Recent Books by Philosophy Faculty
Philosophy faculty members have published several monographs and edited volumes in the last three years.
Luvell Anderson published The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Race, ed. Paul Taylor, Linda Martin Alcoff, and Luvell Anderson, Routledge; 1 edition (December 12, 2017), 590pp., ISBN-13: 978-0415711234.
For many decades, race and racism have been common areas of study in departments of sociology, history, political science, English, and anthropology. Much more recently, as the historical concept of race and racial categories have faced significant scientific and political challenges, philosophers have become more interested in these areas. This changing understanding of the ontology of race has invited inquiry from researchers in moral philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, and aesthetics.
The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Race offers in one comprehensive volume newly written articles on race from the world’s leading analytic and continental philosophers. It is, however, accessible to a readership beyond philosophy as well, providing a cohesive reference for a wide student and academic readership. The Companion synthesizes current philosophical understandings of race, providing 37 chapters on the history of philosophy and race as well as how race might be investigated in the usual frameworks of contemporary philosophy. The volume concludes with a section on philosophical approaches to some topics with broad interest outside of philosophy, like colonialism, affirmative action, eugenics, immigration, race and disability, and post-racialism.
By clearly explaining and carefully organizing the leading current philosophical thinking on race, this timely collection will help define the subject and bring renewed understanding of race to students and researchers in the humanities, social science, and sciences.
Frederick Beiser published Hermann Cohen: An Intellectual Biography, Oxford University Press (December 18, 2018), 400pp., ISBN-13: 978-0198828167.
This book is the first complete intellectual biography of Hermann Cohen (1842–1918), the only one to cover all his major philosophical and Jewish writings. It pays special attention to Cohen’s intellectual development, to its breaks and continuities. From its beginning to its end, Cohen’s intellectual career is seen as the development of a radical rationalism, one committed to unending enquiry and the unlimited rights of criticism. Cohen’s thought was resolutely opposed to any form of irrationalism or mysticism, which would act as arbitrary and artificial limits on criticism and enquiry. This interpretation is therefore opposed to those who see a proto-existentialism (Rosenzweig) or mysticism (Adelmann and Köhnke) in Cohen. Cohen’s Judaism was not a limit to his radical rationalism but a consistent development of it. Judaism was the religion of reason, which committed the believer to the unending search for truth and to striving to achieve the cosmopolitan or universal values of reason. Most interpretations of Cohen’s Judaism fail to appreciate its philosophical depth and sophistication.
Beiser also published The Genesis of Neo-Kantianism, 1796-1880, Oxford University Press; 1 edition (June 1, 2017), 624pp., ISBN-13: 978-0198769989.
This book tells the story of the emergence of neo-Kantianism from the late 1790s until the 1880s; it is about neo-Kantianism before official or familiar neo-Kantianism, that is, before the formation of the various schools of neo-Kantianism in the 1880s and 1890s (viz. the Marburg school, the Southwestern school, the Göttingen school). The source of neo-Kantianism, the book argues, lies in three crucial but neglected figures: Jakob Friedrich Fries, Johann Friedrich Herbart and Friedrich Eduard Beneke, who together form what the text calls “the lost tradition”. They are the first neo-Kantians because they defended Kant’s limits on knowledge against the excesses of speculative idealism, because they upheld Kant’s dualisms against their many critics, and because they adhered to Kant’s transcendental idealism. Much of the book is devoted to an explanation for the rise of neo-Kantianism. The book contends that it became a greater force in the decades from 1840 to 1860 in response to three major developments in German culture: the collapse of speculative idealism; the materialism controversy; and the identity crisis of philosophy. After the 1860s Neo-Kantianism became a major philosophical force because of its response to two later cultural developments: the rise of pessimism and Darwinism.
You can find the Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews review of The Genesis of Neo-Kantianism here: https://ndpr.nd.edu/news/the-genesis-of-neo-kantianism-1796-1880/
Verena Erlenbusch-Anderson published Genealogies of Terrorism: Revolution, State Violence, Empire, Columbia University Press (July 31, 2018), 296pp, ISBN-13: 978-0231187275.
What is terrorism? What ought we to do about it? And why is it wrong? We think we have clear answers to these questions. But acts of violence, like U.S. drone strikes that indiscriminately kill civilians, and mass shootings that become terrorist attacks when suspects are identified as Muslim, suggest that definitions of terrorism are always contested. In Genealogies of Terrorism, Verena Erlenbusch-Anderson rejects attempts to define what terrorism is in favor of a historico-philosophical investigation into the conditions under which uses of this contested term become meaningful. The result is a powerful critique of the power relations that shape how we understand and theorize political violence.
Tracing discourses and practices of terrorism from the French Revolution to late imperial Russia, colonized Algeria, and the post-9/11 United States, Erlenbusch-Anderson examines what we do when we name something terrorism. She offers an important corrective to attempts to develop universal definitions that assure semantic consistency and provide normative certainty, showing that terrorism means many different things and serves a wide range of political purposes. In the tradition of Michel Foucault’s genealogies, Erlenbusch-Anderson excavates the history of conceptual and practical uses of terrorism and maps the historically contingent political and material conditions that shape their emergence. She analyzes the power relations that make different modes of understanding terrorism possible and reveals their complicity in justifying the exercise of sovereign power in the name of defending the nation, class, or humanity against the terrorist enemy. Offering an engaged critique of terrorism and the mechanisms of social and political exclusion that it enables, Genealogies of Terrorism is an empirically grounded and philosophically rigorous critical history with important political implications.
David Sobel published From Valuing to Value: A Defense of Subjectivism, Oxford University Press; 1 edition (January 10, 2017), 352 pp., ISBN-13: 978-0198712640.
Is graduate school for me? Should I ask him to marry? What does it make sense to do when one’s self-interest and morality sharply conflict? This book articulates and defends one general answer to such questions: subjectivism. Subjectivism maintains that things have value because we value them. Caring about stuff makes stuff matter. In a world without anything that anyone or anything cared about, nothing would matter. Additionally, subjective accounts maintain that the most important values are relational. I care about how well and gracefully Federer is playing and you (most likely) don’t. Because of this difference, I have a reason to check the score or to watch his matches and you do not. Things may be valuable or reason-providing for me but not for you because I care about them and you do not. Getting clearer on exactly what that means and why we might think it is true will be the business of this book. This book aspires to sketch the main contours of the long and winding road from valuing to value and to make a case that the road is sound and bridges that have been purported to be impassable are in fact repairable.
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews published a review according to which “Sobel’s essays in this book are some of the finest ever written in moral philosophy.” You can find the review here: https://ndpr.nd.edu/news/from-valuing-to-value-a-defense-of-subjectivism/
Sobel also published Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy Volume 6, ed. David Sobel, Peter Vallentyne, and Steven Wall, Oxford University Press (March 6, 2020), 272pp., ISBN-13: 978-0198852636.
This is the sixth volume of Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy. Since its revival in the 1970s political philosophy has been a vibrant field in philosophy, one that intersects with jurisprudence, normative economics, political theory in political science departments, and just war theory. OSPP aims to publish some of the best contemporary work in political philosophy and these closely related subfields. This volume features eight papers that address a range of central topics and represent cutting edge work in the field.
For more information on books published by philosophy faculty, see https://thecollege.syr.edu/philosophy/books-philosophy-faculty/