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09/21/2016

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Rita Okoroha

Powerfully infomative piece, what a star.

Jesse Prinz

Dear Professor Imafidon, many thanks for taking the time to do this wonderful interview. Thanks, too, to Shelley Tremain, for her extraordinary efforts with the series. One of the greatest achievements is that the series has increased awareness about disability and, at the same time, brought philosophers from different traditions into mutual awareness and dialogue. My library does not have Ontologized Ethics, but I will encourage them to get a copy, so my students and colleagues can read more of your work, and the work of others in the volume. I was very stimulated by the remarks here about Hume. I like the idea that we are ontologically bound to each other, and that this may bridge the Is-Ought gap. I have had the usual individualist bias, but I am coming to believe that values are inextricably bound to ontological categories (for me that falls out of social constructivism, rather than out of the idea that Being is basic). I really like this strategy for addressing the fact/value distinction. I also managed to read (most) of your contribution to the ontology volume thanks to Amazon and Google books online. One thought that stuck with me is the idea that equilibrium and stability and foundation in ethics. I like that idea because, in nature, equilibrium and stability are compatible with difference. So this is an approach that can be universal (binding for all), but not universalizing (not imposing a single form of life). So, perhaps I can follow you a long way from a constructivist perspective rather than from one that posits a pre-conceptual ontology. I will look forward to reading more of your work, including your efforts on albinism. Do you think the UN has ignored these issues in part because they treat disability as a health issue rather than as issue of morality and justice?

Komarine

Another great interview.

Elvis Imafidon

Thanks Jesse for your encouraging comments. I am glad that my ideas are helpful to you. Concerning your question, I think that the UN is often concerned not just with issues of health but also of justice. But I am often worried that the UN simply just waits for an issue to have a global reach or generate global effects before the issue becomes of interest to it. I guess this is what happened in the case of albinism. About 2 decades ago, the issues with albinism in Africa were surely there but with a very minimal global attention, interest and effect. As of today that is changing to the extent that it has attracted the attention of the UN. As I mentioned above, the UN had its first ever forum on albinism some 3 months back. In this forum not only the health issues but also issues of morality and justice were focused on. I think the UN needs to do better in this regard by tackling issues more quickly. This may even help prevent them from becoming serious global issues.

AJ Kreider

Thank you, Professor Imafidon, for a stimulating interview.

I wonder if you could expand upon your "Is\Ought" claims. It seems as though a Humean might just respond, 'You've got a hidden premise there - that one ought to do that which fosters or promotes one's own existence.' Then, it looks like the argument is valid, but with an "ought" premise. The metaphysical burden then shifts to the ought claim about me - 'what is it about me such that...', etc. One could of course takes one's worth to be a brute moral fact.

There is also the worry that you may be saying this: Our being is a good. The flourishing of others is a necessary condition of our being. Therefore, the flourishing of others is a good. Rand (of all people) claimed something very much like this (without the "others" bit), but I think Nozick raises the correct critique.

Thank you again.

A.J. Kreider

PS It's a completely appropriate response to say, "It's in the book."

Shelley Tremain

Thanks very much for your generous comments about the series, Jesse. I think that the interviews (and the blog in general) have indeed enabled discussions about disability and ableism that have hitherto been ignored, dismissed, and excluded from philosophy and, furthermore, are, as you say, bringing together perspectives and approaches that have been developed at a distance from each other, geographically, politically, conceptually, professionally, and so on.

I was quite pleased to interview Elvis, and I'm very glad that his interview and his insights are getting the attention and praise that they deserve.

Elvis Imafidon

Thanks AJ (if I may) for your beautiful comments. And I apologize for replying this late. I understand that Hume's philosophy which places emphasis on logicality, validity of ideas and positivism, from where his idea, for instance, of the is/ought gap stems from, does makes a lot of sense and I see you are also much interested in Hume. But my general problem with Hume, as it is with all positivist philosophy, is that his goal is to achieve watertight, full proof ideas about reality that are infallible, which explains the emphasis on logical validity. But this is always contra reality. Being or reality as we experience it is an unfolding process of interactions and connections among its component parts and our ideas of it are always fallible and amenable to revision. Thus if my claims, for instance, leads to the logical formulation which you mentioned: "Our being is a good. The flourishing of others is a necessary condition of our being. Therefore, the flourishing of others is a good.", I do not think it is a formulation to be worried about because it may not follow some positivist model of rationality but it is true of our being.

That's the problem I often have with Hume, Nozick and their friends. They place more emphasis on proof and arguments over our real life experiences. Nozick is for instance right in saying that Rand fails to prove her moral ideas as correct and then proceeds to propose arguments to show that Rand's position is not logically developed or proven. Although Nozick's arguments may be logically developed, they are not realistic as Rand's arguments are. To understand my point, cast you mind back to logical positivism, which of course is an offshoot of Hume's philosophy, and examine the contra reality effects it had due to its quest for what is cognitively meaningful. By implication, it rejected ethical, metaphysical and religious ideas while of course unavoidably building its own metaphysics. Rejecting these statements as meaningless is like running always from reality as we experience it everyday. Without religion for instance we could never understand the reasons why some persons behave the way they do. The religious ideas may be false and even antisocial but without them we cannot understand why some persons act the way they do.

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