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Chong-Ming Lim. Vandalizing tainted commemorations
2020, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1-32
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Added by: Björn Freter
Abstract: What should we do about “tainted” public commemorations? Recent events have highlighted the urgency of reaching a consensus on this question. However, existing discussions appear to be dominated by two naïve opposing views – to remove or preserve them. My aims in this essay are two-fold. First, I argue that the two views are not naïve, but undergirded by concerns with securing self-respect and with the character of our engagement with the past. Second, I offer a qualified defence of vandalising tainted commemorations. The defence comprises two parts. I consider two prominent suggestions – to install counter-commemorations and to add contextualising plaques – and argue that they are typically beset with difficulties. I then argue that in some circumstances, constrained vandalism is a response to tainted commemorations which effectively adjudicates the demands of the two opposing views

Comment: Lim’s paper represents one of the best attempts to charitably understand the view of those who support preservation, and furthermore constructively engages with them to the extent where a reasonable yet striking solution is proposed. Encouraged to be read with Lim, C.-M. (2020), “Transforming problematic commemorations through vandalism”, Journal of Global Ethics, 16(3): 414–421, where Lim defends the feasibility of his radical solution.

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Davis, Angela. Women, Race, and Class
1981, Random House.
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Added by: Anne-Marie McCallion
Publisher’s Note:

Angela Davis provides a powerful history of the social and political influence of whiteness and elitism in feminism, from abolitionist days to the present, and demonstrates how the racist and classist biases of its leaders inevitably hampered any collective ambitions. While Black women were aided by some activists like Sarah and Angelina Grimke and the suffrage cause found unwavering support in Frederick Douglass, many women played on the fears of white supremacists for political gain rather than take an intersectional approach to liberation. Here, Davis not only contextualizes the legacy and pitfalls of civil and women’s rights activists, but also discusses Communist women, the murder of Emmitt Till, and Margaret Sanger’s racism. Davis shows readers how the inequalities between Black and white women influence the contemporary issues of rape, reproductive freedom, housework and child care in this bold and indispensable w

Comment: Angela Davis is an American political activist, philosopher, academic and author. She is a professor at the University of California and a longtime member of the Communist Party USA. She is also a founding member of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS) and the author of over ten books on class, feminism, race, and the US prison system. Women, Race and Class is a Marxist feminist analysis of gender, race and class. The third book written by Davis, it covers U.S. history from the slave trade and abolitionism movements to the women's liberation movements which began in the 1960s. In this chapter, Davis examines and describes the unwritten history of black women slaves and their legacies.

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Harman, Elizabeth. The potentiality problem
2003, Philosophical Studies 114 (1-2):173 - 198.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt
Abstract: Many people face a problem about potentiality: their moral beliefs appear to dictate inconsistent views about the signifcance of the potentiality to become a healthy adult. Briefy, the problem arises as follows. Consider the following two claims. First, both human babies and cats have moral status, but harms to babies matter more, morally, than similar harms to cats. Second, early human embryos lack moral status. It appears that the first claim can only be true if human babies have more moral status than cats. Among the properties that determine moral status, human babies have no properties other than their potentiality that could explain their having more moral status than cats. So human babies' potentiality to become adult persons must explain their having more moral status than cats. But then potentiality must raise moral status generally. So early human embryos must have some moral status. It appears that the view that must underlie the first claim implies that the second claim is false.

Comment:

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Haslanger, Sally. Changing the Ideology and Culture of Philosophy: Not by Reason (Alone)
2007, Hypatia, 23 (2): 210–23.
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Added by: Rebecca Buxton
Abstract: There is a deep well of rage inside of me. Rage about how I as an individual have been treated in philosophy; rage about how others I know have been treated; and rage about the conditions that I'm sure affect many women and minorities in philosophy, and have caused many others to leave. Most of the time I suppress this rage and keep it sealed away. Until I came to MIT in 1998, I was in a constant dialogue with myself about whether to quit philosophy, even give up tenure, to do something else. In spite of my deep love for philosophy, it just didn't seem worth it. And I am one of the very lucky ones, one of the ones who has been successful by the dominant standards of the profession. Whatever the numbers say about women and minorities in philosophy, numbers don't begin to tell the story. Things may be getting better in some contexts, but they are far from acceptable.

Comment (from this Blueprint): In her 2007 paper, Haslanger sets out the situation of women in philosophy with a particular focus on instutional academic settings. This paper discusses how women are excluded from philosophy (both contemporary and historical) as well as thinking about disciplnary boundaries: why is it that feminist philosophy is not often thought of as 'real' philosophy?

