Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do


1st International Conference: "Ethics and Politics"

24-28 May 2006, Venetian Basilica of St. Mark, Heraklion, Crete, Greece
Organised by Municipality of Heraklion

Live webcast from the FORTH-ICS

28310-77230 Fax: +28310-77230 Email: liavavouraki@fks.uoc.gr

These are the abstracts of the papers given. Among them are Noam Chomsky who refers very wisely to the choices in need to be made when in crisis, and therefore at risk not to deal with the problems like nuclear threat in adequate terms. Over and again the participants hint or paint a confounding picture of ethics, politics and foundation in need of if there is to be a governance. Many refer to Ancient Greek philosophers. The question prevails whether then as now the same philosophical and therefore ethical questions prevail. That is itself a call for taking up a moral stance.

Hatto Fischer

Posted: Athens 26.8.2013



Martin Jay

Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley, USA

The conventional wisdom that lying, identified with Machiavellian elitism, is a danger to a democratic political culture, has always been especially powerful in America. This paper will explore an alternative understanding of its function. Drawing on the work of three theorists in particular, Hannah Arendt, Leo Strauss and Theodor W. Adorno, it will discuss the ways in which nuanced defenses of the inevitability and even positive effects of mendacity in the political arena challenge that received wisdom. It will look at the differences between the Big Lie of totalitarianism and the countervailing little lies of a pluralist political culture. It will examine the importance of rhetoric, opinion, narrative, and theatricality in the democratic public sphere, in addition to the uses of hypocrisy in coalition-building. Against the fetish of sincerity or authenticity in modern life, it will explore older links between courtly politeness and politics.


Arguing against the over moralization of the political realm, as well as its reduction to a sphere of pseudo-scientific administration or juridical procedures, it will make a case for the role mendacity plays in preserving the ability to imagine an alternative future.



Meltem Ahıska

Associate Professor, Sociology Department, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey

In today’s world, the media of so-called “mass communication”, especially TV and newspapers, play a central role in shaping public opinion on significant social and political events. In countries like Turkey, where political hegemony over contested issues, such as ethnic and religious conflicts, is difficult to maintain, the media are nevertheless presented as representative of the public. Especially private national television channels, despite their various differences in interpreting social and political events, share a common concept of public, supposedly reflecting the public’s “real” needs and demands. This is enhanced not so much by the content but by the format and narrative structures of both news and other programs, in which the “ordinary” men and women increasingly appear as actors. Television becomes a medium through which “ordinary” people are supposed to watch themselves. I would argue that the claim to truth thus produced should be distinguished from the once “pedagogic” discourses of mass communications in the beginning of the 20th century, within which certain truths were disseminated to masses by the elites. The new paradigm of a seemingly more “democratic” concept of the public deserves critical attention. This paper, rather than dwelling on the existing debates on media and public sphere(s), aims first to critically discuss the concept of the public that appears in mainstream media today and secondly to question the meaning of the concept of the public as part of a would be “common life”, paying attention to the changing perception of the public/private distinction motivated by a instrumentalized and privatized conception of the public in a globalizing capitalism.



Giorgia Apostolopoulou

Professor of Philosophy, Philosophical School of the University of, Greece

Aristotle claims that the philosopher does not perform politics. Nevertheless, Aristotle maintains that the philosopher offers a conciliatory contribution to politics by investigating the elements defining politics. The philosopher is the ‘architectonic craftsman’ (architekton tou telous), since he demonstrates through his theory that the flourishing life (eudaimonia) is the final purpose (telos) for the citizen and for the city (polis) as well. Aristotle defines the flourishing life as the activity of soul according to the complete excellence, namely according to justice, which is the excellence of the citizen and of the city.

The true politician will consult the philosophical theory, in order to have some clear knowledge about the soul and the excellence. When Aristotle mentions the true politician, he has in mind mainly the legislator, who has to establish laws defining what the citizens ought to do and what they should avoid. Moreover, he considers as prudent that politician who knows what is the good not only for himself but also for the human being. In some aspect, politics bears the features of ‘architecture’ (architektonike), since it co-ordinates and controls the main activities in the city to a better advantage of the whole.

Aristotle does not rise the demand that the philosopher should dictate the politician the rules of political action and does not expect that the politician would anyway take into consideration the

philosophical theory. Since the human affairs are uncertain, the concrete aspects of the political action can be defined only in terms of deliberative rationality (bouleusis). Therefore, the politicians and the citizens should not reject the contribution of the philosophical theory to decision making. Aristotle is interested in the function of the concept of justice as the main criterion, which differentiates the constitution corresponding to the definition of the right constitution from other ones not fulfilling the demands of the theory of politics. In this aspect, Aristotle argues that the excellence of the human can be different from the excellence of the citizen, if the laws of the political community are not just.



Aristides Baltas

Professor, National Technical University of Athens, Greece

In the paper, a fundamental ethical characteristic of physics is discussed as it derives from the very structure of that science and in particular the way it carves out its subject matter,the way it formulates its laws and performs teh experimental transactions specific to it. This ethical characterisric is a kind of "epistemological cynicism" and, once established and explained, is discussed in conjunction with some of its more mundane 'applications'



Anat Biletzki

Tel Aviv University, Israel

From antiquity and on through the enlightenment, peace has been posited as that aspect of human existence which is to be pursued by all rational beings. Modern times – the 20th century and onwards – have seen this construct mobilized both socially and institutionally. Its unequivocally positive status has made it the rationale for discourse and action in numerous frameworks – education, media, politics, and academia (among others). We thereby encounter, in our modern Western culture, the establishment of educational peace projects, journalists and writers working for peace, political movements and organizations for whom peace is both motivation and aim, and academic work devoted to the issues of peace.

This lecture will attempt to look more critically at this burgeoning phenomenon. The term “peace” has given rise to a linguistic institution which has rules, players, moves, audiences, speakers and aims. In a sense, however, the purpose of the game seems to have become internal rather than external; in other words, the rules of the language-game of peace seem to constitute peace as the aim which the game itself defines, rather than regulate the game according to an already existent aim – “peace” in its classical meaning.

Following on this description of the game of peace is the more problematic question of the use, which is made of this language-game. Here there are two levels of critique: First, such an “industrialization” and “capitalization” of the field (of peace) raises the specter of a cheapening of the concept, making it a useful tool itself rather than an end-in-itself. But this gives rise to a second, more challenging question: If the term “peace” is available for use, then what is to ensure that it not be used cynically, i.e., in collaboration with those who would promote war?



Eftichios Bitsakis

Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of Ioannina; Assistant Professor of Theoretical Physics, University of Athens, Greece

La science est une des pratiques sociales. Le développement des sciences de la nature, en particulier, est intrinsèquement lié au développement du capitalisme. Ainsi, en plus de sa fonction cognitive, les sciences de la nature, par la médiation de la technologie, ont joué un rôle capital dans le développement des sociétés modernes. Ce fait historique a donné une autre dimension à la fonction sociale des sciences.

La production capitaliste est une production marchande généralisée. Un certain nombre d’antinomies caractérisent ce mode de métabolisme entre l’homme et la nature: contradiction entre le capital et la classe ouvrière ; guerres pour l’exploitation des recherches naturelles, de la force de travail des peuples « sous-développés » et pour l’exploitation des marchés de la planète; dérangement, enfin, du métabolisme normal entre l’homme et la nature. En particulier, épuisement des recherches naturelles; les guerres de notre époque sont, en premier lieu, guerres pour le contrôle et l’exploitation du pétrole.

Les technologies de guerre modernes utilisent les acquisitions des sciences, surtout de la physique, de la chimie, de la biologie et de l’informatique. Ainsi, un nombre croissant de scientifiques travaillent pour la guerre, et la science, comme l’ancien Janus, présente deux faces opposées: la face bienveillante et la face affreuse de la servante de la guerre.

La responsabilité des scientifiques devant les dangers qui menacent la planète est évidente. Comment donc résoudre la contradiction? Il y a trois échappatoires: 1) Il est merveilleux de travailler pour les sciences et les technologies de pointe! Réponse lamentable et égoïste. 2) Ce n’est pas moi qui décide. Réponse aussi égoïste et lâche. 3) Il faut fabriquer des armes pour la défense de la démocratie, de la civilisation, etc. Réponse hypocrite et sans fondement. Réponse qui justifie la barbarie de la guerre.

Comment donc concilier la participation á l’industrie de la guerre, avec la conscience morale (chrétienne, Kantienne ou socialiste)? Il n’y a pas d’autre solution que la non participation. Mais alors, d’autres, dont la conscience morale est malléable, vont travailler pour la guerre. Ainsi le problème n’est pas seulement personnel. Le développement d’un mouvement social contre la guerre et contre les effets néfastes du capitalisme plus généralement, et pour une société de coopération, est la seule voie pour la solution de la contradiction. Einstein, Russel, Joliot, un grand nombre de scientifiques éminents ont choisi cette voie. L’abstention et la neutralité est, elle aussi, une attitude moralement condamnable. Mais, concilier la conscience morale et la recherche scientifique, refuser de travailler pour la guerre et les transnationales, implique des sacrifices personnels. Il faut pourtant choisir.




Simon Blackburn

Professor of Philosophy, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge University, UK

Socrates's attempt to respond to Thrasymachus at the end of Book 1 of the ‘Republic’ takes up the rest of the work. If we see Thrasymachus as the spokesman for 'realpolitik', or neo-Conservatism, the nature of his response is of urgent interest today. Or has the Western tradition of moral philosophy given us anything else to add to it? In my lecture I argue that the resources of Plato, Aristotle, and Kant are all insufficient to give anything that counts as an ' answer' to Thrasymachus. One response is to give up the hope of an answer. Another is to design a politics in which the alignment of forces means that Thrasymachus cannot flourish - but that means a very different politics from any on offer in the Western world.



Konstantine Boudouris

Professor of Philosophy,University of Athens, Greece

In this Paper I argue that the strict neutrality, as it applies to strongly conflicting values, attitudes, and actions in political reality, is an indefensible philosophical position. The concept of “strict neutrality” stems from the doctrines of philosophers such as John Rawls, who, is led to a paradox when he applies the principle of tolerance to the philosophy itself. But “strict neutrality” in sociopolitical theories maintains that the state, in its actions, must be strictly neutral so as not to favor or promote any metaphysical value, religious belief or practice of any of those views called “comprehensive doctrines”. This thesis, if it were to have any chance of success, implies adoption of a strictly anti-neutral position. It must stand against all those points of view that challenge its principle of neutrality. This is a paradox. In addition, it must be emphasized that the view that strongly differing metaphysical or religious beliefs or practices on similar matters are equally valid is objectionable. Metaphysical conceptions and doctrines must be subjected to critical evaluation so that their hidden implications and consequences for political society be identified. Political neutrality, if accepted, must operate within limits so that it does not subvert the principle that living within a well-organized political community is itself of high value. It seems that a strictly neutral moral and political position does not appear to satisfy either the communitarian views of contemporary political philosophy nor the views of those who support an individualistic kind of liberalism. Regardless of which moral and political fundamental principles we are to accept, the fact remains that we, the people, as a political power, and sometimes the state, can not remain completely neutral regarding inimical values and practices. For this reason discussions of issues( such as the nature of piety) which are examined in Plato’s Euthyphro, are unavoidable and have significance. Strict neutrality that eschews inquiry into the consequences of intense clashing values is of no benefit to an open society.



Allen Buchanan

James B. Duke Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy Studies, Duke University, USA

The possibilities for "enhancing" human beings through the use of new human/machine interface technologies, pharmaceuticals, and gene insertion techniques are growing rapidly. This paper explores the question of whether conceptions of human nature or of the natural can be of any service in deciding whether we should use such technologies and what the ethical significance of their use would be.



Alex Callinicos

Professor of European Studies, King's College, University of London, UK

This paper will examine what conceptual resources contemporary critical theory offers in addressing the present era of neo-liberal globalization and imperial war. Among the thinkers considered, from a Marxist and critical realist perspective, with be Alain Badiou and Antonio Negri.



Arthur Caplan

Emanuel & Robert Hart Professor of Bioethics & Chair, Department of Medical Ethics; Director Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania, USA

The shortage of organs for transplantation for those in need has been a challenge to those awaiting transplants, their health care teams and for those involved with public policy for many years. The supply of cadaver organs available for transplant in the United States, Canada and Europe has shown a small amount of growth over the past decade while the demand for transplants has continued to rapidly grow.

The gap between supply and demand is probably even worse then current statistics, which are based on those registered on waiting lists at transplant centers, reveal. Many potential recipients are not listed. For example, in the United States the national waiting list compiled by the Federally sponsored United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) seriously underestimates the number of persons who might reasonably benefit from transplants.

The UNOS waiting list does not reflect those who lack ready access to primary medical care meaning that some persons die before they are ever evaluated much less listed. Others fail to be listed as a result of old age, cognitive impairment, not being a citizen of the United States, fear of a potential candidate's possible non-compliance with treatment post-transplant, a history of drug or alcohol abuse, incarceration, a history of criminal behavior, or as a result of being positive for HIV, HCV or other forms of infectious diseases.

If there were more organs some of those now not listed would be. The pressure to find new sources of organs both for those who now wait and those who could potentially join them on waiting lists is enormous. This pressure is further exacerbated by the fact that the capacity to perform transplants has expanded enormously over the past three decades so that there are many medical centers around the world where transplant surgeons are in search of more organs in order to perform more transplants.

