April 8, 2002




[URL: Glossary]


[I’ll fill in the definitions when the book is finished.]

[I’m leaving the glossary single-spaced but putting a blank space between each term and the next; this allows me to visually group related terms (e.g., around “Evil” – see below).]


          absolute [antonym: contingent]


          APL: This is an acronym for “A Programming Language”, and it refers to a high-level, mathematically-oriented and -influenced programming language.


          Arrow’s paradox; Arrow’s voting paradox


          Asch effect; Asch experiment(s):




          [to] “bracket something out”


          BSE [Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis, a.k.a. “mad cow disease”]


          circular argument: [See tautology.]


          cognitive development


          communicative action: xx. [See also: strategic action.]




          contingent [antonyms: absolute; transcendental]






                      political culture:


          de novo




          delirium tremens:


          deus ex machina: literally, “God from a machine”. In the Roman theatre, plots were sometimes resolved by a god descending from the heavens, borne, of course, on a chair lowered by a “machine” – a windlass, or pulleys, or whatever. The phrase has thus come to mean a miraculous (and thus unrealistic) way of making all problems disappear.


          dialectic; dialectical; dialectics


          discourse ethics


          dueling oppressions: See “oppressions, dueling”.


          egocentrism: [xx not necessarily selfishness; it just means attachment to one’s own perspective. Also not the inflated ego of “egotism”.]


          emergent effects, emergent system effects:




          epistemology: The study of what it is to know things. Questions like those below are its subject matter:

                      “What is it to know something?”

                      “How can we establish that we know something?”

                      “When is knowledge acquired in a child’s growing up? How is it acquired?”




                      vs. evil:

                      undecidability of existence of:


          existential; not the same as existentialism (I think)










          “first moment” of moral discourse and decisionmaking:


          genetic epistemology: Jean Piaget believed that one could better understand the nature of knowledge (epistemology) by looking at its developmental origins (genesis). The field of genetic epistemology is thus neither philosophy nor psychological science alone but rather a hybrid of the two. Psychological studies can be used to shed light on philosophical problems, and philosophical analysis can be used to clarify the questions that psychological studies seek to answer.


          gold standard of morality



                      The Good; one’s Sense of the Good

                      A Good



          Gozer: The plot of “Ghostbusters” turns on the arrival of Gozer, a deity from a parallel universe who seeks to rule this one.


          Habermas, Jürgen



                      definition of:

                      Mill’s harm principle:


          hermetic project(s)


          Hobbes, Thomas


          Hobbesian: an adjective applied to lifeworlds or worldviews, indicating that they embrace (or at least contemplate or are subject to) the relationships among humans set forth by Hobbes: the struggle of all against all.


          Ideal Speech Situation / ISS


          immanent: inherent in, whether acknowledged or not


          Immanent critique: taking what is inherent in a political or philosophical position (inherent, but usually unacknowledged) and spelling out the implications. See my analysis of the concept of “constraint” in voting studies.


          internal connection: a term commonly used in European social theory to denote what I call fundamental “isomorphism” (q.v.)






          IROG: an acronym for “Internal Reconciliation of the Good”


          isomorphism: Literally, from the Greek, “same form / structure”. In mathematics, two objects are said to be isomorphic if all their elements and the logical interrelationships among the elements simply differ in their labelling. For example, what were called “congruent triangles” in my high school geometry class are isomorphic: they each have three vertices, the distances between the vertices are the same, the angles between the sides are the same, etc. By extension from mathematics, two theories (or concepts) are isomorphic if their concepts (or elementary terms) and the logical relationships among them are identical except for a difference in names.

                      fundamental isomorphism: This phrase is really a synonym for “isomorphism”; adding “fundamental” is really meant to indicate that the isomorphism is not one between superficial elements but rather among the elements we are most concerned with. For example, one could say that Nigeria and the United States are isomorphic in that both are internationally-recognized States, both have citizens, the citizens in both have relationships among one other, both have a central government and are divided into states, etc. All of this may be true, but these similarities are superficial if one wants to understand the political dynamics of the two States.


          Kohlberg, Lawrence



                      classical liberalism

                      modern reform liberalism Footnote

                      modern conservatism




          MAD: The acronym for the strategic doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (q.v.)


          majoritarianism: a term for a regime in which a majority dominates a minority by outvoting it. Majoritarianism has a negative connotation, because it does not build in any protections for the rights of people either as individuals or as members of the minority.


