Standoffs and Demoralization

  • John Woods
Part of the Applied Logic Series book series (APLS, volume 32)


In the present chapter, I extend the analysis of standoffs to an examination of two important matters. One is the development of social policy in the absence of a substantive settlement of a standoff of high level. The other is the reaction of loser-groups created by the character assumed by such charges in social policy.


Substantive Settlement Government Corruption Jewish Question Maximum Rule Present Chapter 
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  1. 1.
    Again, at a gently intuitive level, a charge of pragmatic inconsistency echoes the familiar complaint against “not practising what you preach”. A deeper analysis reveals how surprisingly pernicious this breed of inconsistency actually is. See [Woods, 1993b], reprinted here as chapter 6.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    It is worth noting how structurally intractable a type-II situation is. It is natural to suppose that members of K would aspire to a condition in which their role as “losers” of the contention in question is reversed, with their opponents now bearing that mantle. On the substance of the issue they would be quite right, against by their own lights, so to aspire, but structurally speaking it is no improvement. The pattern of alienation would merely have shifted from K to those who disagree with K. Either way there would be a significant chunk of the larger society which, in its own judgement, would be pragmatically inconsistent and guilty of non-trivial wrongdoing.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    So we are recognizing that a normatively pluralistic society is not a matter of some people liking garlic and others hating the stuff, or of some people preferring to spend Saturday evenings at the Polish League’s weekly dances and others opting for a night at the opera. Pluralism is a social condition with normative bite only to the extent that significant groups are significantly alienated from the whole.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    The idea of what a society might “do” about a problem is, of course, a huge expository convenience. I shall leave this notion to function intuitively, beyond saying that as here applied it is the relevant totality of a society’s varied devices for forming public opinion and conforming public behaviour to it.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Difficulties with taking RR as a strict maximum rule are discussed in [Stingl, 2004] .Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Here again in Dewey: ... the severance of morals from human nature ends by driving morals inwards from the public open out-of-doors air and light of day in to the obscurities and privacies of an inner life. The significance of [the discussion of certain moral problems] is that it reflects precisely a separation of moral activity from nature and the public life of man [Dewey, 1976, p. 9] .Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    I sometimes think that at its most visceral Chomsky’s basic objection to the media is that it forwards and “legitimates” opinions which he abjures.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Britain is, largely honorifically, an exception, what with the establishment of its national Churches.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    There is a story about a Toronto tycoon, lately dead. Ruminating about his early life, he acknowledged that he had left school at the age of thirteen. “That was a terrible mistake,” he said. “I should have left at twelve”.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    I mean here single-issue politics transacted more or less privately, but always attached to the threat of ‘going public’. Of course these contentions are sometimes wages privately and publicly. So the contrast, as I have drawn it, between single issue politics and special interest politics is far from exact. It will do for present purposes however.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    These and related issues are discussed in great detail in [Woods, 2000b; Woods, 2004b; Woods, 2004a].Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Woods
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.The Abductive Systems GroupUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceKing’s CollegeLondonEngland
  3. 3.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of LethbridgeCanada

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