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Sullivan, Shannon (ed.), , Tuana, Nancy (ed.). Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance
2007, State Univ of New York Pr.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Corbin Covington

Publisher’s Note: Leading scholars explore how different forms of ignorance are produced and sustained, and the role they play in knowledge practices.

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Taylor, Paul C., , . Black is Beautiful: A Philosophy of Black Aesthetics
2016, Taylor, Paul C. (2015). Black is Beautiful: A Philosophy of Black Aesthetics. Wiley-Blackwell.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Scott Robinson

Publishe

Publisher’s Note: Those who know anything about black history and culture probably know that aesthetics has long been a central concern for black thinkers and activists. The Harlem Renaissance, the Negritude movement, the Black Arts Movement, and the discipline of Black British cultural studies all attest to the intimate connection between black politics and questions of style, beauty, expression, and art. And the participants in these and other movements have made art and offered analyses that wrestle with clearly philosophical issues. In A Philosophy of Black Aesthetics, I propose to identify and explore the most significant philosophical issues that emerge from the aesthetic dimensions of black life. The book will consist of eight short chapters, each of which will discuss a complex of related themes and phenomena. Every chapter will begin with one or two illustrative real-world examples, and then use the complexities of these opening cases to introduce the relevant issues. Many people in several fields have explored various bits of the terrain that I’ll cover. But none has surveyed the entire terrain in the name of aesthetics, and none has conducted this survey from an explicitly philosophical perspective. Setting up the project in this way means that its main conclusions will come in two forms. One kind of conclusion will emerge from the way I frame the issues. The two most important points here are that the field of aesthetics ought to cover more than the study of western fine art, and that the field of black aesthetics allows and requires the sort of comprehensive and philosophical analysis that I’ll offer. Another set of conclusions will emerge from my treatment of the specific issues in each chapter. In each case the aim will be to defend, albeit briefly, some position on the major issues raised in each chapter.

Comment: This text is an excellent introduction to Black American Aesthetics. Drawing on Critical Race Theory, Taylor locates the historical and philosophical background to black aesthetics in America. This text could be used as a contemporary text in a course on the tradition of aesthetics, or as an introductory text to a course on critical aesthetics. It could also be used in ‘Critical Race Theory’ courses for an aesthetics angle. Its chapters deal with issues of visibility, authenticity, embodiment and inter-racial exchanges.

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Thomas, Angie, , . The Hate U Give
2017, HarperCollins Publishers.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Nadia Mehdi

Summary: The Hate U Give is a young adult novel by Angie Thomas. It follows events in the life of a black 16-year-old girl, Starr Carter, who is drawn to activism after she witnesses the police shooting of a childhood friend.

Comment: This book could be easily paired with a number of papers in the philosophy of race and racism including Charlies Mills’ ‘White Ignorance’, or Kristie Dotson’s ‘Tracking Epistemic Violence, Tracking Practices of Silencing’. Concepts that are perhaps trickier for younger philosophers to wrap their heads around are elaborated in the film and book version of this piece.

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Tremain, Shelley, , . Reproductive freedom, self-regulation, and the government of impairment in utero
2006, Hypatia 21(1): 35-53.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Abstract: This article critically examines the constitution of impairment in prenatal testing and screening practices and various discourses that surround these technologies. While technologies to test and screen (for impairment) prenatally are claimed to enhance women’s capacity to be self-determining, make informed reproductive choices, and, in effect, wrest control of their bodies from a patriarchal medical establishment, I contend that this emerging relation between pregnant women and reproductive technologies is a new strategy of a form of power that began to emerge in the late eighteenth century. Indeed, my argument is that the constitution of prenatal impairment, by and through these practices and procedures, is a widening form of modern government that increasingly limits the field of possible conduct in response to pregnancy. Hence, the government of impairment in utero is inextricably intertwined with the government of the maternal body.

Comment: Most useful in teaching on ethical issues at the beginning of life. It can be also used in teaching on the ethics of autonomy, freedom of choice, and feminism in general.

