Grounds for Critique: Realism in the Natural and Human Sciences

Posted on January 31, 2008

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Annual conference July 11-13 2008

The Conference calls for papers from all areas in the arts and humanities, the natural and social sciences. It invites participants from both within and outside critical realism who are interested to explore critical realist philosophy, method and practice, encouraging a broad focus on the nature and grounds of critique.

We live in a world of deep conflict, rapid change and flux, in which the problems facing human being and the natural world have never been greater. Challenges posed by techno-scientific fixes to the problems of nature and human nature; by the re-emergence of imperialist conflicts in the name of neo-liberal economics and politics; and by the re-assertion of the division between the secular and the spiritual as the form of modernity and the basis for taking sides in conflict: all provide ample grounds for critique. They also raise the crucial question: what are the grounds of critique at a time when, it is said, critical thinking has lost its way.

Questions of critique are central to critical realism. Whether it be immanent critique throughout its development, explanatory and emancipatory critique in its second phase, dialectical and meta-critique in its third, or the most recent assertion of the meta-real, critical realists have sought to be critical about critique. From these different standpoints, they have drawn on or built bridges to theorists as diverse as Plato and Aristotle, Hegel and Marx, Adorno, Habermas and Derrida. So broad a palette requires reflexivity: how do the different forms of critique relate to each other, what are their limits, how are they critically assessed? What is specific to critical realist critiques? How are critiques rooted in the western tradition assessed in the light of those from elsewhere in the world? How does critical realism deal with the ‘end of critique’? How does it shed light on problems of interdisciplinarity? How does it make emancipation possible?

Such questions lead us more concretely to ways of doing critique. What are our critical methods? How does critique inform normative theory and argument? How do we ‘do critique’ in relation to both the social and natural sciences and the world? How does it inform political activism and movements for emancipation, or policy formation and outcomes? How is critical realism ‘applied’, i.e., how does it engage with particular fields or objects, or establish research exemplars and examples? How does it approach, negotiate, challenge and overcome disciplinary boundaries?

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/law/events/iacr/

The deadline for receiving abstracts for papers is Friday 7 March 2008.

iacr@kcl.ac.uk

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