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Joint Şehir University/Boğaziçi University Conference on: Modern Pluralism and the Clash of Values: Kant, Max Weber, and Carl Schmitt, and the Impossibility of a Rational Grounding of Values

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Modern Pluralism and the Clash of Values: Kant, Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, and the Impossibility of a Rational Grounding of Values


June 11th and 12th, 2018 at Boğaziçi University


Convenors: Manuel Knoll (Şehir), Enes Güran (Boğaziçi), Lucas Thorpe (Boğaziçi)


Monday 11th June  (John Freely Hall, JF507)

10:00-10:30 Opening speech by Manuel Knoll, Professor of Philosophy at İstanbul Şehir University.

10:30-11:30Between Tolerance and Universality”, Jovan Babić (Belgrade).

Break: 11:30-11:45

11:45-12:45 “When Angels Go to War: Kant on Pluralism and Moral Conflict”, Lucas Thorpe (Boğaziçi).

12:45-14:15 Lunch

14:30-15:30: Cosmopolitanism without Commensurability: Why Incommensurable Values are Worthless”, Kenneth R. Westphal (Boğaziçi).

Break: 15:30-15:45

15:45-16:45 “Habermas and Max Weber: About the Legitimation of Public Norms”, Gilles Marmasse (Poitiers).

Break: 16:45-17:15

17:15-18:15 The Impossibility of a Rational Grounding of Values and Normative Theories: Max Weber on the Clash of Approaches to Ethics”, Manuel Knoll (Şehir).

19:00 Dinner at Hisarüstü, Bakar Meyhane


Tuesday 12th June (John Freely Hall, JF507)

10:00-11:00 The Ethics of World Religions: Weber’s Eurocentric Perspective on the Problem of Salvation, Lütfi Sunar (Istanbul Medeniyet)

Break: 11:00-11:15

11:15-12:15 Max Weber, Secularization, and Turkey: An Uneasy Relationship, Nurullah Ardıç (Şehir).

Break: 12:15-12:30

12:30-13:30 The ‘Impure’ Origin of Values. A Non-Logocentric Perspective on Weber’s Conception of the Clash of Values”, Nihat Ülner  (Hacettepe).

13:30-15:45 Lunch

16:00-17:00 “Carl Schmitt on Vocation and the Autonomy of the Political Sphere”, Enes Güran, (Boğaziçi).

Break: 17:00-17:15

17:15-18:15 “Politics and Law: Sources of Value in Weber and Schmitt”, Barry Stocker, (ITU).


19:30 – Dinner at Taksim, Müşterek Meyhane



Modern Pluralism and the Clash of Values: Kant, Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, and the Impossibility of a Rational Grounding of Values

One central feature of the modern world is pluralism of values. Many of these values clash. As the German sociologist and philosopher Max Weber has put it, there is a constant struggle between different orders of life and their respective gods and values. From his background in a Christian culture Weber points out: “It is really a question not only of alternatives between values but of an irreconcilable death-struggle, like that between ‘God’ and the ‘Devil’. Between these, neither relativization nor compromise is possible”.

Weber’s diagnosis is of particular relevance for a country like modern Turkey that is still struggling to find a common ground. Not only are the values of the part of society that considers itself secular in conflict with the ones of the part that regards itself religious; the value of the nation is itself contested by the incompatible values of different social groups, which have conflicting world views, think in categories of “us” and “them”, and have opposing attitudes toward human rights and the universal value of life. This has become particularly evident when the moments of silence called for the victims of the Ankara and Paris bombings were interrupted by booing crowds in October and November 2015.

The workshop investigates modern pluralism and the clash of values by critically reexamining Max Weber’s insights on these topics with the aim of applying them to the Turkish reality today. The most challenging aspect of Weber’s philosophy of conflicting values is his claim that there “is no (rational or empirical) scientific procedure of any kind whatsoever which can provide a decision here”. For Weber, the struggle between conflicting values and ends in life cannot be arbitrated. Everyone is forced to take his or her own decision regarding which of the conflicting values is ruled by God and which by the devil. This attitude is closely related to the “Dezisionismus (Desicionism)” of Carl Schmitt, which will be included in the discussions of the workshop, since he argues that political and legal decisions “are born out of nothingness” which also means that they have no rational basis.

Despite Weber’s bleak diagnosis, the workshop will close by exploring options for reconciliation or compromise between values. How much room is there for negotiation between values? There are certainly values that derive from the same family of orientation or from the same foundations which should make negotiations and reconciliation easier. Is the dualism between people who consider themselves secular and those who regard themselves religious really an unchangeable opposition or a passing historical phenomenon and a difference that could be construed in alternative ways? To be sure, one appropriate response to modern value pluralism is tolerance as an attitude and virtue that allows people to permit those values that they don’t approve.

The conference is organised a part of the joint Boğaziçi -Southampton Newton-Katip Çelebi project “Agency and Autonomy: Kant and the Normative Foundations of Republican Self-Government”, run by Lucas Thorpe (Boğaziçi) and Andrew Stephenson (Southampton).


