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The nature of a transcendental argument: toward a critique of Dialectic: the Pulse of Freedom

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Surprisingly, over the decade or so since its publication, Bhaskar's Dialectic: The Pulse of Freedom has received relatively little in the way of systematic analysis either by critical realists or their critics. There have been, however, a number of critiques that have dealt with some of its themes and developments in a variety of contexts. In the following study, I assess the argument of Alex Callinicos. Callinicos' critique, though in many ways sympathetic, is fundamental to critical realism. Engaging with it provides a means to develop and clarify a number of arguments about aspects of critical realism in general and also provides a useful staging point to set forth a basic and consistent ordering of inquiry for a critique of DPF. The initial purpose of the analysis is not so much a defence of DPF but an assessment of the construction of an argument brought to bear on it. I argue that the form of the argument deployed is problematic in a way that detracts from the substance of the critique of the content of DPF (I make no comment here on its relation to the later spiritual turn). This is not to suggest that DPF is immune to criticism but rather to suggest that a fuller analysis of the DPF argument and its potential remains to be made. The ultimate purpose of the analysis is to use this assessment of a strategy of critique—an argumentation schema or discursive form—to create an alternative approach to critically appraising DPF. Fundamental to Callinicos' argument is the nature of transcendental argument.

10.1163/1572513042692445
/content/journals/10.1163/1572513042692445
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2004-11-01
2016-12-07

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