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26 Cards in this Set

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The Politics of Recognition
Taylor, in line with his communitarian philosophy, states that who a person is and who a person sees themselves as being are closely connected with how the person is perceived by those around them. Taylor says, “Some, perhaps all of my ideas about myself, in particular my sense of my own moral and social identity, are intelligible only in terms of the social network in which I am.” From this thinking comes “identity politics”, in which members of groups are concerned with the group’s collective identity and make claims for public acknowledgement of their particularity. People who feel they are not recognized correctly sometimes feel they have been treated unequally, a problem especially prominent in multicultural democratic societies.
Atomism and Society
Social atomism is the idea that individuals primarily shape themselves and therefore individuals, rather than social institutions, are the proper subject of analysis. Taylor views atomism as misguided; he believes that the ability for an individual to make choices and have freedom only exists within a social structure/community.
Why does CT think it is wrong to dismiss authenticity/self-fulfillment as mere egoism or narcissism?
Charles Taylor thinks that it is a mistake to believe that the culture of authenticity is simply “a screen for self-indulgence” (16). Rather, Taylor wants us to see that there is a moral ideal behind the idea of authenticity. This moral ideal provides people with a standard that indicates how they should strive to be. If we ignore the moral aspect of authenticity, then we are unable to argue for or against any specific moral ideal, since the concept of authenticity will have slipped into a kind of relativism.
What does CT mean by the term “liberalism of neutrality”?
The term “liberalism of neutrality” refers to the state that comes about when a society decides that it must be neutral when it comes to defining the “good life”. A society based on liberalism of neutrality would maintain that the good life is unique to each individual and the government must be impartial by refusing to choose sides. CT sees this as banishing “discussions about the good life to the margins of political debate”(18). If we cannot converse about what constitutes a good life, then we are unable to engage in CT’s prescribed “work of retrieval”(23) of the moral ideal of authenticity.
What does Charles Taylor mean by life goods? Constitutive goods?
Life goods are defined as the virtues or other moral attributes that we experience. Examples of life goods include authenticity, courage, diligence, generosity, and altruism. Constitutive goods are the contexts of these virtues, or the causes/underlying foundations of moral systems. Primary constitutive goods include religion and historical tradition.

Example: Piety is a life good that is founded on the constitutive good of religion.
What are the advantages of articulating moral frameworks?
CT believes that many moral foundations are unspoken and assumed. Articulation of frameworks is beneficial in that it:

- enhances our basic understanding of moral values, thus selfhood.
- helps identify a plurality of moral goods with diverse origins (prevents generalization when it comes to moral values).
- increases rational debate about different moral goods (combats moral relativism).
- enhances moral commitment by helping us access underlying forces behind morality (“articulation empowers” by helping to validate moral adherents).
- leads to “immanent critique” and the improvement of moral interactions with modern practices (i.e. technology).
What is modern freedom?
In a word, modern freedom is the individualism that has developed in the current day and age. Modern freedom is a reaction to, as Charles Taylor puts it, “older moral horizons.” This older tradition put people into a certain destined path from which one could not break free. These paths were a part of a larger “cosmic order” or hierarchy of the universe that predetermined one’s role on earth. Thus individualism, or the freedom to shape one’s life, was not needed because meaning was already inherent in everything. Modern freedom occurred with the disenchantment of the world, which reduces the world to raw things without intrinsic meaning or purpose. Modern freedom makes individuals shape and mold the world.
What is Charles Taylor’s communitarian view of the self?
Taylor argues that the self is socially guided and situated. His communitarian view stresses that a person can only flourish and search for “the good” when in a certain type of culture or society that provides opportunities for such. These cultures provide a framework that promotes certain goods or values that are communicated through a common language. Taylor claims that one cannot be moral without knowing the history of one’s cultural values and articulating these values. In this way it is impossible for one to attain selfhood without being an active part of a community.
How does Charles Taylor define articulation?
Taylor defines articulation as "being able to say celearly what the matter is" which is important in his discussion of various horizons and other items that can only be evaluated side-by-side to a certain extent.