In the face of this lethal gap between need and supply, some experts in transplantation and in public policy have concluded that the fastest practical way to increase the supply of vital organs is to increase the utilization of living donors. Indeed there are now more kidneys obtained from living persons then there are from cadaver sources in the United States. And there has been a rapid increase in the number of persons who have donated a lobe of liver for transplantation in the USA and other nations.

Living donation raises a number of crucial ethical issues. Does the practice violate the key medical ethics norm of 'Do No Harm'? Should living donation always be a matter of voluntary altruistic choice or should the government tolerate markets in organs in order to provide incentives to increase the supply of organs available for transplant? Should the government merely tolerate living donation or should it actively and aggressively promote living donation as a duty that every medically suitable person should feel obligated to honor? And is enough being done to protect the interests and choices of prospective donors?



Ruth Chadwick

Distinguished Research Professor and Director of the ESRC (Economic and Social Sciences Research Council) Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (CESAGen), Cardiff University, UK

At a time when scientific advances have thrown up a range of social and ethical issues, stem cell research and therapeutic cloning have provided a particular focus of concern. While there has been increasing incorporation of both ethics and of public involvement in policy-making, how ethics is construed remains a complex issue for debate. Ethical framing is integrally connected with predictions about future scenarios and debates about the values of science, which are increasingly a subject of critical assessment. Dominant frameworks of risk assessment and management have been criticised as focusing on the known at the expense of the unknown. What counts as ethical decision-making under conditions of uncertainty?

The sources of uncertainty in this field are multiple and include: the sources of stem cells; the context in which scientists work, including the pressures of commercialisation, concerns about intellectual property and the purported decline in public trust in science; the distinction between therapeutic and reproductive cloning; future prospects; the 'slippery slope'. One response to conditions of uncertainty is to attempt to set boundaries e.g., by regulation and/or ethics and governance.

This presentation will outline the approach of the HUGO Ethics Committee but will also raise questions concerning the extent to which recent developments test the limits of ethical frameworks.



Bhuvan Chandel

Vice-President of FEDERATION INTERNATIONALE DES SOCIETES DE PHILOSOPHIE (FISP); Member of International Institute of Philosophy (IIP); Panjab University; Director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, India

Man is always seeking ideals that can be universalized. These ideals must have a prima facie plausibility that cannot be overridden by extraneous considerations of other classes of ideals or interests. The moral deliberations during the journey of man’s intellectual endeavour aim specifically at the formulation of moral ideals of a pre-eminently good society with a sound matrix of political institutions sustaining the principle of upholding the interests of all persons equally. Some ends have been envisaged as worthy of being realized and there has been a conceptualization regarding the means that are potently capable of realizing these ends. The question that arises is whether we may accord primacy to the ends edging aside the means, or do we give equal consideration to the means that may realize for us the ends.

The relationship of Ethics and Politics unfolds itself and its multifaceted character in and through this web of ends—i.e. a continuum embedded in the considerations of intrinsic merit of ends and extrinsic worth of means. Ideal societies have been considered as ends in themselves, while revolutions have been seen as means of facilitating the realization of ideal societies. Revolutions testify to the rejection of the established order and symbolize the acceptance of freedom, equality and justice as ends which must concretise the radical transformation of the existing social structures. The demand of revolutionaries and social philosophers down from Rousseau to Marx has been not only for a transformation of social structures and institutions but also for a profound, radical ‘overturning’ transformation of man, his consciousness, his values and his social relations. In the pursuit of such universalizable ends and ideals one finds the concretization of unity of being and consciousness. It is this unity of being and consciousness which endows man with moral freedom to pursue the supreme end of goodness of humanity as a whole.



Noam Chomsky

Institute Professor, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA

Selection of crises that demand urgent attention is a subjective matter, but there are several choices that cannot be overlooked, because they are literally matters of survival. One, urgent and imminent, is the threat of nuclear war. It receives far too little attention, apart from strategic analysts, who are deeply concerned that the risks of "an Armageddon of our own making" are intolerably high and increasing. A second crisis, less imminent but inexorable, is environmental catastrophe. A third crucial issue is that state policies are regularly enhancing these serious threats to decent survival. The responsibilities are shared, but are roughly proportional to power, with the US government well in the lead. The government, not the population. The gap between public opinion and public policy is vast, which points to another crisis, a growing democratic deficit in the US and much of the world, as social and economic policies undermine the functioning of formal democratic institutions. Alongside of such historical phenomena there is a related ethical crisis among intellectual elites, not new, but now of extreme significance: a rejection of elementary moral principles, notably the principle of universality, which requires that we apply to ourselves the standards we demand of others. All are interrelated. All pose challenges that can be delayed only with great risk, some imminent, some imposing very serious burdens on future generations. All can be addressed, in some cases by means that are simple to outline but difficult to implement, at least until the democratic deficit is mitigated and the ethical crisis overcome.



George Cohen

Consultant, Centre National de Sequencage, Evry France, member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Institutio de Ciencias Biomedicas, Santiago, Chile

Institut Pasteur, Paris, France

The social implications of human genetics are of such an importance that the subject deserves serious discussion. There is no other organism for which so detailed and extended information on anatomy, development, physiology, biochemistry, evolution and population statistics is available. These advantages led to important discoveries, such as the nature of blood groups or the anomalies of haemoglobin. Eugenics is based on the notion of the qualitative importance of the genes and the means of changing their distri-bution in the population lies in the change of reproductive habits. Eugenics is not an ideology imposed to science by politicians. Its roots and developments are to be traced among talented scientists and medical doctors. It has then been exported to the political domain with their blessing. The linkage between eugenics and "racial hygiene" leads to the promulgation of laws on immigration and "cross-breeding". The final logical conclusion was the elimination of the carriers of undesirable genes by genocide and the holocaust.



Georges Contogeorgis

Professeur, Panteion Université, Athéns, Greece

L’auteur rejette la conception dominante de la modernité qui définit comme démocratique un système politique par le simple fait que le personnel politique au pouvoir de l’État soit légitimé par le vote populaire. Il commence par clarifier le concept de la démocratie, qui est lié à la liberté globale et, plus précisément, à la jouissance cumulée de la liberté dans ses dimensions individuelle, sociale et politique. La liberté de la démocratie est conçue en termes d’autonomie et, par-là, se distingue du simple droit, qui se situe dans un cadre hétéronomique.

La démocratie s’oppose donc au système représentatif et, bien plus, au système de représentation indirecte ou mieux pré-représentatif qui est vanté par la modernité.

Par conséquent, le système de la modernité non seulement n’est pas démocratique, mais n’est pas non plus représentatif. Les membres de la société jouissent de la liberté individuelle et d’un corps de droits socio-politiques; ils sont loin d’accéder à la liberté sociale et politique.

En dernière analyse, la liberté politique et, au-delà, la démocratie demandent que la société des citoyens soit convertie en système politique, à la place de l’État qui, de détenteur de la compétence politique universelle, devient un simple serviteur administratif de la société politique.



Sir Partha Dasgupta

Frank Ramsey Professor of Economics, University of Cambridge, UK

In this lecture I shall report on recent work that has made use of a broadly utilitarian theory of intergenerational well-being to define the concept of sustainable economic development. I shall then put the theory to use on data from both rich and poor countries to check whether economic development in recent decades has been sustainable there. The tentative conclusion I reach should be worrying: economic development in rich countries would appear to have been sustainable, while development has been unsustainable in countries that are currently poor.



Sylvie Delacroix

Lecturer, University of Kent, UK

Whether in revolutionary circumstances or in the quotidian need for judges, lawmakers or citizens to confront law's demands with those of morality or prudence, our ability to bind ourselves through law ultimately depends on our capacity to articulate a better way of living together, and to commit ourselves to it. These efforts of assessment and articulation depend, in turn, on our conception of normative agency. Assert the need to track the truth of ethical judgments to some independent moral ``facts" conditioning their objectivity, and you will get a different understanding of what it is we are doing when we dispute law's authority in the name of moral values. Tracing the truth of moral judgments back to our own social practices not only affects the nature of disagreement; it also dramatically increases our responsibility when, as lawmakers, judges, or citizens we ``take the law into our own hands" and confront it with our moral expectations.



Vincent Descombes

Directeur d'études à l'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris), France

Je distinguerai deux théories du phénomène de l’autorité. La théorie individualiste analyse la relation d’autorité élémentaire entre deux personnes comme une interaction entre deux volontés individuelles (selon le modèle du maître et de son serviteur). La théorie sociale analyse ce phénomène comme manifestant la supériorité d’un tout sur ses parties.

Je chercherai à montrer que la théorie individualiste ne parvient pas à rendre compte des caractères propres à l’autorité politique (à travers une discussion des analyses qu’en ont donnée Alexandre Kojève, Bertrand de Jouvenel, Peter Winch).

Le principe d’une analyse sociale de l’autorité est posé par la distinction célèbre, mais obscure, que fait Rousseau entre la volonté de tous les membres du groupe et la volonté générale du groupe. Je m’efforcerai de montrer le bien fondé de cette distinction au moyen d’une réflexion sur les conditions d’une identité collective.



Donna L. Dickenson

Professor of Medical Ethics and Humanities, University of London, UK

By the end of 2005 the number of patented human genes had increased to 4,270, representing eighteen per cent of the entire human genome. Despite the gargantuan scale of genetic patenting, however, a cynic might note that there is an inverse proportion between the physical or legal threat posed and the emotional or political heat generated. I want to suggest that the real affront is the symbolic reduction of everyone's genetic patrimony--and I use the gendered term 'patrimony' advisedly--to the status of the objectified and commodified female body.

Compared to the risks imposed on women 'donors' in ova 'harvesting' for the stem cell technologies, as recently publicised in the revelations concerning Prof. Hwang in Korea, or to the risks to mothers banking umbilical cord blood during childbirth, it may seem surprising that anyone should find genetic patenting so threatening. How is anyone actually harmed? Physically, DNA sampling for patentable material involves none of the risks imposed on women from whom cord blood or ova are taken, and very much less effort. Yet while those risks and that effort are routinely ignored by the promoters of private cord blood accounts and stem cell researcher, patenting the human genome appears to evoke great public concern. The 1998 European Patent Directive aroused and continues to arouse tremendous European public and governmental anxiety about eugenics and dignity, not simply about the costs to national health systems. France and other countries continue to resist implementation of the directive, on ideological or philosophical rather than practical or economic grounds.


Why has public and academic opposition been so much less obvious in the cases where solely female tissue is involved? Does the fear of all bodies' feminisation have something to do with the much higher level of antagonism in the gender politics of genetic patenting?



Dimitris P. Dimitrakos

Professor Emeritus of Political Philosophy, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Athens, Greece

Cet exposé se penche sur un problème important, à savoir, celui de la place de la tradition dans une société ouverte. Nonobstant les réserves empiristes ainsi que rationalistes en ce qui concerne la tradition, celle-ci joue souvent un rôle important en tant que source de connaissances. Cependant, il importe de souligner le sens de l’idée de tradition d’ «ordre second» (second order tradition), c ‘est à dire, un principe qui pose comme devoir de suivre la tradition – ou au contraire de s’opposer à elle. Ainsi, le traditionalisme, tout comme le radicalisme constituent des traditions d’ordre second.

Une tradition d’ordre second est conçue comme ce que le philosophe William Bartley nomme «metacontexte» ou «niche écologique» qui comprend des contextes dans lesquels s’insèrent des manières d’agir et de penser, constituant telle ou telle tradition. Traiter le problème d’une telle manière évite forcément les leurres du contextualisme relativiste ainsi que du dogmatisme soi-disant rationaliste.

Le communitarisme d’auteurs tels Amitai Etzioni, Charles Taylor, Michael Walzer et surtout Alasdair MacIntyre s’associe au traditionalisme : la tradition précède, en quelque sorte, la raison en tant que source d’autorité qui prête une valeur aux idées. Cette pensée met un signe d’égalité, en ce qui concerne la tradition et son autorité, entre mythe et théorie scientifique, symbole et argument, etc., puisque tout énoncé est traité de simple «narratif» dans un contexte et la raison même n’est qu’un contexte et ne doit entre traitée que comme un parmi plusieurs autres contextes.

Conformément à cette théorie la ligne de démarcation s’estompe entre les sociétés ouvertes et les sociétés closes et traditionnelles (que l’historien Peter Munz appelle «catéchismiques»). La transition vers la société ouverte, avec tout ce que celle ci comporte en termes d’organisation politique et sociale, signifie que le rôle de la raison est prépondérant en ce sens : que les standards of rationality communément acceptes en science et en philosophie, mais aussi dans toute interaction humaine, prévaut quand il s’agit de pondération et de comparaison entre arguments qui se confrontent, voire, quand on s’engage dans la critique; et par critique j’entends la tentative de réfuter une proposition ou une théorie. C’est ici que les standards of rationality que représentent les principes logiques comme celui de la non-contradiction, de la vérité (entendue comme conformité des énoncés aux faits, ou plus généralement, ce qui est accepté comme vérité), de non-vacuité des propositions, la cohérence des théories etc., prévalent aux symboles, aux appels émotifs, aux coutumes qui font part d’une tradition. Ce principe de prépondérance de la raison dans une telle société constitue ce qui est nomme ici état de raison : un metacontexte dans lequel la raison est un element necessaire et determinant dans une tradition ou dans l’entendement, l’ interpretation, l’acceptation ou le rejet d’une tradition.

