Francis Fukuyama

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Francis Fukuyama
Francis Fukuyama 1.jpg
Born October 27, 1952 (1952-10-27) (age 57)
Chicago, Illinois
Education B.A. in classics from Cornell University; Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University
Occupation Professor, philosopher, author
Family father, Yoshio Fukuyama
mother, Toshiko Kawata Fukuyama
Ethnicity Japanese-American
Notable credit(s) Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy and Director of the International Development Program at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University; author of several books.

Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama (born 27 October 1952) is an American philosopher, political economist, and author.



Early life

Francis Fukuyama was born in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. His father, Yoshio Fukuyama, a second-generation Japanese-American, was trained as a minister in the Congregational Church and received a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago. His mother, Toshiko Kawata Fukuyama, was born in Kyoto, Japan, and was the daughter of Shiro Kawata, founder of the Economics Department of Kyoto University and first president of Osaka City University in Osaka. Fukuyama's childhood years were spent in New York City. In 1967 his family moved to State College, Pennsylvania, where he attended high school.


Fukuyama received his Bachelor of Arts degree in classics from Cornell University, where he studied political philosophy under Allan Bloom. He earned his Ph.D. in government from Harvard University, studying with Samuel P. Huntington and Harvey C. Mansfield, among others. Fukuyama has been affiliated with the Telluride Association since his undergraduate years at Cornell, an educational enterprise that was home to other significant leaders and intellectuals, including Steven Weinberg, Paul Wolfowitz and Kathleen Sullivan.

Fukuyama is currently the Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy and Director of the International Development Program at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University, located in Washington, DC.


Fukuyama is best known as the author of The End of History and the Last Man, in which he argued that the progression of human history as a struggle between ideologies is largely at an end, with the world settling on liberal democracy after the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Fukuyama predicted the eventual global triumph of political and economic liberalism:

What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such... That is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.

He has written a number of other books, among them Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity and Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution. In the latter, he qualified his original 'end of history' thesis, arguing that since biotechnology increasingly allows humans to control their own evolution, it may allow humans to alter human nature, thereby putting liberal democracy at risk. One possible outcome could be that an altered human nature could end in radical inequality. He is a fierce enemy of transhumanism, an intellectual movement asserting that posthumanity is a desirable goal.

In another work The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstruction of Social Order, he explores the origins of social norms, and analyses the current disruptions in the fabric of our moral traditions, which he considers as arising from a shift from the manufacturing to the information age. This shift is, he thinks, normal and will prove self-correcting, given the intrinsic human need for social norms and rules.

In 2008 he published the book Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap Between Latin America and the United States, which resulted from research and a conference funded by Grupo Mayan to gain understanding on why Latin America, once far wealthier than North America, fell behind in terms of development in only a matter of centuries. Discussing this book at a 2009 conference, Fukuyama outlined his belief that inequality within Latin American nations is a key impediment to growth. An unequal distribution of wealth, he stated, leads to social upheaval which in turn results in stunted growth.[1]


As a key Reagan Administration contributor to the formulation of the Reagan Doctrine, Fukuyama is an important figure in the rise of neoconservatism. He was active in the Project for the New American Century think tank starting in 1997, and as a member co-signed the organization's letter recommending that President Bill Clinton support Iraqi insurgencies in the overthrow of then-President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein.[2] He was also among forty co-signers of William Kristol's September 20, 2001 letter to President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks that suggested the U.S. "capture or kill Osama bin Laden, and to destroy his network of associates', and 'provide full military and financial support to the Iraqi opposition" for the purpose of removing Saddam Hussein from power "even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack."[3]

In an article published by Fukuyama in The New York Times in February 2006, Fukuyama discussed the situation with the war in Iraq, stating: "What American foreign policy needs is not a return to a narrow and cynical realism, but rather the formulation of a "realistic Wilsonianism" that better matches means to ends."[4] In regard to neoconservatism he went on to say: "What is needed now are new ideas, neither neoconservative nor realist, for how America is to relate to the rest of the world — ideas that retain the neoconservative belief in the universality of human rights, but without its illusions about the efficacy of American power and hegemony to bring these ends about."[4]

Fukuyama's current views

Beginning in 2002 however, he has distanced himself from the neoconservative agenda under the Bush Administration, citing its overly militaristic basis and embrace of unilateral armed intervention, particularly in the Middle East. By late 2003, Fukuyama had voiced his growing opposition to the Iraq War[5] and called for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation as Secretary of Defense.[6] He said that he would vote against Bush in the 2004 election,[7] and that the Bush administration had made three major mistakes:

Fukuyama's current beliefs include:

Just as every other country does, the US has a right to promote its own values in the world, but more along the lines of what he calls realistic Wilsonianism, with military intervention only as a last resort and only in addition to other measures. A latent military force is more likely to have an effect than actual deployment. The US spends more on its military than the rest of the world put together, but Iraq shows there are limits to its effectiveness. The US should instead stimulate political and economic development and gain a better understanding of what happens in other countries. The best instruments are setting a good example and providing education and, in many cases, money. The secret of development, be it political or economic, is that it never comes from outsiders, but always from people in the country itself. One thing the US proved to have excelled in during the aftermath of World War II was the formation of international institutions. A return to support for these structures would combine American power with international legitimacy. But such measures require a lot of patience. This is the central thesis of his most recent work America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy (2006).

In an essay in the New York Times Magazine in 2006 that was strongly critical of the invasion,[8] he identified neoconservatism with Leninism. He wrote that neoconservatives:

…believed that history can be pushed along with the right application of power and will. Leninism was a tragedy in its Bolshevik version, and it has returned as farce when practiced by the United States. Neoconservatism, as both a political symbol and a body of thought, has evolved into something I can no longer support.

