Abstracts for Cogito (Greece) 5 (2006)

Konstantinos Tsinas
Criminal law meets philosophy: The role of “what-if” questions in criminal law theory

In this paper, the author claims that the philosophical category of “counterfactual conditionals” plays a significant role in legal reasoning and theorizing, especially in the field of criminal law doctrine. More precisely, the so-called “what-if questions” and their counterfactual answers are often – and sometimes unconsciously – employed as arguments in the discussion of various issues of great importance. Such issues may concern causation and responsibility, the subtle distinction between different kinds of criminal intention, the structure of excuses and justifications, or specific methods of penal statute interpretation. It is therefore absolutely necessary that legal scholars and judges go deeper into the wider philosophical discussion of this topic, since it underlies central problems in penal theory and constitutes a prerequisite for their solution.

Costis M. Coveos
The Mozart-Da Ponte blend

Most music critics abhor Da Ponte for having provided Mozart with such a feeble libretto for his masterpiece Così fan tutte. In saying this they seem to have in mind a better librettist. But how could Mozart have benefited from a “better” libretto, since he did manage to produce a masterpiece with the “poor” one? An opera is not just music with words; it is music and words, in the sense that in the absence of either one, what remains cannot be said to constitute an opera, let alone a masterpiece. Therefore, one cannot separate music from words and then come up with a claim such as “The music was superb but that libretto…”. Not only is it impossible to appreciate an opera if one takes no account of the words; it is equally impossible to articulate what a claim such as the above means. In any case, the fact that Mozart “managed” to produce a masterpiece based on Da Ponte’s libretto provides us with proof that the libretto was not a poor one after all; on the contrary, it was perfectly fine for the task assigned to it: namely, not to pose as a masterpiece on its own, but to provide the music with a simple, “pliable” basis so that the music itself could stand free from the fetters of an overly eloquent text.

Costis M. Coveos
Expression and grimace

A grimace has meaning only in contrast to the variety of ordinary facial expressions. Thus, a face making nothing but grimaces cannot be said to express anything. I think there is a fruitful analogy between grimaces and modern music. It is well-known that atonal music derived inspiration from sixteenth-century harmony, which had dared to use dissonance extensively. I cannot help thinking that atonal music sprang from the idea that, since such excellent music could be produced with the use of dissonance (grimaces), one could attain even more astonishing heights by abandoning classical harmony altogether. A music constantly “making faces”, however, can be no more expressive than a face constantly making grimaces: namely, it lies closer to a disease than to meaningfulness.

Peggy Voutsina
Oh! It’s a miracle, or else, a violation of natural law

This paper focuses on a philosophical analysis of the concept of a miracle. An attempt is made to elaborate the claim that the notion of a miracle as a violation of natural law is self-contradictory. It is paradoxical to suggest both that such an event has occurred, and that it is a violation of natural law.

Nicholas Vrousalis
Self-ownership and equality: A discussion of Left libertarianism

This essay discusses the Left libertarianism recently propounded by Hillel Steiner and Michael Otsuka. It argues that certain versions of Left libertarianism provide fruitful ground for reconciling equality with liberty, and therefore offer reasons for putting Isaiah Berlin’s “famous conflict” between equality and liberty to rest.

Kyriaki Fetfatzi
Female eunuchs of Hollywood. Representations of the feminine in Hollywood movies

Are Uma Thurman in “Kill Bill” and Angelina Jolie in “Tomb Raider” the perfect actualizations of the ideals of feminism? Why does femininity have to justify itself through rigid and already existent discourses? What is innovative in the representation of a woman eunuch? The physical strength of these heroines, their speed and capability as fighters, are always accompanied by high standards of upgraded beauty. Are they consequently questioning the already constructed female identity? Do they manage to escape the domination of the male gaze, when they actually depend on it as the main referee to themselves?

On the other side, postmodern “incredulity towards grand narratives” (Lyotard, 1979), as well as embracing the multiplicity of the sign, create a vast space for unrestricted ontological experimentation. In this case, cinema could act as the projector of the female’s multiple alternative substantiations, the postmodern arcade (Benjamin, 1982) for the emergence of the roving flaneuse.

Published 5 January 2007
Original in English

Contributed by Cogito (Greece) © Cogito (Greece) Eurozine


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