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Someone else’s shoes

Geoffrey Hawthorn

23 November 1989
A Treatise on Social Justice. Vol. I: Theories of Justice 
by Brian Barry.
Harvester, 428 pp., £30, May 1989, 0 7450 0641 8
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Innocence and Experience 
by Stuart Hampshire.
Allen Lane, 195 pp., £16.95, October 1989, 0 7139 9027 9
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... As Brian Barry suggests, the question of justice arises when custom loses its grip; when the prevailing social myth and what Stuart Hampshire calls its ‘fallacy of false fixity’ – that relations cannot be other than they are – is exposed. This is not to say that new fixed entities are never then proposed to replace the myth ...

Complaining

Brian Barry

23 November 1989
The Company of Critics: Social Criticism and Political Commitment in the 20th Century 
by Michael Walzer.
Halban, 260 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 1 870015 20 7
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... Michael Walzer is one of America’s leading social critics, an editor of the magazine Dissent and the author of such books of political philosophy as Spheres of Justice, a systematic discussion of the nature of justice in society. In The Company of Critics he steps back from the activity of social criticism to reflect on the work of a number of other 20th-century social critics ...
20 October 1983
Explaining Technical Change: A Case-Study in the Philosophy of Science 
by Jon Elster.
Cambridge, 273 pp., £22.50, June 1983, 0 521 27072 3
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Sour Grapes: Studies in the Subversion of Rationality 
by Jon Elster.
Cambridge, 177 pp., £17.50, June 1983, 9780521252300
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... Jon Elster needs, as they say, no introduction to regular readers of the London Review, who will be familiar not only with his name but also with the cast of his mind and the breadth of his interests. What makes him distinctive is a combination of philosophical acuity and detailed attention to contemporary work in history, the social sciences and cognitive psychology ...
19 January 1984
The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell. Vol. I: Cambridge Essays 1888-1899 
edited by Kenneth Blackwell, Andrew Brink, Nicholas Griffin, Richard Rempel and John Slater.
Allen and Unwin, 554 pp., £48, November 1983, 0 04 920067 4
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... There shall be a day when a shorthand citation like “McMaster 8:279” will be sufficient affidavit for the scholar of the authenticity and location of any quotation of Russell’s written word.’ With this ringing prophecy, William Ready, the General Editor of the McMaster University Library Press and the man who brought the Russell archives to McMaster in 1968, introduced a prospectus of The Collected Essays of Bertrand Russell in Russell, the journal of the Bertrand Russell Archives ...
20 June 1985
Moral Relativity 
by David Wong.
California, 248 pp., £28, July 1984, 0 520 04976 4
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Beyond Subjective Morality: Ethical Reasoning and Political Philosophy 
by James Fishkin.
Yale, 201 pp., £17.50, January 1984, 0 300 03048 7
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... The creation of moral philosophy as we know it: in the beginning was A.J. Ayer, and moral assertions were without form, and void. More precisely, they were of a grammatically misleading form and lacking in meaning. In Language, Truth and Logic (published in 1936), Ayer maintained that what appears to be a moral assertion (e.g. ‘Stealing money is wrong’) ‘expresses no proposition which can be either true or false ...

Consequences

Bernard Williams

17 April 1986
A Matter of Principle 
by Ronald Dworkin.
Harvard, 425 pp., £19.95, May 1985, 0 674 55460 4
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... speaking, ‘speech’. When he had gone out, one of the lawyers on our committee, Brian Simpson, said: ‘I think I should explain something to the Committee. Americans believe in rights.’ Ronald Dworkin is also an American lawyer; he is Professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford and much of the time resident in England. He assuredly believes in ...

Thatcherism

Gordon Brown

2 February 1989
Thatcherism 
edited by Robert Skidelsky.
Chatto, 214 pp., £18, November 1988, 0 7011 3342 2
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The Hard Road to Renewal: Thatcherism and the Crisis of the Left 
by Stuart Hall.
Verso, 283 pp., £24.95, December 1988, 0 86091 199 3
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... immensely destructive. Her market-obsessed solutions have made our problems worse. A.H. Halsey and Brian Barry in their essay in the Skidelsky, and David Marquand in his, take this on, seeking to identify collective actions and provisions that can mitigate the worst effects of the free market. By denying, in a chillingly offguard moment, the very ...
4 September 1997
Living High and Letting Die: Our Illusion of Innocence 
by Peter Unger.
Oxford, 187 pp., £35, October 1996, 0 19 507584 6
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... tradition, Thomas Nagel, Thomas Scanlon and Thomas Pogge from the Kantian, Gerald Cohen, Brian Barry, the economists Amartya Sen, John Roemer and Partha Dasgupta, all get a nod in a footnote at most, and we hear nothing informative about how their arguments would be addressed. Major historical contributors such as Kant, Bentham and Adam Smith ...

Overdoing the Synge-song

Terry Eagleton: Sebastian Barry

22 September 2011
On Canaan’s Side 
by Sebastian Barry.
Faber, 256 pp., £16.99, August 2011, 978 0 571 22653 5
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... with the clamorous rise of bourgeois Italy. In a series of works over the past decade, Sebastian Barry has captured the flow and recoil of modern Irish history in the blighted destinies of the Dunne family. Taken together, The Steward of Christendom, Annie Dunne, A Long Long Way and now On Canaan’s Side constitute a kind of Oresteia of 20th-century ...
6 October 1983
... in the presence of Buñuel, by André Breton in the presence of Eluard. But the words were said by Barry Humphries in the persona of the ruminating convalescent Sandy Stone, and in the Australian context they are not surreal. They are real. Every Australian, even if he lives in Sydney’s Point Piper or Melbourne’s Toorak, has at some time or other found ...

Diary

Nick Laird: Ulster Revisited

28 July 2011
... where the bus would be stopped the next day) and shot the three brothers who lived there: John, Brian and Anthony Reavey. (John and Brian died immediately; Anthony died a month later.) Twenty minutes later gunmen entered a house in Ballydougan and shot and killed Joseph O’Dowd and his nephews ...
7 June 2001
Two Faces of Liberalism 
by John Gray.
Polity, 161 pp., £12.99, August 2000, 0 7456 2259 3
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... a number of prominent victims, including John Rawls, Thomas Nagel, Dworkin, Bruce Ackerman, Brian Barry and even Jürgen Habermas.Surprisingly, Gray pays little attention to it, mentioning the idea only as a historical aberration. It poses problems for him, however, since it cuts across his two-face taxonomy. Neutrality matches part of the photofit ...

Ruck in the Carpet

Glen Newey: Political Morality

9 July 2009
Philosophy and Real Politics 
by Raymond Geuss.
Princeton, 116 pp., £11.95, October 2008, 978 0 691 13788 9
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... which nobody can reasonably reject, a conclusion Rawls endorses, along with other writers like Brian Barry, T.M. Scanlon and Thomas Nagel. Geuss does not say much about this idea, beyond noting that those, like Habermas, who assimilate politics to a seminar discussion miss the urgency of political decision-making. Getting a decision often matters more ...

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