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In defence of subsidiarity

Macdonald Ross, G. (1993) In defence of subsidiarity. Philosophy Now, 6. pp. 22-23. ISSN 0961-5970

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Abstract

[FIRST PARAGRAPHS]

In issue No. 5 (Spring 1993), there were two rather flippant remarks about the concept of subsidiarity. The Philosophy Glossary defined subsidiarity as ‘nobody agrees on what this word means’ (p.32), and John Crosthwaite described its meaning as a ‘grey area’, and ‘hand[ed] the question over to the real philosophers’ (p.25). I don’t know if I count as a ‘real’ philosopher, since I have some unsound views on the theory of meaning. In particular, I believe that the meaning of a word depends as much on its etymology as on its use. We can often gain important philosophical insights through understanding how words have acquired their present meaning. The abstract noun subsidiarity comes from the adjective subsidiary, which in turn comes from the concrete noun subsidy. The English word subsidy is a direct borrowing of the Latin subsidium, meaning ‘support’ or ‘assistance’ (though it has subsequently been confined to a financial sense); and the adjective subsidiary originally meant ‘providing assistance’ or ‘supportive’; but it gradually changed its meaning, via ‘auxiliary’ or ‘tributary’, to ‘subordinate’.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 1993 The Author.
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Humanities (Leeds) > School of Philosophy (Leeds)
Depositing User: Leeds Philosophy Department
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2007 09:45
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2013 16:55
Status: Published
Publisher: Philosophy Now
Refereed: No
Related URLs:
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3247

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