Monday, January 28, 2019

Timothy Williamson Contra Bruno Latour

pretty good.
Latour is basically a charlatan. He's just one of innumerable people who are controversial and of interest almost exclusively as a result of formulating their theses in misleading ways. They say things like "species are socially constructed," and then motte-and-bailey the hell out of them. They choose that formulation precisely because it seems to mean something very exciting--mind-boggling, in fact--that we create animals by how we think and talk. Since that's absurd, they typically retreat as soon as challenged to a number of other not-entirely-absurd interpretations, like "We have some kind of role in drawing lines, for practical purposes, between species." Or even: "We made up words like 'dog' and 'elephant.'" It's weird how tedious and difficult it is to bring people to see why this isn't permissible. I've taken shots at it here, but I won't do it again now. It ought to be obvious, and I hope it is.
   Anyway, good on Williamson. It's depressing that Latour et al. still attract attention.


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