse silence of some 
of the more regular contributers to the list (despite my previouse 
fury at your method of argument it is to your credit that you saw the 
issue as being worth arguing about) a function of buffoons like my-
self or the issue it-self? There is something very odd about the 
symmetry between Ruth's and Carrol's position on this (if I'm 
misreading please correct or even attack me!!). My reason for 
bringing Bordieu in are that I wonder what relation his sociology 
might have to Bhaskar's philosophy. The answer to this question would 
raise interesting questions about both perhaps.

John G.      

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