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John R. Campbell

This article explores the relation between theory and method in three methodologically innovative studies of rural poverty. The issue is pertinent because the nature of research on poverty has shifted from small-scale qualitative studies to large surveys, and to national-scale studies that combine qualitative and quantitative methods in an effort to inform policy makers on appropriate poverty reduction strategies. The interest in combined methods holds considerable promise for poverty research because it links a search for 'objective' economic concerns to the analysis of 'subjective' and context-specific issues. It is instructive to examine recent studies of poverty that have pursued different theoretical and methodological choices with a view to understand how 'theory' influenced methodological choices, and whether and how such choices influenced their understanding of poverty.

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David Estlund

Sunstein argues that democratic theory has recently rested its normative claims on a vast but empirically uninformed optimism about the ability of collective deliberation to lead to morally and rationally better decisions. Once that question is considered empirically, he argues, deliberation turns out to be mixed at best, and a disaster at worst. I want to suggest that Sunstein exaggerates the claims of the deliberative democrats, and interprets the empirical literature against deliberation in a way that appears, even based on his own descriptions of the studies, to be unfairly biased against the value of deliberation.

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Measuring the Sacred

Research Notes on the Use of Science by Adherents of New Spiritualities in Poland

Dorota Hall

The essay presents exemplary cases for the use of scientific accessories, such as a specialist vocabulary and sophisticated technical tools, in Polish holistic milieus. It analyses editorials published in the esoteric monthly Nieznany Świat, and refers to materials gathered during ethnographic fieldwork among vendors and customers of alternative medicine fairs and esoteric shops in Warsaw, as well as visitors to the Węsiory village, considered to be one of Earth's 'power places'. The work goes on the claim that references to science, and especially to various measurements, besides their legitimating function, appeal to sensitivity related to traditional folk religiosity. Therefore, the Nieznany Świat magazine might be considered a continuer of the folk tradition.

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The “Democracy-Politics Paradox”

The Dynamics of Political Alienation

Gerry Stoker and Mark Evans

Contemporary political scientists have observed a democratic paradox that has crystallized around the disconnection between how citizens imagine their democracy and how politics is practiced. Citizens continue to believe in the values of liberal democracy but are increasingly disillusioned with how their political systems work and the politics that are practiced in the name of democracy. This article revisits the root causes of political alienation to better understand this democratic paradox. It provides both a conceptual understanding of political alienation and its domain of action and insights into how the concept can be operationalized and measured in empirical research. It argues that while democracy itself may not be in crisis, the politics on which its operation rests is in peril.

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Charles Bradford Bow

This article examines the “progress” of Scottish metaphysics during the long eighteenth century. The scientific cultivation of natural knowledge drawn from the examples of Sir Francis Bacon (1561–1626), John Locke (1632–1704), and Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727) was a defining pursuit in the Scottish Enlightenment. The Aberdonian philosopher George Dalgarno (1616–1687); Thomas Reid (1710–1796), a member of the Aberdeen Philosophical Society known as the Wise Club; and the professor of moral philosophy at Edinburgh University Dugald Stewart (1753–1828), contributed to that Scottish pattern of philosophical thinking. The question of the extent to which particular external senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell) might be improved when others were damaged or absent from birth attracted their particular interest. This article shows the different ways in which Scottish anatomists of the mind resolved Molyneux’s Problem of whether or not an agent could accurately perceive an object from a newly restored external sense.

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Assumptions matter

Reflections on the Kanbur typology

Paul Shaffer

In contradistinction to Ravi Kanbur's (2003) summarization of a recent conference on qualitative and quantitative poverty analysis in which he proposed a typology of differences between 'qual and quant' approaches, I argue that key elements in this typology are derivative of more basic distinctions in the philosophy of social science between three research programs: empiricism/positivism, hermeneutics, and critical theory/critical hermeneutics. The point is not simply of academic interest but has practical implications for aspects of poverty analysis, including numeric transformation of data, assessment of the validity of empirical findings, and inferring policy implications from research results.

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An Intellectual Genealogy of the Revolt against “Esprit de Système”

From the Renaissance to the Early Enlightenment

Jeffrey D. Burson

This article suggests the further resituating of the origins of the early European Enlightenment in what William J. Bouwsma has called the “waning Renaissance.” The waning Renaissance was more than simply a Neoplatonic reaction first against humanism and second against a moribund Aristotelianism. Instead, it bequeathed to the early Enlightenment a chastened, initially less optimistic humanism among scholars whose work prepared the way for the eighteenth-century aversion to system-building, and a greater respect for meticulously circumscribed, useful certainties. This article argues that the “waning Renaissance” derived from the increasingly pervasive perception by writers that eclectic systems fusing Hermeticism, scholasticism, and humanism represented an overweening confidence in the ability of humankind to perfect the natural and human orders. In diverse ways, this article contends that the reactions to such overconfidence by John Calvin, Francis Bacon, the Paduan Aristotelians, and Galileo foreshadowed early Enlightenment skepticism and empiricism.

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Knowledge, Travel, and Embodied Thought

Restlessness in Herder’s Journal of My Voyage in the Year 1769

John K. Noyes

In this article I examine Johann Gottfried Herder’s Journal of My Voyage in the Year 1769 as a radical experiment in travel writing. Herder understands travel as an alignment of the mobility of the mind with the mobility of the body, and the task of the travel writer (and the traveling reader) is to use language to explore this alignment. Th e experiment of 1769 was intended as a continuation of his studies on epistemology, which had been intent on finding an alternative understanding of knowledge to the dominant trends of the day, idealism and empiricism. Language and its actualization in reading and writing are the foundation upon which knowledge transfer can be built, and the Journal is an attempt to demonstrate how knowledge transfer is possible.

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Crimen Sollicitationis

Tabooing Incest after the Orgy

Diederik F. Janssen

Late modernity’s binary intrigue of child sexuality/abuse is understood as a backlash phenomenon reactive to a general trans‐Atlantic crisis concerning the interlocking of kinship, religion, gender, and sexuality. Tellingly dissociated from 1980s gay liberation and recent encounters between queer theory and kinship studies, the child abuse theme articulates modernity’s guarded axiom of tabooed incest and its projected contemporary predicament “after the orgy”—after the proclaimed disarticulation of religion‐motivated, kin‐pivoted, reproductivist, and gender‐rigid socialities. “Child sexual abuse” illustrates a general situation of decompensated nostalgia: an increasingly imminent loss of the child’s vital otherness is counterproductively embattled by the late modern overproduction of its banal difference, its status as “minor.” Attempts to humanize, reform, or otherwise moderate incest’s current “survivalist” and commemorative regime of subjectivation, whether by means of ethical, empirical, historical, critical, legal, or therapeutic gestures, typically trigger the latter’s panicked empiricism. Accordingly, most “critical” interventions, from feminist sociology and anthropology to critical legal studies, have largely been collusive with the backlash: rather than appraising the radical precariousness of incest’s ethogram of avoidance in the face of late modernity’s dispossessing analytics and semiotics, they tend to feed its state of ontological vertigo and consequently hyperextended, manneristic forensics.