Cet état de raison dans une civilisation affecte les moeurs, les institutions ainsi que toute interaction humaine - les échanges commerciaux, la confrontation entre propositions politiques opposées etc.

Vu que l’ état de raison est une tradition d’ordre second, tout comme le metacontexte qui prône la valeur intrinsèque de la tradition, il s’ ensuit qu’ il s’ appuie sur un rapport nécessaire et permanent entre la raison et le legs de coutumes et de façons de penser qui deviennent part d’une culture. Ce rapport est conforme à l’idée de John Rawls d’un «équilibre réflectif» entre tradition et raison. Cependant, «équilibre» ne signifie «équipollence» entre les deux forces, car le rôle prépondérant de la raison est reconnu dans l’état de raison.



Myrto Dragona-Monachou

Professor Emerita of Philosophy of the University of Athens and of the University of Crete, Greece

There is an almost universal consensus that the idea of human rights assigned to humans qua humans is a modern idea, a historical, political and moral achievement of modernity. Yet, most historians of ideas trace the roots of this notion, i.e. its prehistory, back to the Stoics, mainly on the basis of their doctrine of natural law upon which Stoic ethics and political philosophy was based. Recently, well known historians of ancient Greek philosophy (Burnyeat, Sorabji) expressed a certain skepticism whether there was room for human rights in Greek and particularly in Stoic philosophy, while others (Mitsis) ascribed a “theory” of human rights to the Stoics. Within this debate it is perhaps best to argue that the Stoics had not elaborated a theory of human rights but were the first and perhaps the only ones in the ancient Greek philosophical tradition to promote the ideas that later constituted the basis upon which the claim for human rights was justified: human dignity, moral equality and natural freedom, fraternity among all humans, who, irrespective of their chance dependence, are primarily citizen of the world, abolition of all sorts of discrimination and integration of the individual into the universal. Lately, within the so-called “globalization”--“mondialisation” according to Derrida– the Stoic contribution to the case of human rights is acknowledged in the context of cosmopolitanism, not disproving patriotism, and its ethics. Contemporary philosophers and intellectuals (Nussbaum, Kristeva, Binde) take human rights as constituent elements of cosmopolitanism as it was proclaimed in the universe of ideas by Zeno with his Republic, reversal of the Platonic one, established by Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, continued in the Roman empire through Cicero, and somewhat mutated in Christianity, revived during the Enlightenment and Kant and culminated in our globalized era.



Marilyn Friedman

Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Washington University, St. Louis, USA


Do female terrorists understand and justify what they are doing differently from male terrorists? Do the perspectives of female terrorists provide a “different voice” that yields a more (or a less) sympathetic account of the aims or methods of terrorism? If so, does this account of terrorism make it easier (or harder) to justify? My paper will address issues such as the following.

Mothering is a relevant issue for many female women. Although many female terrorists do not have children, some of these women do express maternal feelings. Also there are cases of female terrorists who live ordinary lives as wives and mothers, leave briefly now and then to carry out terrorist work, and then return to their mothering lives. Researchers have found that female terrorists commonly view their activities in terms of maternal sacrifice. Relatedly, some researchers assess female terrorists as being more emotionally driven than their male counterparts and more deeply committed to changing society for the better. One researcher describes female terrorists as “social workers with guns.” Do these attitudes change the nature of terrorist acts?

Are female terrorists just as responsible for what they do as their male counterparts? In public debates or legal proceedings, women as terrorists are frequently evaluated according to conventional gender norms. This means that, on the one hand, they may be regarded as deficient as women because they do not live up to norms of femininity. At the same time, they may be regarded as deficient as terrorists because of assumptions that women who engage in violent activity are not doing it at their own initiative but rather are doing it at the behest of lovers or husbands and under the direction of male terrorist leaders. These assumptions lead many people to think that female terrorists may have diminished responsibility for their terrorist actions. Is it empirically correct that women’s participation in terrorism is generally subordinate to men’s direction? If so, what normative conclusions about responsibility follow?



Jean-Yves Goffi

Professeur au Département de Philosophie de l’Université Pierre Mendès-France Grenoble 2, Grenoble, Directeur adjoint du Groupe de Recherches Philosophie, Langages & Cognitions (EA 3699), France

On est frappé de voir à quel point le concept de « dignité » est omniprésent dans le discours éthique et politique contemporain Il semble que l’on ait voulu, en mettant en avant la dignité humaine, disqualifier par avance « toutes les formes de rejet hors de l’humanité d’une partie de l’humanité par une autre » (selon l’expression de Th. De Koninck). Mais qu’entendre au juste par dignité ? Certains distinguent, à la suite de G. Marcel, une dignité « décorative » et une dignité inhérente, seule la seconde étant réellement adéquate à la notion dans sa dimension normative et impérative. Mais cette dignité-là est opposable à son titulaire : absolue dans conception, elle apparaît arbitraire dans son application. C’est particulièrement évident dans certains cas-limites tels que le suicide, l’assistance au suicide ou l’euthanasie. Mais c’est une entreprise discutable que de décrire le suicide, l’assistance au suicide ou l’euthanasie comme des situations où la dignité d’un être humain est systématiquement compromise.


On soutiendra que les concepts de justice, d’autonomie ou de bien-être sont plus pertinents lorsqu’il s’agit d’évaluer ces cas-limites, que le concept de dignité.



Ambrosio Velasco Gómez

Dean of the Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

In the first part of the paper I will defend the importance of ethical and political values for the rational evaluation of sciences. With this end, I will discuss some ideas of Duhem and Neurath, particularly the concepts of rationalism and pseudo-rationalism. Relying on Neurath´s concept of "auxiliary motives", I will discuss in the second part of my paper how it is possible to break with the association of science and political authoritarianism, which has been strongly criticized by political philosophers like Oakshott or Habermas, and recent philosophers of science like S. Turner or Ph. Kitcher. I will conclude by sustaining that liberal democracy is not conducive to a re-approchment of science and democracy, because of its concept of political representation that gives excessive confidence to experts, and undervalues civic participation and public opinion. Rather, I will suggest that republican democracy is the appropriate political organization that makes compatible science and technology with democracy. Even more, I will underline that nowadays where science and technology is the main social force (society of knowledge), democratic theory should consider science and technology as a public good that must be widely spread in the whole society in order to avoid non egalitarian social consequences and political authoritarianism. It is also necessary to promote a fair representation system in which illuminated citizens and scientists may discuss and decide the kind of scientific and technological policies which are most convenient for the common good of each community.



Robert E. Goodin

Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Social and Political Theory in the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy.

Terrorists do all sorts of terrible things. They kill people. They destroy buildings and airplanes not belonging to them. They kidnap people and chop off their ears. All that is true, and morally enormously important. But what is the distinctive wrong of terrorism? The offence of 'killing people' is already on the moral statute books, and likewise all those others. What makes terrorists different from and morally even worse than ordinary murders, kidnappers and so on? What is the moral evil of 'terrorism', over and above the moral evil of the particular acts – of murder, kidnapping, and so on – through which it is carried out?

I suggest we see terrorism first and foremost as a political tactic: frightening people for political advantage. What's wrong with terrorism, in his view, is precisely that it terrorizes. That is not only an unpleasant state, mentally; it is also a disastrous state, politically. Instilling terror circumvents people's reasoning capacity. It undermines their capacity for autonomous self-government. That is the peculiar and particular wrong done by acts of terrorism in and to a democracy.

That, however, is the sort of a wrong that can be done by terroristic warnings as well as by terroristic bombings. And it is the sort of a wrong that can be done by democratic politicians hoping to profit politically from alarmist warnings of the bombings of others, as well as by terrorist bombers who issue the warnings themselves. In that way, politicians conducting a campaign of fear as part of their war on terrorism might be committing at least one of the same wrongs as terrorists themselves.



Vladimir Gutorov

Professor in the Faculty of Philosophy, the University of Saint Petersburg, Head of Chair of Theory and Philosophy of Politics, Vice-President of the Russian Association of Political Science(RAPS), President of Council ''Philosophy of Politics" of the Russian Ministry of Education, Russia

One of the most interesting points of difference between the Republic and the Laws consists in Plato’s exceptional attention to aesthetic aspects of the grounding of the theory of ideal polis and education. This peculiarity seems to be especially noteworthy because the discussion about the perfect constitution in both dialogues keeps succession from philosophic, political and ethical points of view. In both dialogues Plato repeatedly puts forward the following argument – the aesthetic order has to correspond not only to definite ethical principles but the art itself should become an embodiment of the moral and be therefore responsible for the formation of the ideal image of statesmanship. Just as the views on character and social functions of art in the Republic give an impression of full succession to the early Platonic tradition we find in the Laws a quite different picture.

One of the reasons for this is Plato’s change in method and style in his later dialogues, primarily, in the Critias and the Statesman, which is evidenced in the attention that Plato gives to numerous historical myths. But the main reason appears to come from Plato’s gradually increasing disappointment regarding the possibility of practical realization of his ideal plans. In his later years Plato became convinced that no ruler possesses resources capable of changing human nature. The character of human material is such that philosophers, even when becoming rulers, would never enjoy as much freedom in rearranging human matters as the artist does while painting a picture or the sculptor working with clay or bronze. The functional role of education in general, and the fine arts in particular, reflect the fundamental turn in Platonic political theory, signifying a transition from the formation of an ideal ruler to the program of creating an image of the ordinary law-abiding citizen altogether supporting the state’s goals set by the ruler.




John Harris

Sir David Alliance Professor of Bioethics Institute of Medicine, Law and Bioethics University of Manchester, Fellow of the United Kingdom Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci), Member of The United Kingdom Human Genetics Commission, UK

Some of the most ethically fraught and philosophically interesting dimensions of medical research lie along the continuum between therapy and enhancement. This continuum bridges an apparent moral divide between the acceptable and the unacceptable the permissible and the impermissible.

If it wasn’t good for you it wouldn’t be enhancement. In terms of human functioning an enhancement is by definition an improvement on what went before. It is then odd that the idea of enhancement has caused and still occasions so much suspicion, fear, and outright hostility. This paper will explore the objections to enhancement, the moral reasons for considering enhancement and even “transhumanism” and the justifications for research in this field.

I will argue that the reasons we have to avoid harming others, or creating others who will be born in a harmed state, are continuous with the reasons we have for conferring benefits on others if we can. 1 We have moral reasons for declining to create or confer even trivial harms, and we have moral reasons to confer and not withhold even small benefits. 2 The opportunity to create healthier, longer lived and altogether ‘better’ individuals is one that there are moral reasons to take.

1. See John Harris Wonderwonan & Superman, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1992. and “Is there a coherent social conception of disability?” in The Journal Of Medical Ethics Vol 26. No 2. April 2000.


2. An extended argument for these assertions was given in John Harris Violence and Responsibility, Routledge & Kegan Paul 1980



Agnes Heller

Hannah Arendt Professor of Philosophy, Graduate Faculty, New School for Social Research, New York, USA

The modern world is unfounded. Yet there is no ethics, neither is there politics without foundation. As a result, in order to have a foundation, the modern world has to found itself. There are two extreme kinds of foundation. The first kind one can call “fundamentalism” By this I mean the choice of a holistic ideological system, be it secular or religious/ which claims absolute solidarity and obedience in every respect, not just in action, yet also in thinking demonizes those who think and act otherwise. The other kind of foundation is liberal and democratic in character, since it allows for a great variety of lifestyles .It is neither absolutist nor is it relativist. There are two pillars of this second kind of foundation. One is the decent, upright person, and the other is a democratic constitution. The lecture discusses the two constituents of this second kind of self/foundation.




Ted Honderich

Grote Professor Emeritus of Philosophy of Mind & Logic, University College London & Visiting Professor, University of Bath, UK

There is a division of labour with respect to large questions of right and wrong. Analytic philosophy, including moral and political philosophy, has a part to play. Should it proceed, however, by way of something separate from philosophy -- negotiation and international law, U.N. resolutions, human rights, just war theory, the politics of reality, the traditions of conservatism and liberalism? By way of the freedom and equality of democracy -- our hierarchic democracy? These means of judgement are wanting or imperfect. There is reason to depend on the Principle of Humanity. Take actually rational steps to get and keep people out of bad lives, these being lives deprived of six fundamental human goods or desires: decent length of life, bodily well-being, freedom and power, respect and self-respect, goods of relationship, goods of culture. In this consequentialism, it is always the end and the means that justify the means. Definitions of terrorism, and of terrorist war, are both unimportant and important. Zionism (Israel in its original 1948 borders), remains morally justified. The Palestinians have had a moral right to their terrorism against the ethnic cleansing of neo-Zionism (expansion of Israel into the last 20% of Palestine). The morality of humanity condemns 9/11 as having been a monstrously irrational means to a partly defensible end, but assigns shares of responsibility for it. An analysis of reasons for our terrorist war on Iraq and a further consideration of the killing of innocents issues in a condemnation of this war as barbaric. The horror of 7/7 in London was part of what condemned it. Blair and Bush remain friends rather than true enemies of such terrorism as 7-7. True enemies act on 'Tough on terrorism, tough on the causes of terrorism'. Our societies do not recommend our War on Terror. In our moral uncertainty, it remains necessary to judge, and to ignore libels of anti-semitism and of disdain of the Palestinian people.