Ex. Articulation is important in the discussion of morality across various global regions, "Good" can be something to someone in one region, and something entirely different to another in a different region.
How does Charles Taylor define apodictic reasoning?
A: Taylor defines apoctic reasoning as that which relies on natural sciences which call for univeral lines to quantify position of an argument, as opposed to reasoning which he approves of which relies on relativity.

Ex. Happy people could have their brain waves measured and thus be evaluated through apodictic reasoning, and Taylor would prefer this happiness evaluated through discussion with various happy people
What is Taylor's concept of pluralism?
Pluralism refers to Taylor's view that there is no ideal virtue or value that defines morality, but rather a multiplicity of goods coexist. These goods cannot always be combined, ranked or reduced to one ultimate good. It is the responsibility of the individual to determine which virtues to adhere to in certain situations.
Taylor provides the example of conflicting religions. We have no way of determining which religion is best. It would be absurd to even try. He explains how each religion has its pros and cons in certain regions and with an individual's specific situation, which complicate any attempt to put religions into a general ranking.
What is morality’s domain?
Morality’s domain is a broad view of the moral realm that involves relationships to others, rights, duties, obligations, justice, dignity, self-respect, meaning/fulfillment, and what is good to be. Morality’s domain is often dependent on culture so it would be different in different societies or groups and cannot be assumed at unless one analyzes all aspects of a culture. Charles Taylor believes that morality includes both what is right to do and what is good to be, contrary to those philosophers who believe that morality and ethics are separate.
What is practical benevolence?
Practical benevolence is a term Charles Taylor uses to claim that the modern world is more concerned with the reduction of suffering than the ancient world. Taylor claims that no view the ancients held even approached the universal benevolence held by modern morality. CT claims that the urge to minimize suffering rose from the already existent concern over suffering becoming more significant in comparison to other ethical considerations (Abbey 92).
An example of this would be one not only having the duty to love one’s neighbors, but also for one to work to actively reduce the suffering of neighbors whenever possible or necessary.
How does Charles Taylor’s view of modern secularity differ from more orthodox accounts?
In contrast to the traditional “narrative” in which religious practice and belief has declined since the enlightenment era and is destined to disappear altogether, Taylor posits that religious belief in western society has become no less prevalent; it has merely become more varied and less certain. No one religious interpretation is universally accepted and unquestioned any longer (as was true in medieval europe); thus, no matter what one’s religious orientation, there is always an element of doubt. The greater diversity of religious viewpoints both causes and is caused by the aforementioned uncertainty.
Explain the “flattening” of the self.
A phenomenon of modernity resulting from the “disenchantment” of the world, the “flattening” of the self results when, seemingly bereft of any external source of value or significance, people embrace a vulgar “authenticity” that provides no horizons of significance for their choices.
What are "inescapable frameworks or horizons"?
One of Charles Taylor's central points is that human identity is primarily dialogical. In every individual's life or mind, there exists "significant others" that help develop our identities and opinions. The "inescapable horizons" are the frameworks from which we determine significance. These frameworks are developed from our backgrounds and surroundings and cannot be individually determined. According to Taylor, soft relativism self-destructs because "your feeling a certain way can neer be sufficient grounds for respecting your position, because your feeling can't determine what is significant" (37).
Civic Humanism
The term "civic humanism" describes Charles Taylor's approach to politics. In Ruth Abbey's words, "the civic humanist tradition emphasizes citizen self-rule, and takes patriotism, solidarity, a sense of allegiance to one's political community, collective action and participation in government to be crucial components of this" (115). In other words, while the liberal tradition views government as an instrumental institution designed to fulfill individual needs that could not be formed otherwise, Taylor sees government more as a source of identity and pride. This approach relates to his emphasis on political participation and dialogue as well as patriotism.
Why does Taylor reject the concept of relativism?
Taylor believes that relativism is self-delusion, because everyone naturally believes the morals to which they adhere to be right. This is a fact of the human condition, so an attempt to say that all ideas are equally important would be denouncing one's own choice. While accepting that more than one view can be right, Taylor recognizes that each still has a different value to an individual, rather than every idea having equal importance.