His previous comments on militarism, for instance, that "[i]t is precisely because American foreign policy is infused with an unusually high degree of morality that other nations find they have less to fear from its otherwise daunting power," are an expression of "Wilsonianism" with a realistic touch.[citation needed] He also announced the end of the neoconservative moment and argued for the demilitarization of the War on Terrorism:

[W]ar is the wrong metaphor for the broader struggle, since wars are fought at full intensity and have clear beginnings and endings. Meeting the jihadist challenge is more of a "long, twilight struggle" whose core is not a military campaign but a political contest for the hearts and minds of ordinary Muslims around the world.

If he has distanced himself from the label of neoconservatism, he nonetheless remains indebted to the thought of Leo Strauss, one of the founding intellectual fathers of neoconservatism, for much of the theoretical basis of his ideas on political economy. In his essay "Our Posthuman Future," he adopts a Straussian perspective in his defence of the classical doctrine of natural right. He says his argument is Aristotelian and that "Aristotle argued, in effect, that human notions of right and wrong–what we today call human rights–were ultimately based on Human nature" (p. 12).[citation needed]

Regarding the recent financial crisis, Fukuyama supports supervision of this economic sector[9]: "Financial institutions need strong supervision, but it isn't clear that other sectors of the economy do."

Fukuyama endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 US presidential election. He states:

"I’m voting for Barack Obama this November for a very simple reason. It is hard to imagine a more disastrous presidency than that of George W. Bush. It was bad enough that he launched an unnecessary war and undermined the standing of the United States throughout the world in his first term. But in the waning days of his administration, he is presiding over a collapse of the American financial system and broader economy that will have consequences for years to come. As a general rule, democracies don’t work well if voters do not hold political parties accountable for failure. While John McCain is trying desperately to pretend that he never had anything to do with the Republican Party, I think it would be a travesty to reward the Republicans for failure on such a grand scale."[10]


Personal life

Fukuyama is also a part-time photographer and has a keen interest in early-American furniture

Fukuyama is married to Laura Holmgren. (He dedicated his book Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity to her.) They live in suburban Washington, D.C., with their three children, Julia, David, and John.

Selected bibliography



See also


  1. ^ Ryan Weddle (2009-02-18). "Fukuyama: 'Social Agenda' Needed to Combat Poverty in Latin America". Devex. Retrieved 2009-02-19. 
  2. ^ Abrams, Elliott, et al. (1998-01-26). "Letter to President Clinton on Iraq" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2005-10-09. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  3. ^ "Letter to President Bush on the War on Terrorism". Project for the New American Century. Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  4. ^ a b "After Neoconservatism". New York Times. 19-02-2006. 
  5. ^ Francis Fukuyama (2004-06-01). "The Neoconservative Moment". The National Interest. Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  6. ^ "Fukuyama Withdraws Bush Support". Today's Zaman. 2004-07-14. Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  7. ^ Andrew Billen (2004-07-14). "Why I won't vote for George Bush". Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  8. ^ Francis Fukuyama (2006-02-19). "After Neoconservatism". New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  9. ^ Francis Fukuyama (2008-10-04). "The Fall of America, Inc.". Newsweek. Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  10. ^ Francis Fukuyama (2008-11-03). "Francis Fukuyama". The American Conservative. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  11. ^ "Defense Fund Raises Money in Libby Case". New York Times. 2006-02-03. Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  12. ^ The End of History, and Back Again, The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved on 2008-05-27.
  13. ^ Pyle Center for Northeast Asian Studies, the National Bureau of Asian Research.

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A. C. Grayling

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A. C. Grayling.

Anthony Clifford Grayling, FRSA, FRSL (born 3 April 1949) is a British philosopher and author. He is Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London and a supernumerary fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford. He has an MA and a DPhil from Oxford, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Arts.




Grayling was born in Luanshya, Zambia and spent his formative years in the British expatriate community of East Africa. His first exposure to philosophical writing was at the age of twelve when he read an English translation of Plato's Charmides dialogue. At fourteen he read G. H. Lewes's Biographical History of Philosophy. This work was instrumental in confirming his ambition to study philosophy. Grayling later remarked on the text, "It superinduced order on the random reading that had preceded it, and settled my vocation."

After moving to England in his teens Grayling studied at Sussex University (while there he simultaneously studied for an undergraduate degree of the University of London as an external student), and Magdalen College, Oxford where he obtained his doctorate in 1981. The subject of his thesis was "Scepticism and Transcendental Arguments." This was supervised by the philosophers P. F. Strawson and A. J. Ayer. Grayling lectured in philosophy at St Anne’s College, Oxford before taking up a post at Birkbeck, University of London in 1991, where he subsequently became Reader in Philosophy (1998), and then Professor of Philosophy (2005)[1]. Grayling is also a director of and regular contributor to Prospect Magazine. He married Gabrielle Yvonne in 1970 and his partner is now Katie Hickman.[1]

