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Alexandrova, Anna, , Robert Northcott. It’s just a feeling: why economic models do not explain
2013, Journal of Economic Methodology, 20(3), 262-267
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Patricia Rich

Abstract: Julian Reiss correctly identified a trilemma about economic models: we cannot maintain that they are false, but nevertheless explain and that only true accounts explain. In this reply we give reasons to reject the second premise – that economic models explain. Intuitions to the contrary should be distrusted.

Comment: This is a good short article to read alongside Reiss’ important paper on the explanation paradox, in the context of a philosophy of economics or social science class. It argues against Reiss’ premise that economic models are explanatory. It draws on, but does not require, knowledge of anyone’s positions in the larger debate on the status of formal models.

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Attfield, Robin, Robin Attfield, Attfield, Kate. Principles of Equality: Managing Equality and Diversity in a Steiner School
2019, Sustainable Management Practices, ed. Muddassar Sarfraz, Muhammad Ibrahim Adbullah, Abdul Rauf, Syed Ghulam Meran Shah, London: IntechOpen
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Robin Attfield, Kate Attfield

Abstract: Principles of equality are examined in the context of managing equality and diversity in practice. Our case study is the Cardiff Steiner School, an independent international school located in Wales, UK with educational values guided by the philosophers and educationalists Rudolf Steiner and Millicent Mackenzie. The sustainable management referred to and assessed in this chapter is the school’s management structure and the related School pedagogical operation, with the founding Steiner value of human justice informing these. We argue that at the School the management of equality and diversity reflects theories of Diversity and Equality Management, with School managers aspiring to encourage respect for all. We appraise the philosophical and spiritual values of the founders in relation to equality and diversity, in order to demonstrate the visionary ideals of these philosophers and the extent to which their beliefs live on sustainable in contemporary society, and particularly in a Steiner education community.

Comment: The principle of equality of consideration underpins managerial and pedagogical practices at the Cardiff Steiner School. We argue that respecting the principle of equality of consideration (see Singer 1983) is a prerequisite of respecting diversity, and issues in precisely this in an educational context. We present alternative models of equality (related to different principles of equality), applying these to an inclusive educational system, and find them deficient when it comes to the respecting of diversity. The various dimensions of diversity considered are culture, gender status, sexual orientation, socio-economic position, appearance and ethnicity.

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Bicchieri, Cristina, , . The Grammar of Society: The Nature and Dynamics of Social Norms
2006, Cambridge University Press
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Jurgis Karpus

Publisher’s Note: In The Grammar of Society, first published in 2006, Cristina Bicchieri examines social norms, such as fairness, cooperation, and reciprocity, in an effort to understand their nature and dynamics, the expectations that they generate, and how they evolve and change. Drawing on several intellectual traditions and methods, including those of social psychology, experimental economics and evolutionary game theory, Bicchieri provides an integrated account of how social norms emerge, why and when we follow them, and the situations where we are most likely to focus on relevant norms. Examining the existence and survival of inefficient norms, she demonstrates how norms evolve in ways that depend upon the psychological dispositions of the individual and how such dispositions may impair social efficiency. By contrast, she also shows how certain psychological propensities may naturally lead individuals to evolve fairness norms that closely resemble those we follow in most modern societies.

Comment: Extracts from Bicchieri’s book can be read in a course that covers game theory and social norms. Bicchieri’s book is famous and highly praised for its contribution to our understanding of how social norms form and influence our choice behaviour in day-to-day social interactions. Christina Bicchieri has recently also co-authored a revised version of the entry ‘social norms’ in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP).

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Bortolotti, Lisa, , Daniela Cutas. Reproductive and Parental Autonomy: An Argument for Compulsory Education
2009, Reproductive Biomedicine Online, 19 (Ethics Supplement): 5-14.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord, Contributed by:

Abstract: In this paper we argue that society should make available reliable information about parenting to everybody from an early age. The reason why parental education is important (when offered in a comprehensive and systematic way) is that it can help young people understand better the responsibilities associated with reproduction, and the skills required for parenting. This would allow them to make more informed life-choices about reproduction and parenting, and exercise their autonomy with respect to these choices. We do not believe that parental education would constitute a limitation of individual freedom. Rather, the acquisition of relevant information about reproduction and parenting and the acquisition of self-knowledge with respect to reproductive and parenting choices can help give shape to individual life plans. We make a case for compulsory parental education on the basis of the need to respect and enhance individual reproductive and parental autonomy within a culture that presents contradictory attitudes towards reproduction and where decisions about whether to become a parent are subject to significant pressure and scrutiny.

