I am currently concerned with the following projects listed in chronological order (some are several years old):
- Wittgenstein Commentary
- Reflective Intuitionism
- Knowing and Condemning
- Seeing what is good
- Business Ethics ("The honourable businessman")
The detailed structure of the individual projects is as follows:
- a) The problem,
- b) The "hypothesis/hypotheses" (the quotation marks say it all),
- c) The status quo
- d) Further (planned) steps.
Ad 1: Wittgenstein Commentary
a) The objective is a continuous exegetic commentary on the Philosophical Investigations (PI) following the principles set out below:
- a text-immanent approach as far as possible, a generic interpretation as far as necessary; criterion for "necessary/possible": as far as the text is comprehensible.
- both therapeutic and constructive (constructiveness as the best therapy: need for therapy as the guiding measure for constructiveness.
c) Volume 1, already published, deals with the first 63 paragraphs of the PI (out of a total of 693) and includes a detailed introduction to the overall method. Preliminary work on Volume 2: PI 64-145, already completed. An introduction to the "complete" Wittgenstein has just appeared.
d) Volume 2 will be written, once more uninterrupted time becomes available.
Ad 2: Reflective Intuitionism
a) "Intuition mongering", with the notion of reflective equilibrium as the perhaps most well-known approach, is the prevalent method not just in moral and political philosophy. Since this method is unsuitable, what is the right method?
b) The answer to the question is delivered by the following insights:
- Moral values and politics cannot be (philosophically) explained, but only understood;
- Intuitions are not beliefs – as all authors I know, and again recently Williamson, assume – but rather expressions of rule, hinge propositions, etc.;
- a multitude of real moral explanations exist …
- not one of these real explanations, however, achieves what we (typically) expect from a philosophical explanation, since...
- what we expect from a philosophical explanation, cannot be achieved.
c) A book manuscript has already been completed and accepted for publication, but the text is not quite right. A excerpt was presented at a workshop on the topic of criticism (in politics, moral values, science, the arts and philosophy) organized by Prof R. Geuss (Cambridge University) and myself at CRASSH, University of Cambridge ("On the Varieties of Moral Criticism". See also re. 3.).
d) Revision of the book manuscript, amongst others to include contemporary literature. Then take a look at what we see.
Ad 3: Knowing and condemning
a) If morals cannot be explained (see re. 2.), then what is moral criticism?
b) Moral criticism is perfectly acceptable, but philosophically can only be understood, not justified. This gives rise to a certain tension. However, moral criticism itself is not really threatened, but only the (supposed) absolute criticism. In the arts both become united.
c) See re. 2.c. In addition, a case study will be published at the beginning of 2009 (Apologizing Evil. The Case of Iago, Princeton UP). There is also a manuscript on a further case study, which is, however, not (yet) up to much.
d) This manuscript is currently being revised, but it might possibly be laid to one side again.
Ad 4: Seeing what is good
a) If the arts show us what morals are all about, how does it achieve this? How do we actually recognize good (and its opposite), if (as far as) we recognize it?
b) We recognize good or a great part of it, if or as far as we recognize it, by seeing (hearing, feeling…) it. However, we don't experience it through a particular sense (moral sense), but in a "quite normal" way. "Quite normal" doesn't mean: as we experience other things; rather it means that there is nothing mysterious about it. What we need to realize is that we cannot even see what is normal, without seeing what is good, when we see something good.
c) Book manuscript has been submitted.
Ad 5: Business Ethics
a) Business ethics (and its sub-areas) is commonly regarded as applied ethics. The problem lies in the fact that this should also apply to other areas (medical ethics, political ethics, environmental ethics…) – and where then do the "real" ethics come from?
b) Business is an area of life just like any other. Thus, it has its own morals and doesn't just apply morals to a particular case. As an example: The term "honourable businessman" suggests that because it is established that an individual is a businessman, it is not yet established whether he is honourable or not. (There are dishonourable businessmen and honourable doctors.) But this is not strictly correct! Proof: the word "but" in the following sentence is not to be understood ironically but in its simple sense: "He is a businessman, but dishonourable". What is important is to recognize the specific nature of morals in business.
c) First considerations and notes.
d) Observe, think, discuss.