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Chakravartty, Anjan. Six degrees of speculation: metaphysics in empirical contexts
2007, B. Monton (ed.) Images of Empiricism: Essays on Science and Stances, with a Reply From Bas C. Van Fraassen. New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 183-208
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Matthew Watts
Abstract: This chapter argues that the distinction between empiricism and metaphysics is not as clear as van Fraassen would like to believe. Almost all inquiry is metaphysical to a degree, including van Fraassen's stance empiricism. Van Fraassen does not make a strong case against metaphysics, since the argument against metaphysics has to happen at the level of meta-stances — the level where one decides which stance to endorse. The chapter maintains that utilizing van Fraassen's own conception of rationality, metaphysicians are rational. Empiricists should not reject all metaphysics, but just the sort of metaphysics which goes well beyond the empirical contexts that most interest them.

Comment: This text is useful discussions pertaining to metaphysics and its useful for empiricists

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Cockburn, Catharine Trotter. Selections from A Defence of Mr Locke’s Essay of Human Understanding
1994, in Margaret Atherton (ed.) Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period. Hackett Publishing Company. [originally written 1702]
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Added by: Alison Stone, Contributed by: Simon Fokt
Diversifying Syllabi: Catharine Trotter Cockburn argues that Burnet’s critiques of Locke are mistaken. In particular, she argues (a) that Burnet has misunderstood Locke, (b) that Burnet’s conclusions aren’t supported by his arguments, and (c) that, even if they were, they would not constitute criticisms of Locke. Primarily, Cockburn is eager to show that Locke’s view is consistent with a view of the mind/soul as immaterial and immortal.

Comment: This chapter could be used in a history of philosophy course as one week's reading. It could follow a section on Locke as Cockburn defends Locke, specifically against the charge that his empiricist epistemology cannot account for moral ideas, but in doing so develops her own account of conscience.

Complimentary Texts/Resources:

Jane Duran, “Early English Empiricism and the Work of Catharine Trotter Cockburn”

Martha Brandt Bolton, “Some Aspects of the Philosophical Work of Catharine Trotter”

Patricia Sheridan, “Reflection, Nature and Moral Law: The Extent of Catharine Cockburn’s Lockeanism in her Defence of Mr. Locke’s Essay”

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Cokley, Kevin, Awad, Germine H.. In Defense of Quantitative Methods: Using the “Master’s Tools” to Promote Social Justice
2013, Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology 5 (2)
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Added by: Tomasz Zyglewicz, Shannon Brick, Michael Greer
Abstract: Empiricism in the form of quantitative methods has sometimes been used by researchers to thwart human welfare and social justice. Some of the ugliest moments in the history of psychology were a result of researchers using quantitative methods to legitimize and codify the prejudices of the day. This has resulted in the view that quantitative methods are antithetical to the pursuit of social justice for oppressed and marginalized groups. While the ambivalence toward quantitative methods by some is understandable given their misuse by some researchers, we argue that quantitative methods are not inherently oppressive. Quantitative methods can be liberating if used by multiculturally competent researchers and scholar-activists committed to social justice. Examples of best practices in social justice oriented quantitative research are reviewed.

Comment (from this Blueprint): Cokley and Awad are both psychologists, whose work seeks to redress the wrongs of past injustices against marginalized groups, and who both use quantitative methods to do so. In this article, they sketch some of the historical reasons why members of marginalized groups are sometimes rightly suspicious of the use of quantative techniques. However, they both argue that quantitative methods are not necessarily oppressive, but can be put to good use provided their practioners are committed to social justice. They offer some examples, from their own work, of how this sort of quantitative work can help to further the cause of social justice.

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Davis, Angela. The Black Woman’s Role in the Community of Slaves
1971, The Bancroft Library
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Added by: Tomasz Zyglewicz, Shannon Brick, Michael Greer
Introduction: The paucity of literature on the black woman is outrageous on its face. But we must also contend with the fact that too many of these rare studies must claim as their signal achievement the reinforcement of fictitious cliches. They have given credence to grossly distorted categories through which the black woman continues to be perceived.

