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Adrian Piper. Xenophobia and Kantian Rationalism
1993, Philosophical Forum 24 (1-3):188-232
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Added by: Sara Peppe
Abstract:

The purpose of this discussion is twofold. First, I want to shed some light on Kant's concept of personhood as rational agency, by situating it in the context of the first Critique's conception of the self as defined by its rational dispositions. I hope to suggest that this concept of personhood cannot be simply grafted onto an essentially Humean conception of the self that is inherently inimical to it, as I believe Rawls, Gewirth, and others have tried to do. Instead I will try to show how deeply embedded this concept of personhood is in Kant's conception of the self as rationally unified consciousness. Second, I want to deploy this embedded concept of personhood as the basis for an analysis of the phenomenon of xenophobia.

Comment: Requires prior knowledge of the works written by Kant, especially the first Critique and the concept of personhood. To be used after having developed knowledge on the above mentioned philosophical themes.

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Bergqvist, Anna. Thick Concepts and Context Dependence
2013, Southwest Philosophy Review 29(1): 221-32.
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Added by: Graham Bex-Priestley
Abstract: In this paper I develop my account of moral particularism, focussing on the nature of thick moral concepts. My aim is to show how the particularist can consistently uphold an non-reductive cognitivist ‘dual role’ view of thick moral concepts, even though she holds that the qualities ascribed by such concepts can vary in their moral relevance – so that to judge that something is generous or an act of integrity need not entail that the object of evaluative appraisal is good to some extent. A novel particularist account of thick concepts is proposed, in response to recent work on variance holism. The particularist rejects the holist’s attempt to preserve the idea that thick concepts are evaluative concepts by postulating a special semantic content, a contextually variable evaluative valence, as theoretically unmotivated and conceptually confused. Instead it is argued that the thick concepts have determinable evaluative content in situ only.

Comment: This paper deals with very specific issues relating to how a particularist ought to construe thick concepts. It may be useful as further reading on Jonathan Dancy's work.

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Bicchieri, Cristina. Norms in the Wild: How to Diagnose, Measure and Change Social Norms
2016, New York: Oxford University Press
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Saranga Sudarshan

Publisher's Note: Norms in the Wild takes a unique look at social norms, answering questions about diagnosis (how can we tell that a shared practice is a social norm?), measurement (how do we measure expectations and preferences?), and change (which tools can we adopt to effect norm change?). The theories developed in the book are brought to life by examining real-life cases of norm creation and abandonment, the rationale behind policy interventions, and how change can be spearheaded by various types of trendsetters, be they individuals, groups, or the media. By exploring how a range of problems, from poor sanitation to child marriage, can be addressed, the book shows how social norms can have a causal impact on collective behavior, and which interventions may succeed in creating new norms or abandoning harmful ones. In laying the theoretical groundwork for implementing social changes in a contextually sensitive and empirically based way, it also diagnoses why some less culturally attuned attempts to eliminate negative practices have failed.

Comment: Useful as an empirical work on the nature of social norms.

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Chan, Rebecca. Religious Experience, Voluntarist Reasons, and the Transformative Experience Puzzle
2016, Res Philosophica 93 (1):269-287 (2016)
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist
Abstract: Transformative experiences are epistemically and personally transformative: prior to having the experience, agents cannot predict the value of the experience and cannot anticipate how it will change their core values and preferences. Paul argues that these experiences pose a puzzle for standard decision-making procedures because values cannot be assigned to outcomes involving transformative experience. Responding philosophers are quick to point out that decision procedures are built to handle uncertainty, including the uncertainty generated by transformative experience. My paper enters here and contributes two points. First, religious experiences are transformative experiences that are especially resistant to these responses. Second, a procedure that appeals to voluntarist reasons - reasons arising from an act of the will - can allow an agent to rationally decide to undergo or avoid an outcome involving transformative experience. Combining these two points results in some interesting implications with respect to practical aspects of religion.

Comment: This text could be used as a further reading in a week focusing on transformative experiences. It would be most suitable for a third year module, but could also work in lower years.