          Marxism; marxian/Marxist thought; neo-Marxist thought


          massive retaliation: A strategic doctrine


          metaphysical [antonym: contingent]




          “moments” of moral discourse and decisionmaking

                      “first moment”: q.v.

                      “second moment”: q.v.

                      “third moment”: q.v.


          [to] motivate [a solution to a problem]: This usage is common is mathematics, but I can’t recall seeing it in political theory or philosophy – hence this entry. Mathematical proofs are often so dry and abstract that it is difficult to understand them simply from reading them. This is particularly true of students, of course, who aren’t accustomed to the technical language and haven’t formed the mathematician’s larger mental map, which would let them follow the proof. To deal with this problem, especially in less formal settings, mathematicians provide an overview of the proof, giving the nature of the problem in more ordinary language and listing its major way-stations. This is called “motivating” a proof – explaining why one did what one did.


          Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD): The strategic doctrine


          Natural Law Theory:


          “natural method” of childraising


          naturalistic fallacy:


          need(s); need theory




          normative: This term has two related meanings. I believe that it originally came from sociologists and anthropologists who needed a term for social rules that were not a matter of law but only of a specific culture – a subculture of our own society or the cultures of other societies entirely. We wanted to free ourselves of the ethnocentric devaluation of societies without written law and, more neutrally, to recognize that social control comes in many forms. Norms were therefore socially (or at least nominally) enforced standards of behavior, and they were thus “normative” for the people involved. To call something “normative” was therefore implicitly not to call it “moral” but was instead only to note that the relevant culture found it to be so. This meaning of “normative” thus embodied the moral position of cultural relativism; norms could be considered moral or not moral only within the context of the culture using them.

However, the meaning of “normative” has also come to mean “moral” in general, as when we contrast “normative” to “empirical” claims. In this usage, a normative claim is a moral claim on oneself and others one deals with; the sense of cultural relativism is gone, or at any rate it exists only implicitly in that we are discussing something binding on us.

In this work, the term is used as a synonym for “moral”. There is no connotation of cultural relativism, which cannot in the end be supported as a moral position. Rather, the restriction of a norm to a certain culture comes when the norm does not affect people outside the culture. Those unaffected by the norm cannot meaningfully agree to or disagree with it, though they are certainly free to engage in therapeutic discourse with those bound by it.

But why use two terms instead of one? I use “normative” instead of “moral” because of the latter’s connotation of authoritarian and abusive judgment. “Moralistic”, “moralism”, “immoral” – all these have the flavor of a parent lecturing a child rather than of adults considering how they will deal with each other.






                      dueling oppressions


          performative contradiction




          philosophy of the subject, the:


          Piaget, Jean (19xx-19xx): the great Swiss student of cognitive development and the


          Pol Pot; “Pol Pot solution”:


          postmodernism; postmodernist:


          pragmatism (the philosophical position)




          Procrustean bed


          psychological fallacy


          Rand, Ayn


          rationality; rationalization: xx. [See also: system; system rationalization.]


          RC: [See Reevaluation Counseling]


          reductio ad absurdum


          Reevaluation Counseling; RC; the International Reevaluation Counseling Communities





                      The Right

                      ‘rights”; to have a right

                      Not the same as in “being right” but rather as in “doing Right”

                      Not the same as “right-wing”


          Scholastics; Scholasticism: Originally, xx. In modern times it has come to mean a preoccupation with issues that have no real importance, meaning, or practical referent, e.g., “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?”


          “second moment” of moral discourse and decisionmaking:


          solipsistic; solipsism


          Stalin, Josef; “Stalin solution”:


          state socialism


          strategic action: xx. [See also: communicative action.]






          system rationalization


          tautology: [See circular argument.]


          therapeutic discourse


          “third moment” of moral discourse and decisionmaking:


          ~ [tilde]: a sign used in formal logic to denote logical negation. Thus “~X” means “not-X” or “the logical negation of X”. For example, if X is the proposition, “The sky is blue”, then ~X is the logical proposition, “It is not true that the sky is blue” or, more simply, “The sky is not blue”.




          transcendental [antonym: contingent]


          TWIW, “That Which Is Welcome”:


          valence (as in “moral valence”)


          validity claim(s)


          [The] Ways of Relating Perspective; “the worp”: The moral philosophy presented in this work distinguished by the following:

                      a distinction between the Good and the Right;

                      an ontology of morality based on empathy;

                      an interpretation of social-cultural-economic-political institutions as constituting relationships between individuals rather than as bearers of moral valence in themselves;

                      xx etc.


          WTO; World Trade Organization