Philosophical work

Grayling’s main areas of interest in technical philosophy lie at the intersection of theory of knowledge, metaphysics, and philosophical logic. He brings these subjects together in an attempt to define the relationship between mind and world, and in so doing he is among other things challenging philosophical scepticism. His arguments are elucidated in a number of publications, including The Refutation of Scepticism (1985), Berkeley: The Central Arguments (1986), Wittgenstein (1988), Russell (1996), Truth Meaning and Realism (2007), Scepticism and the Possibility of Knowledge (2008). Grayling uses philosophical logic to counter the arguments of the sceptic, thereby shedding light on the traditional ideas of the realism debate and developing associated views on truth and meaning. His ideas are described in the later chapters of An Introduction to Philosophical Logic (1982, 3rd Ed 1998), and advanced in a series of papers including Epistemology and Realism (1991-2), and Independence and Transcendence: The Independence Thesis and Realism (1998). In these publications he puts forward the idea that we should consider realism as a primarily epistemological – rather than a metaphysical or a semantic – conception of the relations between mind and world. Grayling sees these questions about the relation of thought to its objects as among the deepest and most important in technical philosophy. He argues that different aspects of this relation figure in philosophical debate in different ways: as the relation of experience to its objects, as the relation of language to the world, and as the relation in general of mental states and acts to their objective targets (to what they 'intend'). Although these are by no means merely variant expressions for the same problematic nexus, he says, they denote closely related sides of it.

On the one hand there is the subject of experience – a discourser, where 'discourse' comprehends thought and talk – and on the other hand the world or domain over which discourse ranges. What is the relation between them, and how are the relata themselves to be understood? One sees, says Grayling, that much of the history of philosophy has consisted of attempts to answer this question and its variants. Metaphysics and the theories of knowledge and intentionality, reference and truth revolve upon it.

For this reason, Grayling argues, the importance of understanding the relations in question is great, for it determines the consequences for understanding some of the concepts most central to our thought, not least those of truth, objectivity and possibility. Consider the basic case, that of the relation of discourse to the physical world. If this is an external and contingent relation, then it is compelling to think in familiar terms about truth as correspondence of some kind between thoughts and independently existing facts, of the acquisition of knowledge as the (typically partial) discovery of the same kind of independently existing facts, and of objectivity as a strong notion qualifying whatever belongs to what exists independently of mind. But what if there were a case for saying that the crucial relation is not external in the way required for these familiar views? Manifestly, in Grayling's view, to get alternative understandings of them right if such are needed, it is even more important to be clear about the relation of discoursers and given discourses to the domains over which the latter range. This task requires the joint exploration and development of insights in epistemology, metaphysics and logic.

One of the pressure points in thought about the discursive relation is epistemological scepticism, which has been a continuing focus of Grayling's thought and writing in technical philosophy since undertaking doctoral research at Oxford on the subject under Strawson and Ayer. The problem of scepticism focuses special attention on the relation, and shows what is required for a richer understanding of both sides of the relation. In two books and a series of papers he argues that the problem of scepticism about perceptual knowledge can be addressed by uncovering the structure of the conceptual scheme which supports perceptual judgments, a structure that can be described as an inferential scaffolding in which conceptual commitments representable as propositions of increasingly greater generality serve as the premises (the more general ones standardly enthymematically suppressed), such that in tandem with descriptions of current data and certain ceteris paribus clauses they license deduction of particular propositions. The idea can be generalised from the perceptual case to all forms of ratiocination about domains, including the value and abstract entity domains: indeed in such cases the inferential structure of the scheme is more readily discernible. But in the central cases of science, mathematics and ethics, discussion of the inferential structure has to be couched in a concomitant understanding of the applied notions of reference and truth and of the ontology of which they and the knowledge-seeking endeavour are part. This is why epistemology, in Grayling's view, cannot be complete without metaphysics and philosophical logic.

Grayling has also been a significant contributor to philosophical pedagogy and scholarship through writing and editing, in the latter case most notably in connection with the two major volumes "Philosophy: A Guide Through the Subject" and "Philosophy: Further Through the Subject" published by Oxford University Press,widely used as text books, and as chief editor of the four-volume "Encyclopaedia of British Philosophy" (Continuum).

Public advocacy, humanism, human rights and civil liberties

For Grayling, work on technical problems of the foregoing kind is only one aspect of philosophy. Another aspect, one which has been at the centre of philosophy's place in history, has more immediate application to daily life: the questions of ethics, which revolve upon what Grayling calls the great Socratic question, 'How should one live?'. In pursuit of what he describes as 'contributing to the conversation society has with itself about possibilities for good lives in good societies' Grayling writes widely on contemporary issues, including war crimes, the legalisation of drugs, euthanasia, secularism, and human rights. He has articulated positions on humanist ethics and on the history and nature of concepts of liberty as applied in civic life. In support of his belief that the philosopher should engage in public debate, he brings these philosophical perspectives to issues of the day in his work as a writer and as a commentator on radio and television. Among his contributions to the discussion about religion in contemporary society he argues that there are three separable though naturally connected debates: (a) a metaphysical debate about what the universe contains; denying that it contains supernatural agencies of any kind makes him an atheist; (b) a debate about the basis of ethics; taking the world to be a natural realm of natural law requires that humanity thinks for itself about the right and the good, based on our best understanding of human nature and the human condition; this makes him a humanist; and (c) a debate about the place of religious movements and organisations in the public domain; as a secularist Grayling argues that these should see themselves as civil society organisations on a par with trades unions and other NGOs, with every right to exist and to have their say, but no greater right than any other self-constituted, self-selected interest group, the problem being that for historical reasons religions have a grossly inflated place in the public domain out of all proportion to the numbers of their adherents or their intrinsic merits, so that their voice and influence is amplified disproportionately: with the result that they can distort such matters as public policy (e.g. on abortion) and science research and education (e.g. stem cells, teaching of evolution). He argues that winning the metaphysical and ethical debates is already abating the problems associated with (c) in more advanced Western societies, even the US. He sees his own major contribution as being the promotion of understanding of humanist ethics deriving from the philosophical tradition.