Sergey Horujy

Head (Director), Institute of Synergetic Anthropology, Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, Professor of Mathematical Physics, Steklov Mathematical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia

European ethics and anthropology have always been in close connection with each other since their common genesis in the thought of Aristotle. However, the character of this connection changed with time. Originally, anthropology was developed on the basis of ethics, i.e. the constitution of scientific discourse and episteme proceeding from ethics to anthropology. The main reason for this was simple: at that time Greek thought had at its disposal only a scanty base of proper anthropological data, but a quite sufficient base of data to do ethics. Today this discourse (in the humanities at least) needs to be made anew, since its basic components, including both ethics and anthropology, have experienced profound crisis. But now we possess a vast and rich anthropological database, and only extremely scarce set of indisputable data on human ethics. It suggests that this time the constitution of the discourse should rather go the other way round: i.e. from anthropology to ethics.

In this paper I will present a concrete example of such strategy. First, I will describe the present crisis of classical ethics and the classical anthropological model, stages of its development, its causes and mechanisms. Then I will review briefly the alternatives to the classical metaphysical discourse created both within and outside European tradition, paying special attention to non-classical anthropological thought in mystico-ascetical practices of the world religions. Finally, concentrating on the anthropology of the Eastern Orthodox hesychasm (studied in detail in my works), I will show how this sharply non-classical anthropology generates non-classical ethics, which we characterize as anti-Kantian, un-normative, not universalist, experiential and phenomenological. Moreover, the arising concrete example of non-classical ethics enables us to discuss some general problems of the present search for new ethical principles and concepts, like abstract vs. experiential foundations of ethics, universalism of ethics, etc.



Paulin Hountondji

National University of Benin,

Director of the African Centre for Advanced Studies / Centre Africain des Hautes Etudes in Porto-Novo, ex-Minister of Education, ex-Minister for Culture and Communication, Benin (West Africa)

The paper will examine some of the ethical issues and challenges on the African political scene such as corruption, nepotism, etc. Significantly enough, these evils are sometimes distortions of authentic values and norms which were quite valuable in pre-industrial societies, "l'Afrique des villages", as is said in French, but have lost their original meaning in the new context. It will also be shown that such issues are not specific to Africa. They point to universal issues and challenges that are encountered in all countries as well as international politics.



Martin Jay

Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley, USA

The conventional wisdom that lying, identified with Machiavellian elitism, is a danger to a democratic political culture, has always been especially powerful in America. This paper will explore an alternative understanding of its function. Drawing on the work of three theorists in particular, Hannah Arendt, Leo Strauss and Theodor W. Adorno, it will discuss the ways in which nuanced defenses of the inevitability and even positive effects of mendacity in the political arena challenge that received wisdom. It will look at the differences between the Big Lie of totalitarianism and the countervailing little lies of a pluralist political culture. It will examine the importance of rhetoric, opinion, narrative, and theatricality in the democratic public sphere, in addition to the uses of hypocrisy in coalition-building. Against the fetish of sincerity or authenticity in modern life, it will explore older links between courtly politeness and politics.

Arguing against the over moralization of the political realm, as well as its reduction to a sphere of pseudo-scientific administration or juridical procedures, it will make a case for the role mendacity plays in preserving the ability to imagine an alternative future.



Xiping Jin,

Director of Institute of Foreign Philosophy, Peking University; Professor (ordinarius) of Western Philosophy, Department of Philosophy; Leader of Seminar for Western Philosophy, Department of Philosophy; Director of the Research Center for Phenomenology, Peking University; President of the Society for Phenomenology in China; Vice Director of Center for Hellenic Studies, Peking, China

The traditional idea of destiny (mandate of heaven) played an important role on the formation of the political consciousness in China throughout its history. This was largely due to the dominating influence of Confucianism. As a result, this tradition has led the Chinese to favour Platonism, including Marxian Platonism. For many Chinese one way of escaping from this Chinese-Marxian Platonism is theoretical indifference to political argumentation and discourse. The alternative suggestion I would like to make is that the example of the ancient Greek sophists could be useful for the re-establishment of democratic political consciousness in contemporary China.



Patricia Kitcher

Professor of Philosophy, Department Chair, Columbia University, USA

In Perpetual Peace, Kant makes the striking claim that the problem of setting up a state could be solve by a nation of devils, that is, a nation of purely self-interested individuals. Perpetual Peace argues that states will set up a league of nations out of self-interest, suggesting that the league should more properly be called a ‘league of devils’. Yet, the appendix talks about the priority of moral considerations over political ones and perpetual peace is presented as a duty throughout the essay. I try to resolve the tensions between Kant’s prudential and moral arguments for peace and to clarify the relations between his ethical and political philosophies. Among other issues, I consider the perennial worry that Kant’s practical philosophy is a priori and so empty of substance.



Philip Kitcher John Dewey Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University, USA

Does a commitment to democracy have consequences for the ways in which knowledge is pursued, validated, and distributed in our societies? I shall suggest that popular ideas about the autonomy of inquiry are mistaken, and that our searches for knowledge ought to be shaped by our democratic values.



Regine Kollek

Vice-chairperson of the German National Ethics Council; Member of the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO; Research Centre for Biotechnology, Society and the Environment, Universität Hamburg, Deutschland

During the last few years, a new paradigm has emerged at the intersection of molecular genetics, genomics and medicine: the personalisation” or “individualisation” of treatment and health care. In the context of this paradigm strategies are developed and applied which aim at disease prediction, prevention and treatment based on specific genetic features. It is claimed that the application of this paradigm will make medicine more efficient, create drugs with less adverse reactions, and allow more targeted strategies of prevention.

As can be seen already, this personalisation of medicine will change the way biomedical knowledge is generated and translated into clinical practice. This has far-reaching implications for clinical research and the health care system. Up to now, ethical discourse related to biomedicine predominantly referred to an individualistic framework focussing on personal autonomy and informed consent. In the context of post genomic research, where biomaterials, clinical and genetic data are needed from large groups or populations, this paradigm is increasingly regarded as dysfunctional. New normative frameworks have been put forward. They centre on leading principles like reciprocity or solidarity, aim at finding a balance between the protection of the individual on the one hand, and enabling research for the benefit of society on the other, and try to mitigate tension between individual and collective interests.

This paper will first analyze and portray some of the epistemic and practical changes coming along with personalised medicine. Second, it will discuss some of the paradoxes and/or contradictions which characterize the generation and application of knowledge relevant to personalised medicine. Finally, it will explore the interplay between scientific development, bioethical discourse and governance strategies which accompany the implementation of post-genomic research and depict some of its possible implications for science and society.



Ioanna Kuçuradi

Professor of Philosophy, Hacetteppe University; Founding Director of the Centre for Research and Application of the Philosophy of Human Rights, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey; Holder of a UNESCO Chair of Philosophy

The paper attempts to put forward and justify the claim that clearly conceived human rights are the minimum conditions of ethical politics.


To do this, the author tries to clarify the concepts of politics as a human activity, of the State as a legal human institution and of the states as political units, and on the basis of these clarifications to shed a strong light on a deadlock to which lead certain ways promoted and followed at present in politics.



Ernesto Laclau

Professor of Politics, University of Essex, UK, Distinguished Professor of Humanities and Rhetorical Studies, Northwestern University, USA

This presentation will concentrate on the question of the relationship between the ethical and the normative – a distinction which is crucial for the understanding the ethical act, conceived as devoided of any content, and the normative order in which that act is invested. The basic thesis is that the ethical act has no predetermined normative content but it endows various normative contents with an ethical value. References to psychoanalysis and politics will be part of the argument.



Jonathan Lear

John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor at the Committee on Social Thought and the Department of Philosophy at The University of Chicago, USA

What are the peculiar ethical challenges that arise if one should have the historical bad luck to live at a time when one's culture is collapsing or being destroyed? Here I am concerned less with physical threats or genocide, but life at time when the central concepts of what constitutes a good life become impossible to live. How can practical reason engage when there is no longer a viable conception of a telos for human life? To investigate this question, I shall consider certain self-conscious reflections on this topic by Native Americans at the time their traditional way of life was destroyed -- in particular, the Crow Tribe.



Andrei Lebedev

University of Crete, Greece & Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia

As one might expect from the general plan of the “Nicomachean Ethics”, after treating the moral virtues in books 2-5, Aristotle turns in book 6 to the virtues of intellect. But as a matter of fact, instead of just supplementing the treatment of the first kind of virtue (moral) with that of the second one (intellectual), Aristotle in EN 6 reconsiders the theory of moral virtue (as formulated in book 2) itself and produces what I will call the Second or Revised theory of moral virtue which, despite its superficial resemblance to the Original theory of the first books, significantly differs from it. This reconsideration of the virtue theory is based on the new moral psychology developed in EN 2 that blurs the very distinction between the moral and intellectual virtue, since from now on all moral virtues are reinterpreted as forms of the single “intellectual” virtue of phronesis. The Original theory treats moral virtue as a trained habit and is strongly opposed to the Socratic intellectualism, the Revised theory is much more favorable to “Socrates” and endorses a mild form of Socratic intellectualism. Essential to my argument is the interpretation of the passage EN VI. 13, 1144b17 – 32: the main target of the criticism of the “mainstream” definition of the moral virtue as “conforming to phronesis” (b 25) are not certain Academics or Peripatetics, but Aristotle himself (EN 2, 1107 a 14). The phrase δειδεμικρονμεταβηναι “one must make one small step further” (1144 b 25) is in fact a “polite” understatement or litotes, as it signals a dramatic reconsideration of the concept of moral virtue which, from now on, does not just “conform” to phronesis as an external standard, but becomes essentially a form of phronesis , as a result of which agathos and phronimos become interchangeable notions.

It might seem prima facie that this conclusion strongly favors Kenny’s attribution of the “common books” to the “Eudemian Ethics” (and a later date of the latter), since EN 2 is explicitly criticized in the book 6, but I am not going to elaborate here on this subject.



Qiang Li

Professor of Political Science, School of Government, Peking University; Director of the Office for University Development and Planning, Peking University, China

The issue of universalism vs. cultural pluralism has been one of the most frequently debated ones in political philosophy in the last decades. This debate has been intensified since the end of the Cold War, as a result of the “clash of civilizations” demonstrated in the war against terrorism. Unlike the dominant ideologies of the Western world that emphasize some forms of transcendental values as the resources of moral values, Confucianism does not accommodate such values, as it does not believe in a single order deriving from transcendental authority, but rather regards the existence of varieties of particularities as a necessary condition for “order.” Such an ideal is clearly is detected in the well- known Confucian idea of “harmony” of different particularities instead of “sameness.” Such a notion may create a helpful perspective in thinking about global order and cultural pluralism in the world today. Yet this may be taken as suggesting that Confucianism does not have any firm moral principles by means of which right from wrong can be distinguished. Indeed, Max Weber implied that Confucianism does not have any integrated moral doctrines to guide man’s action. I will argue that this can be amended. Confucianism does not only respect the particularities of various ways of life, but also has the notion of “Gong” or public interest, which is admittedly in need of clearly defined moral and political principles. If Confucianism does this, it will be able to respect cultural pluralism on the one hand and uphold universal moral principles on the other.




Sabina Lovibond

Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy, Worcester College, Oxford, UK

The 'critique of reason' in feminist and postmodernist theory calls upon us to rethink the idea of the rational subject - the subject of thought and choice - that we inherit from the Enlightenment. Judith Butler is one of the most influential contributors to that discussion. As an element in her critique of the humanist tradition, Butler (following Nietzsche) rejects the conception of the subject as a 'doer behind the deed'. Yet she does not want to do away with subjectivity, since we have to reserve a place for this in order to (continue to) make sense of political agency.

Drawing mainly on the Introduction to Butler's Bodies That Matter (1993), my paper aims, first, to clarify what she thinks is wrong with the kind of feminism that opposes 'sex' (the biological datum) to 'gender' (the cultural construct) - that is, with the main current of feminist thinking since the 1970s.

While denying that her view is a form of linguistic idealism, Butler holds that 'sex' as well as 'gender' is within the cultural sphere. She hopes to occupy a position which 'cannot be conflated with voluntarism or individualism ... and in no way preupposes a choosing subject', but still seems to endorse the goals traditionally associated with a democratic humanist politics.

Concerning this picture, I raise the question: is there room for a subject that is 'in no way' a choosing subject? Butler is right to remind us that, qua socially constructed beings, we do not precede (and do not choose to assume) our social or intellectual identity, considered in the abstract or as a totality. But this does not entail that there is no such thing as the 'choice' of action in a more modest and partial - if you like, a post-metaphysical - sense. My concluding suggestion, therefore, is that Butler exaggerates the ideological difference between herself and those feminists who have appealed to a sex/gender distinction.



Anthony Makrydemetres

Professor of Administrative Science, University of Athens, Greece

In Ambrozio Lorenzetti’s fresco at the Palais Public in Sienna (14th century) entitled “Allegory of Good Governance” there appear two ladies seated side by side on a couch. The one on the left dressed in a white gown is called ‘Peace’ and holds in her hand a branch of olive; the other dressed in a dark gown holds a scepter and is called ‘Force’. The symbolism of the painting is perhaps trying to convey the idea that good governance consists of both: force to maintain peace, and peace to harness and handle force to the benefit and well being of human community.

