Disagreement, not misrecognition: a reply to Monaghan

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Gard, M 2013, 'Disagreement, not misrecognition: a reply to Monaghan', Social Theory & Health, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 106-115.

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There are many ways to be an intellectual friend and ally. In this response to Lee Monaghan's article I argue that while groups of scholars and activists may share broad social and political commitments, this does not mean that they should never challenge each others points of view. Sometimes friendship is deepened by a robust interrogation of unexplored areas of difference. In this case, our shared domain is the critical scholarship of body weight. However, one theme in my recent work has explored the mosaic of different writers whom I call ‘obesity sceptics’ and the radically different ways they arrive at similar conclusions about the ‘obesity epidemic’. In this article I offer both context for this work and an account of my interest in the idea of intellectual consistency. In particular, although Monaghan accuses me of abandoning any interest in intellectual rigour, he fails to see that intellectual rigour is precisely what I am most interested in. Above all, my point is that political solidarity and intellectual consistency are rarely easy bedfellows and that emphasising one inevitably threatens the other. This does not mean that solidarity is impossible, but rather that part of the scholar's role is to notice lazy solidarity where it occurs so that politics and scholarship might enrich, rather than simply pander to, each other.