What is self-determining freedom?
Taylor describes this act by saying one is only free when he or she decides for him or herself what it is that concerns the self. The concerns and motivations are shaped by the self and not by the external influences. Taylor thinks that self-determining freedom is a deviant form of authenticity and this notion of freedom, “demands that I break the hold of all external impositions and decide for myself alone.”
What is disengaged rationality?
Disengaged rationality is a Cartesian view that the power of thought is able to detach itself from the received orders of the world and construct new orders of the world, which meet the standards demands of knowledge, understanding, and certainty.
Expressivist Language
Charles Taylor views language as being constitutive rather than solely expressive, that is, language does more than reflect reality, it, in part, creates reality. When one articulates one’s self, such as through an expression or defense of one’s beliefs, one is creating one’s self, and thus the language used is not just reflecting the self but also creating the self. For example, if I were to say that I believed that loyalty was a virtue, that declaration would mold who I was. I would have made my belief more apparent through the act of stating it, and therefore my statement would both reflect (representative) reality and create (constitutive) reality.
The Holism of Language
According to Charles Taylor there are three aspects which create the holism of language. Firstly language is intrinsically linked to life and culture insofar as that one could not have culture without a means of expressing oneself, a language. This being said one cannot consider a language outside of the culture which created it / is creating and changing it. Secondly language is constantly being modified by the users. When one encounters a new situation some linguistic changes may be necessary for a more accurate description, and through articulation of the subjective experiences one becomes more aware of one’s self. The act of articulating helps to revise the language as well as create the self. Thirdly, and finally, terms within a language derive meaning from differences, and thus Taylor asserts that meaning is “both relative and relational.” Language is relative to the agent using it, that is, one’s subjective experiences influence one’s interpretations, and it is relational insofar as that it reflects the relations between agents as well as the relations between terms within a given language.
What is strong evaluation?
Strong evaluation is a term used to describe the action of ranking “desires”, depicting that some desires are clearly more worthy than others. As humans we do not rank or use strong evaluation for everything. For example, when a matter requires practically vs. actual ethical judgment, for example choosing to ride the bus based on convenience, is not a strong evaluation, but if a person chooses to ride the bus because it pollutes the air we breathe and in turn creates fewer holes in the ozone layer, this is strong evaluation.
What is moral realism?
There are three different categories of moral realism, weak realism, falsifiable realism, and strong realism. Weak realism is just “an account of how individuals experience their lives”, in other words just observations of people experiencing their life. Strong evaluation is the furthest from this in it views that the goods humans can experience are separate from human beings, or exist entirely independent of human beings. Falsifiable realism is, in the end what Taylor supports, falls right in between weak and strong realism, believing that “ the best account of morality must be one that incorporates the fact that individuals experience goods as being worthy of their admiration and respect fro reasons that do depend on their choice of them.” In other words the goods exist independent of us once we create them.
What does Charles Taylor Mean when he says "soft despotism."
This is actually a term and idea coined by Alexis de Tocqueville. With the rise of individualism, people are caring less and less about the world that extends their direct desires. Therefore, in the near future, this kind of attitude about the world could bring the government to what has been named "soft despotism." As long as this government fills the direct desires of the people, it will otherwise be able to act as it pleases. Since citizens will care less and less, they, as individuals, will feel more and more powerless over the actions of their government. The government will become beyond the grasp of its people, thereby having complete control and power.
According to Charles Taylor, what are the three malaises of modernity?
The three malaises of modernity are three things that have brought people to see the period of time between around WWII and the present as a time of decline. Even as civilization develops, people tend to worry about these three things as they progress in society. These things are: (1) The rise of individualism, (2)The disenchantment of the world, and (3) the political consequences of individualism and instrumental reason (see "soft despotism").