Théorie politique

H19(a) - Consciousness, Knowledge, and Psychology

Date: Jun 14 | Heure: 01:45pm to 03:15pm | Salle:

Chair/Président/Présidente : Matthew McManus (University of Michigan)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Yann Allard-Tremblay (McGill University)

The Sprouts of Benevolence in Comparative Perspective: Liberalism, Confucianism, and Moral Psychology: Lincoln Rathnam (Duke Kunshan University)
Abstract: While the disagreements between the liberal and Confucian traditions have been some of the most frequently explored topics in comparative political theory, how and even whether one can move past them remains unclear. On the other hand, recent work on moral psychology has found considerable similarities in the accounts of the affective basis for the moral life across these traditions, particularly with regard to the ideas of Adam Smith and David Hume, on the liberal side, and Confucius (Kongzi) and Mencius (Mengzi), on the Confucian one (Liu 2003; Mower 2016; Cary and Vitz 2020). In this paper, I argue that we are better able to assess the prospects for a productive dialogue between Confucianism and liberalism if we use their partially overlapping views in moral psychology as a starting point. I take the works of Mengzi and David Hume as my primary subject. I contend that, while the thinkers in question agree that the moral basis for human society is the cultivation of our capacity for sympathetic concern for other human beings, they disagree regarding the way in which this cultivation ought to take place. While Mencius and Hume both urge us to extend our sympathies outward, Hume urges us to do this through a theoretical understanding of economics and political science. On this basis, I argue that the disagreement between Confucianism and liberalism is best understood not as a matter of pure value conflict, but also as a consequence of divergent empirical views.

Putting Political Theory On the Hook: Philosophers as Listeners and Knowledge Producers: Kaitie Jourdeuil (Queen's University)
Abstract: In a series of recent articles, political theorist Emily Beausoleil (2019; 2020a; 2020b; 2021) has developed a theoretical framework that uses listening as a ‘martial art’ that can help privileged individuals (specifically, settlers) respond to structural injustice. Listening, she argues, is an active practice of continual negotiation through which dominant views can be heard without being centred and normalised (Beausoleil, 2020b). This article applies Beausoleil’s framework to liberal political theory. I argue that liberal theorists, as structurally-privileged knowledge producers, must centre their responsibilities as listeners in their normative work. This has two dimensions (a) reflecting on the consequences of their normative arguments for real-world actors and (b) responding to the demands of marginalized thinkers. I illustrate this argument through critical analysis of an ongoing debate about the wrongs associated with colonialism (Moore 2019; Nine 2020; Valentini 2015; Weltman 2020; Ypi 2013). I suggest that the potential normative contributions of this debate are outweighed by the detrimental consequences of these arguments for those currently resisting settler colonialism. By focusing on what ought to have happened at the moment of settler-Indigenous contact, the debate reifies dominant settler narratives of colonialism as ‘in the past’; likewise allowing that colonialism may be morally permissible in some abstract cases can normalise settler denialism. Understanding ourselves as listeners, I suggest, can reorient this debate to respond to calls of Indigenous scholars and activists for decolonization, and call other liberal theorists into a broader conversation on how our discipline replicates and sustains structural injustices and colonial attitudes.