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Tshivhase, Mpho, , . Personhood
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 347-360
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Björn Freter

Abstract: Certain descriptions of personhood imbue an individual with a particular kind of moral status. There are different person-making capacities that are generally laid out as central to the idea of personhood. Some of the person-making capacities are what people generally refer to as the grounding of certain normative requirements that enable us to respond to individuals as entities with a moral status. Herein personhood is a matter of certain capacities that create one’s moral status. These descriptions of personhood bring about a specific structure of identification that has implications for moral accountability. In this paper I aim to interpret the person-making capacities and argue that they can, in some sense, be limiting, and this may be the case in relation to women as a gender group whose personhood has not always been fairly recognized. I will argue that a view of personhood whose person-making capacities exclude a gender group can have negative implications, and I will explore two implications that I think have this negative attitude. On the one hand, a conception of personhood, especially in the descriptive sense that prioritizes rationality and free will above all else, could imply that women, by virtue of lacking such capacities, are not to be considered as individuals with a moral status, wherein society cannot hold them accountable for their actions, nor would they be able to hold others morally accountable. On the other hand, and this second implication relates to difference in the sense of uniqueness, which is grounded on personhood – if women are denied the status of a person, then they would also be excluded from exploring their uniqueness qua radical difference.

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van Brabant, Petra, , Prinz, Jesse. Why Do Porn Films Suck?
2012, in Art and Pornography: Philosophical Essays, ed. by Hans Maes and Jerrold Levinson (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Content: The authors present ‘the paradox of porn’: pornography seems to score very highly on various evaluative criteria which make art good (e.g. ability to elicit strong emotions), and has features similar to great art (e.g. ‘Brechtian’ acting, idealisation of the human body), yet is rarely consider art. They proceed to discuss some arguments for the exclusivist thesis, suggesting that they ‘reflect a limited knowledge of or experience with pornography’ (168). A review of various types of non-mainstream porn leads them to claim that the division between pornography and art is a false dichotomy. Section 3 revisits the paradox, offering an analysis of various reasons which could lead to so little porn being (considered) art. After rejecting most of the common arguments, the authors suggest that a great majority of porn is not art for purely contingent reasons: very few pornographers even try to pursue that possibility. But pornography has the potential to be great art, and section 4 explores the ways in which it could.

Comment: This text is a fairly easy and a very entertaining read, and is presented in a form of an intriguing and unexpected paradox. This makes it an excellent introductory reading which can really interest students in the subject. It also paints a very varied and diverse picture of pornography, reaching far beyond the mainstream images most often discussed in the literature, and likely best known to students.

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Van Dyke, Christina, , . Eating as a Gendered Act: Christianity, Feminism, and Reclaiming the Body
2008, in K. J. Clark (ed.) Readings in the Philosophy of Religion, Second Edition. Peterborough: Broadview Press: 475-489.
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Abstract: In current society, eating is most definitely a gendered act: that is, what we eat and how we eat it factors in both the construction and the performance of gender. Furthermore, eating is a gendered act with consequences that go far beyond whether one orders a steak or a salad for dinner. In the first half of this paper, I identify the dominant myths surrounding both female and male eating, and I show that those myths contribute in important ways to cultural constructions of male and female appetites more generally speaking. In the second half, I argue that the Christian church should share feminism’s perception of these current cultural myths as fundamentally disordered, and I claim that the Christian traditions of fasting and feasting present us with a concrete means to counter those damaging conceptions and reclaim a healthy attitude toward our hunger.

Comment: A great reading for a feminist philosophy of religion course, or alternatively for a general philosophy of religion course as a way to introduce feminist philosophy of religion – this text could also be a further reading for the latter. I think that this reading would incite a great deal of interest, and provoke fruitful discussion. Would be potentially even more useful for a course on religious aesthetics.

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Vince, Rosa, , . Testimonial Smothering and Pornography
2018, Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 4(3)
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Rosa Vince

Abstract: This paper defends the claim that there are two previously underexplored ways in which pornography silences women. These ways that pornography silences are (1) the smothering of refusal and (2) the smothering of sexual assault reports, and they can be explained in part through Kristie Dotson’s account of “testimonial smothering.” Unlike the work of other writers in the pornography as silencing literature, my discussion of silenced refusal of sex deals with the cases where women have said yes to sex but would have said no if they had felt that they could have. I show that this, and cases where women do not report sexual assault, count as testimonial smothering through identifying rape myths as a species of “pernicious ignorance.” I make the connection to pornography in presenting evidence that pornography contributes to acceptance of rape myths. This takes us to my general conclusion: Dotson’s account of testimonial smothering gives us a way in which pornography contributes to the silencing of women, by silencing their refusal of sex and their reports of sexual assault.

