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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Keywords – essentially contested concepts (Gallie)

Open Concepts and Contested Concepts. This page was last edited on 16 Juneat Jeremy Waldron ‘s research has revealed that Gallie’s notion has “run wild” in the law review literature over the ensuing 60 years and is now being used to denote something like “very hotly contested, with no resolution in sight”, [44] due to an entirely mistaken view [45] that the essential in Gallie’s term is an ” intensifier “, when, in fact, “[Gallie’s] term ‘essential’ refers to the location of the disagreement or indeterminacy; it is contestation at the core, not just at the borderlines or penumbra of a concept”.

Retrieved from ” https: David-Hillel Ruben – – Philosophical Papers 39 2: Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 56 1: Gallie inthe expression “essentially contested concept” has been treated both as a challenge and as an excuse by social theorists.

A Reconsideration”, Philosophy and RhetoricVol. A Radical ViewMacmillan, London But once [we] let the truth out of the bag — i. An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 33 1: In a section of his article in The New York Review of BooksDworkin used the example of “fairness” to isolate and elaborate the difference between a concept suum cuique and its conception various instantiations, for example utilitarian ethics.


Clarke then drew attention to the substantial differences between the expressions “essentially contested” and “essentially contestable”, that were being extensively used within the literature as though they were interchangeable. And, although the notion could be misleadingly and evasively used to justify “agreeing to disagree”, [7] the term offers something more valuable:. Consequently, those responsible for giving “instructions”, and those responsible for setting “standards” of “fairness”, in this community may be doing one of two things:.

The disputes that attend an essentially contested concept are driven by substantive disagreements over a range of different, entirely reasonable although perhaps mistaken interpretations of a mutually-agreed-upon archetypical notion, such as the legal precept “treat like cases alike; and treat different cases differently”, with “each party [continuing] to defend its case with what it claims to be convincing arguments, evidence and other forms of justification”.

Susanne Gibson – – Bioethics 18 3: Exploring what he considers to be the “crucial distinction” between the overall concept of “fairness” and some particular, and specific conception of “fairness”, he asks us to imagine a group whose members share the view that certain acts are unfair. The Problem of Abortion: Eric Reitan – – Hypatia 16 2: 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.

Concepts and Action”, pp. In a different dispute over banks, where one speaks of financial institutions and the other of riparian zonesit is obvious that two homonyms have been confused.

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Essentially contested concept – Wikipedia

The descriptive definition is still essentislly definition, even if one may think it less interesting than Gallie’s definition. Yet is also clear that “if the notion of logical justification can be applied only to such theses and arguments as can be presumed capable of gaining in the long run universal agreement, the disputes to which the uses of any essentially contested concept give rise are not genuine or rational disputes at all” [ concpts needed ] Gallie, a, p.


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Essentially contested concepts involve widespread agreement on a concept e. See McKnightp. An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 14 1: Rape as an Essentially Contested Concept.

Essentially contested concept

This source might be “within the concept itself”, or “[within] some underlying non-conceptual disagreement between the contestants”.

It has been treated as a challenge in that theorists consider their uses of terms and ga,lie to be in competition with the uses advocated by other theorists, each theorist trying to be deemed the champion. He suggests three avenues whereby one might resolve such disputes:.

On Explaining Political Disagreement: 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”. Peter Ingram – – Philosophia 15 Johnstone – – Inquiry: The Ethics and Tactics of Argument.