It is however part of the human experience that in many a time peace has been disassociated from force and that has led not only to the degradation of good and effective governance, but also to the subjugation of humanity to the ‘law of the jungle’ and the denial of human values and ideals. It is at this point and because of this reason that the indices and standards of good and sound governance become so pertinent to the prospects and perspectives of sustainable development and the well being of humanity on the globe.



Vladimir Mironov

Pro-Rector, Head of the Academic Policy and Degree Programs Management Department, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia



Maurizio Mori

Professor, University of Turin, Italy, International Association of Bioethics



Edgar Morin

Directeur Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), France; President of UNESCO’s European Agency of Culture and holder of the itinerant UNESCO Edgar Morin Chair at the Universidad del Salvador in Argentina.



Chantal Mouffe

Professor of Political Theory, Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster, London, UK

The thesis I will defend in this presentation is that it is in the context of the increasingly irrelevant role played in democratic societies by what could be designated as the ‘political public sphere’ that we can understand the increasing dominance of moral and juridical discourses. I will argue that this dominance, far from representing an advance toward a more mature form of democracy, is creating the terrain for the emergence of antagonisms that are jeopardizing the future of democratic institutions.

There are many reasons for the decline of the political but I intend to concentrate my attention on one dimension that I take to be particularly important, the lack of democratic forms of identification offered to the citizens in current liberal democratic societies, identifications through which passions could be mobilized towards democratic designs, providing the basis for a vibrant agonistic debate about the shape of our common life.




Jean-Philippe Narboux

Assistant Professor at the University Michel de Montaigne Bordeaux 3, France

The contention of this paper is that any account of intention that fails to make room for what one may call the inertial alienation of intention – i.e. for the fact that the meaning conferred by us on our own acts is commonly diverted from us by being subjected to the counter-finalities of the inert medium in which it gets expressed – is bound to induce a moralistic stance in politics. Such a stance ultimately fails to do justice to the fact that the intention in which an action is done is, in an important sense, just that action itself (as Anscombe once put it in her book on intention). It may be traced back to a certain fantasy concerning the determinacy of sense, call it the fantasy of the inalienability of sense, a fantasy to which both the early Wittgenstein (in the Tractatus) and the early Sartre (in his Being and Nothingness) may have succumbed. After showing that Merleau-Ponty’s criticism of Sartre is in effect an invocation of inertia against Sartre’s early theory of negation, to the effect that such a theory has no room for a negativity of the inert, I attempt to show how Sartre’s later theory of negation (in the Critique of Dialectical Reason) endorses such a diagnosis, while defusing the etiology put forward by the later Merleau-Ponty. Following the lead of the later Sartre, I will contend that the transparency of the first person, far from being undermined or diluted by the inertial alienation of intention, is an essential moment of it.



Carlo Natali

Professor of History of Ancient Philosophy, Universita' Ca Foscari di Venezia, Italia

In my speech I will touch the following points. Collaborative and competitive virtues in the polis, from Homer to the Old Oligarch [= Ps. Xenophon's Constitution of the Athenians]. Plato's attempt in the Republic to unify the polis establishing an extreme form of philia among the members of the ruling class, and among the rulers and the simple citizens. His criticism of the oikos as source of divisions in the political body. Aristotle's criticism of Plato's Republic and his wider conception of philia. The revaluation of the oikos in Aristotle. Justice and friendship as different collaborative virtues in Aristotle's ethics. His idea that friendship between citizens is more important to establish than mere justice.In the conclusion I will maintain that today too it is more important to establish goodwill between citizens than mere justice, on the basis of Aristotle's theory and of a couple of passages taken from Confucius' "Analects" and from "Spring and Autumn".




Jing-Bao Nie

Bioethics Centre, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand; Wuhan, Hunan Normal and Beijing Universities, China

Far from being taboo, “yousheng” (literally “good or superior birth”)—the Chinese counterpart of “eugenics”—thrives in contemporary China both as a strategic public policy and as a pervading social practice. Widely accepted by the general public and actively supported by geneticists and other professionals, eugenics has been integrated into the national birth control program to fulfill the second of family planning’s twin goals, namely the improvement and enhancement of the quality of the population. The main doctrines pertaining to the Chinese eugenic ideology include social Darwinism, nationalism, collectivism, statism, scientisim, utopianism, and biological determinism. Among the serious moral problems stemming from yousheng are the denial of ethical relevance through resorting to euphemism, the strong state control, discrimination against marginalized people such as the disabled and rural residents, and the suppression of public discourse. While it is widely assumed that Chinese culture supports the ideology and practice of eugenics, the ethical and political doctrine of Confucianism and Daoism (Taoism) challenges the basic beliefs behind eugenics. Daoist founders Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi were fierce opponents of statism and artificial intervention in social affairs, the dominance of normalcy and uniformity, as well as paternalism. For Confucius and Mencious, taking care of disadvantaged members of the community, rather than discriminating against and abandoning them, was a basic feature of culture, civilization, and humanity. Moreover, nationalism runs contrary to the Confucian doctrine by which the state and the kingdom should serve the people, rather than vice versa. In conclusion, the remedy offered by China’s eugenics program is worse than the “disease” itself, which scarcely needs such aggressive treatment.



Chris Norris

Distinguished Research Professor in Philosophy at the University of Cardiff, Wales, UK

My paper will challenge some prevalent misconceptions about Derrida's work, among them the idea that he shows no concern with criteria of rational or logical argumentation and the related claim that his writings manifest an indifference to basic standards of ethical responsibility. On the contrary: Derrida's practice of meticulous textual close-reading allied to his keen analytic intelligence is the source of philosophical and ethical insights that are not to be had elsewhere. In making this case I offer a brief overview from his early studies of Husserl and Levinas to his later texts which focus more explicitly on ethical themes. My chief point is that Derrida has engaged certain problems in moral philosophy that lead inescapably to deep-laid dilemmas or aporias of critical reason, but has done so in a way that relates compellingly to issues of real-world practical and socio-political concern.I trace this engagement through his various encounters with a range of differing views, whether those of downright antagonists (like Searle on the topic of Austinian speech-act theory and Habermas on Derrida's supposed betrayal of the 'philosophic discourse of modernity') or those, like the Levinasian conception of ethics as a discourse of absolute 'alterity', to which he has been strongly drawn even while resisting their ultimate implications. My purpose is to bring out the close relation between Derrida's thinking on the scope and limits of classical (bivalent) logic and his thinking about issues of a wider ethico-political concern. I show how these are pursued through his reading of Husserl on the conflicting priorities of 'genesis' and 'structure', and also how they find expression in Derrida's deconstructive analysis of various canonical texts. My conclusion is that analytic philosophers have much to learn from Derrida's example with regard both to the ethics of reading and to ethical questions more generally. Where these come together is in the need to combine a meticulous respect for matters of detail * particularities of circumstance, content, and context * with a willingness, if required, to go against the dictates of received moral thinking or the orthodox interpretative grain.



Panagiotis Noutsos

Université de Jannina, Grèce

Je tenterai de discuter ici une des approches de la pensée de Giorgio Agamben. La «notion d’exclusion» est souvent considérée comme «constitutive de la notion de territoire national». Et suivant l’accoutumance du théoricien italien à ne pas laisser inemployée sa connaissance de l’antiquité, même à propos d’un thème tel que l’«exclusion», il évoque la différence entre la «simple vie» et le bios. Il s’agit d’une problématique provenant de la «philosophie politique de l’antiquité grecque» (elle est, plus précisément, thématisée par Aristote), qui acquiert un «sens nouveau et déterminant durant l’époque moderne». Selon Foucault, plus précisément, l’«homme moderne» commence à participer à la transformation de la politique en «biopolitique».

Si je continue dans cette foulée, on ne peut pas exclure que les considérations du professeur d’esthétique plein d’imagination de l’Institut d’Architecture de la cité des doges se présentent comme le dernier mot, «nouveau» et «déterminant», de la réflexion sur la «modernité». Ainsi je m’empresse de souligner que, dans ses ouvrages aussi, est sous-jacente la pratique herméneutique d’une Kulturgeschichte de longue durée (storia de la cultura, selon le langage du pays qui a entrepris de s’adonner à elle). Agamben lui-même n’occulte pas par ailleurs sa dette à l’égard des considérations du même genre de Michel Foucault, de Hannah Arendt et de Carl Schmitt.

En guise de conclusion, Agamben, tant dans ses publications initiales, dans lesquelles ce type de recours est débordant, que dans ses publications plus récentes, la tentative de rapprocher les sources passées et leurs interprétations actuelles est claire. Dans le cadre des idées de la «civilisation occidentale», depuis Platon et Aristote jusqu’à Walter Benjamin et Michel Foucault, la connaissance de l’antiquité permet à Agamben d’évoquer tous ces témoignages qui marquent la continuité des «formes de vie» créées et léguées au monde par l’Occident. Les remarques de Negri concernant le Stato di eccezione sont également valables pour l’ensemble de l’oeuvre d’Agamben: la «surévaluation du droit» implique une «dévalorisation de l’ontologie». En est-il de même pour le théoricien du «General Intellect»? Mais ceci est l’objet d’un autre travail.




Panagiotis Noutsos

University of Jannina, Greece

I shall attempt to discuss here one of the approaches of the thought of Giorgio Agamben. Frequently, the 'concept of exclusion' is apprehended as a 'constituent of the concept of dominance'. And in line with the habit of the Italian theoretician not to leave a knowledge of antiquity unexploited, even in such a matter as 'exclusion', the difference between 'simple life' and 'bios' is recalled. This is a line of thinking which is derived from 'ancient Greek political philosophy' (more precisely: it was made an issue by Aristotle) and which acquires "a new and decisive meaning in Modernism". More precisely: according to Foucault, 'modern man' begins to participate in the transformation of politics into 'biopolitics'.

If I continue in this way, it is not impossible that the theories of the imaginative professor of aesthetics at the Institute of Architecture of the city of the Doges will be put forward as a last word, 'new' and 'decisive', in thinking about the problems of 'Modernism'. And so I hasten to stress that underlying his works is the interpretative practice of a long-lived 'Kulturgeschichte' ('storia di la cultura', in the country which also undertook its nurture). In any event, Agamben does not conceal his debt to the theories, of a similar tendency, of Foucault, Arendt and Carl Schmitt.

By way of conclusion: Agamben, both in his original publications, in which this retrospection is exuberant in the extreme, and in the more recent, the attempt to bridge the enormous gap between sources of the past and present-day re-interpretations is clearly apparent. In the outline of the ideas of 'Western civilisation', from Plato and Aristotle to Benjamin and Foucault, Agamben's knowledge of the ancient world permits him to evoke all the testimonies which give expression to the continuity of 'forms of life' to which the West gave birth and bequeathed to the world. What Negri said about the Stato di eccezione also holds good for the whole of his work: the 'overestimation of justice' entails an 'underestimation of ontology'. Is perhaps something of the sort also true of the theoretician of 'the General Intellect'? This, of course, is a subject for another essay.



Sari Nusseibeh

Professor of Islamic Philosophy, President of Al Quds University, East Jerusalem

Based on one classical interpretation of justice (equality of rights), this presentation argues, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lends itself neither to so-called absolute nor to partial or relative justice. But this implies, not that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “abnormal” in political or world affairs, but that the interpretation itself as well as its assumption on identity suffer from a serious shortcoming. Another interpretation of identity, as well as of justice is offered. Rather than view identities (personal or national) as rigidly pre-fixed and completely separate, and the principle of “equality of rights” as one implied by this strict individualism, the new interpretation (justice as-harmony) suggests a perspective on identities and rights which can provide us with another way to understand and apply justice.




Clauss Offe

Professor of Political Sociology, Hertie School of Governance (HSoG), Berlin; Professor of Political Sciene, Institute for Social Sciences, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany; Adjunct Professor, Australian National University, Australia

After the end of the Cold War and state socialism, the political regime form of liberal democracy is, on the one hand, spectacularly victorious; on the other, it is widely perceived as precarious because of the disaffection, apathy, and cynicism of citizens it appears to breed. While there are hardly any respectable arguments available that would confer any legitimacy on non-democratic regimes, compelling reasons for the preferability of the political and institutional realities of modern Western democracies are also in short supply. That is to say: We do not have an equivalent to the famous Tocquevillean argument today that democracy, in spite of all its shortcomings and dangers, does ultimately generate both good outcomes and good citizens. To the contrary, or so the paper argues, citizenship and the quality of its practice suffer from a number of institutional deformations and strategic patterns of elite behavior that give rise to the syndrome of disaffection.



Brian Orend

Director of International Studies, Associate Philosophy Professor, University of Waterloo, Canada

When we watch the news each day, it seems we are confronted with yet another major health scare: avian virus (bird flu); SARS; HIV/AIDS; mad cow disease; crises of mass starvation, high infant mortality and easily preventable illness in the developing world; and crises of skyrocketing rates of cancer, heart disease, mental illness and obesity in the developed world. And we all know, just from our own personal experience, how everything—absolutely everything—takes a back-seat to our health when we fall seriously sick. These facts form an interesting question: given the vital importance of health and its impact on our lives, should we claim health as a human right? I think the answer is clearly yes, though that answer leads to further questions whose answers are not clear but, rather, are complex and contested.

The idea that we all have a human right to health runs up, immediately, against three strong objections: 1) that the meaning of “health” is hopelessly vague and controversial; 2) that we don’t strictly have human rights to any socio-economic object, such as health care; and 3) that even if we did, theoretically, have such rights, implementing them in practice would be ruinously costly—especially on a global scale.