Comment: This paper can be used as a stand-alone argument for how some pornography might silence women, or can be viewed as part of the literature on silencing and pornography; as an alternative strategy to Rae Langton’s approach, using Kristie Dotson’s work instead of J L Austin’s. It can also be used as an example of how Kristie Dotson’s work on Testimonial Injustice has broad application.

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Wang, Robin, , . Dao Becomes Female
2017, In Garry, A., Khader, S.J. and Stone, A (eds.) New York: Routledge, pp. 35–38
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by:

Abstract: Daoism, a Dao based and inspired teaching and practice, has been considered to be the philosophy of yielding in Chinese intellectual history. One important aspect of yielding is being rou 柔—soft, gentle, supple—which the Daodejing couples with the feminine. Not surprisingly, then, the female and femininity have enormous significance for Laozi and Daoism. To highlight this unique philosophical aspect of Daoism, this chapter will place femininity/the feminine/the female center stage to investigate Daoist thought and its possible contribution to feminist thought in a contemporary global setting. In this chapter I promote a somewhat female consciousness of Dao, or a Daoist female consciousness, which may expand, support, or alter feminist assumptions about femininity/the feminine/the female. The overarching focal point of this understanding lies in a depiction of the female and femininity as a cosmic force, a way of knowing, and a strategy for leading a flourishing life. The main points are that Dao does not govern actually existing gender relations—or, at least, that the social and political reality of gender relations is not modeled on Dao, because the patriarchy is not Dao. Highlighting the female or feminine aspect of Dao, or Dao as becoming female, is a feminist intervention, using resources from within classical Daoist thought in order to re-imagine or reconfigure gender for our time.

Comment: A useful way of introducing some feminist thought into a course on classical Chinese philosophy. It would fit well either in a unit on Daoism or in a unit on feminism. It would be tough to use this in a feminist course to introduce some Daoist thought; the chapter is tricky without some familiarity with the Daodejing

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Warren, Karen J., , . Ecofeminist Philosophy: A Western Perspective on What It Is and Why It Matters
2000, New York: Rowman & Littlefield.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord, Contributed by:

Summary: A philosophical exploration of the nature, scope, and significance of ecofeminist theory and practice. This book presents the key issues, concepts, and arguments which motivate and sustain ecofeminism from a western philosophical perspective.

Back Matter: How are the unjustified dominations of women and other humans connected to the unjustified domination of animals and nonhuman nature? What are the characteristics of oppressive conceptual frameworks and systems of unjustified domination? How does an ecofeminist perspective help one understand issues of environmental and social justice? In this important new work, Karen J. Warren answers these and other questions from a Western perspective. Warren looks at the variety of positions in ecofeminism, the distinctive nature of ecofeminist philosophy, ecofeminism as an ecological position, and other aspects of the movement to reveal its significance to both understanding and creatively changing patriarchal (and other) systems of unjustified domination.

Comment: This book serves as a comprehensive introduction to ecofeminist philosophy. The introductory chapter (1), the chapter on vegetarianism (6), and the chapter on the Land Ethic (7) make excellent stand alone readings in an introductory course on Environmental Ethics.

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Warren, Mary Anne, , . Moral status: obligations to persons and other living things
1997, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Publisher’s description: Mary Anne Warren investigates a theoretical question that is at the centre of practical and professional ethics: what are the criteria for having moral status? That is: what does it take to be an entity towards which people have moral considerations? Warren argues that no single property will do as a sole criterion, and puts forward seven basic principles which establish moral status. She then applies these principles to three controversial moral issues: voluntary euthanasia, abortion, and the status of non-human animals.

Comment: Particular chapters are useful in teaching on the applied ethics of abortion, euthanasia and obligations towards non-human animals.

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Webb, Simone, , . Mary Astell’s ‘A Serious Proposal to the Ladies’ (1694)
2018, 1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Simone Webb

Introduction: Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) is established in the popular imagination as the “first feminist,” but another philosopher provided a systematic analysis of women’s subjugated condition and a call for female education nearly a century before Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). Mary Astell’s (1666-1731) A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, for the Advancement of their True and Greatest Interest by a Lover of Her Sex, Parts I and II (1694, 1697) is a philosophical text that argues that women are in an inferior moral condition compared to men, analyses the causes of this problem, and presents a two-part remedy.

