There is a style of editorial which sets out to demonstrate that the
contents being introduced are both necessary and timely, and that
it is ‘no accident’ that they are all together here and now. Radical
Philosophy however, is a more contingent affair. Its purpose is to
provide a forum for philosophical work and theoretical debate on
the left. This issue contains a selection of the best material that has
been sent in to us for publication. It is not so much necessary as
representative, reflecting some major topics of current discussion.
Particularly welcome are the feminist contributions, which
form a substantial part of this issue. In recent years, when
feminism has been one of the main influences on the left, we have
been aware that it has been under-represented in the journal. For
this issue, however, a number of good feminist pieces were
submitted. We discussed the possibility of putting together another ‘special issue’ on feminism (as with Radical Philosophy 34).
However, we decided not to separate out the feminist work in this
fashion, but instead to try to ensure that it has a more integral and
constant place in the journal. For we felt it important to make clear
that feminism is not an isolated, specialised or limited field of
interest, but rather one which interacts with and contributes across
the whole spectrum of philosophy.
This point is well illustrated by the articles in this issue. Susan
Parson’s ‘Feminism and the Logic of Morality’ provides a wideranging and well reasoned discussion of recent feminist theory,
relating it to current work in moral philosophy. Jean Grimshaw’s
‘Philosophy and Aggression’ originated as a paper at the Radical
Philosophy conference last December. In it she challenges the
view that there is a distinctive feminist form of morality or a
distinctive feminist style in philosophy. Nevertheless, she argues,
women share a number of concerns which have important implications both for the content of philosophy and for the way in which
it is expressed. We expect to carry further articles on questions
raised by feminism in coming issues.
Topics of epistemology and method are also prominent in this
issue. Both Johansson and Bemstein deal with these areas; but
from different points of view, reflecting the two main intellectual
currents which presently influence British philosophy, and which
are brought together in Radical Philosophy. Johansson writes
from within the analytical tradition. In ‘Beyond Objectivism and
Relativism’, he gives a vigorous and forthright defence of a
‘fallibilist’ version of realism. This is developed primarily in the
context of the work of Rorty, Popper and Kuhn; but it shares much
in common with the realist position developed in previous issues
by Bhaskar, Benton, Collier and others, and usefully continues
By contrast, Bernstein’s ‘The Politics of Fulfilment and Transfiguration’ is written in the context of contemporary German philosophy. It takes the form of an extended critical study of a recent
work on Habermas and critical theory. However, Bernstein uses
this as a framework within which to raise broad questions about the
nature of critical theory; and his article augments and extends the
discussion of this topic which has been a feature of recent issues.
Both the analytical and the continental philosophical traditions
contribute importantly to radical thought, andRadical Philosophy
remains one of the few places in which both can fmd expression,
meet and enter into dialogue.
Michael Rustin has been a distinctive and original voice within
the British left, and we are pleased to be publishing his work.
‘Place and Time in Socialist Theory’ is a characteristically
thought-provoking piece which emphasises the importance of
specific historical and local roots for social consciousness and
identity, and argues that the left should pay greater attention to
these themes – themes more usually associated with conservative
than with socialist thought. As with Jean Grimshaw’s piece this
paper was also originally presented at the recent Radical P hilosophy conference, where it stimulated a lively discussion.
Hopefully all these themes will be continued in future issues.
In order for that to happen, however, we depend upon people
sending in material for publication – articles, of course, but also
comments and criticisms, letters and news items, jokes, graphics
and anything else which will help to make the magazine more
lively and enjoyable. We commission few pieces, and only very
rarely do we republish material from elsewhere. We really are
dependent on readers for the great bulk of our material. In an effort
to gain a wider audience for Radical Philosophy and to encourage
authors to send us their work, we are taking steps to be indexed and
abstracted in some of the standard reference sources. Radical
Philosophy is now included in the British Humanities Index and in
The Philosophers’ Index, which will also include abstracts of main
articles. We hope to be able to announce our inclusion in further
reference sources in due course.