This presentation will answer these three objections, and conclude by agreeing with the major international human rights treaties: a) that we do indeed have a human right to health; but that b) the realization of this right will demand strong commitments, institutional change, and ingenuity and experimentation in health care delivery. Obsession with “private versus public” delivery of health care services is ideological and misplaced: the crucial thing is the achievement of the goal. While there probably is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to delivery, there remains a powerful and abiding universal value regarding the goal: that basic health care is a vital human need and it can be provided at reasonable cost to everyone. As such, health is a human right and a great many global and national institutional forces thwart this right’s satisfaction for huge numbers of people.

But these deprived people are not just in the developing world, crying out for international assistance; the developed world has its own challenges in this regard, especially regarding: a) preventative measures benefiting all; and b) the health status of vulnerable populations (e.g. children, the very elderly, the mentally ill and some visible minorities especially Aboriginal peoples).



Konstantinos Papageorgiou,

Professor of Philosophy of Law, Faculty of Law, University of Athens, Greece

One of the most interesting outgrowths of contemporary liberal thought addresses the (old) question of cosmopolitanism: do moral rights, or at least duties extend beyond the political and legal space demarcated by borders of national sovereignty and community? Can we conceive of plausible normative grounds justifying claims beyond these borders and, conversely and more importantly, do we entertain a responsibility to attend to such claims when addressed by persons who do not form part of our national or civic community? If our responsibility to humanity at large grounds special duties of justice or assistance, then how should we allocate ressources in view of conflicting demands from “compatriots” and “strangers”? It seems that liberalism is bound to live under two spheres of normative influence. On the one side, impartial universalism pulls towards equal respect and concern for every human being regardless of its national or civic affiliation; on the other side, national or civic particularism forces a more voluntarist view upon our understanding of political and moral obligation.

Rather than rehearsing this interesting controversy and its preliminary conclusions the paper will attempt to extend the difficulties accompanying the controversy to another related normative field. Local armed conflicts and secessionist demands, genocidal attrocities and humanitarian interventions, terror and so called “war on terror” have namely reaffirmed in recent times the necessity of a theory of justifiability of war. The so-called Just War Doctrine, brought back to life mainly by theologians in the post WWII era and Michael Walzer’s seminal work, is an interesting case in point. This doctrine, originally conceived as a ground for Christian self-restraint in view of imperial demands, is called upon to inform our thinking and sharpen our normative understanding in a time quite different with respect to the nature of war and armed conflict, its moral culture and political expectations, and ultimately the vision and reality of a unified world.




Ioli Patellis

University of Patras, Greece

Kant holds that a law is just if it is the product of the general or united will of the people. In this paper I attempt to clarify how Kant construes this concept derived from Rousseau. I do so by contrasting it with an interpretation of Kant’s relevant views in terms of the “will of all”, that is, in terms of majority rule based on bartering and balancing private interests. As well as providing a base line against which the particularities of Kant’s views are highlighted, this also allows a contrast with ordinary views in circulation today. I begin by briefly describing Kant’s view of the republican state: its three constitutive principles of freedom, equality and independence, and the separation of powers. I then attempt to determine the main points of Kant’s concept of the united will by examining his philosophy of history and, in particular, the institutional role played by the Faculty of Philosophy in reforming and advising the Kantian state, and connecting it with the conditions that have to be met by a subject in order that he qualify as a co-legislating citizen, as well as with various other points of Kant’s political philosophy proper.



Theodosios Pelegrinis

Professor of Philosophy, Dean of the Arts Faculty, University of Athens, Greece



Filimon Peonidis

Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

The current US foreign policy appears to suffer from a moral deficit that is strengthened by its unrivalled dominance of the international scene. It is maintained that the sincere endorsement of the principles of Rawlsian international justice could reduce this deficit but there is little likelihood of this goal being achieved through internal and external pressures. Instead, we propose the expansion of the US electorate by the introduction of corresponding citizens, that is citizens of other nations who are entitled to vote in US presidential elections. This scheme, although utopian for the moment, can open up new possibilities for harmonizing national sovereignty and democratic rule with humanity and justice in international relations.




Jacques Poulain,


Directeur du Département de Philosophie de l'Université de Paris 8, Co-Fondateur et secrétaire général du GERM, Groupe d’études et de recherches sur la mondialisation, France

La mondialisation économique connue sous l’appellation de globalisation n’impose pas seulement sa dynamique économique à la terre entière, elle contraint également les cultures à reprendre sur elles sa prétention à monopoliser vérité et pouvoir. On examinera dans cet exposé les conditions dans lesquelles cette mondialisation a conquis son monopole en restituant le contexte d’expérimentation néolibérale de l’être humain et la situation monopolistique du consensus démocratique. Face aux modèles culturels du libéralisme nord-américain et du républicanisme européen, on restituera à la culture philosophique du jugement son rôle d’orientation dans l’expérimentation de l’être humain en retraçant la dynamique des refuges identitaires dans le dialogue interculturel. On examinera enfin quelles chances l’universalisation du jugement universitaire donne à la prise en compte du jugement philosophique dans le dialogue transculturel et dans la mutation anthropologique qu’impose une sortie de l’homme hors du contexte d’aliénation pragmatique à l’action qui sert actuellement d’horizon à l’expérimentation pragmatique du consensus .



Anthony Price

Reader in Philosophy, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK

Zeno’s Republic was conceived against the background of Plato’s, which he follows in some ways, and departs from in others. Surviving information about it (most concrete is Diogenes Laertius 7.32-3) is fragmentary, but permits one at least to discuss two possible points of contrast:

(a) Plato’s city is a model for a reformed polis (though it may be debated whether Socrates’ claim that it is practicable is serious, or a literary topos). Zeno’s city might be the same (Plutarch calls it ‘a dream or image of a philosopher’s well-regulated republic’, Alex. Virt. 329AB), or a proposal for how Stoics should live, wherever they find themselves (Malcolm Schofield), or an adumbration of what came to be known as the cosmic city (to which all and only the wise belong). I incline to argue for the third.

(b) We read in Athenaeus, ‘Zeno of Citium took Eros to be a god who brings about friendship and freedom, and again concord, but nothing else. That is why in the Republic he said that Eros is a god, there as a helper in furthering the safety of the city’ (Deipn. 13.561c). George Boys-Stones has argued (CQ 1998) that this is a cosmic Eros, and that there is no implication that erôs is politically central in any familiar sense. Against that, I argue that the Stoics had a sexual conception of cosmic Eros, and found a crucial role for erôs according to their own conception of this – within the education of those who are potentially wise, and so potentially citizens of the cosmic city. I reject Plutarch’s complaint that this shouldn’t be called erôs at all (Comm. Not. 1073C) as intelligible but mistaken; however, the sexual permissiveness which shocked Plutarch (Quaest. Conviv. 653E), and was an inheritance from the Cynics (D.L. 7.4), falls outside the Stoic conception of erôs, and so is irrelevant. There is still a contrast with Plato, who (despite what was raised in some of the speeches in the Symposium) marginalizes erôs, even if he does not exclude it (which is debatable), with his city.



Mogobe Bernard Ramose

Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy, University of South Africa, South Africa

The question of justice originates with human interaction in the private and public or political spheres. When Aristotle wrote that “man is a rational animal”, he could not have expected how profoundly significant his definition would become at the age of colonization and of the struggle for women’s emancipation. He also could not have foreseen the practical consequences of his definition with regard to colonization and the oppression of women. Despite this, his definition deepened and heightened the human quest for justice. African philosophy has and, continues to raise its voice with regard to the human quest for justice. Against this background, Africa’s historical experience of justice and injustice since colonization will be the subject of critical philosophical reflection. The thesis to be defended is that justice is human, injustice un-African.



Hilary Rose, Professor Emerita

City University, London, UK

While the foundational narratives of medical ethics have been mostly located at Nuremberg, bioethics developed as a direct response to the challenges posed by the new biomedical sciences and technologies. My challenge is whether the enterprise of bioethics can carry the burden of governance it has assumed, and which has also been placed on bioethics by governments and international agencies? This is not to suggest there is no place for bioethics even though its central concept of the informed autonomous deciding subject is under siege, both from feminist philosophers and from the DNA narratives of bio-kin.

An exclusive focus on bioethics serves to neglect, even more than politics, the new political economy of research and indeed capitalist globalisation itself. Denying such a very big elephant is foolish or worse. Yet the focus on ‘how’ questions so endemic in bioethics leads to a silence (convenient for some powerful interests) about the important question of ‘whether’. Thus today’s debates about ‘designer babies’, cloning, genetic enhancement PGD, need considering not just within ethics but also within the new production system of knowledge itself situated in a new hybrid space between academia and industry.

Here I take the hot example of embryonic stem cell research to explore my argument. I shall begin with the retrospective golden age of calm Warnockian deliberation and consensus on the ethical way forward for UK embryo research, to the euphoric claims and subsequent global disgrace of Hwang and his South Korean team.



Steven PR Rose, Emeritus Professor, The Open University, Milton Keynes, Visiting Professor, University College London, UK

There is nothing novel in the observation that advances in science and technology throw up new ethical and political dilemmas. The last decades have seen philosophers, biologists, policy makers and society at large attempting to come to terms with the actual and potential developments within genetics. In this so-called ‘decade of the mind’ the neurosciences and emergent neurotechnologies are poised to present yet further challenges, although as with genetics, distinguishing hype from realistic prospects can be tricky. The technologies increasingly on offer include targeted drugs, transcranial brain stimulation and implanted chips to affect/control brain and behaviour and pre-emptive diagnosis, either via genetic tests or brain imaging, to identify potential disorders or behaviours. Whilst these offer hope for conditions varying from spinal injury to Alzheimer’s Disease, they also present increasing opportunities for control and coercion in the increasingly surveillance society in which we live. The molecularising methodology of most contemporary neuroscience offers expanding opportunities to define unwanted social behaviours as ‘caused’ by abnormal brain processes (with the multiple meanings embraced within the concept of normality) – a good example being the hugely expanded diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder amongst young boys in Europe. These technologies must be set in the context of the enthusiastic assumption of many neuroscientists that the so-called ‘problem’ of consciousness is about to be solved, reduced to an ensemble of brain processes, and that from this will emerge a naturalistic and universal code of ethics embedded in the evolved deep structures of the brain. My talk will critically review these technological and deeper scientific/ethical claims and will conclude by asking how, as citizens in a democratic society, we might develop the socio-political regulatory processes required to control them – what has been called ‘upstream’ science.



Suman Sahai

Head, Gene Campaign, New Delhi, India

A paper published by Qaim & Zilberman (Matin Qaim & David Zilberman, 'Yield effects of Genetically Modified Crops in Developing Countries’ [Science 299, 900- 902 (2003)] is a good example of highlighting the ethical issues that emerge in the reporting of science when huge vested interests are involved. The Qaim - Zilberman paper, showing a dramatic increase in the performance of Bt cotton in India, was not only premature but also beset with several methodological problems. This highly controversial paper raises serious questions about the ethics of science and its reporting in science journals. The authors draw rather sweeping conclusions about the “Yield Effects of Genetically Modified Crops in Developing Countries “ based on meager and selective data from one single crop, i.e. cotton, derived from just one country, India.

Their title is misleading, claiming far more than the scope of the study permits. The paper reports unprecedented yield increase (up to 87%) which can influence policy makers and farmers but strains credibility. Such spectacular performance has not been reported from anywhere else in the world where Bt cotton is cultivated. Bt cotton does show an advantage in the US and China, but these are in the range of 10 to 15% increase in yields because of better protection against pests. What is really disturbing is that this paper, extolling the outstanding performance of Bt cotton, is based exclusively on data supplied by the company that owns the Bt cotton variety in question, i.e. Monsanto. Bt cotton, the first GM crop to be grown in India was given approval for commercial cultivation in March 2002, so 2003 was the first harvest year. The data presented in this sensational paper are however not based on this harvest, as would be the case in a proper scientific research paper. The credibility of the data in this paper is questionable since they are derived only from selected field trials plots of Mahyco-Monsanto. No data from farmers’ fields or from the All India Coordinated Varietal trials conducted by ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) have been included in the study.



J. B. Schneewind

Professor Emeritus at the Philosophy Departement of Johns Hopkins University, USA

Communitarians, feminist philosophers, and some moral theorists have attacked universal moral principles as not doing any serious or acceptable work. I will reply briefly to comments by Ignatieff and others to this effect. I discuss some specific jobs done by formulations of universal principles. Then I draw on Hauke Brunkhorst's work "Solidarity" to argue that universal principles have been effective in helping solve deep social problems and that they may help us with some issues arising from globalization.



Richard Seaford

Professor of Greek in the University of Exeter, UK

In ancient Greek thought ethics and politics form a unity, whereas in consumer capitalism they have no internal relationship. At the heart of ancient ethico-political philosophy is rejection of the unlimited, whereas at the heart of consumer capitalism is rejection of limitation.

The earliest political theory is in the poems of Solon, who in the recently monetised society of sixth century BC Athens was appointed to resolve a crisis in which the poor had been deprived of their land by the rich. The problem is, as he puts it, that ‘of wealth there appears no limit. For those of us who have the most wealth are eager to double it’. His response is economic and political reform, but also to urge self-restraint. It is in the context of this political crisis that the limiting of desire appears as an ethical value. Political and ethical theory are here beginning to emerge together. Moreover, this has implications for metaphysics: the insistence on moderation is projected by Solon onto the universe: ‘the invisible metron (measure) of intelligence .holds the limits of all things.’