Comment: This is a 1000-word introductory article to Mary Astell’s feminist thought as expressed in her philosophical treatise A Serious Proposal to the Ladies. It would work well as pre-class reading, or a very basic introduction to the study of the history of feminist thought or women in early modern philosophy.

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Weiser, Peg Brand (formerly Peg Zeglin Brand), , . Disinterestedness and political art
1998, In Carolyn Korsmeyer (ed.), Aesthetics: The Big Questions. Blackwell.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: Can an ordinary viewer ever experience art – particularly politically charged, socially relevant art – in a neutral, detached, and objective way? The familiar philosophical notion of disinterestedness has its roots in eighteenth century theories of taste and was refined throughout the twentieth century. In contrast, many contemporary theorists have argued for what I call an ‘interested approach’ in order to expand beyond the traditional emphasis on neutrality and universality. Each group, in effect, has argued for the value of a work of art by excluding the other’s approach. This essay will consider the legacy of the concept of disinterestedness for contemporary aesthetic theory in light of challenges posed by postmodern skepticism regarding the possibility of disinterestedness, and by the difficulties involved in appreciating political art with a disinterested attitude. My principal examples of political art will be drawn from feminist art. Unlike traditional philosophers, I will advocate that an interested stance toward art is, at times, inevitable and appropriate. I will so argue that not only feminist art- and by extension political art of all kinds – can be experienced disinterestedly, but that it should be. As a position inconsistent with both traditionalists and feminist critics of tradition, my recommendation of both disinterestedness and interestedness affords what I take to be the fullest and fairest experience of a work of art.

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West, Shearer, , . Gender and Portraiture
2004, In: Portraiture, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 144-161.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by:

Summary: The gender of both artist and sitter needs to be taken into account when considering the history of portraiture. Explores how and why women were often portrayed in certain roles (as goddesses, historical or religious figures, allegorical embodiments of abstract notions). Discusses why many women artists before the 20th century were portraitists and considers a few examples. Also highlights changing notions of masculinity in portraiture.

Comment: Useful in aesthetics classes discussing portraiture, depiction and representation, as well as philosophy of gender classes discussing representations of women.

Artworks to use with this text:

Lotte Laserstein, Self-Portrait with Cat (1928) vs Otto Dix, Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia von Harden (1926)

Both portraits were painted in 1920s Germany by artists linked to the New Objectivity art movement. Still, there is a notable difference between the ‘objective’ view of the male artist and the subjective self-image of the woman artist.

Elizabeth Siddal, Self-Portrait (1854)

There’s a marked contrast between the unhappiness and fatigue visible in this self-portrait and the beauty and eroticism in Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Beata Beatrix (c.1862) in which he transfers the ideal qualities of Dante’s Beatrice into the real portrait of Siddal.

Artemisia Gentileschi, Self-Portrait as “La Pittura” (c. 1630)

It could be said that the artist is complicit in the tendency of portraitists to generalize their women subjects as she embodied herself as the allegory of Painting. Nevertheless, Artemisia does not show herself in an idealized way and by self-consciously manipulating a set of conventions makes a unique contribution to the corpus of self-portraiture.

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Young, Iris Marion, , . Five faces of oppression
2009, In George L. Henderson & Marvin Waterstone (eds.), Philosophical Forum. Routledge. 270
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Diversifying Syllabi: The concept of ‘oppression’ cannot be captured by traditional, distributive conceptions of justice. Oppression is also not a unified phenomenon with an underlying, fundamental essence. To make sense of oppression, we need to revise our accounts of social ontology to recognize the existence of “groups.” Social groups can experience oppression in any of the following, crucially distinct five ways: exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence. Individuals within these groups can experience all, multiple, or just one of these forms of oppression and can also find themselves, simultaneously, in dominant groups/positions in other contexts. A revised social ontology that accounts for the existence of such groups shows that redistribution of material goods will not eliminate these forms of oppression.

Comment: This text is most useful in teaching on the nature of justice, as it offers a valuable alternative to the theories typically discussed in undergraduate classes. It offers a great introduction to the notion of systemic injustice and issues in gender and racial discrimination. Since the text is written in a fairly approachable way, it can offer a good introductory text in some junior courses, stimulating reflection on issues typically taken for granted.

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