I am very much looking forward to chairing the Metaphysics and Epistemology panel at the forthcoming Analyzing Social Wrongs: Social Criticism in Analytic Philosophy workshop at the University of Vienna, 14-16 May.
Below is the abstract for my panel introduction:
Reason cannot become transparent to itself as long as men act as members of an organism which lacks reason” (Horkheimer, 1937)
… in order to proceed with proper confidence to do something together, people must already justifiably see themselves as ‘us’ or ‘we’” (Gilbert, 1992)
What does adopting a critical frame mean for taking an analytic approach to issues such as the Social’s relation to metaphysical grounding; the relationship between individuals and structures of social domination; or the effect of purported epistemic norms of enquiry on these structures?
Critical Theory clearly requires taking the existence of oppressive social facts to be of fundamental importance. Further, I argue that this necessitates seeing the totality of our social lives as linked to our historical mode of economic existence.
This implies a tension with the analytic tradition as the latter sees its task as abstracting out ‘extraneous details’ and views issues of social oppression as such. Even more problematically, the whole social sphere has been seen as an ephemeral distraction from the ‘true nature’ of the world that ‘rigorous’ philosophy is meant to expose.
I will make the case that analytic philosophy has moved towards taking social facts, in general, seriously through the emerging field of Collective Intentionality. However, I will suggest – by way of an illustration using the case of race and collective identity – that adopting a critical theory lens radically alters the necessary trajectory of such projects.