The ethico-political limitation of private wealth is a central feature of the political thinking of Plato. And Aristotle maintains that the quantity of material possessions is properly limited by need. However, there are people who accumulate money, without limit, and this - according to Aristotle – is unnatural and to be condemned.

Accordingly, freedom is not an important value for Plato and Aristotle, who value rather wisdom, virtue, and happiness. For Aristotle freedom is ‘not to live for the benefit of another’. This is an imagined self-sufficiency, the possession of enough wealth so as not to have to work for someone else. On this view most people in consumer capitalism are unfree.

By contrast, freedom is the supreme value of consumer capitalism, in which it is imagined that everybody is free. Moreover, capitalist freedom is, in stark contrast to ancient Greek values, unlimited. You can buy whatever you like, if you have the money, and there is no limit on the amount of money that you can have. Indeed, the attachment of consumer capitalism to the idea of unlimited economic freedom is so strong that it is well on the way to producing global environmental catastrophe.

However unacceptable we may find ancient Greek values in some respects, they are a useful reminder of the lethal narrowness of the politically dominant values of our own society.




Spiros Simitis

Professor of Labour and Civil law, Computer Science and Law, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main; Director of the Research Centre for Data Protection at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

1. Examples such as Data Warehouses, Biobanks, the compulsory preservation of telecommunication data or the inhibition of criminal careers by an extensive processing of personal data from the earliest childhood on illustrate the ever broadening range of data use.

2. Data protection was from its earliest days on regarded as an elementary precondition of any democratic society. The deliberately constrained processing of personal data eliminates or at least substantially reduces manipulative influences, improves the Individual’s capability to determine her or his position and increases thus her or his chances to participate in the social and political discourse.

3. A technology that allows a virtually unlimited collection of personal data and an equally unrestricted processing for an infinite number of purposes radically restructures the conditions of both private and public activities. The apparently unthinkable return from a distinctly anonymous mass market to a constantly ameliorated personal profile of the individual consumer demonstrates no less than the increasingly individualised preventive policies in the security or health sector the implications of a constantly perfected multifunctional use of personal data. The more public authorities and private enterprises employ data mining, the more the data subjects are transformed into mere objects of policies intentionally instrumentalising them. Thus, the same society that asserts data protection as a constitutive element of its democratic structure in documents such as the 1983 Census-decision of the German Constitutional Court or more recently the Draft for a European Constitution, tolerates or even openly promotes practices destabilising its own existence.

4. The growing willingness to utilise the processing of personal data in particular for long-term policies emphasises the decisive point of all further reflections: In a society in which in effect all personal data are processed, the chances to restrain the consequences of a multifunctional use depend lastly on the readiness to renounce to information even when it is available. However, it is infinitely more difficult to practice information asceticism, than to find good reasons for getting access to any data, including the most sensible, as alone the experiences with the processing of genetic data show. Besides and above all, the quest for a radical review of the actual information policies forces more than ever to ask, whether an effective respect of privacy can be realistically expected in a society profoundly marked by an ever increasing self-proliferation of personal data either through their purposeful commercialisation, or as an unavoidable concomitant of a gradual shift of everyday life to the Internet.



Gisela Striker

Professor of Philosophy and Classics, Harvard University, USA

The words "ethics" and "politics" go back to the time of Plato and Aristotle and are still used in much the same sense they had then. But the ancient philosophers' conception of the relation between the respective fields of these two branches of philosophy was very different from the modern one. Plato notoriously saw ethics and politics as one and the same subject. Aristotle wrote separate treatises on ethics and politics, but he considered ethics as a subfield of the science of politics, i.e. the knowledge that rulers would need to govern a state.

Nowadays the general tendency is, I suppose, to think of ethics and politics as separate though overlapping fields. What lies behind this difference in perspective?

A relatively trivial answer might be that the classical Greek philosophers did not clearly distinguish between legal and moral rules.

A more interesting explanation is that those philosophers held the view that the aim of politicians - legislators as well as rulers - must be to create the conditions for the best possible life of their citizens. They maintained this in opposition to those who claimed that the state and its legal system were based on an agreement to refrain from mutual harm and to cooperate for mutual benefit. The debate between these two positions continued in the Hellenistic era, with the Stoics actually subordinating politics to ethics, while the Epicureans defended the old contract theory, and the dispute is still going on today.

The question at issue is whether the state and its institutions should be responsible for more than just the security and prosperity of their members. If the state is expected to provide more than security and military defense, the norms for good or bad forms of governance will inevitably be moral ones and not just economic efficiency. Even though we have long left behind Plato's assumption that the justice of individuals is the same as the justice of institutions, justice is still considered to be the most important quality expected of rulers and their subjects. Self-proclaimed 'realists', then and now, may tend to see this as no more than a pretense, and it is no doubt true that there has never been a state that lived up to the exacting standards set by the various philosophers. But is this a good reason for giving up the ideal?



Pavlos Sourlas

University of Athens, Greece

Das Gebiet des Rechtlichen gilt seit jeher als ein Sonderbereich der Politik: ein Bereich „geronnener“ politischer Entscheidungen, die eine relative Koninuität beanspruchen und mit der Drohung staatlichen Zwangs verstärkt sind. Seit der Kritik Ronald Dworkins am Rechtspositivismus wird zudem fast allgemein angenommen, dass das Recht auch mit der Moral eng verbunden ist, wenn auch über Charakter und Tragweite dieser Verbindung keine Übereinstimmung herrscht. Dworkin hatte sich in seiner antipositivistischen Kritik vor allem darauf berufen, dass das Recht nicht nur aus Regeln, sondern auch aus Prinzipien besteht, die zwar dem Recht eigen sind, zu gleicher Zeit aber aus dem Bereich der politischen Moral stammen. Das hat heftige Auseinandersetzungen über die Bedeutung der Rechtsprinzipien im Recht entfacht. Dworkin selbst hatte drei Merkmale der Prinzipien hervorgehoben, die bei den Rechtsregeln nicht vorhanden sind: Prinzipien weisen eine Dimension des (argumentativen) Gewichts auf, sie erfüllen eine moralische Rechtsfertigungsfunktion, und sie beziehen sich auf subjektive Rechte im Gegensatz zu allgemeinen politischen Zwecken (insbesondere dem Gemeinwohl). Das Referat analysiert vor allem das dritte und meist umstrittene der genannten Merkmale. Am Beispiel der Freiheit der Kunst wird versucht zu zeigen, dass durch die Verbindung der Rechtsprinzipien mit subjektiven Rechten der Auschluss einer Kategorie von moralisch-politischen Argumenten aus dem Bereich des Rechts bezweckt wird; dass nämlich zumindest auf dem „geronnenen“ politischen Sondergebiet des Rechtlichen deontologische gegenüber konsequentialistischen, moralische gegenüber ethischen im engeren Sinne und verallgemeinernde gegenüber partikularistischen Argumenten den Vorrang verdienen.



Aldo Tortorella

Instituto Gramsci di Roma, Italia

Le conseguenze tragiche, esperimentate anche nel ‘900, di qualsiasi principio etico assunto come bene assoluto non ha fatto cessare la ricerca di certezze dogmatiche cui ispirare l’azione politica. L’uso strumentale delle religioni e la caccia al “relativismo etico” (fino a Grozio) sono indici della crisi della forma di civilizzazione capitalistica divenuta egemone. All’origine della crisi non sta la ragione critica di origine illuministica oggi messa sotto accusa come causa della incapacità di affermare valori certi ma, all’opposto, l’uso strumentale dei valori creati dal pensiero critico (tolleranza e comprensione reciproca, libertà ed eguaglianza, solidarietà e cooperazione) per finalità, ad essi opposte, di interessi e di dominio. Non è una risposta, la teorizzazione di un potere costituente posto in astratta contrapposizione ai poteri costituiti come chiave per spiegare il processo storico e aprire la strada ad una trasformazione sociale radicalmente democratica. Un potere costituente vuoto di espliciti fondamenti etici criticamente fondati può portare al peggio. L’esempio maggiore attuale di un potere costituente usato schmittianamente è quello della dottrina e dell’uso della guerra preventiva al fine di instaurare la democrazia e combattere il terrorismo con la conclusione di instaurare una guerra civile e di creare il terrorismo dove non c’era. E’ la conseguenza dell’uso strumentale della parola “democrazia” per nascondere altro (petrolio, dominio). Un esempio minore ma istruttivo: la riforma da destra della Costituzione italiana, in nome della assolutizzazione del principio costituente popolare, delegato alla rappresentanza. Su questa base sono state varate riforme che ledono i principi fondamentali della separazione dei poteri e dell’eguaglianza dei diritti sociali. Anche qui il “potere costituente” concepito come vuoto viene riempito dalla spinta a cancellare la sostanza di una Costituzione che, unica al mondo, stabilisce all’art. 1 di fondarsi “sul lavoro”, nella carenza e nell’assenza di una opposizione dubitosa. L’alternativa all’integralismo e all’idea di una contrapposizione tra potere costituente e poteri costituiti vuota di proposta non sta nella assunzione o riproposizione di certezze ideologiche, ma nella ripresa di una analisi critica della parte vincente del mondo contemporaneo che non può opporre come criterio etico il principio del proprio benessere (per di più iniquamente distribuito), della propria autoconservazione e del proprio dominio al mondo altro da sé. Di questo principio dell’egoismo di potenza gli europei conoscono le conseguenze di guerra. Un’opera di democratizzazione non può essere scissa dal disvelamento dell’uso distorto a fini di potere (di classe o di nazione) e dunque eticamente inaccettabile che si è fatto e si fa di pur grandi conquiste. A che cosa si è ridotto il principio di maggioranza nelle democrazie esistenti? Che cosa è del principio di sovranità popolare nel tempo del monopolio della informazione? Eccetera. Anche dalla parte delle forze politiche della sinistra europea pare stendersi un velo rispetto ad una lettura critica della realtà nel timore che questo possa ostacolare la capacità e la possibilità di governo della cosa pubblica. Il “realismo” non esiste senza la scelta di un criterio etico per osservare il mondo a partire dal criterio di giustizia, eguaglianza, libertà. La scelta di un criterio etico che si sappia come parziale (e cioè non assoluto) e che parta dal riconoscimento delle differenze a cominciare da quella di genere, differenza – questa – che porta in sé una vasta negazione di principi considerati neutri ed universali, ma in realtà maschili e cioè parziali. Il riconoscimento della parzialità e delle differenze non significa assenza di possibili evoluzioni reciproche. L’etica della ragionevolezza contro l’etica del dominio e del fanatismo.



Aldo Tortorella

Instituto Gramsci di Roma, Italia

The tragic consequences, experienced in the 20th century, of the idea that an ethical principle can serve as an absolute good did not stop people from searching for dogmas which can guide political action. The instrumental use of religions and the appeal to ethical relativism (until Grote) are indications of the crisis of the capitalist form of culture which has prevailed. For the origins of this crisis is not responsible the illuminated reason which is today blamed for the inability to justify established values, but on the contrary the instrumental use of values created by critical thinking (such as tollerance, liberty and equality, solidarity and co-operation) in order to serve values opposed to them like personal interests and power. The postulate of a constitutional power opposed to constitutive powers as a key for explaining the historical process and pave the way for transforming a society to a radical democracy is not an option. A constitutional power devoid of clearly crystallized ethical foundations, founded by means of critical thinking, can have worse results. The best actual example of a constitutional power used badly is that of the doctrine and use of the preventive war for the purposes of establishing democracy and fight against the terrorism, which resulted in a civil war and in the creation of terrorism where there had not existed previously. All this is a consequence of the instrumental use of the term “democracy” with the aim to hide other interests (oil, political influence). A minor historical example which is instructive nevertheless is that of the reformation of the Italian constitution in the name of the absolute value of the constitutional right of the people, as opposed to that of the representation. This reasoning guided various reformations which have damaged the fundamental principles of the separation of powers and the equality of the social rights. Also in this case the “constitutional power” is shaped by the impulse to annihilate the essence of a constitution which is unique in the world in establishing in article 1 that it is based on “work”, as there is no strong opposition to dispute this. The alternative to integralism and to the idea of an opposition between constitutional power and constitutive powers which has no proposal to make is not to assume or to reproduce ideological dogmas, but rather to resume a critical analysis on the part of the contemporary powerful countries, which cannot stand as a ethical criterion their own well-being, their own preservation and impact on the rest of the world. Europeans have experienced as a result of this principle of egoism and power the consequences of the war. A project of democratization cannot be separated from the prevention of the distorted use of the term for purposes of power (of a class or a nation) which makes it morally unacceptable. What has become now the principle of prevalence of majority in the existing democracies? What has become the principle of the sovereignty of people at the time of the monopoly of information, and so on. Also the leftist European parties seem to refrain from a critical confrontation with reality because they fear that this may create difficulties in governing the public domain. Realism cannot exist without the choice of an ethical criterion for observing the world, first of all that of justice, equality, liberty. The choice of an ethical criterion which is admittedly limited and thus not absolute has as its starting point the acknowledgment of the differences, first of all that of genres which can take us to set aside a vast number of principles considered neutral and universal from the masculine point of view. The acknowledgment of such a limit and also of the differences does not exclude possible mutual revolutions. It is the ethics of reason against that of power and phanatism.