Between 1999 and 2002 Grayling wrote a weekly column in The Guardian called "The Last Word", in which he turned his attention to a different topic every week. In these columns, which also formed the basis of a series of books for a general readership (commencing with The Meaning of Things in 2001), Grayling made the basics of philosophy available to the layman. He is a regular contributor to Guardian Unlimited's Comment is free group blog, and writes columns for Prospect magazine, The Dubliner magazine, the New Scientist, and the Barnes and Noble book review. He is accredited to the UN Council on Human Rights in Geneva by the International Humanist and Ethical Union, is a patron of the British Humanist Association, an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society, and is Patron of the British Armed Forces Humanist Association. He is involved with several educational and literacy charities. He is a Trustee of the London LIbrary, has been a board member of the Society of Authors, and in 2003 was a Booker Prize judge.

Grayling's book on the allied strategic air offensive in World War II Among the Dead Cities: Was the Allied Bombing of Civilians in WWII a Necessity or a Crime? (2006) was well-received as a contribution to the debate on the ethics of war. According to John Charmley in the Guardian it was "A provocative and readable study...that is the purpose of his book, to provoke our leaders, and those on whose behalf they purport to act, to ask how to wage war by methods short of barbarism".[2] His books on civil liberties and Enlightenment values have been politically influential, being read in (among other places) 10 Downing Street: see

A. C. Grayling was one of the contributors for writing the book, We Are One: A Celebration of Tribal Peoples, released in October 2009. [3] The book explores the culture of peoples around the world, portraying both its diversity and the threats it faces. Among other contributors, we can find several western writers, such as Laurens van der Post, Noam Chomsky, Claude Levi-Strauss; and also indigenous peoples, such as Davi Kopenawa Yanomami and Roy Sesana. The royalties from the sale of this book go to the indigenous rights organization, Survival International.

Positions held


  1. ^ a b Debrett's People of Today 2009 p 677
  2. ^ Methods of Barbarism
  3. ^ Survival International - We Are One


Reviews of Grayling's work

External links

Philosophical skepticism

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For a general discussion of skepticism, see Skepticism.

Philosophical skepticism (from Greek σκέψις - skepsis meaning "enquiry" - UK and traditional spelling, scepticism) is both a philosophical school of thought and a method that crosses disciplines and cultures. Many skeptics critically examine the meaning systems of their times, and this examination often results in a position of ambiguity or doubt.[1] This skepticism can range from disbelief in contemporary philosophical solutions, to agnosticism, to rejecting the reality of the external world. One kind of scientific skepticism refers to the critical analysis of claims lacking empirical evidence. We are all skeptical of some things, especially since doubt and opposition are not always clearly distinguished. Philosophical skepticism, however, is an old movement with many variations, and contrasts with the view that at least one thing is certain, but if by being certain we mean absolute or unconditional certainty, then it is doubtful if it is rational to claim to be certain about anything. Indeed, for Hellenistic philosophers claiming that at least one thing is certain makes one a dogmatist.



History of skepticism

Ancient Western Skepticism

The Western tradition of systematic skepticism goes back at least as far as Pyrrho of Elis. He was troubled by the disputes that could be found within all philosophical schools of his day. According to a later account of his life, he became overwhelmed by his inability to determine rationally which school was correct. Upon admitting this to himself, he finally achieved the inner peace that he had been seeking.

From a Stoic point of view, Pyrrho found peace by admitting to ignorance and seeming to abandon the criterion by which knowledge is gained. Pyrrho's ignorance was not the ignorance of children or farm animals: it was a knowledgeable ignorance, arrived at through the application of logical reasoning and exposition of its inadequacy. The school of thought developed primarily in opposition to what it saw as the dogmatism, or ultimately unfounded assertions of the Stoics; Pyrrhonists made distinctions between "being" and "appearing" and between the identity and the sensing of a phenomenon.

Pyrrho and his school were not actually "skeptics" in the later sense of the word. They had the goal of αταραξια (ataraxia - peace of mind), and pitted one dogmatic philosophy against the next to undermine belief in the whole philosophic enterprise. The idea was to produce in the student a state of aversion towards what the Pyrrhonists considered arbitrary and inconsequential babble. Since no one can observe or otherwise experience causation, external world (its "externality"), ultimate purpose of the universe or life, justice, divinity, soul, etc., they declared no need to believe in such things. The Pyrrhonists pointed out that, despite claims that such notions were necessary, some people "ignorant" of them get by just fine before learning about them. They further noted that science does not require belief and that faith in intelligible realities is different from pragmatic convention for the sake of experiment. For each intuitive notion (e.g. the existence of an external world), the Pyrrhonists cited a contrary opinion to negate it. They added that consensus indicates neither truth nor even probability. For example, the earth is round, and it would remain so even if everyone believed it were flat. Unless, of course, it is flat, and we all simply believe it is round.

The goal of this critique, which Pyrrho's followers realized would ultimately subvert even their own method, was to cultivate a distrust of all grand talk. They expected philosophy to collapse into itself. How far in this direction the Pyrrhonean commitment extended is a matter of debate. The Pyrrhonists confessed a belief in appearances, e.g. in hot and cold, grief and joy. It is impossible to deny, they admitted, that one seems to be in pain or seems to touch a piece of wood. Their world, thus, was completely phenomenological. An accomplished Pyrrhonist could, ideally, live as well as a dogmatist but with the added benefit of not worrying about truth and falsity, right and wrong, God's will, and so forth.

