Beyond Reasonable Doubt – A paradox of ideological immunity

  • C Allsobrook


Ideology criticism, like scepticism, calls into question the objective or
justified status of beliefs. However, where scepticism only refutes,
and never puts forward, a substantive claim about anything, the ideology
critic must maintain some criterion for distinguishing ideas which support relations of domination from those that do not, in virtue of her criticism of a particular set of ideas as “ideological”. The trouble for the ideology critic is that the sceptical methods she deploys undermine any critical thesis, including her own. Thus, the theory of ideology tends to undercut ideology criticism with a fundamental problem of self-implication.
This paper draws on the epistemological problem of the criterion to explain and define a basic problem of justification for the theory of ideology. A problem of self-implication is introduced in part one. I argue that the basis for ideology criticism inevitably succumbs to the very doubt it puts forward. I draw on various criticisms of ideology criticism to formulate a specific account of the basic, fundamental problem for the theory of ideology. I show how norms for ideology criticism are vulnerable to an Ancient sceptical problem for epistemic criteria, which brings the ideology critic to a dilemma: either (i) find independent grounds for criticism, immune to ideology, or (ii) show how ideology is self-undermining. Each horn of the dilemma is ideological.

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eISSN: 0258-0136