I am pleased to kick off another discussion forum on books recently reviewed in NDPR. The series gives book authors a chance to respond to their reviewers. We also invite reviewers to chime in, as well as anyone else who is interested. This forum is on Bennett Helm’s latest book, Communities of Respect: Grounding Responsibility, Authority, and Dignity (OUP 2017), reviewed in NDPR by Caroline T. Arruda. Normally, I would first post the OUP description of the book, followed by some flavorful passages from the review. But Bennett has written a rather robust response to the review, and in so doing he makes clear both what his book is about and what aspects of the review he thought involved misconstruals, so I’m going simply to let him start off this discussion in his own words.
WHAT FOLLOWS IS WRITTEN BY BENNETT HELM:
Thanks to Caroline Arruda for engaging with my book with her review, and thanks to PEA Soup for the opportunity to respond and hopefully provoke further discussions. Unfortunately, the review involves significant misconceptions of what I am up to in this book and of the kind of account I offer, so I want to take this opportunity to clarify. The account I offer ends up rejecting deeply entrenched views of the mind and of persons, so perhaps it is not surprising that there would be misunderstanding of my central aim. Moreover, my theory is quite systematic and wide-ranging, developed over 25 years and two prior books (and a separate dissertation), with each building upon the rest. Thus Communities of Respect really is part 4 of a longer series, in which I investigate what it is to be a person by considering the nature of: (1) caring in general (Helm 1994), (2) personal values (Helm 2001), (3) interpersonal values in intimate relationships (Helm 2010), and now in this book (4) interpersonal values in non-intimate relationships (Helm 2017).