Thursday, April 28, 2005

Some Links

As I have already said, I have finals in about seven weeks, so I will not be posting so much in the immediate future. However, a couple of links and a little comment doesn't distract too much from revision, so...

The Law West of Ealing Broadway has a post up on some reasons why apparent crimes rates may have risen. Most of them are a) eminently sensible and b) rather undermine the constant right-wing scaremongering refrain that criminals are running amok through our green and pleasant land. Thus it is good.

There has been some discussion of the new Pope's denunciation of relativism, samples of which are here, here, and here. David Velleman at Left2Right is particularly good. I would just like to point out that relativism is not a) pluralism, either in the sense that there are goods which are irreducible to each other, or in the sense that there is a single good which manifests itself in a number of ways or b) the view that whilst we need some rules with which to regulate social interaction, it does not matter that much what they are, because this view is committed to, at root, the view that rule-governed social interaction is a good (not that the view is justified: it's not, because there are some sets of rules which are downright awful, some which are acceptable but far from perfect, and some which are good, which a view committed to the idea that it does not much matter what they are cannot admit).

Billmon also has a piece on Leo Strauss, the philosophical capo di tutti capi of the neo-cons. If what he says is right, Strauss makes the same fundamental mistake that both Conservatives and post-modernists are guilty of, that the lack of an absolutely pure reason, free of context and circumstance, leads straight to a kind of Nietzscheian nihilism. The mistake lies in assuming that the lack of the foundation that could be provided by that kind of reason deprives us of all foundations - for post-modernists - or that the lack of the foundation that could be provided by that kind of reason means we should abjure from any sort of reason at all - for Conservatives. The problem with both these positions is that they assume the standpoint which could only be gained by the very kind of reason they insist does not exist in evaluating the possibility of foundations: an absolutely pure, de-contextualized external perspective which would provide absolute foundations is the only perspective from which one could demand those kinds of foundations. However, if that perspective does not and cannot exist, then criticizing its lack through the apparent use of it is not only rather nugatory, but involves a performative contradiction.

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