Activating Vocabulary: For ESOL Learners by FLETCHER, Hargreaves

By FLETCHER, Hargreaves

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In assembling this collection we could select and organise only material which actually existed. We had no brief to commission new work. Unsurprisingly, therefore, this collection reflects the areas in which philosophical energy has been productively invested in the recent past. To illustrate, in all sections of Volume III, Society and Education, we had an abundance of work from which to choose and could have filled the space several times over. Our final choice of material was painful and attended by regret for important and influential work which could not be included.

There is first of all a problem about the infliction of pain; for this is usually regarded as something that is prima facie undesirable. How is this to be justified? Supposing it can be, on the grounds that it will deter others from committing similar offences and produce less unhappiness in the long run than not inflicting it. Why then should it be inflicted on the offenders? For the concept of ‘punishment’ seems to require this as well. Surely because of some in-built notion of justice that requires discrimination against people only on relevant grounds.

If we think that we have got a concept pinned down, we are apt to come across a case where we would naturally use the word but where the condition which we have made explicit is not established. We might think, for instance, that a necessary condition of using the word ‘punishment’ is that something unpleasant should be inflicted on the guilty. Yet we do talk of boxers taking a lot of punishment. And of what are they guilty? Wittgenstein made this general point by taking the example of ‘games’.

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