The Problem of Domination by Reason and Its Non-Relativistic Solution


  • Oskari Kuusela University of East Anglia



domination, relativism, Wittgenstein, method, agreement


This paper outlines a solution to what can be called “the problem of domination by reason”, “conceptual domination” or “clarificatorory injustice”, connected with how a philosopher may appear to be in a position to legitimately coerce, by means of arguments, an interlocutor who shares with her a concept or a conceptual system to accept a philosophical characterization of a concept or whatever the concept concerns. The proposed solution is based on a particular interpretation of what Wittgenstein means by agreement in his later philosophy, when he says that philosophy only states what anyone grants to it. Wittgenstein’s view and the proposed solution are characterized by their continued recognition of the value of logic and reason, truth and knowledge, as opposed to attempting to solve the problem by embracing relativism and questioning the value of the logic, reason, truth and knowledge. Relevant kind of disagreements licence no relativistic conclusions, because problems relating to them can be solved without going this far.

Keywords: domination, relativism, Wittgenstein, method, agreement

Author Biography

Oskari Kuusela, University of East Anglia

Oskari Kuusela is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia. He is the author of The Struggle Against Dogmatism: Wittgenstein and the Concept of Philosophy (Harvard University Press, 2008), Key Terms in Ethics (Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2010) and Wittgenstein on Logic as the Method of Philosophy: Re-examining the Roots and Development of Analytic Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2019). He is the co-editor of Wittgenstein and His Interpreters (Blackwell-Wiley, 2007, paperback 2013), The Oxford Handbook of Wittgenstein (Oxford University Press, 2011, paperback 2014), Wittgenstein and Phenomenology (Routledge, 2018), and Ethics in the Wake of Wittgenstein (Routledge, 2019).