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discursive moments

  future pasts: an epilog about postponing
gary e. davis
January 26, 2019
In complement to a journalistic backdrop to being in Time, discursive work can endlessly serve progressive practice—discursively being in Time—which has been a vital aspect of my interests for decades. So, I included among “discursive moments,” for this January, topics that honor my past obsessions which are also important for future Areas of The Project. But I’m postponing substantial attention to that.


Normally, virtues of epistemic confidence are associated with scientific practice. But what’s a practice for? I think that epistemology is best understood relative to thinking about high importances (“value theory”), thus humanistic interest in progressive practice.

So, what is Knowing full well importantly? What backgrounds reliable performance which matters—that can be exemplary and admirable?

educational policy

Good* policies keep goodH ideals alive by facilitating good_ lives and goodG society. Public policy should be prevalently educational, i.e., aiming to serve the Point of humanity: enabling, sustaining, and advancing “good” across generations.

Relative to this and my previous short discussions here (January), philosophy of education can be formulated as a good* continuum of sophisticating care, from idealizing wholly flourishive life to ecologically flourishive humanity.

Along that continuum (given comprehensive detail), degree of quality of life is criteriologically assessable for progressive public policy.

health care and bioethics

I regard heath care professions as sacred callings.

I’ve spent many years close to that. It leaves me with so much to share that I’m going to say nothing more now than past expressions.

philosophy of law and jurisprudence

“Law” is obviously a very nebulous notion. M-W Unabridged shows eight non-obsolute definitions comprising 19 subdefinitions (some with sub-sub-definitions). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has many articles on law, but no one article titled “philosophy of law.” “The Nature of Law” seems closest. Also, there is “The Rule of Law,””The Limits of Law,” and more.

For brief discussion here, I’ll stipulate that law is instituted normativity, usually with defined provisions for action or sanctions for violation. I’m not going to pretend to capture a comprehensive sense here.

But every sense presumes an answer to a question like “What is the purpose of the [proposed or given] law?” My interest is enablative (or progressive): Given goods—sense of good_ life or goodG society—are served by projects, policies, and laws. Law is a mode of actualizing goods (defending goods, etc.).

We primarily desire a flourishing life. Educational and health care law facilitates that.

We want ecological homeostasis. Regulative law serves that.

Dividing law into six types is useful:
  • regulative: ensuring fairness or systems efficiency. A traffic code seems paradigmatic.
  • enablative: facilitating, building, advancing, remediating, and correcting
  • defensive: protective
  • interventional: entitling, adversarial, litigational
  • prohibitive: policing
  • permissive: licensing
A practical point here is that analysis of law involves distinctions in kind that are sometimes missing, due to stipulated constraint on interest. Jürgen Habermas often seems to reduce concerns of law to regulative interests, for good reason: ensuring justice. Is justice a virtue? Michael Slote believes so. But Habermas vests justice in a “moral universalism” appropriated through parliamentary process, which is good for founding governments (e.g., unified Germany, EU constitutionality). His “discourse ethic” is especially appropriate inasmuch as one is compelled to seek generalized constraint. But usually, that’s not what we’re seeking with norms for our lives and interpersonal interaction.

What is the basis for stipuating that justice matters? Justice matters! But why expect that “seeking justice” is an appealing reason for action? Seeking justice may be compelling due to sanctions for disrespect; but what is the appeal which ensures justice without formal intervention?

I have no difficulty addressing that. My intent is just to associate normative validity with values that motivate assent (a black box for Habermas, apparently) or interest which is necessary for a proposed regulative to become normative.

Evolving society needs flexibility toward law, which is contrary to “Originalism” in constitutionality. The claim to validity of legislation, governance, and judical process is only as goodG as the society it serves, which can’t be instituted by law, just served by law: goodG society belongs to those who value well, thus support and respect due process and the various kinds of norms that result and pertain.

I find that “moral universalism” is blind to distinctions in kinds of law. My close examination years ago of Habermas’s distinction between “ethical life” and “morality” (not online in good form yet: posting 1 (and Sept. 1997 discussion context), posting 2 (and Oct. 1997 discussion context), posting 3) showed that there was nothing more to morality (apart from ethical life) than interest in valid law and pragmatics of systems pertaining to valid law. In other words, morality (regarded as distinct from ethics) is pre-law. Morality is ethical pragmatism aiming to have the merit of valid law (or presuming law-likeness or lawfulness through imperatives).

Several other topics were to be pursed later
religion in civic space: Habermas’s notion of “public sphere” is outdated, but his concern about the place of religious entitlement in civic space remains important—and has been a large-scale interest of his elder years.

evolving as such: The notion is pervasive and important for my project, but I haven’t drawn together all of my reliances on re-definition of the notion, to dwell with my conceptuality and others’ conceptuality across bioscience, humanities, and human sciences.

partnering with Habermas: My extensive engagement with his work has always implicitly expressed a sense of identity-in-differentiation with his thinking.

I regard that as almost paradigmatic for my sense of conceptual inquiry (which is beyond “the Critical Spirit” of 20th century social criticism). But I haven’t focused on partnering-in-conceptual-inquiry as such. I’ll continue to display that with readings of others, but I also want to work further with Habermas’s texts (especially most-recent years) for the sake of advancing a shared path of thinking.
In coming years, many topics will be added to “discursive moments.” The entire January set of discussions is just more preface to endless enjoyments.


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  Be fair. © 2019, gary e. davis