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Chang, Ruth. Incommensurability, incomparability, and practical reason – Introduction
1997, Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press.
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Added by: Simon Fokt
Back matter: Can quite different values be rationally weighed against one another? Can the value of one thing always be ranked as greater than, equal to, or less than the value of something else? If the answer to these questions is no, then in what areas do we find commensurability and comparability unavailable? And what are the implications for moral and legal decision making? This book struggles with these questions, and arrives at distinctly different answers.

Comment: In the introduction to the book Chang distinguishes between commensurability and comparability and argues that things can be compared and a choice can be made between them even if there is no single unit of value according to which they can be measured. The text is particularly useful in teaching introductory modules to value theory, especially on issues related to weighing conflicting values and to moral scepticism. Although very comprehensive, it is a challenging piece however.

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Chong-Ming Lim. Effectiveness and ecumenicity
2019, Journal of Moral Philosophy 16(5), 590–612
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Added by: Björn Freter
Abstract: Effective altruism is purportedly ecumenical towards different moral views, charitable causes, and evidentiary methods. I argue that effective altruists’ criticisms of purportedly less effective charities are inconsistent with their commitment to ecumenicity. Individuals may justifiably support charities other than those recommended by effective altruism. If effective altruists take their commitment to ecumenicity seriously, they will have to revise their criticisms of many of these charities.

Comment: Useful as starting point to criticize effective altruism. Requires some knowledge of the recommendations of the EA movement.

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Clardy, Justin Leonard. ‘I Don’t Want To be a Playa No More’: An Exploration of the Denigrating effects of ‘Player’ as a Stereotype Against African American Polyamorous Men
2018, Analize: Journal of Gender and Feminist Studies
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Justin Leonard Clardy

Abstract: This paper shows how amatonormativity and its attendant social pressures converge at the intersections of race, gender, romantic relationality, and sexuality to generate peculiar challenges to polyamorous African American men in American society. Contrary to the view maintained in the “slut-vs-stud” phenomenon, I maintain that the label ‘player’ when applied to polyamorous African American men functions as a pernicious stereotype and has denigrating effects. Specifically, I argue that stereotyping polyamorous African American men as players estranges them from themselves and it constrains their agency by preemptively foreclosing the set of possibilities of what one’s sexual or romantic relational identities can be.

Comment: The paper is about important issues of race, sexual, and romantic orientation. The paper will generate lively discussions about intersectionality, the philosophy of love, justice, race, and ethics.

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Driver, Julia. Ethics: The Fundamentals
2006, Wiley-Blackwell.
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Added by: Nick Novelli
Editor's Note: Ethics: The Fundamentals explores core ideas and arguments in moral theory by introducing students to different philosophical approaches to ethics, including virtue ethics, Kantian ethics, divine command theory, and feminist ethics. The first volume in the new Fundamentals of Philosophy series. Presents lively, real-world examples and thoughtful discussion of key moral philosophers and their ideas. Constitutes an excellent resource for readers coming to the subject of ethics for the first time.

Comment: This book offers good preliminary introductions to a number of topics in ethics. Each section could be assigned individually as a starting point for the given topic. The sections on utilitarianism and consequentialism are particularly good introductions. Primarily of use to early undergraduates or students who have not studied ethics before.

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French, Shannon E.; McCain, John. The Code of the Warrior: Exploring Warrior Values Past and Present
2004, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
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Added by: Simon Fokt
Back matter: Warrior cultures throughout history have developed unique codes that restrict their behavior and set them apart from the rest of society. But what possible reason could a warrior have for accepting such restraints? Why should those whose profession can force them into hellish kill-or-be-killed conditions care about such lofty concepts as honor, courage, nobility, duty, and sacrifice? And why should it matter so much to the warriors themselves that they be something more than mere murderers? The Code of the Warrior tackles these timely issues and takes the reader on a tour of warrior cultures and their values, from the ancient Greeks and Romans to the "barbaric" Vikings and Celts, from legendary chivalric knights to Native American tribesmen, from Chinese warrior monks pursuing enlightenment to Japanese samurai practicing death. Drawing these rich traditions up to the present, the author quests for a code for the warriors of today, as they do battle in asymmetric conflicts against unconventional forces and the scourge of global terrorism.

