Titus Stahl

New publication: Collective Responsibility for Oppression

I have a new article forthcoming in Social Theory and Practice, entitled “Collective Responsibility for Oppression” (paywalled link to final publisher’s version; download the final author’s version here or on my Humanities Commons profile).

The abstract is as follows:

Many contemporary forms of oppression are not primarily the result of formally organized collective action nor are they an unintended outcome of a combination of individual actions. This raises the question of collective responsibility. I argue that we can only determine who is responsible for oppression if we understand oppression as a matter of social practices that create obstacles for social change. This social practice view of oppression enables two insights: First, that there is an unproblematic sense in which groups can bear irreducible collective responsibility for oppression. Second, that there are derived forms of individual responsibility for members of dominant groups.


The making of the Dialectic of Enlightenment

On the “Progressive Enlightenment” blog, there are two fascinating and detailed posts about the history of how Adorno’s and Horkheimer’s “Dialectic of Enlightenment” was published: part 1, part 2. Highly recommended!

Delta Chat - another decentralized encrypted messenger

While a year ago, there was very little choice for people who wanted to use a messenger that is both end-to-end encrypted and decentralized, there are now several options available: XMPP with OMEMO fits the bill as does Riot and the upcoming Briar release. I recently discovered another new arrival on the scene: Delta Chat (Android only) uses your existing email account to implement a chat function and secures messages with OpenPGP, implementing the Autocrypt standard. Obvious advantages of this approach are that it is unnecessary to create another account and that you can use the app to communicate even with people that do not have the app installed. However, one disadvantage is that the encryption does not have forward secrecy. It’s also not immediately clear to me from the UI which of my messages will be encrypted and which won’t – which might make secure use much harder (but the reason might be that I have no other contacts that use the app).

I would not recommend this yet for any sensitive information, but it is an interesting concept.

Cooperatively owned social media platform

Social coop is a social media site that is cooperatively owned by its members, part of the GNU Social/Mastodon fediverse. This opens up the opportunity to have a social media platform that does not act against the interests of its users, by tracking them, spying on them or selling their data. My user profile is at: @titus@social.coop.

To join this cooperative, you are asked to make a financial contribution (although there seems to be the possibility for people with few financial resources to join without paying). But you can also communicate with me or anyone else on the GNU Social/Mastodon platform by joining one of the other instances which are mostly free.

New Stanford Encyclopedia Article on Hope

Together with my colleague Claudia Blöser, I was asked to write an article about hope for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as part of our hope research project that is funded by the Hope and Optimism project at Notre Dame University. The article covers both the philosophical history of hope in the Western tradition, current approaches in analytical philosophy and authors like Bloch and Rorty.

Discussions of hope can be found throughout the history of philosophy and across all Western philosophical traditions, even though philosophy has traditionally not paid the same attention to hope as it has to attitudes like belief and desire. However, even though hope has historically only rarely been discussed systematically — with important exceptions, such as Aquinas, Bloch and Marcel — almost all major philosophers acknowledge that hope plays an important role in regard to human motivation, religious belief or politics. Historically, discussions of the importance of hope were often embedded in particular philosophical projects. More recent discussions of hope provide independent accounts of its nature and its relation to other mental phenomena, such as desire, intention and optimism.

Continue reading (open access)

New publication: The Metaethics of Critical Theories

I have contributed a chapter to the Palgrave Handbook of Critical Theory that is edited by Michael Thompson, titled “The Metaethics of Critical Theories”.

Unfortunately, Palgrave’s intellectual property policies prevent me to put a copy online (even the author’s version is embargoed for three years). If you cannot access the article online, let me know and I am happy to share it via e-mail.

The abstract of the chapter is as follows:

Critical theories, from their beginning in Marx’s philosophy to the Frankfurt School with its different generations, have always been characterized by a certain ambivalence toward moral questions. They often conceive themselves as an alternative to traditional moral philosophy, which is criticized both for separating context-free normative justification and empirical descriptions too strictly and for its seeming commitment to moral and normative standards developed independently from historical and social contingency. The different generations of critical theory have all attempted to develop a theory of normative judgment which is appropriately critical but which nevertheless does not require any commitment to naive moral naturalism or context-free realism. In the chapter, the author traces this through the different stages of the development of critical theories, and argues that at least some of the answers we can find in this tradition do not fit into the usual division between realist and antirealist theories in contemporary metaethics.