Written by Lucas Thorpe

May 25, 2018 at 12:17 am

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Talk at Boğaziçi: Kamarun Ozmanoglu (Kansas) “It Just Looks the Same: Differences in Racial Cognition among Infants and Older Humans” (15/05/2018)

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May 15, Tuesday, Kamuran Osmanoglu (Kansas) will give a talk on Racial Cognition.
Title: It Just Looks the Same: Differences in Racial Cognition among Infants and Older Humans
Date: May 15Tuesday
Time: 17-19:00
Place: JF 507
Abstract: Forms of racial cognition begin early: from about 3 months onwards, many human infants prefer to look at own-race faces over other-race faces. What is not yet fully clear is what the psychological mechanisms are that underlie racial thoughts at this early age, and why these mechanisms evolved. In this paper, we propose answers to these questions. Specifically, we use recent experimental data to argue that early racial cognition is simply the result of a “facial familiarity mechanism”: a mental structure that leads infants to attend to faces that look similar to familiar faces, and which probably has evolved to track potential caregivers. We further argue that this account can be combined with the major existing treatments of the evolution of racial cognition, which apply to (near-) adult humans. The result is a heterogeneous picture of racial thought, according to which early and later racial cognition result from very different psychological mechanisms.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

May 14, 2018 at 12:08 pm

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Workshop at Boğaziçi with Caroline Wintersgill: From Phd Thesis to Book Contract (20/04/2018)

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Caroline Wintersgill is a publishing consultant who has spent nearly 30 years commissioning academic books for leading academic publishers. She started her career commissioning politics and international relations at Routledge; she was later a founding-editor of Bloomsbury’s academic division. She is presently Senior Consulting Editor to Manchester University Press, Editor-at-large at the UK trade politics publisher, Biteback Publishing, and Senior Consulting Editor to the US scholarly publisher, Lynne Rienner Publishing, alongside her PhD research on the contemporary novel at the University of Winchester.

This is a workshop for PhD students and early-career academics on how to go about publishing a first book, whether this is a development of the thesis or a new project. The workshop will take place from 2.30pm to 4.30pm on Fraday, April 20th in JF507.

Places are limited so prior registration is required. To register, please send a message to Lucas Thorpe (lthorpe@gmail.com). Caroline Wintersgill would be happy to look at draft book proposals before the workshop.

Publishing is vital to career development yet navigating the publishing industry can seem a daunting challenge. Journal publishing tends to be the major focus for PhD students, but as they approach submission many start to think about the possibilities of publishing a monograph and may be surprised to find that the process and the considerations are very different from having an article accepted.

Caroline aims to offer an illuminating – and entertaining – introduction to the twenty-first century publishing industry. She introduces the market for scholarly publications, outlining some of the key players in UK and US academic publishing – university presses, commercial publishers and not-for-profits. How are they ranked and how can you choose the one that is right for your work and career development?

The workshop then moves on to practical issues, drawing on specific examples of successful – and less successful – book proposals. Caroline will outline what editors are looking for in a book proposal and how you can make your pitch stand out from the crowd.  She will then explain the key considerations in turning your research into a book with international appeal. The workshop covers both monographs and edited collections and the full range of publishing formats: print, digital and open access.

This workshop is organized a part of the joint Boğaziçi -Southampton Newton-Katip Çelebi project AF140071 “Agency and Autonomy: Kant and the Normative Foundations of Republican Self-Government” run by Lucas Thorpe (Boğaziçi) and Andrew Stephenson (Southampton).

Written by Lucas Thorpe

April 11, 2018 at 5:32 pm

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Two talks on Political Philosophy by David Owen (Southampton) at Boğaziçi on 19th and 20th of April, 2018

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“Conflict and Norms in Kant and Nietzsche: Freedom as Independence, Self-Love, and the Rivalrous Emotions”

Thursday, April 19th, 5pm-7pm, JF507

Abstract: In Daybreak Nietzsche presents his project of re-evaluation as, in part, oriented to the following task: ‘we shall restore to men their goodwill towards the actions decried as egoistic and restore to these actions their value – we shall deprive them of their bad conscience!’ (D s.148) Why is the distinction between ‘egoistic’ and ‘unegoistic’ significant for Nietzsche? In this paper, I address this question by considering Kant’s and Nietzsche’s contrasting views concerning freedom, conflict and the rivalrous emotions. The central claim advanced is that Nietzsche’s concern with restoring goodwill towards, and the value of, (a range of) egoistic actions is motivated, first, by a revaluation of the ethical value of self-love as orientation of the self to what is noble (i.e., as non-instrumental rather than instrumental value) and second by the view that competition between persons to cultivate their relevant excellences of character is integral to securing the practical relation to self constitutive of autonomous agency and hence that rivalrous emotional responses to others may be expressions of virtue. A Kantian legal order of non-domination may, on this account, be decadent in a way that Kantian morality exacerbates.