Comment: A longish article, but very useful as a thorough critique of luck egalitarianism, for the author's take on the capability approach, and for her account of democratic equality which revolves around the ideal of democratic citizenship

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Govier, Trudy. What’s Wrong with Slippery Slope Arguments?
1982, Canadian journal of philosophy. 12(2): 303-316.
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Added by: Simon Fokt
Content: Govier distinguishes four kinds of slippery slope arguments - conceptual, precedential, causal and mixed - and argues that only the last kind are likely to ever be sound.

Comment: Useful in teaching about fallacious arguments in general, and about moral arguments an popular discourse about such arguments in particular.

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Harman, Elizabeth. Does moral ignorance exculpate?
2011, Ratio 24 (4):443-468.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Corbin Covington
Abstract: Non-moral ignorance can exculpate: if Anne spoons cyanide into Bill's coffee, but thinks she is spooning sugar, then Anne may be blameless for poisoning Bill. Gideon Rosen argues that moral ignorance can also exculpate: if one does not believe that one's action is wrong, and one has not mismanaged one's beliefs, then one is blameless for acting wrongly. On his view, many apparently blameworthy actions are blameless. I discuss several objections to Rosen. I then propose an alternative view on which many agents who act wrongly are blameworthy despite believing they are acting morally permissibly, and despite not having mismanaged their moral beliefs.1

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Heinzelmann, Nora. Deontology defended
2018, Synthese 195 (12):5197–5216
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Added by: Björn Freter
Abstract:

Abstract: Empirical research into moral decision-making is often taken to have normative implications. For instance, in his recent book, Greene (2013) relies on empirical findings to establish utilitarianism as a superior normative ethical theory. Kantian ethics, and deontological ethics more generally, is a rival view that Greene attacks. At the heart of Greene’s argument against deontology is the claim that deontological moral judgments are the product of certain emotions and not of reason. Deontological ethics is a mere rationalization of these emotions. Accordingly Greene maintains that deontology should be abandoned. This paper is a defense of deontological ethical theory. It argues that Greene’s argument against deontology needs further support. Greene’s empirical evidence is open to alternative interpretations. In particular, it is not clear that Greene’s characterization of alarm-like emotions that are relative to culture and personal experience is empirically tenable. Moreover, it is implausible that such emotions produce specifically deontological judgments. A rival sentimentalist view, according to which all moral judgments are determined by emotion, is at least as plausible given the empirical evidence and independently supported by philosophical theory. I therefore call for an improvement of Greene’s argument.

Comment: Defends deontological ethics against debunking arguments based on neuroscientific evidence, notably Joshua Greene's critique. Can be used in a unit on neurophilosophy, empirically informed ethics, or philosophy of cognitive science; e.g., can be pitted against Greene's "The secret joke of Kant's soul"

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Herzog, Lisa. Reclaiming the System: Moral Responsibility, Divided Labour, and the Role of Organizations in Society
2018, Oxford University Press
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Added by: Deryn Mair Thomas
Publisher’s Note: The world of wage labour seems to have become a soulless machine, an engine of social and environmental destruction. Employees seem to be nothing but ‘cogs’ in this system—but is this true? Located at the intersection of political theory, moral philosophy, and business ethics, this book questions the picture of the world of work as a ‘system’. Hierarchical organizations, both in the public and in the private sphere, have specific features of their own. This does not mean, however, that they cannot leave room for moral responsibility, and maybe even human flourishing. Drawing on detailed empirical case studies, Lisa Herzog analyses the nature of organizations from a normative perspective: their rule-bound character, the ways in which they deal with divided knowledge, and organizational cultures and their relation to morality. She asks how individual agency and organizational structures would have to mesh to avoid common moral pitfalls. She develops the notion of ‘transformational agency’, which refers to a critical, creative way of engaging with one’s organizational role while remaining committed to basic moral norms. The last part zooms out to the political and institutional changes that would be required to re-embed organizations into a just society. Whether we submit to ‘the system’ or try to reclaim it, Herzog argues, is a question of eminent political importance in our globalized world.

