Must Criticism be constructive?

31 October 2008 - 1 November 2008

HPS, Free School Lane/CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane

This is a closed event and there is no registration. 


31 Oct:
Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Free School Lane
1 Nov: 
CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane

The programme can be found by clicking onto the link on the right hand side of this page. 


Raymond Geuss   (Philosophy, Cambridge)           
Richard Raatzsch (Clare Hall, Cambridge)           

Notions of 'criticism' seem to play an important role in social life — the criticism of policies and institutions — in informal social interaction — the criticism of the way in which particular people behave in particular circumstances — in 'science' (broadly construed)— the criticism of theories — and also in the arts. We seem, however, to have two competing but equally strong intuitions about 'criticism'. On the one hand, criticism seems to consist simply in pointing out what is wrong with a certain belief, institution, practice, action, etc. and the notion of 'wrong' seems to refer to some defect that deserves condemnation on its own terms. On the other hand, it seems that the very idea of showing that something is 'wrong' (in whatever way and for whatever reason) tacitly implies some grasp on the idea of what it would be to get the matter at issue 'right'. From this second intuition some want to derive the claim that criticism cannot be merely negative or 'destructive', but must in some sense presuppose at least a minimal grasp of some positive alternative to the thing criticised. This working conference is intended to explore these issues philosophically, but with some attention to issues of the sociology and politics of criticism


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Fri 31 Oct 2008

Location: History and Philosophy of Science, Free School Lane
Seminar Room 2


Chair:  Raymond Geuss (Philosophy, Cambridge)       

13.00 - 14.30

General Introduction
Rüdiger Bittner (Bielefeld University)    

Manuel Dries (University of Oxford)               
Fabian Freyenhagen (University of Essex)         


Coffee Break

14.45 - 16.15

Knowledge and criticism
Michael Hampe (ETH-Zürich)                                

Christian Skirke (University of Amsterdam)
Richard Raatzsch (Clare Hall, Cambridge)

16.15 - 18.00

General Discussion

18.00 - 19.30

Discussion continues in informal setting


Dinner at Pizza Express, Jesus Lane

Sat 1 Nov 2008

Location: CRASSH 17 Mill Lane 
Seminar Room


Chair: Richard Raatzsch         

9.30 - 10.30

Criticism, literature, music
Raymond Geuss 

Zeev Emmerich (SPS)  
Tom Stern (Philosophy, Cambridge)   
Martin Eichler  (University of Cambridge) 

10.30 - 11.00

Coffee Break

11.00 - 13.00

Social criticism     
Rahel Jaeggi (University of Frankfurt)               

Gordon Finlayson  (University of Sussex)
Jörg Schaub (Universiy of Mannheim)  
Dina Gussejnova (History, Cambridge)  

13.00  - 14.00



Chair:  Fabian Freyenhagen

14.00 - 15.30 

Criticism in philosophy
Wayne Martin (University of Essex)       

Richard Raatzsch
Raymond Geuss

15.30 - 15.45

Tea Break

15.45 - 18.00

Criticism in the moral life 
Richard Raatzsch

Rüdiger Bittner
Lorna Finlayson (Philosophy, Cambridge)