Comment (from this Blueprint): Content warning: Details of cruelties of slavery, sexual assault. In this 1971 text written while incarcerated, Angela Davis makes an argument against the truth of a stereotype of the black enslaved woman. She argues that, contrary to popular belief, the stereotype of a black woman under slavery as the “matriarch” (i.e., dominating the men in their lives and colluding with the white slaver in black people’s oppression) is not true. Instead, she argues, appealing to empirical evidence and marxist theory, that black women’s position in the community of slaves uniquely positioned them to aid in liberation struggles. She argues it is empirically borne out that they in fact were crucial to both explicit and everyday resistance efforts.

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Hartman, Saidiya. Venus in Two Acts
2008, Small Axe, 12 (2): 1–14
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Added by: Tomasz Zyglewicz, Shannon Brick, Michael Greer
Abstract: This essay examines the ubiquitous presence of Venus in the archive of Atlantic slavery and wrestles with the impossibility of discovering anything about her that hasn't already been stated. As an emblematic figure of the enslaved woman in the Atlantic world, Venus makes plain the convergence of terror and pleasure in the libidinal economy of slavery and, as well, the intimacy of history with the scandal and excess of literature. In writing at the limit of the unspeakable and the unknown, the essay mimes the violence of the archive and attempts to redress it by describing as fully as possible the conditions that determine the appearance of Venus and that dictate her silence.

Comment (from this Blueprint): Content warning: very explicit details of cruelties of slavery, sexual assault. In this seminal black feminist theory text, the Foucauldian scholar Saidiya Hartman considers the “archive” which is what she terms the collection of historical evidence that one writes about the past with. She reckons with the difficulty and ethics of writing about past figures and people who were subject to immense violence, degradation and oppression, since often the only records left of their existence are those written or approved by their oppressors or people who were complict in their oppression, and those records are often at best only caricatures of the person they pretend to represent.

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Khader, Serene. Doing Non-Ideal Theory About Gender in the Global Context
2021, Metaphilosophy, 52 (1): 142-165
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Added by: Tomasz Zyglewicz, Shannon Brick, Michael Greer
Abstract: This paper elaborates and renders explicit some of the views about political philosophical methodology that underlie the author’s arguments in Decolonizing Universalism: A Transnational Feminist Ethic. It shows how the author’s stances on autonomy, individualism, intersectionality, human rights, the coloniality of gender, and the oppression of genders besides man and woman grow out of a commitment to scrutinizing our normative views in light of transnational criticism and empirical information from the qualitative social sciences.

Comment (from this Blueprint): Serene Khader is a feminist and political philosopher whose work engages deeply with empirical work beyond philosophy. In this article, she responds to several replies to her 2018 book, "Decolonizing Universalism." Familiarity with the arguments of the book are not necessary to follow the arguments Khader makes in this piece, and to appreciate the way she recruits empirical work beyond philosophy in order to fruitfully inform her position on several key philosophical disputes. In this short excerpt, readers can gain a glimpse of one of the ways in which contemporary philosophers are opening up new pathways for theorizing precisely because of their interdisciplinarity.

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Morton, Jennifer. Moving Up Without Losing Your Way: The Ethical Costs of Upward Mobility
2019, Princeton University Press
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Added by: Tomasz Zyglewicz, Shannon Brick, Michael Greer
Publisher’s Note: Upward mobility through the path of higher education has been an article of faith for generations of working-class, low-income, and immigrant college students. While we know this path usually entails financial sacrifices and hard work, very little attention has been paid to the deep personal compromises such students have to make as they enter worlds vastly different from their own. Measuring the true cost of higher education for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, Moving Up without Losing Your Way looks at the ethical dilemmas of upward mobility—the broken ties with family and friends, the severed connections with former communities, and the loss of identity—faced by students as they strive to earn a successful place in society. Drawing upon philosophy, social science, personal stories, and interviews, Jennifer Morton reframes the college experience, factoring in not just educational and career opportunities but also essential relationships with family, friends, and community. Finding that student strivers tend to give up the latter for the former, negating their sense of self, Morton seeks to reverse this course. She urges educators to empower students with a new narrative of upward mobility—one that honestly situates ethical costs in historical, social, and economic contexts and that allows students to make informed decisions for themselves. A powerful work with practical implications, Moving Up without Losing Your Way paves a hopeful road so that students might achieve social mobility while retaining their best selves.

