Thursday, August 27, 2009

Moving On

Well, first things first.  I heard back about my article.  And it's a good news/bad news kinda thing.  Good news: The reviewer thought it was interesting and didn't appear to have any criticisms of what I wrote.  Bad news:  The reviewer thought that it wasn't a good fit with the journal.  Kind news:  The reviewer did suggest two journals that he thought were more appropriate.  So, I have to figure out which of these two I want to try first and then send it along to them.

In terms of ego, good news.  In terms of wanting to be done with this and move on, less good news.  But, overall good.

Second, I'm reading through Raz' The Morality of Freedom.  Wow.  It's a really good book but dense.  Very dense.

I only skimmed the first part of the book that has to do with the setting up of the problem (political authority and what limits it, theoretically) and plunged directly into his conception of rights and then will move onto his discussion of autonomy (my primary reason for reading this) and then well-being.  I've given myself 3 weeks (which is now more like 2 1/2) to decide whether this idea about autonomy as a skill is one worth pursuing in an article and, in that vein, am not reading Raz as carefully as I would need to if I knew I was going to have to be proficient with his ideas.  I'm just going for a general grasp, enough to know if I should go back later for a deeper understanding.

 His conception of rights is an interesting one.  Basing the idea of being a right-holder on (a) having benefits and (b) having well-being that is intrinsically valuable.  He thinks that the inclusion of (b) makes his view compatible with those like Hart & Wellman who focus on a choice (as opposed to beneficiary) view of rights.  Raz thinks that his concept of rights is, basically, neutral in terms of particular theory -- I'm not entirely sure he's correct on this point.  Not that I have reason to disbelieve, but it's the sort of claim that I am hesitant to believe without really doing some hard-core grappling with his ideas.  But said grappling will have to wait.

One of the things that I like about Raz is that he's a good ol' fashioned analytic philosopher by which I mean that he consistently is elucidating and making distinctions where distinctions haven't previously been made but which also tend to evaporate some disagreements.  However, these distinctions take some time to fully grasp.  (Hmmm, having a very Jacob wrestling with the angel morning with all these wrestling metaphors).  One is his distinction between being intrinsically valuable and being ultimately valuable.   I'm pretty sure that these descriptors refer to interests (as opposed to well-being which he's very clear to note has to be intrinsically valuable).  Intrinsically valuable interests are less value than those that are ultimately valuable -- ultimately valuable are a subset within the intrinsically valuable.  He also has referred to, and will be discussing later, different ways that something can be intrinsically valuable.

So, dense stuff.  Good stuff.  Wishing I was i grad school taking a class either about this guy or, better, with this guy.

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