Later thinkers took up Pyrrho's approach and extended it into modern skepticism. In the process, a split appeared within the movement, never too large or well-liked among the literati to begin with. In the Academic skepticism of the New or Middle Academy, Arcesilaus (c. 315-241 B.C.E.) and Carneades (c. 213-129 B.C.E.) argued from Stoic premises that the Stoics were actually committed to denying the possibility of knowledge, but seemed to maintain nothing themselves, but Clitomachus, a student of Carneades, interpreted his teacher's philosophy as suggesting an early probabilistic account of knowledge. The Roman politician and philosopher, Cicero, also seems to have been a supporter of the probabilistic position attributed to the Middle Academy, even if the return to a more dogmatic orientation of that school was already beginning to take place.

In the centuries to come, the words Academician and Pyrrhonist would often be used to mean generally skeptic, often ignoring historical changes and distinctions between denial of knowledge and avoidance of belief, between degree of belief and absolute belief, and between possibility and probability.[citation needed]

Sextus Empiricus

Sextus Empiricus (c. C.E. 200), the main authority for Pyrrhonian skepticism, worked outside the Academy, which by his time had ceased to be a skeptical or probabilistic school, and argued in a different direction, incorporating aspects of empiricism into the basis for evaluating knowledge, but without the insistence on experience as the absolute standard of it. Sextus' empiricism was limited to the "absolute minimum" already mentioned — that there seem to be appearances. He developed this basic thought of Pyrrho's into lengthy arguments, most of them directed against Stoics and Epicureans, but also the Academic skeptics. The common anti-skeptical argument is that if one knows nothing, one cannot know that one knows nothing, and so may know something after all. It is worth noting that such argument only succeeds against the complete denial of the possibility of knowledge. Considering dogmatic the claims both to know and not to know, Sextus and his followers claimed neither. Instead, despite the apparent conflict with the goal of ataraxia, they claimed to continue searching for something that might be knowable.

Empiricus, as the most systematic and dogmatic author of the works by Helenistic sceptics which have survived, noted that there are at least ten modes of skepticism. These modes may be broken down into three categories: we may be skeptical of the subjective perceiver, of the objective world, and the relation between perceiver and the world.[1]

Subjectively, both the powers of the senses and of reasoning may vary across persons. And since knowledge is a product of one and/or the other, and since neither are reliable, knowledge would seem to be in trouble. For instance, a color-blind person sees the world quite differently from everyone else. Moreover, we cannot even give preference on the basis of the power of reason, i.e., by treating the rational animal as a carrier of greater knowledge than the irrational animal. For the irrational animal is still adept at navigating their environment, which presupposes the ability to know about some aspects of the environment.

Secondly, the personality of the individual might also have an impact on what they observe, since (it is argued) preferences are based on sense-impressions, differences in preferences can be attributed to differences in the way that people are affected by the object. (Empiricus:56)

Third, the perceptions of each individual sense seemingly have nothing in common with the other senses: i.e., the color "red" has little to do with the feeling of touching a red object. This is manifest when our senses "disagree" with each other: for example, a mirage presents certain visible features, but is not responsive to any other kind of sense. In that case, our other senses defeat the impressions of sight. But we may also be lacking enough powers of sense to understand the world in its entirety: if we had an extra sense, then we might know of things in a way that the present five senses are unable to advise us of. Given that our senses can be shown to be unreliable by appealing to other senses, and so our senses may be incomplete (relative to some more perfect sense that we lack), then it follows that all of our senses may be unreliable. (Empiricus:58)

Fourth, our circumstances when we do any perceiving may be either natural or unnatural, i.e., we may be either in a state of wakefulness or that of sleep. But it is entirely possible that things in the world really are exactly as they appear to be to those in unnatural states (i.e., if everything were an elaborate dream). (Empiricus:59)

We have reasons for doubt that are based on the relationship between objective "facts" and subjective experience. The positions, distances, and places of objects would seem to affect how they are perceived by the person: for instance, the portico may appear tapered when viewed from one end, but symmetrical when viewed at the other; and these features are different. Because they are different features, to believe the object has both properties at the same time is to believe it has two contradictory properties. Since this is absurd, we must suspend judgment about what properties it possesses. (Empiricus:63)

We may also observe that the things we perceive are, in a sense, polluted by experience. Any given perception—say, of a chair—will always be perceived within some context or other (i.e., next to a table, on a mat, etc.) Since this is the case, we can only speak of ideas as they occur in the context of the other things that are paired with it. We can never know of the true nature of the thing, but only how it appears to us in context. (Empiricus: 64)

Along the same lines, the skeptic may insist that all things are relative, by arguing that:

  1. Absolute appearances either differ from relative appearances, or they do not.
  2. If absolutes do not differ from relatives, then they are themselves relative.
  3. But if absolutes do differ from relatives, then they are relative, because all things that differ must differ from something; and to "differ" from something is to be relative to something. (Empiricus:67)

Finally, we have reason to disbelieve that we know anything by looking at problems in understanding the objects themselves. Things, when taken individually, may appear to be very different than when they are in mass quantities: for instance, the shavings of a goat's horn are white when taken alone, yet the horn intact is black.

