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Centre for Continental Philosophy Seminar Begins at RHUL

The first session of the Centre for Continental Philosophy research seminar for the Autumn term begins next week. It will take place on Friday, October 15th from 2pm-3.30pm via Teams. Royal Holloway's own Dr Neil Gascoigne will be presenting a paper entitled 'Pragmatism, Conceptual Engineering, and the Ethics of Controversy.’


Here’s an abstract for the paper:

In the last couple of decades analytic philosophers have become increasingly interested in what has come to be called Conceptual Engineering (CE). This began with the work of Sally Haslanger, who argues that concepts relating to race and gender in particular should be actively crafted to represent our best theories of justice rather than merely analysed in terms of current linguistic practices; but more recently the view has emerged that such a standpoint requires a more general meta/semantic framework. Despite the apparent family resemblance to pragmatism this paper is motivated by the conviction that pragmatists should have absolutely nothing to do with CE! Along with “practical philosophy” CE is the (hopefully) last gasp of an intellectually moribund philosophical tradition desperate for moral and/or political relevance. The only way CE can make any sense of its headlining aspiration is to “borrow” pragmatist ideas; but to retain a distinct identity it must repurpose them in ways that as a consequence serve to make them of less use to pragmatists and therefore philosophy of less use in helping solve worldly problems. In a phrase, then, CE is parasitic on pragmatism. In support of this somewhat tendentious (!) claim I’ll outline the contribution of three CEs and contrast their understanding of the consequent role of the philosopher with the one the early Rorty associates with what he calls the “ethics of controversy”. I will conclude by opening a discussion of the links between Rorty’s argument here and Deleuze and Guattari’s What is Philosophy?, arguing that pragmatism can act as a point of mediation between their work and such debates in the analytic tradition.

To attend, click here.


To find the full programme, and papers from previous seminars, click here.

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