No Holds Barred

It’s time to make my presence known to the broader blogosphere. I want to personally thank Irfan Khawaja for inviting me to become a contributor here at Policy of Truth. I’ve never met Irfan in person, though we have corresponded via e-mail. Whether via e-mail, in a combox, on a blog, or in a written piece, I have always admired the candor, argumentative brilliance, and thoroughness of his thought. He has this indefatigable knack to remain analytically precise in the face of ideological platitudes, knee-jerk reactionism, or just plain old fidiesm (religious or secular). In fact, I remember reading him years ago at History News Network when he was a contributor there. I was then (as I am now) one of the “silent majority” cheering and edging him on in spirit. So it’s an honor (“honour” where I’m currently residing) to have the opportunity to share my philosophical tidbits alongside him, Carrie-Anne Biondi, and David J. Riesbeck.

A little about me. My name is Derrick Abdul-Hakim. I’m currently a graduate student in the philosophy department at San Francisco State University. The main focus of my philosophical research is a defense of an Aristotelian (but non-Davidsonian) theory of action. It’s not a particularly popular approach, so I’ve got my work cut out. I specialize in metaphysics (action theory, philosophy of mind, theories of causation, and explanation), ethical theory and practical ethics, and political philosophy. My other interests are Islamic philosophy, philosophy of perception, philosophy of law, and philosophy of science. My (graduate) teaching experience consists of teaching Bioethics, Sex and Law, Political Philosophy, and Human Rights Law. Apart from academic pedagogy, I taught mathematics at a private school for four years to stay above the Californian poverty line.

What can I say? Given my wide interests I have quite a lot to say. On a philosophical note, I plan to gab about collective responsibility (or at least how to make sense of it), Pettit Republicanism and its problems, Davidsonian action theory (and its associated problems), and other assorted philosophical musings. On a non-philosophical note, I plan to discuss topics ranging from Hamas, ISIS…err IS, exclusionary zoning all the way across the spectrum to historiography. That said, whatever I post will be strictly from a philosophical point of view.

2 thoughts on “No Holds Barred

  1. So you’re an Aristotelian, too? I had no idea. Well, that makes four Aristotelians at one blog, all masquerading as emblems of diversity. So there turns out to be a party line at Policy of Truth, after all. On the other hand, you’re a Petit-influenced republican, so there’s one disagreement. And whereas you’ve taught math, I’ve never managed to learn any, so there’s another difference. What a relief! We’re different!

    Thanks for the kind words. At this rate, I won’t need to write a promotion packet, I can just copy and paste the combox from my blog. Keep the love-fest coming, guys! This year, Associate Professor. Next, year, I’ll go for Full!

    Actually, I am (in all seriousness) gratified that someone was on my side during my time at HNN. That was a pretty demoralizing experience. (I got kicked off the blog at the insistence of one of the bloggers there, and most of my comments were deleted.)

    Really glad to have you on board, Derrick, and look forward to your blogging. I seem to have managed to post my third Ferguson post at the same time as your posting your introduction, alas, so I’ll highlight it above that.


  2. It’ll be great to have you, Derrick! I’m especially excited by your list of interests. I’ve puzzled for quite some time about how Aristotelian accounts of action and agency square with Davidsonian ideas, and I admit that I just don’t understand Davidson well enough to have much of a view about it. About as far as I’ve gotten is thinking that his criticisms of Anscombian anti-causalism aren’t decisive, but that there’d better be some sense in which action-explanation is causal, lest it become merely a way of interpreting events whose causal history is determined entirely at a non-rational level. But this is just one of many respects in which my relative ignorance of contemporary philosophy gets the better of me.

    I’m also eager to hear more about Pettit-style Republicanism. My own view of Aristotle is that he is not a “civic republican” in the old-fashioned, pre-Pettit/Skinner sense of regarding political participation as an intrinsic good, and that he in fact grounds the value of citizenship in something very much like the principle of non-domination (quite literally, even; I call it the principle of non-despotic rule). But Pettit Republicans reject perfectionist rationales altogether, whereas Aristotle is of course a thoroughgoing perfectionist, and I frankly do not see that any political theory that is not basically perfectionist in structure (as opposed to the first-order content of the laws and institutions that it endorses) has much prospect of success. So we should have much to talk about!


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