Monday, May 15, 2006

Who will turn up?

Nick will be addressing the ICA this coming Wednesday evening on the subject "Does Truth Matter?" alongside Simon Blackburn and Jeremy Stangroom. Meanwhile, most of the rest of the population will be watching the Arsenal take on Barcelona in the final of the European Cup. Ronaldinho or Nick, what a choice ...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the way Nick Cohen is described as "journalist for the Observer, New Statesman and New Humanist" on the advert for this meeting. Now the New Humanist will not pay its celebrity contributors like Nick (or perhaps pay them very little), so claiming to be a "journalist for the New Humanist" suggests three jobs Nick regularly gives free work to this worthy cause. Except he doesn't. He has written what, one or maybe two pieces for the New Humanist, compared to the many and highly paid pieces for the Evening Standard, which for some reason is not metioned.

5/15/2006 05:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The argument about relativism always goes:

A: "postmodernist relatvism has taken over our universities"
b: "I am not at all sure what you mean"
A: "What, you think that female genital mutilation is OK?"
b: "What the hell? I'm just asking if you could possibly define your main term, you're the one who is so bloody keen on objective meanings."
A: "Hahahaha well step out of a tenth storey window if you don't believe in Newton's Theory of Gravity".
b: "fuck this for a game of soldiers"

I have never understood, btw, why it is that "Objective truth" bores always pick on Newtonian gravity as their paradigm example of something that is objectively true. Is it because "General Relativity" has the word "relative" in it that they feel free to ignore it?

5/16/2006 09:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(also, it is perhaps a little ironic that the defenders of "objective truth" tend to retreat to a standard of "what it might be justified to believe on the basis of MI5 reports" in a number of interesting cases. But I am hardly the first to note this).

5/16/2006 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger Marc Mulholland said...

When I finally read a post-modern article on female circumcision, it was actually quite interesting. It went thus:

1. There are strange practices which arise from particular cultures, e.g. female circumcision & boob jobs.

2. Boob jobs are carried out under proper medical supervision, rather than driven underground.

3. Should not female circumcision be dealt with in the same way when the situation arises?

4. Is it because the peculiarities of our culture are taken for granted, the peculiarities of other cultures exoticised?

One might criticise the case, but it's not neccessarily a crazy truth-hating argument.

5/16/2006 12:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have occasionally wondered what the consequences would be if I tried to get the description "breast mutilation" off the ground as a term describing the *objective* facts about an operation under which a woman has her breast sliced open and a saline-filled bag inserted, in order to stretch the tissue and make her bust more aesthetically appealing to men. I suspect that it might get really nasty, which is why I'm tempted to do it.

5/16/2006 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

My friend Clare Chambers has a published an article on this kind of thing (perhaps this is the one Marc is referring to, though Clare's never struck me as a post-modernist, more of a Brian Barry-style liberal Jacobin):

“Are breast implants better than female genital mutilation? Autonomy, gender equality and Nussbaum’s political liberalism” in Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 7(3) 2004.

I'll see if I can get a copy from her, as it's probably easier than finding a copy of the CR of IS and PP kicking around.

5/16/2006 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

Ah, I see, hang on, you can download a pdf here.

5/16/2006 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger Marc Mulholland said...

Hi Chris,

I think that is the article I read. I'm glad for Clare Chambers that she is not a wicked PMist, though a bit sad that dreary PM bashers like brushchettaboy's 'A' might be thus feel vindicated.

5/16/2006 02:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's Nick's ball control like? And if he were a footballer, which one would he be?

5/16/2006 09:02:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

I'd say Stan Collymore, but that would suggest enormous talent frittered away. So Robbie Savage it is.

5/17/2006 06:54:00 AM  
Blogger the management said...

By the way (and yes I know, the rules about staying ontopic don't apply to me), the Euston Manifesto appears to be topping out a bit at around 1500 signatures. I suspect that they are now holding quite a few back in order to have a big bang when they do the launch party next week.

5/17/2006 07:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, just de-lurking about this one. As an anthropology grad, I come up against the relativism thing from time to time. Mostly following bruschettaboy's outline (kind of a pop-Dawkins argument, I can't remember which of his books it comes from, but it really annoys me because it gets straightforward stuff so wrong)

I thought the Clare Chambers article was good, also.

BTW: relatedly, an affiliated site to the Euston Manifesto has just had a go at some poor amazon reviewer for having the temerity not to like their new book "Does Truth Matter":

5/17/2006 07:55:00 AM  
Blogger the management said...

that's a very interesting paper, Chris - it sort of shades into the kind of thing that Nick is groping towards with the otherwise horrifically embarrassing "they support a free market in sexual relations, but not in economics" riff.

5/17/2006 08:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've just been reminded by David Duff of all people that the Euston Manifestation says "For we embrace also the values of free enquiry, open dialogue and creative doubt, of care in judgement and a sense of the intractabilities of the world. We stand against all claims to a total - unquestionable or unquestioning - truth."
I think they should try stepping out of a tenth floor window if they don't believe in truth. ;)

5/17/2006 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Rob Jubb said...

I think I saw an earlier version of Chambers' paper at couple of years ago: the nuns and the second-order/first order autonomy distinction seem familiar. It is good, but could get into trouble if political liberals start talking about there having to be a sufficiently large set of sufficiently attractive options for second-order autonomy to be achieved, since that could provide a ground to distinguish typical cases of female genital mutiliation and breast enlargement.

5/17/2006 11:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Malcolm Ashmore's infuriatingly entertaining book "The Reflexive Thesis" (Chicago UP, 1989) points out, even the strongest advocates of relativism (he's looking at sociology of scientific knowledge) sneak out of it eventually. Conversely, I would suggest, even the strongest advocates of Truth (there's a blog post to be written on the reification implied by the capitalisation) resort to relativism when it comes to actual argumentation.

It's a pity that it's been Steve Fuller rather than someone like Ashmore who's ended up being the current public face of SSK, he'd be much more fun!


5/18/2006 02:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, I still miss Feyerabend.

5/18/2006 07:12:00 PM  

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