Comment (from this Blueprint): In this book Jennifer Morton, a philosopher of education and political philosopher, revisits the question of upward mobility and the difficulties under-privileged college students face in completing college. She argues that they face huge, yet-unacknowledged costs: "ethical costs," that impact not just them but their wider (often-marginalized) communities. Her theses in this book therefore touch not just on the individual experiences of marginalized college kids but also on broader issues of social oppression and social change. To make her claims Morton draws on her own lived experiences as an immigrant and a philosopher teaching in a public institution. One might describe this empirical method as autoethnography, although she does not. She also draws upon interviews conducted with the population of students she's interested in, "strivers." Morton's book addresses the phenomenon of upward mobility, the ethical purposes and drawbacks of going to college, and dignifies the experiences of people from marginalized backgrounds who want to make a better life for them and their communities.

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Radin, Joanna. Digital Natives’: How Medical and Indigenous Histories Matter for Big Data
2017, Data Histories, 32 (1): 43-64
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Added by: Tomasz Zyglewicz, Shannon Brick, Michael Greer
Abstract: This case considers the politics of reuse in the realm of “Big Data.” It focuses on the history of a particular collection of data, extracted and digitized from patient records made in the course of a longitudinal epidemiological study involving Indigenous members of the Gila River Indian Community Reservation in the American Southwest. The creation and circulation of the Pima Indian Diabetes Dataset (PIDD) demonstrates the value of medical and Indigenous histories to the study of Big Data. By adapting the concept of the “digital native” itself for reuse, I argue that the history of the PIDD reveals how data becomes alienated from persons even as it reproduces complex social realities of the circumstances of its origin. In doing so, this history highlights otherwise obscured matters of ethics and politics that are relevant to communities who identify as Indigenous as well as those who do not.

Comment (from this Blueprint): In this 2017 paper, historian Joanna Radin explores how reusing big data can contribute to the continued subjugation of Akimel O’odham, who live in the southewestern region of the US, otherwise known as the "Pima". This reading also illustrates how data can, over time, become used for what it was never intended or collected for. Radin emphasizes the dangers of forgetting that data represent human beings.

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Wells Barnett, Ida. Lynch Law in America
1995, In Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought, ed. Beverly Guy-Sheftall. The New Press, pp. 70-76
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Added by: Tomasz Zyglewicz, Shannon Brick, Michael Greer
Abstract: The first major anthology to trace the development of Black Feminist thought in the United States, Words of Fire is Beverly Guy-Sheftall’s comprehensive collection of writings by more than sixty Black women. From the pioneering work of abolitionist Maria Miller Stewart and anti-lynching crusader Ida Wells-Barnett to the writings of feminist critics Michele Wallace and bell hooks, Black women have been writing about the multiple jeopardies—racism, sexism, and classism—that have made it imperative to forge a brand of feminism uniquely their own. In the words of Audre Lorde, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”—Words of Fire provides the tools to dismantle the interlocking systems that oppress us and to rebuild from their ashes a society of true freedom.

Comment (from this Blueprint): This 1900 essay is seminal in feminist theory and black studies. Wells paves the way, appealing to empirical evidence, for theorizing on the role that white women's sexuality plays in black people's oppression in the US context. This is part of her broader argument for why lynching should be considered a moral catastrophe in the US.

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