Stavroula Tsinorema

Associate Professor of Philosophy, Head of Philosophy Division, Department of Philosophy and Social Studies; Director of Joint Postgraduate Progrmme in Bioethics, University of Crete, Greece




Konstantinos Tsoukalas

Professor of Sociology (Emeritus), University of Athens, Greece




Vadim Vasilyev

Professor, Department of the History of Western Philosophy, Moscow State Lomonossov University, Russia

The Age of Enlightenment has many hidden intellectual treasures. Many persons and texts are still unknown or not fully appreciated. One of such texts is the Beobachtungen ueber den Geist des Menschen and dessen Verhaeltniss zur Welt (Altona, 1790) of Andrei Koliwanow. This short book had been lost, to be rediscovered only in 2002. It is worth of attention, because, mirroring Enlightenment traditions, also anticipates some of the more contemporary ideas. Koliwanow (pseudonym, of course) wished to base his philosophical anthropology on an entirely new foundation. Using a method of cross-cultural analysis of empirical data concerning human nature, he made an outline of the universal features of human beings (resembling the recent Donald Brown’s “Universal People” project to some extent). Then he tried to prove that these features, which are constitutive of human nature, are homogeneous. He called them “forces” or “feelings”, because each of them has a driving as well as a sensual side. Among them he mentioned a few cognitive faculties, like understanding or imagination, the sexual drive, inclinations to activity and rest, several altruistic feelings like feeling of justice etc. His central topic, however, is a theory of moral sense, which he differentiated from altruistic feelings and which he interpreted as integral sense, which is satisfied only when all feelings of the individual are satisfied – in a situation where all of them have equal worth. This simple theory has very interesting consequences, I think. For example, it follows from it that in some situations altruism could be morally wrong, while egoistic action morally good (this coincides with common sense moral intuitions). Another consequence - and Koliwanow laid great stress on it – is that no one has a right to decide what is good for anyone, except oneself. On the whole, his philosophy might be considered as an independent and original justification of the doctrine of human rights and libertarianism.




Victor Alexeevich Vazyulin

Professor of Philosophy, Moscow State Lomonossov University, Russia

This paper will discuss the logic of history which I consider as not being exhausted only is the laws of humanity's development in the past but also in the present and in the future. From the author’s point of view, the general direction of the historical process is a spiral-like development of society. Humankind throughout its existence has gone and is still going through one great coil of this spiral, which has yet to be completed, although its general outline can now be predicted with a high degree of certainty. From the point of view of structure, taken in connection with its development, society constitutes a developing totality, which goes through several stages in its development: the stage of the creation of historical preconditions for the emergence of the essence of human society (this stage also can be called the starting point of the history of humankind), the stage of the primary emergence of the essence of human society, the stage of formation of human society, and the stage of maturity. In this connection the author will discuss the progressive development of humankind. The entire coil of the aforementioned spiral-like development is the era of progressive development of human society. Within this conceptual framework this paper will focus on questions like “What is morality?”, “What is politics?”, and “How do they interact in the process of this historical development?”.



Evaggelos Venizelos

Greek Parliament & Professor, University of Thessalonica, Greece



Stelios Virvidakis

Professor of Philosophy, University of Athens, Greece

There are various diverging answers to the traditional question concerning the proper relationship between morality and politics. From Plato and Aristotle to Machiavelli, Hobbes and Kant, philosophers have elaborated different conceptions of this relationship which could be interpreted as involving a form of subordination of politics to morality or, on the contrary, of morality to politics. Contemporary liberal thinkers are usually suspicious of any talk about the need for a “moralization” of political life, to the extent that it may hide an objectionable commitment to the promotion of some substantive ideal of the good as a political goal. However, they often acknowledge that they do respect and sustain a kind of political morality without which liberal democracies would not be able to function properly. The political morality they are ready to defend is sometimes associated with what is characterized as a minimal ethics. The aim of this paper is to examine different versions of this minimal ethics and to try to elucidate the more or less “thin” concepts which constitute its core. It will be argued that it should include both deontological and consequentialist components and that it may eventually be complemented by considerations that point in the direction of “thicker” notions of virtue. What is at issue is the degree to which political morality could be enriched without losing its mimimalist character that makes it appropriate for most models of liberalism.



Ashok Vohra

Professor of Philosophy, University of Delhi, India

My purpose in this paper is to examine the notions of ‘social justice’, ‘human rights’ and their relationship with the principles of governance as expounded in the classical Indian texts. These notions and their relationship are significant in the Indian tradition as it invloves no discussion of rights but only of duties. There are no universal human duties/rights save those which one has by virtue of being human. These duties are called “sadharana dharmas”, which means duties that are common to all. The others are those that are needed to maintain social harmony. These are the duties and obligations that are specific to the “varnashrama” – class, stage of life and the station or position that one occupies in society. The higher one’s varna, the higher the responsibilities. Correspondingly, there are differential theories of governance, and therefore of justice. The Indian tradition accepts the utilitarian principle which states that those actions of an individual or of the state are good and justified when they enhance the aggregate good and welfare. Similar to German Idealism, in Indian thought metaphysics and political theory are interwoven. In order to understand the true import of one we have to grasp the implications of the other. It is for this purpose that the paper shall elucidate, though briefly, the concept of person, the notion of the other, the nature of a king, state and society and their relationship with one another, as well as their final goal, that is “moksa” (liberation) in the Indian tradition and philosophy. The paper shall also address the question whether traditional theories of governance and justice, especially those which advocate differential treatment to individuals, can be applicable to the democratic, secular and egalitarian society and state of modern times.



Wilhelm Vossenkuhl

Professor of philosophy, University of Munich, Germany

Justice in bioethics in a majority of cases depends on the allocation of scarce goods. A well known example is the allocation of donor organs. Presently the allocation of donor organs as organised by Eurotransplant (Leiden) mainly depends on medical criteria mixed with two models of distribution which may be used for indivisible goods, i.e., waiting lists and urgency. It seems that the practice of allocation works without problems. Nevertheless, Eurotransplant is permanently changing the conditions of allocation. Apart from this, there seem to be unsolved problems lurking behind the practice of allocation. The paper will address two problems which are unsolved so far: The first problem concerns the mix of waiting list and urgency. It is easy to be seen that this mix is problematic as it combines a lexicographic order (urgency) with a non-lexicographic one (waiting list) with the obvious result that urgency always succeeds independent from other criteria. The second problem is that the present system of allocation ignores the equal moral claims of patients with similar medical conditions. The paper tries to develop an alternative model of allocation which will not ignore that equal moral claims of patients must not be ignored.



Richard Wolin

Distinguished Professor of History, Comparative Literature and Political Science, Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA

Among nineteenth-century thinkers it was a commonplace that religion's cultural centrality had become a thing of the past. Feuerbach, Marx, Comte, and Nietzsche all viewed the critique of religion as central to their doctrines. For all of these theorists, religion was, in essence, a form of false consciousness. The more stock humanity put into the values of “transcendence,” the more it devalued life in the here and now. Among twentieth-century commentators, religion fared little better. Sociologists like Durkheim perceived religion in strictly functional terms: an ideational projection of community values that was essential for social cohesion. Freud famously wrote religion off as an “illusion” – consolation for weak, non-autonomous egos.

All of the aforementioned social critics of religion would undoubtedly be taken aback by religion’s return in the late twentieth century. Thus, a few years ago, sociologist Peter Berger published a provocatively titled study, The De-Secularization of the World. Berger proposed that the “secularization” thesis famously advanced by Max Weber – that “rationalization’s” advance increasingly rendered religion a thing of the past – required drastic revision. Indeed, the return not only of religion, but of religious fundamentalism, has become of late a striking, global social trend. In the Middle East and elsewhere, fundamentalist Islam has enjoyed a significant resurgence. Hamas’s dramatic victory in the January 2006 Palestinian elections provides one telling example. Similarly, in the American elections of 2004 the support of Christian fundamentalists among the so-called “red states” was a crucial factor in George Bush’s reelection.

These developments raise a number of significant challenges for contemporary democratic theory. As John Rawls contends, a respect for the values of “public reason” is a sine qua non for the smooth-functioning of democratic polities. Religious values, conversely, espouse the standpoint of “ultimate ends” – in Max Weber’s terminology, they express a Gesinnungsethik that is fundamentally averse to compromise. One of the difficulties, however, is that democratic values of fairness and tolerance are secularized versions of the West’s Judeo-Christian inheritance. This suggests that, to dismiss religious values in their entirety, would be to cut ourselves off from an invaluable moral compass. Thus, we must discover a rhetoric and tonality that somehow allows for the admission of religious convictions in public discourse without compromising the values of pluralism and toleration that are essential to the functioning of modern democracies.



Wujin Yu

Professor, Philosophy Department, Fudan University; Vice Dean, Fudan Development Institute; Member of The Academic Committee, Fudan University; Vice President of Shanghai Philosophy Society; Consulting Expert of Shanghai Government Philosophy Department, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

Since the 90s of the 20th century, the study of Marxist philosophy in China started to shift from epistemology and methodology to ontology, under the influence of the ontological theories of Hurssel, Heidegger, N. Hartmann, Quine, Lukacs, Sartre, C.C. Gould. There are three main different kinds of ontological theories in contemporary Chinese Marxist philosophy. The first kind understands Marxist philosophy as “ontology of matter”. According to this interpretation, the world is formed by matter which is constantly moving, and time and space are forms of matter in motion. The second kind of ontological theory understands Marxist philosophy as “ontology of praxis”, which is mainly inspired from Gramsci’s philosophy of praxis. The idea here is that, since practical activities, especially productive labor, form the starting point and core of all social phenomena, all social phenomena should be explained in terms of praxis. The third kind of ontological theory considers Marxist philosophy as “ontology of social being”, an idea inspired from Lukacs’ Ontology of Social Being. But while for Lucacs social being is different from natural being, the latter being the basis of the former, Chinese Marxists insist that no natural being can be separated from social beings and cannot be known as such, but only through the media of social practical activities, so, they argue, the ontology of social being should be primary.

In this paper I would like to present my own ontological interpretation of Marxist philosophy which is different from the ones outlined above. Yet first I should like to specify that the focus of my study is neither “Marxist philosophy”, nor “the philosophy of Marx and Engels as founders of Marxism”, not even “Marx’s philosophy” as a whole, but rather “mature Marx’s philosophy.” Secondly, Marx’s thought is quite different from traditional philosophy in that it links closely all philosophical issues with the question about economy and production. While, for instance, traditional philosophy often talks about abstract matter, Marx talks about concrete, existing forms of matter, i.e. things which have exchanging value in modern bourgeois society. Similarly, while traditional philosophy talks about praxis or action, Marx talks about the fundamental form of praxis, namely productive labor. We wonder then what type of ontology underlies Marx’s mature philosophy. I will argue that it underlies an existentialistic ontology, since it is always concerned with the existence, development, and freedom of the human being, particularly of the proletariat. Marx’s mature philosophy, I submit, can be charitably understood from the standpoint of existentialistic ontology. I would like, then, to put forward the idea that mature Marx’s philosophy is an ontology of praxis, a social productive relationship”. As such it transcends both “ontology of matter” and “ontology of praxis”, which stop at the level of sensible phenomena, and the so-called “ontology of social being”, which does not clarify what is the basis and core of social being.





Xianglong Zhang

Professor, Department of Philosophy, Peking University; Director of the Research Center of Phenomenology, Department of Philosophy, Peking University, China

Jiang Qing’s political Confucianism is becoming influential in modern China. Drawing his inspiration from the ancient Gong Yang’s Study of the Spring and Autumn Annals, it is unsatisfied with the contemporary Neo-Confucianism in Taiwan and Hong Kong for its failure to deal with the urgent (social, political, cultural) issues which inevitably affect the fate of Confucianism and Chinese traditional culture in the contemporary world. Neo-Confucianism pays attention chiefly to the “inner sageness”, i.e. the moral and mental cultivation, and neglects the “outer kingship”, or the objective, institutional, and “ritual” side of an integrated Confucian career. For Jiang, however, this fact indicates the deep-rooted West-centrism of the school. It blindly takes over from the West fundamental standards such as objective knowledge, justice, truth, and it resorts to Confucianism for nothing but inner ethics.

The paper, after a brief discussion of the general issue of universalism in Confucian tradition, will present Jiang Qing’s criticism on the Neo-Confucian universalism, taking Mou Zongsan as an example. For Jiang, Mou draws his universalism from western philosophy and science and inadequately combines it with Confucianism. I will argue that such an attempt can never bring a revival of Confucianism in the contemporary world. Then the paper will deal with Jiang’s own political Confucianism as expressed mainly in his book Political Confucianism: The Re-Orientation, Features and Development of Contemporary Confucianism (2003), which intends to resolve the political, ethical, and cultural issues that China faces. The paper will concentrate on the ethical part of the book, showing how Jiang appeals to the Confucian principles, as he interprets them, in order to resist the “universalized” or “globalized” (in his opinion, merely “westernized”) standards, such as those embodied in so-called “global ethics”. Finally, I will examine if Jiang’s position actually avoids the regulative universalism that he criticizes.


^ Top

« The Philosophical Challenges of Ethics and Politics - Parts I - IV Iraklion 2006 | Mendacity or use of public lie by Martin Jay - Part IV »