“Refugees and responsibilities of justice”

Friday, April 20th, 5-7pm, JF507

Abstract: This essay develops an account of the shared responsibility of states to refugees and of how the character of that responsibility effects the ways in which it can be fairly shared. However, it moves beyond the question of the general obligations that states owe to refugees to consider ways in which refugee choices and refugee voice can be given appropriate standing with the global governance of refuge. It offers an argument for the normative significance of refugee’s reasons for choosing states of asylum and linked this to consideration of a refugee matching system and to refugee quota trading conceived as responsibility-trading, before turning to the issue of the inclusion of refugee voice in relation to the justification of the norms of refugee governance and in relation to the institutions and practices of refugee governance through which those norms are given practical expression.


David Owen is Professor of Social and Political Philosophy at the University of Southampton. He has published widely across three main research areas: Nietzsche and post-Kantian critical theory encompassing post-structuralism and the Frankfurt School); Problems of Political Community addressing issues of multiculturalism and migration; and Democratic Theory ranging from foundational to policy-relevant levels of analysis. His current research projects address the structure of agonist political theory and its relationship to perfectionism and realism, and the ethics and politics of migration and transnational citizenship. His most recent books are Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morality (Acumen, 2007) and two co-edited volumes Multiculturalism and Political Theory (Cambridge University Press 2007) and Recognition and Power (Cambridge University Press, 2007). He is co-editor of the Critical Powers book series for Bloomsbury Academic and of Citizenship Transitions for Palgrave Macmillan, and Book Reviews Editor for the journal Political Theory. He also serves on the editorial boards of Journal of Nietzsche Studies, Max Weber Studies and Political Studies Review. In recent years he has been Visiting Professor of Politics (2008) and of Philosophy (2010) at the Goethe University, Frankfurt.


The talks are organized a part of the joint Boğaziçi -Southampton Newton-Katip Çelebi project AF140071 “Agency and Autonomy: Kant and the Normative Foundations of Republican Self-Government” run by Lucas Thorpe (Boğaziçi) and Andrew Stephenson (Southampton).

Written by Lucas Thorpe

March 21, 2018 at 6:32 pm

Talk at Boğaziçi by Manuel Knoll (Şehir): “Deep Disagreements on Social and Political Justice: Their Meta-Ethical Relevance and the Need for a New Research Perspective” (30.03.2018)

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“Deep Disagreements on Social and Political Justice: Their Meta-Ethical Relevance and the Need for a New Research Perspective”

Prof. Manuel Knoll, Sehir University
March 30, Friday at 17:00 in JF 507
Abstract: This talk starts off with a historical section showing that deep disagreements among notions of social and political justice are a characteristic feature of the history of political thought. Since no agreement or consensus on distributive justice is possible, I argue that political philosophers should – instead of continuously proposing new normative theories of justice – focus on analyzing the reasons, significance, and consequences of such kinds of disagreements. The next two sections are analytical. The first sketches some possible reasons for deep disagreements among notions of social and political justice.  The second discusses the meta-ethical relevance of the lack of consensus on justice and rejects ethical realism and cognitivism based on the argument from deep disagreements.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

March 21, 2018 at 2:43 pm

Talk by Emily Thomas (Durham) at Boğaziçi: “C. D. Broad and the Growing Block Theory of Time” (23.3.2018)

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March 23, Friday at 17:00 in JF 507

“C. D. Broad and the Growing Block Theory of Time”

Dr Emily Thomas, Philosophy, Durham University
Abstract: The growing block view of time holds that the past and present is real whilst the future is unreal; as future events become present and real, they added on to the growing block of reality. Surprisingly, given the recent interest in this view, there is very little literature on its
origins. This paper explores those origins, and advances two theses. First, I show that although C. D. Broad’s (1923) Scientific Thought provides the first defence of the growing block theory, the theory receives its first articulation in Samuel Alexander’s (1920) Space, Time, and Deity. Further, Alexander’s account of deity inclines towards the growing block view. Second, I argue that Broad shifted towards the growing block theory as a result of his newfound conviction that time has a direction. By way of tying these theses together, I argue that Broad’s views on the direction of time – and possibly even his growing block theory – are sourced in Alexander.

Written by Lucas Thorpe

March 21, 2018 at 2:34 pm

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Philosophy/Cog-Sci Reading group at Boğaziçi this semester.

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We will continue with our philosophy cog-sci reading group at Boğaziçi this semester on Mondays from 5.30-7.30pm. John Freely Building, Room 507.

We will read the following articles for the first two weeks:

Monday February 5th

Paul Cisek, Beyond the computer metaphor Behaviour as InteractionJournal of Consciousness Studies, 6, No. 11-12 (1999) pp. 125-42.

Monday February 12th 

Paul Cisek, Cortical Mechanisms of Action Selection: the affordance competition hypothesis Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B (2007) 362, 1585–1599

Paul Cisek and John F. Kalaska, Neural Mechanims for interacting with a world full of action choicesAnnu. Rev. Neurosci. (2010) 33:269–98


This Monday we will decide what to read for the rest of the semester.  If you would like to be added to our mailing list please email conceptsandbeliefs@gmail.com

Written by Lucas Thorpe

February 3, 2018 at 3:57 pm

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