Ancient Eastern Skepticism


Buddhist skepticism differs substantially from western philosophical skepticism in several ways: The world of sensory appearances as in Hinduism is often called "maya" and is considered an illusion, which is different from doubting that it exists or can represent something beyond itself. There are also levels of understanding which allow the real or true on one level to be unreal or false on a higher level. Where by comparison, logic was rarely compromised or rejected as fully by Hellenistic thinkers (even by Pyrrho or Zeno the Cynic who later became influenced by stoicism). On a behavioral or ethical level for Hindus and Buddhists there is a kind of logic about collecting karma and its relation to how or where we will be re-born on the famous Wheel of Karma. A major difference is that suffering is ultimately illusion in much Indian Buddhism while it is real and hard to eliminate in most Hindu understanding.

Jain Philosophy of Anekantavada and Syadavada

Anekāntavāda also known as the principle of relative pluralism, is one of the basic principles of Jainism. According to this, the truth or the reality is perceived differently from different points of view, and that no single point of view is the complete truth.[2][3] Jain doctrine states that, an object has infinite modes of existence and qualities and, as such, they cannot be completely perceived in all its aspects and manifestations, due to inherent limitations of the humans. Anekāntavāda is literally the doctrine of non-onesidedness or manifoldness; it is often translated as "non-absolutism". Syādvāda is the theory of conditioned predication which provides an expression to anekānta by recommending that epithet “Syād” be attached to every expression.[4] Syādvāda is not only an extension of Anekānta ontology, but a separate system of logic capable of standing on its own force. As reality is complex, no single proposition can express the nature of reality fully. Thus the term “syāt” should be prefixed before each proposition giving it a conditional point of view and thus removing any dogmatism in the statement. .[5] The seven propositions also known as saptabhangi are[6]:

  1. Syād-asti – “in some ways it is”,
  2. syād-nāsti - “in some ways it is not”,
  3. syād-asti-nāsti - “in some ways it is and it is not”,
  4. syād-asti-avaktavyaḥ - “in some ways it is and it is indescribable”,
  5. syād-nāsti-avaktavyaḥ - “in some ways it is not and it is indescribable”,
  6. syād-asti-nāsti-avaktavyaḥ - “in some ways it is, it is not and it is indescribable”,
  7. syād-avaktavyaḥ- “in some ways it is indescribable”

Each of these seven propositions examines the complex and multifaceted reality from a relative point of view of time, space, substance and mode. To ignore the complexity of the objects is to commit the fallacy of dogmatism.


In China, Wang Chong introduced a form of naturalism based on a rational critique of the superstition that was overtaking Confucianism and Daoism in the first century CE. His neo-Daoist philosophy was based on a secular, rational practice not unlike the scientific method.

Schools of philosophical skepticism

Philosophical skepticism begins with the claim that the skeptic currently does not have knowledge. Some adherents maintain that knowledge is, in theory, possible. It could be argued that Socrates held that view. He appears to have thought that if people continue to ask questions they might eventually come to have knowledge; but that they did not have it yet. Some skeptics have gone further and claimed that true knowledge is impossible, for example the Academic school in Ancient Greece well after the time of Carneades. A third skeptical approach would be neither to accept nor reject the possibility of knowledge.

Skepticism can be either about everything or about particular areas. A 'global' skeptic argues that he does not absolutely know anything to be either true or false. Academic global skepticism has great difficulty in supporting this claim while maintaining philosophical rigor, since it seems to require that nothing can be known — except for the knowledge that nothing can be known, though in its probabilistic form it can use and support the notion of weight of evidence. Thus, some probibilists avoid extreme skepticism by maintaining that they merely are 'reasonably certain' (or largely believe') some things are real or true. As for using probabilistic arguments to defend skepticism, in a sense this enlarges or increases scepticism, while the defence of empiricism by Empiricus weakens skepticism and strengthens dogmatism by alleging that sensory appearances are beyond doubt. Much later, Kant would re-define "dogmatism" to make indirect realism about the external world seem objectionable. While many Hellenists, outside of Empiricus, would maintain that everyone who is not sceptical about everything is a dogmatist, this position would seem too extreme for most later philosophers.

Nevertheless, A Pyrrhonian global skeptic labors under no such modern constraint, since he only alleged that he, personally, did not know anything and made no statement about the possibility of knowledge. Nor did Arcesilaus feel bound, since he merely corrected Plato's "I only know that I know nothing" by adding "I don't even know that", thus more fully rejecting dogmatism.

Local skeptics deny that people do or can have knowledge of a particular area. They may be skeptical about the possibility of one form of knowledge without doubting other forms. Different kinds of local skepticism may emerge, depending on the area. A person may doubt the truth value of different types of journalism, for example, depending on the types of media they trust.

In Islamic philosophy, skepticism was established by Al-Ghazali (1058-1111), known in the West as "Algazel", as part of the orthodox Ash'ari school of Islamic theology. It has been argued that René Descartes' ideas from Discourse on the Method may have been influenced by the work of Al-Ghazali, whose method of skepticism shares many similarities with Descartes' method.[7]

Epistemology and skepticism

Skepticism, as an epistomological argument, poses the question of whether knowledge, in the first place, is possible. Skeptics argue that the belief in something does not necessarily justify an assertion of knowledge of it. In this, skeptics oppose dogmatic foundationalism, such as Spinoza maintained which states that there have to be some basic positions that are self-justified or beyond justification, without reference to others. The skeptical response to this can take several approaches. First, claiming that "basic positions" must exist amounts to the logical fallacy of argument from ignorance combined with the slippery slope[citation needed].

Among other arguments, skeptics used Agrippa's Trilemma, named after Agrippa the Sceptic, to claim no certain belief could be achieved. Foundationalists have used the same trilemma as a justification for demanding the validity of basic beliefs.

