Analyzing Social Wrongs - Workshop on Social Criticism in Analytic Philosophy

May 14, 2015 - May 16, 2015
Institute for Science and Art

Berggasse 17/1
Vienna 1090

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  • Department of Philosophy, University of Vienna

Keynote speakers:

Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman
University College London
Kristie Dotson
Michigan State University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Hilkje Hänel
Humboldt University of Berlin
Daniel James
Humboldt University of Berlin
University of Vienna

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How can we use philosophical analysis to criticize society or its structures? At first sight, it may not be clear whether the family of philosophical traditions commonly referred to as “analytic” philosophy is up to that task, given that, for example, the method of cases is supposed to achieve a reflective equilibrium of our theoretical commitments and our intuitions, whether of ‘the’ folk or experts. However, the very task of critical theory, as coined by Max Horkheimer, is to question what we accept as ‘given’, and our intuitions about the social world would seem to be a case in point. Yet, Horkheimer also argues that critical theory must live up to the academic standards of its time, which are—for better or worse—currently set by analytic philosophy, given its current hegemony within professional philosophy in the Western world. With these tentative observations in mind, it remains yet an open question how exactly to relate the methodological canon handed down by the different strands within analytic philosophy to the project of social critique.

In the last thirty years however, an increasing number of philosophers associated with different traditions of analytic philosophy—be it amongst analytic Marxists, feminists or philosophers of race—has devoted their work to addressing issues more commonly associated with “critical” theory, broadly speaking. Among such issues are the nature of oppression, the impact and relevance of social structures, the explanation of ideology and its critique, to name a few. These developments present a challenge of the widely held assumption that philosophical analysis and social criticism are, if at all, merely accidentally related to each other. What is more, in claiming that some members of the Vienna Circle, out of whose work much of contemporary analytic philosophy developed, took their way of doing philosophy to be a means for bringing about social change, some scholars of the history of analytic philosophy have suggested that this philosophical tradition was in fact first devised as a “critical” project. We are sympathetic towards this view and, in this workshop, wish to explore the ways in which philosophical analysis could—and should—be used to this very end.

We welcome researchers in all career stages as well as colleagues working in the social sciences.

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April 13, 2015, 7:45am CET

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Custom tags:

#Critical Theory, #Analytic Philosophy