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A Paradigm of Philosophy: The Adversary Method

  • Janice Moulton
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 161)

Abstract

It is frequently thought that there are attributes, or kinds of behavior, that it is good for one sex to have and bad for the other sex to have. Aggression is a particularly interesting example of such an attribute. This paper investigates and criticizes a model of philosophic methodology that accepts a positive view of aggressive behavior and uses it as a paradigm of philosophic reasoning. But before I turn to this paradigm, I want to challenge the broader view of aggression that permits it positive connotations.

Keywords

Moral Reasoning Scientific Reasoning Positive Concept Philosophic Reasoning Philosophical Belief 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    From Ann Ferguson, ‘Androgyny as an Ideal for Human Development’, in Feminism and Philosophy, eds. M. Vetterling-Braggin, F. Elliston and J. English (Totowa, New Jersey: Littlefield, Adams and Co., 1977), p. 47.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Robin Lakoff, Language and Woman’s Place (New York: Harper and Row, 1975).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Sir Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (New York: Harper and Row, 1958.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd edition (University of Chicago Press, 1962).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    It may be that the Adversary Method is only part of the larger paradigm that distinguishes reason from emotion, and segregates philosophy from literature, aligning it with science (dichotomies that Martha Nussbaum [Philosophy and Literature 1, 1978] attributes to Plato). Believing that emotions ought not to affect reasoning, it may seem to follow that who one addresses and why, ought not to affect the reasoning either. I consciously employ the kinship philosophy claims with science in this paper, arguing that truths we have learned about scientific reasoning ought to hold for philosophic reasoning as well.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    T. Kuhn, in Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, ‘Reflections on My Critics’, ed. Imre Lakatos and Alan Musgrave (Cambridge University Press, 1970), 231–278.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    See the Meno, 75d-e.Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    See Richard Robinson, Plato’s Earlier Dialectic (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1953) for this view of Socrates’ style. I don’t mean to single out Robinson for what seems to be the usual interpretation of Socrates. Robinson, at least thought irony and insincerity objectionable. The term “irony” covers a variety of styles including feigned ignorance to upset an opponent, vicious sarcasm and good natured teasing. It is only the latter that would be justifiably attributed to Socrates from the evidence in the dialogues.Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    See Euthydemus 227d, 288d, 295d, where Socrates’ method is contrasted with Euthydemus’ jeering and belligerent style, and Meno 75c-d where Socrates contrasts the present friendly conversation with that of a disputatious and quarrelsome kind. Socrates disapproved of ridicule (Laches 1959, Gorgias 473d-e, Euthydemus 278d, and Protagorus 333e).Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    Socrates teases Polus to get him to change his style (Gorgias 461c-462a) and responds to Callicles’ insults with praise to get him to agree to a dialogue. Socrates flirts with Meno when he resists questioning (Meno, 76b-c) and draws out Lysis by getting him to laugh at his questions (Lysis, 207c and ff.).Google Scholar
  11. 13.
    Euthydemus 288b, 259d, 277d.Google Scholar
  12. 14.
    For example, Donald Davidson, ‘Truth and Meaning’ Synthese 17 (1967), 304–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 15.
    T. Kuhn, ‘Reflections on My Critics’, Alan Musgrave (Cambridge University Press, 1970) op. cit., p. 234. See Feyerabend, Watkins, etc. in that volume and Dudley Shapere’s review of Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in Philosophical Review. Google Scholar
  14. 16.
    For example, Alan Gewirth, Reason and Morality (Chicago University Press 1978).Google Scholar
  15. 17.
    See particularly Brian Medlin, ‘Ultimate Principles and Ethical Egoism’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 39 (1957), 111–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 18.
    See, for example, Ludwig Wittgenstein Zettel 12.9.16 “Now it is becoming clear why I thought that thinking and language were the same. For thinking is a kind of language.”Google Scholar
  17. 20.
    See John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1971), p. 191, where he says: “Nothing would have been gained by attributing benevolence to the parties in the original position” rather than egoism because there would be some disagreements even with benevolence. But surely the reasoning needed for people who care about others will be different than for people who do not care about others at all.Google Scholar
  18. 21.
    Judith Jarvis Thomson, ‘A Defense of Abortion,’ Philosophy and Public Affairs 1, no. 1, 1971.Google Scholar
  19. 22.
    Thomson, in general, makes it very clear that she is addressing an adversary. Nevertheless, she does claim to reach some conclusion about the morality of abortion, although the central issues for people making the decision are barely discussed — the consequences. See her section 8.Google Scholar
  20. 23.
    Lindley Darden and Nancy Maull, ‘Interfield Theories’, Philosophy of Science 44 (1977), 43–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janice Moulton
    • 1
  1. 1.Smith CollegeUSA

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