This skeptical approach is rarely taken to its pyrrhonean extreme by most practitioners. Several modifications have arisen over the years, including the following[2]:

Fictionalism would not claim to have knowledge but will adhere to conclusions on some criterion such as utility, aesthetics, or other personal criteria without claiming that any conclusion is actually "true".

Philosophical fideism (as opposed to religious Fideism) would assert the truth of some proposition, but does so without asserting certainty.

Some forms of pragmatism would accept utility as a provisional guide to truth but not necessarily a universal decision-maker.

See also


  1. ^ On the ten modes, see Sextus Empiricus. Outlines of Skepticism I.35-164.
  2. ^ Dundas, Paul; John Hinnels ed. (2002). The Jains. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26606-8. 
  3. ^ Koller, John M. (July 2000). "Syadvada as the Epistemological Key to the Jaina Middle Way Metaphysics of Anekantavada". Philosophy East and West (Honululu) 50 (3): 400–7. doi:10.1353/pew.2000.0009. ISSN 00318221. Retrieved 2007-10-01. 
  4. ^ Chatterjea, Tara (2001). Knowledge and Freedom in Indian Philosophy. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. ISBN 739106929.  p. 77-87
  5. ^ Koller, John M. (July 2000). "Syādvāda as the epistemological key to the Jaina middle way metaphysics of Anekāntavāda". Philosophy East and West. (Honululu) 50 (3): 400–8. ISSN 00318221. Retrieved 2007-10-01. 
  6. ^ Grimes, John (1996). A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English. New York: SUNY Press. ISBN 0791430677.  p. 312
  7. ^ Najm, Sami M. (July-October 1966), "The Place and Function of Doubt in the Philosophies of Descartes and Al-Ghazali", Philosophy East and West 16 (3-4): 133–41, doi:10.2307/1397536 

Further reading

External links

James Tobin

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James Tobin
Neo-Keynesian economics
Birth March 5, 1918(1918-03-05)
Champaign, Illinois, USA
Death March 11, 2002 (aged 84)
New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Nationality  United States
Institution Yale University
Cowles Commission
Field Macroeconomics
Alma mater Harvard University
Influences Joseph Schumpeter
John Maynard Keynes
Influenced Paul Krugman
Ben Bernanke
Contributions Portfolio theory
Keynesian economics
Tobin's q
Tobit model
Awards John Bates Clark Medal (1955)
Nobel Prize in Economics (1981)
Information at IDEAS/RePEc

James Tobin (March 5, 1918 – March 11, 2002) was an American economist who in his lifetime, had served on the Council of Economic Advisors, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and had taught at Harvard and Yale Universities. He developed the ideas of Keynesian economics, and advocated government intervention to stabilize output and avoid recessions. His academic work included pioneering contributions to the study of investment, monetary and fiscal policy and financial markets. He also proposed an econometric model for censored endogenous variables, the well known "Tobit model". Tobin received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1981.

Outside of academia, Tobin was widely known for his suggestion of a tax on foreign exchange transactions, now known as the "Tobin tax". This was designed to reduce speculation in the international currency markets, which he saw as dangerous and unproductive. He suggested that the proceeds of the tax could be used to fund projects for the benefit of Third World countries, or to support the United Nations.




Early life

James Tobin[1] was born on March 5, 1918 in Champaign, Illinois. His parents were Louis Michael Tobin, (b.1899) a journalist working at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who fought in World War I, and Margaret Edgerton Tobin, (b.1893) a social worker. Tobin followed primary school at the University Laboratory High School of Urbana, Illinois, a laboratory school in the university's campus.

In 1935, on his father's advice, Tobin took the entrance exams for Harvard University. Despite no special preparation for the exams, he passed and was admitted with a national scholarship from the university. During his studies he first read Keynes' General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, published in 1936. Tobin graduated summa cum laude in 1939 with a thesis centered on a critical analysis of Keynes' mechanism for introducing equilibrium "involuntary" unemployment. His first published article, in 1941, was based on this senior's thesis.[2]

Tobin immediately started graduate studies, also at Harvard, earning his M.A. degree in 1940. Here he had among his professors Joseph Schumpeter, Alvin Hansen, Gottfried Haberler, Sumner Slichter, Seymour Harris, Edward Mason, Edward Chamberlin, and Wassily Leontief, while the graduate students included Paul Samuelson, Lloyd Metzler, John Kenneth Galbraith, Abram Bergson, Richard Musgrave and Richard M. Goodwin. In 1941, he interrupted graduate studies to work for the Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply and the War Production Board in Washington, D.C.. The next year, after the United States entered World War II, he enrolled in the US Navy, spending the war as an officer on a destroyer. At the end of the war he returned to Harvard and resumed studies, receiving his Ph.D. in 1947 with a thesis on the consumption function written under the supervision of Joseph Schumpeter.[3] In 1947 Tobin was elected a Junior Fellow of Harvard's Society of Fellows, which allowed him the freedom and funding to spend the next three years studying and doing research.

Academic activity and consultancy

In 1950 Tobin moved to Yale University, where he remained for the rest of his career. He joined the Cowles Foundation, which moved to Yale in 1955, also serving as its president between 1955-1961 and 1964-1965. His main research interest was to provide microfoundations to Keynesian economics, with a special focus on monetary economics. In 1957 he was appointed Sterling Professor at Yale.