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Hurley, Susan. Luck and Equality
2001, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 75: 51-72.
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Added by: Simon Fokt
Abstract: I argue that the aim to neutralize the influence of luck on distribution cannot provide a basis for egalitarianism: it can neither specify nor justify an egalitarian distribution. Luck and responsibility can play a role in determining what justice requires to be redistributed, but from this we cannot derive how to distribute: we cannot derive a pattern of distribution from the 'currency' of distributive justice. I argue that the contrary view faces a dilemma, according to whether it understands luck in interpersonal or counterfactual terms.

Comment: Useful as further reading on distributive justice, especially in connection to Ronald Dworkin's resource-egalitarian theory and Gerald Cohen's egalitarianism.

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Olsaretti, Serena. Liberty, Desert and the Market: A Philosophical Study
2004, Cambridge University Press.
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Added by: Carl Fox
Abstract: Are inequalities of income created by the free market just? In this book Serena Olsaretti examines two main arguments that justify those inequalities: the first claims that they are just because they are deserved, and the second claims that they are just because they are what free individuals are entitled to. Both these arguments purport to show, in different ways, that giving responsible individuals their due requires that free market inequalities in incomes be allowed. Olsaretti argues, however, that neither argument is successful, and shows that when we examine closely the principle of desert and the notions of liberty and choice invoked by defenders of the free market, it appears that a conception of justice that would accommodate these notions, far from supporting free market inequalities, calls for their elimination. Her book will be of interest to a wide range of readers in political philosophy, political theory and normative economics.

Comment: Attacks libertarian defences of market distributions on the grounds that they are either justified or the result of free choices. Provides a good counterpoint to Nozick's entitlement theory in particular, and draws out important issues on the relationship between choice, voluntariness, and responsibility. Olsaretti's own account of voluntariness, which she develops in the later chapters is hugely influential. Would make good reading for an in-depth treatment of libertarianism and/or Nozick's entitlement theory. Would also provide very substantial further reading.

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Steinbock, Bonnie. Speciesism and the Idea of Equality
1978, Philosophy 53 (204): 247-256.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord
Abstract: Most of us believe that we are entitled to treat members of other species in ways which would be considered wrong if inflicted on members of our own species. We kill them for food, keep them confined, use them in painful experiments. The moral philosopher has to ask what relevant difference justifies this difference in treatment. A look at this question will lead us to re-examine the distinctions which we have assumed make a moral difference.

Comment: This journal article is a response to Peter Singer's Animal Liberation, though you need not have read Animal Liberation in order to understand this article, as Steinbock provides a clear overview of Singer's main claims. The text would be useful for rebutting Singer's arguments in a course on animal ethics or environmental ethics. It would also be of use in a course on moral theory that involved questions of moral consideration or moral equality.

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Waithe, Mary Ellen. Sex, Lies, and Bigotry: The Canon of Philosophy
2020, In Sigridur Thorgeirsdottir and Ruth Edith Hagengruber (eds.), Methodological Reflections on Women’s Contribution and Influence in the History of Philosophy, Springer International Publishing.
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Added by: Rebecca Buxton
Abstract: In “Sex, Lies, and Bigotry: The Canon of Philosophy” I explore several questions: What does it mean for our understanding of the history of philosophy that women philosophers have been left out and are now being retrieved? What kind of a methodology of the history of philosophy does the recovery of women philosophers imply? Whether and how excluded women philosophers have been included in philosophy? Whether and how feminist philosophy and the history of women philosophers are related? I also explore the questions “Are there any themes or arguments that are common to many women philosophers?” and “Does inclusion of women in the canon require a reconfiguration of philosophical inquiry?” I argue that it is either ineptness or simple bigotry that led most historians of philosophy to intentionally omit women’s contributions from their histories and that such failure replicated itself in the university curricula of recent centuries and can be remedied by suspending for the next two centuries the teaching of men’s contributions to the discipline and teaching works by women only. As an alternative to this drastic and undoubtedly unpopular solution, I propose expanding the length and number of courses in the philosophy curriculum to include discussion of women’s contributions.

Comment (from this Blueprint): In this scathing chapter, Waithe argues that people who have left women out of the history of philosophy are either inempt of bigoted. Rather than being an accidental fact of women's general exclusion, she argues that women philosophers have been ignored intentionally.

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