John Deweys pragmatism is based on the notion that we can do without the kind of a priori conditions which we can find, for instance in Kant. Such conditions, however, do a job. They enable us to distinguish between experience here and now and experience as such. If we are to do without such conditions, Dewey therefore argues, there must be some way of «reconstructing» these distinctions so that they can be upheld within an empirical framework. In this article I discuss whether this kind of reconstruction is possible by way of focusing on Dewey’s ethics. The conclusion is that it is not possible, since the autonomy of the subject only can be upheld in distinction to an empirical approach to the self.
Philosophical counselling originated in Germany in the early 1980s and is now available in most Western countries as a commercial service to ‘guests’ seeking a deeper insight on personal or world matters. The philosophical counselling movement distances itself from established health professions like psychotherapy or psychiatry and often directs criticism against them for reducing existential and moral questions to a matter of health and sickness. However, by relating philosophical counselling to the present «therapeutic culture» I argue that the movement share many traits with more overt forms of therapy. Despite that philosophical counsellors do not prescribe antidepressants or set psychiatric diagnosis, they are still therapeutic agents in a self-absorbed «makeover culture» and might also become an inadvertent remedy for its enhancement and reinforcement. Philosophical counselling is currently a peripheral institution with limited influence upon society, but is in need of a socio-historic revision of its current status as much as the health professions it sets out to criticise.
To base a view of life on scientific foundations imply fundamental problems. Some of these will be discussed in this article, where developments of a naturalistic or objectivistic psychology are sketched to show some of the background of behaviorism an psychoanalysis, which serve as examples of how fundamental problems arise if one tries to give one’s view of life a scientific base. As my point of departure I use the famous article «Deltakar og tilskodar» («Participand and spectator») by the late Norwegian philosopher Hans Skjervheim.
It is argued that Schelling offers a perspective on evildoing that avoids reducing such actions to mere consequences of an irrational pathology in mind or society. By offering an alternative way of understanding evil within a modern paradigm, Schelling continues as well as challenges Kant’s theory of radical evil. Both thinkers agree that we are free to choose evil actions, but they go separate ways in explaining this. Since Kant defines self-determination in terms of adhering to the commands of reason, there are limits as to how far he can let nature determine our actions without undermining human freedom. Contrary to this, Schelling views us as harbouring destructive forces that can take charge of our rational faculties from within. Whereas Kant claims that evildoing is the result of a weakness in our use of reason, Schelling insists that reason itself can become a vehicle for evil. But he does not think that our notions of freedom and responsibility therefore must be under threat. On the contrary, he sees evil as an expression of individual freedom. Posing this challenge to modern conceptions of subjectivity, Schelling opens the path for a reconsideration of Kant’s resolute denial of so-called devilish evil.
The American philosopher Martha Nussbaum criticizes John Rawls theory of justice, Justice as fairness, for not answering well enough to challenges related to disability as human condition. People have various abilities and impairments throughout their lives and some people live with impairments in their entire life. In her theory of justice, The capabilities approach, disability as human condition is integrated and Nussbaum argues that a just society should enable citizens to live lives that are worthy of human dignity. By including disability, and discussing what this entail for her theory, Nussbaum focuses on a topic of ethical importance; the right for all people to live in the world. Her theory is, highly relevant in discussing what people should be entitled to do and be, linked to a conception of disability as a relation between individuals and their social, political, cultural and material environments. The capabilities approach is a valuable contribution to a discussion on citizenship and rights, by seriously integrating a disability perspective. The capabilities approach risks to fall short, however, in terms of inclusion, if interpreted as a normative definition of who should belong to humanity.