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W. B. Gallie; IX.—Essentially Contested Concepts, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Volume 56, Issue 1, 1 June , Pages – Conceptual confusion has long been a source of difficulty in the study of politics. W. B. Gallie’s analysis of ‘essentially contested concepts’, published in ‘W.B. Gallie and Essentially Contested Concepts’. Re-Reading of W.B. Gallie, ‘ Essentially Contested Concepts’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian.

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It is important to recognize that rather than it just being a case of delivering two different instructions; it is essenyially case of delivering two different kinds of instruction:. Concepts and Action”, pp. Rape as an Essentially Contested Concept. Art as an Essentially Contested Concept.

But once [we] let the truth out of the bag — i. It has been treated as a challenge in that theorists consider their uses of terms and concepts to be in competition with the uses advocated by other theorists, each theorist trying to be deemed the champion.

In essence, HartRawlsDworkinand Lukes distinguished between the “unity” of a notion and the “multiplicity” of its possible instantiations.

W. B. Gallie, Essentially Contested Concepts – PhilPapers

Snelling – – Xontested Philosophy 13 3: Peter Ingram – – Philosophia 15 Aprilpp. In an attempt to account for cases where disputants trace their individual notions back to entirely differentbut mutually compatible exemplarsConnollyp. Therefore, he argues, his instructions do, in fact, “cover” this new case.

Constitutional Moments in Governing Science and Technology. Ehrenberg – – International Journal of Law in Context 7: Andrew Mason – – Inquiry: Sign in Create an account. In these circumstances, says Dworkin, “the group conecpts a concept of unfairness, and its members may appeal to that concept in moral instruction or argument. Essentially contested concepts involve widespread agreement on a concept e. Freeden remarks that “not all essentially contested concepts signify valued achievements; they may equally essengially disapproved and denigrated phenomena”, [18] and Gerring [19] asks us to imagine just how difficult it would be to “[try] to craft definitions of slavery, fascism, terrorism, or genocide without recourse to ‘pejorative’ attributes”.


The Notion of an Essentially Contested Concept.

Clarke has made a valuable contribution to the overall debate by suggesting that, in order to determine whether a particular dispute was a consequence of true polysemy or inadvertent homonymy, one should seek to “locate the source of the dispute”. Gallie inthe expression “essentially contested concept” has been treated both as a challenge and as an excuse by social theorists.

Essentially contested concept

However, the members may still disagree over many of these “controversial cases”; and differences of this sort indicate that members haveor act uponentirely different theories of why and how each of the “standard cases” are, in fact, genuine acts of “unfairness”.

See McKnightp. Find it on Scholar. Hansen – – Studies in Philosophy and Education 29 2: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 33 1: Wikipedia articles needing clarification from May Sign in to use this feature.

Chasing Butterflies Without a Net: On Explaining Political Disagreement: Dworkin argues that cotested admission of error would not entail any “change” to his original instructions, because the true meaning of his instructions was that conteeted meant the family to be guided by the concept of fairness, not by any specific conception of fairness [that he] might have had in mind”.

John Kekes – – Philosophy and Rhetoric 10 2: Scholars such as H.

In other words, this is “to claim that some feature or property of the concept makes it polysemantic, and that the concept contains some internal conflict of ideas”; and it is this fact that provides the “essentially contested concept” with its inherent potential for “generating disputes”. Science Logic and Mathematics. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The dispute is about the proper use of the concept; and all argue that the concept is being “used inappropriately” by others Smith,p.


Clarke argued that to state that a concept is merely “contested” is to “attribute significance to the contest rather than to the concept”. As a consequence, according to Dworkin, whenever an appeal is made to “fairness”, a moral issue is raised; and, whenever a conception of “fairness” is laid down, an attempt is being made to answer that moral issue.

A Radical ViewMacmillan, London The members of this group “agree on a great number of standard cases of unfairness and use these as benchmarks against which to test other, more controversial cases”. Merrill – – Metaphilosophy 23 4: Gallie speaks of how “This picture is painted in oils ” can be successfully contested if the work is actually painted in tempera ; [10] while “This picture is a work of art” may meet strong opposition due to disputes over what “work of art” denotes.

Open Concepts and Contested Concepts. And, because each considers that certain principles “[which] must be relied upon to show that a particular division or attribution is unfair” are far a more “fundamental” sort of principle than certain other principles, it can be said that members of the group have different conceptions of “fairness”.