Thursday, August 21, 2003

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Philosophy hijinks

This year's World Congress of Philosophy ended a few days ago in Istanbul. According to Ioanna Ku├žuradi, President of the Federation of Philosophical Societies:

The main theme of the Congress will be Philosophy Facing World Problems. By selecting this theme we wish to put the accent on the need of philosophical, including ethical, knowledge in dealing with global problems at the outset of the new century.

So how'd they do?

Well, there's this story:

At the fifth day of the 21st World Philosophy Congress, currently in Istanbul, philosophers from around the world heavily criticised the United States and shared their suggestions on what to do about the world's only superpower.

After reminding the Congress that the U.S. Administration organised an operation in Iraq with the excuse of finding Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) and then threatened North Korea with the same excuse, Australian philosopher Prof. Peter Singer asked if launching a preventive operation against countries having WMDs was a legitimate right. He then suggested that the U.S. also has WMDs and North Korea may have the same right to launch an operation against the U.S.

Singer suggested that the United Nations' (UN) structure should be changed in order to counter U.S. hegemony. He proposed the abolishment of veto power and a change to a pluralist system. Asserting that the UN is not democratic, Singer said, "5 countries have the power of a veto and four of them share a Christian tradition. Not even one Muslim country has the power to veto."

Despite such statements, the Congress has not endeared itself to local Islamic philosophers.

And then there's this closing headline, "Philosophy Congress Ends in Chaos." (news links via Political Theory)

Ah, if only some of the Crooked Timber folk had been in attendance to provide a firsthand report.

posted by Dan on 08.21.03 at 01:28 PM


I have for some time thought of Peter Singer as an entertainer on the model of Andy Kaufman. His purpose is not to amuse but to anger and anoy. Unfortunately, the press thinks he is a serious academic and philosopher, and his books are invariably mis-shelved.


posted by: Robert Schwartz on 08.21.03 at 01:28 PM [permalink]

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