Besides teaching and research, Tobin was also strongly involved in the public life, writing on current economic issues and serving as an economic expert and policy consultant. During 1961-62, he served as a member of John F. Kennedy's Council of Economic Advisors, under the chairman Walter Heller, then acted as a consultant between 1962-68. Here, in close collaboration with Arthur Okun, Robert Solow and Kenneth Arrow, he helped design the Keynesian economic policy implemented by the Kennedy administration. Tobin also served for several terms as a member of the Board of Governors of Federal Reserve System Academic Consultants and as a consultant of the US Treasury Department.[4]

Tobin was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal in 1955 and, in 1981, the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. He was a fellow of several professional associations, holding the position of president of the American Economic Association in 1971.

In 1972 Tobin, along with fellow Yale economics professor William Nordhaus, published Is Growth Obsolete?[5], an article that introduced the Measure of Economic Welfare as the first model for economic sustainability assessment.

In 1988 Tobin formally retired from Yale, but continued to deliver some lectures as Professor Emeritus and continued to write. He died on March 11, 2002, in New Haven, Connecticut.

Tobin was a trustee of the Economists for Peace and Security.[6]

Personal life

James Tobin married Elizabeth Fay Ringo, a former M.I.T. student of Paul Samuelson, on September 14, 1946. They had four children: Margaret Ringo (born in 1948), Louis Michael (born in 1951), Hugh Ringo (born in 1953) and Roger Gill (born in 1956). In late June, 2009, the family announced via a private email that Tobin's wife had died at the age of 90.


In August 2009 in a roundtable interview in Prospect magazine, Adair Turner supported the idea of new global taxes on financial transactions, warning that the “swollen” financial sector paying excessive salaries had grown too big for society. Lord Turner’s suggestion that a “Tobin tax” – named after James Tobin – should be considered for financial transactions made headlines around the world.


See also


  1. ^ Tobin, James. "Autobiography", published in Nobel Lectures. Economics 1981-1990, Editor Karl-Göran Mäler, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1992
  2. ^ Solow, Robert. (2004). "James Tobin", Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society vol. 148, no. 3
  3. ^ James Tobin, "James Tobin" in Lives of the Laureates, Seven Nobel Economists, Edited by William Breit and Roger W. Spencer, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England, 1986
  4. ^ James Tobin's CV at the Cowles Foundation's website
  5. ^ Nordhaus, W. and J. Tobin, 1972. Is growth obsolete?. Columbia University Press, New York.
  6. ^ Economists for Peace and Security History: James Tobin among founding Nobel laureates

External links

Prospect (magazine)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  (Redirected from Prospect Magazine)
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Not to be confused with The American Prospect.

Prospect May 2008 cover, featuring a caricature of Christopher Hitchens.
Editor David Goodhart
Categories Politics, world affairs, arts and culture
Frequency Monthly
Circulation 28,000 / month
Publisher David Hanger
First issue October 1995
Company Prospect Publishing
Country  United Kingdom
Language English
ISSN 1359-5024

Prospect is a monthly British general interest magazine, specialising in politics and current affairs. Frequent topics include British, European, and US politics, social issues, art, literature, cinema, science, the media, history, philosophy, and psychology. It features a mixture of essay-length analytic articles, first-person reportage, one-page columns, and shorter, quirkier items.

Notable features of the magazine include head-to-head debates between two writers with opposing views on a subject; roundtable discussions, in which a series of experts with varying views on a given topic meet for a discussion, an edited transcript of which is published in the magazine; and interviews with major political and cultural figures (recent examples include Orhan Pamuk, Paul Wolfowitz, and Craig Venter). Prospect has also attempted to revitalise the art of the short story in Britain, by publishing new fiction in every issue, and by organising and sponsoring the National Short Story prize, the biggest award in the world for a single story, which launched in 2004. The first award, of £15,000, went to James Lasdun in May 2005.

The magazine is broadly centre-left, but prizes independence over ideology and its articles and authors span the political spectrum. In recent years the magazine's editor, David Goodhart, has stirred controversy with a series of articles arguing that the increasing diversity of the United Kingdom may weaken the bonds of solidarity on which the welfare state depends. The debate fed into the broader discussions of "Britishness" that have become increasingly common in the public sphere.

Well-known contributors to Prospect include Linda Colley, AC Grayling, Gordon Brown, Wesley Clark, Michael Lind, Michael Ignatieff, Francis Fukuyama, John Keegan, Margaret Atwood, and JM Coetzee.

The magazine has an ABC circulation figure of 27,552 (2008).

Prospect received worldwide attention in October 2005 when it published its list of the world's top 100 public intellectuals, which included Noam Chomsky, Umberto Eco, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker and Christopher Hitchens. The magazine asked readers to vote for their top intellectual from the longlist; Chomsky was the eventual winner.

In August 2009 in a roundtable interview in Prospect magazine Adair Turner supported the idea of new global taxes on financial transactions, warning that a “swollen” financial sector paying excessive salaries has grown too big for society. Lord Turner’s suggestion that a “Tobin tax” – named after the economist James Tobin – should be considered for financial transactions reverberated around the world.




Prospect was launched in October 1995 by its present editor David Goodhart, then a senior correspondent for the Financial Times, and chairman Derek Coombs. Goodhart came up with the idea of producing an essay-based monthly general interest magazine—a form then unknown in Britain—while covering German reunification as Bonn correspondent for the FT.

Policy positions

The magazine tends to avoid a "line" on specific policy issues. It is broadly centre-left and pro-European, but perhaps its strongest leaning is "contrarian"—it devotes much space to articles debunking the "popular wisdom," on topics ranging from Japan's alleged economic crisis to the Mahdi army in Iraq.

Regular columns

Since the start of June 2007, the Prospect website has also featured "First Drafts," a blog with several updates daily from the editorial team on politics, arts and other eclectic diversions.