Comment: This text, an introduction to a longer work on organisational ethics, proposes and discusses novel arguments about the nature of organisations, and organisational spaces, as moral entities. By challenging long held common sense assumptions that corporate organisations are 'amoral' or outside the scope of human morality, Herzog offers an alternate view. It is therefore useful as a way to examine and discuss alternate visions of organisational structure and the role that human beings play as moral agents within those structures.

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Imafidon, Elvis. Exploring African Philosophy of Difference
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 15-30
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Björn Freter
Abstract: It is the tradition of philosophy as a rational and critical human activity across borders to isolate specific human ideas both as syntax and as real and lived human experiences, bring them to the foreground, and make them occupy a crucial and specialized place in philosophical discourse. This is apparent in the many delimited branches of philosophy such as metaphysics – an inquiry into the fundamental principles underlying reality; epistemology – an inquiry concerning the nature, scope, and theories of human knowledge; axiology – an inquiry into the theories of human values; and philosophy of science – a critical examination of the nature, methods, and assumptions of science. African philosophy has thrived and flourished in the last six decades beginning as a reactionary scholarship to prior denial of the possibility of its existence, to becoming an established academic discipline. However, African philosophy although succeeding in establishing its general nature, themes, and problems, is still at the elementary stage of discussing specifics and delimiting its areas of inquiry into specialized fragments. Thus, beyond the general commentaries on African philosophy in existing literature, it is only recently that we find a few scholars writing and laying the groundwork on specialized themes in African philosophy such as African ethics, African epistemology, and African ontology. My goal in this chapter is to bring one essential human experience to the foreground in African philosophy as a specialized area of inquiry. The human experience that interests me here is the ubiquitous concept of difference and the peculiarities of its experience by Africans in Africa and beyond. My intention is to attempt a preliminary sketch of the meaning, nature, scope, and primary tasks of African philosophy of difference. I show, for instance, how African philosophy of difference can shift the discourse of difference from empirical manifestations of difference to an exploration of the theories that stands under such manifestations. I conclude that African philosophy of difference is crucial in understanding and dealing with the complex issues of identity, difference, and the other experienced in Africa in areas such as albinism, xenophobia, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, and politics. The possibility of such an inquiry also indicates the prospect of delimiting African philosophy to more specialized spheres of discourse.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Keiji, Nishitani, Graham Parkes, Setsuko Aihara. The Self-Overcoming of Nihilism
1990, SUNY Press
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, Contributed by: Quentin Pharr
Publisher’s Note: In May of this year I had the opportunity to give several talks on the topic of nihilism. Initially I intended to focus on the three themes of Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, and Buddhism. When I was twenty, the fig­ures of Nietzsche and Dostoevsky burned a lasting impression deep into my soul-as I suppose they may still do to many young people even today-and the tremors I experienced at that time have con­tinued to make my heart tremble ever since. The final theme, of Buddhist "emptiness," came to capture my interest more gradu­ally. The connections among these three topics are not merely arbi­trary or external. The nihilism that Dostoevsky plumbed so deeply has important connections with that of Nietzsche, as a number of critics have pointed out; and Nietzsche considers what he calls Eu­ropean nihilism to be the European form of Buddhism. Even though there may be in Nietzsche a radical misunderstanding of the spirit of Buddhism, the fact that he considered it in relation to ni­hilism shows how well attuned he was to the real issue. It was con­siderations such as these that inclined me toward these three themes in my discussion of nihilism.

Comment: This text is an excellent overview of both some of the themes within Nishitani's work as well as European conceptions of nihilism and its overcoming. In general, some appreciation of Nietzsche and aspects of Buddhism will help students navigate this book. But, it is largely expository, so it will often inform readers of what they need in the course of reading. This text will primarily be for students who are looking for an overall perspective on nihilism - especially, a Japanese one.

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