‘Realism and the relativity of judgement’

Professor Raymond Geuss

Professor Raymond Geuss

13 October 2014

Raymond Geuss, Emeritus Professor in Philosophy at Cambridge University will deliver the Annual E H Carr Memorial Lecture at the Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University on Thursday 30th October.

The lecture, which is open to the public, will take place in the Main Hall at the Department of International Politics and starts at 6.00pm.

The title of Professor Geuss’ lecture is ‘Realism and the relativity of judgement’.

Professor Geuss is a very distinguished scholar specialising in political philosophy, ethics and the history of Continental Philosophy.

His publications include The Idea of a Critical Theory (Cambridge University Press, 1981) and Philosophy and Real Politics (Princeton University Press, 2008).  This latter book examines the realist approach to political philosophy.

Prior to moving to Cambridge in 1993, Professor Geuss taught at Princeton University, the University of Chicago, and had also held posts at the Universities of Heidelberg and Freiburg.

His latest book, A World Without Why (Princeton University Press, 2014) is a collection of essays dealing with the human trait of wishful thinking and the long-term effect it has on ethical thought. With Quentin Skinner, Professor Geuss co-edits the Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought book series.

In his lecture, Professor Geuss will examine the objection against Carr’s work that his ‘realist’ position was ‘relativist’ and thus could not give us real guidance in politics. After examining the objection, and how one might respond, he will suggest that Carr himself offers a response, but was not in control of his most original insights.  In particular, he will argue that ‘realism’ and a certain kind of ‘utopianism’ are in principle compatible in ways that Carr did not envisage.  Understanding politics not as applied morality, but morality as a kind of politics, Professor Geuss thinks that Carr emerges as having an ‘engaged, theoretically reflective commitment which was no respecter of persons or institutions’, and as such can serve as a model to us all.

The E H Carr Memorial Lecture

The Woodrow Wilson Chair of International Politics, established at Aberystwyth in 1919, is the oldest Chair in the subject, and heralded the creation of the Department. E H Carr, the fourth holder of the Chair, was its best-known occupant.

During his years at Aberystwyth (1936-1947), Professor Carr wrote The Twenty Years' Crisis 1919-1939: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations, which is generally regarded as one of the seminal works in the discipline. He later became known in the wider world of scholarship for his multi-volume work, A History of Soviet Russia and his best-selling What is History? Professor Carr died in 1982 at the age of 90.  The Department has been holding an annual lecture in his memory since 1984.

The lecture series was originally funded by royalties from books which resulted from conferences sponsored by the Department over some 20 years at Gregynog Hall, the University of Wales conference centre, and formerly the home of David Davies, who endowed the Wilson Chair, and with whom Carr had a disputatious relationship.

The lecture series is now funded by Sage, the publishers of International Relations, the journal of the David Davies Memorial Institute, in which the written version of the lecture will be published.