Comment: This text provides a clear overview of debates about reproductive autonomy and compulsory education. It also contains responses to well known criticisms of compulsory parental education. It would be best used in a course dealing with issues of parenthood and procreation, reproduction, or autonomy in a medical context.

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Bright, Liam Kofi, Daniel Malinsky, Morgan Thompson. Causally Interpreting Intersectionality Theory
2016, Philosophy of Science 83(1): 60–81
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Abstract: Social scientists report difficulties in drawing out testable predictions from the literature on intersectionality theory. We alleviate that difficulty by showing that some characteristic claims of the intersectionality literature can be interpreted causally. The formal-ism of graphical causal modeling allows claims about the causal effects of occupying intersecting identity categories to be clearly represented and submitted to empirical test-ing. After outlining this causal interpretation of intersectional theory, we address some concerns that have been expressed in the literature claiming that membership in demo-graphic categories can have causal effects.

Comment: This text contains a summary of some key concepts in intersectionality theory and a discussion of how they have been used in empirical sociological research, as well as an introduction to methods of causal statistical inference. Students needing an introduction to any of these things could therefore benefit from this text. It also contains arguments about the permissibility of using demographic categories as the basis of causal claims that may be interesting matters of dispute or discussion for students of the philosophy of race.

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Collins, Patricia Hill, , . Transforming the inner circle: Dorothy Smith’s challenge to sociological theory
1992, Sociological Theory 10 (1):73-80.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Corbin Covington

Abstract: “Women have been largely excluded from the work of producing the forms of thought and the images and symbols in which thought is expressed and ordered,” suggests sociologist Dorothy E. Smith. “We can imagine women’s exclusion organized by the formation of a circle among men who attend to and treat as significant only what men say.” In this male discourse, “what men were doing was relevant to men, was written by men about men for men . . . this is how a tradition is formed” (Smith 1987, p. 18). Smith’s perspective aptly describes the outer circle that delineates sociology from other equally male-centered disciplines, but it also characterizes the important inner circle of sociological theory lying at the center of the field.

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

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Crane, Susan A., , . Choosing Not to Look: Representation, Repatriation, and Holocaust Atrocity Photography
2008, History and Theory 47: 309-30.
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Added by: Erich Hatala Matthes, Contributed by:

Summary: In this article, Crane, a historian, questions whether Holocaust atrocity photographs should be displayed, arguing that displaying them is not the best means of historical education about the horrors of the Holocaust, as some defenders argue. Her discussion includes reflections on the nature of photography, spectacle, how we look at images, and pedagogy surrounding historical injustices.

Comment: This text offers an opportunity to discuss the display of “negative heritage,” and so offers a different angle than many of the articles on heritage which focus on appropriative display of more traditionally conceived heritage objects. The article also raises issues which can inspire discussion on moral criticism of art.

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Darby, Derrick, , . Adequacy, Inequality, and Cash for Grades
2011, Theory and Research in Eduation 9 (3): 209-232.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord, Contributed by:

Abstract: Some political philosophers have recently argued that providing K-12 students with an adequate education suffices for social justice in education provided that the threshold of educational adequacy is properly understood. Others have argued that adequacy is insufficient for social justice. In this article I side with the latter group. I extend this debate to racial inequality in education by considering the controversial practice of paying students cash for grades to close the racial achievement gap. I then argue that framing the demand for racial justice in education solely in terms of educational adequacy leaves us unable to take issue with the cash for grades policy as a matter of principle. While this does not entail that educational adequacy is unimportant, it adds to the general case for why adequacy does not suffice for social justice.

Comment: This text is a good rejoinder to Anderson and Satz’s arguments concerning the shift from a focus on providing an equal education to an adequate education. Though it could be read in absence of those texts, it requires a familiarity with the idea of sufficientarianism – and so should probably be read after Anderson’s “Fair Opportunity in Education: A Democratic Equality Perspective.” It would have a place in a course concerning egalitarianism in education, racial justice, or education and democracy.

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Fausto-Sterling, Anne, , . Sex/Gender: Biology in a Social world
2012, Routledge.
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Added by: Benny Goldberg, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Sex/Gender presents a relatively new way to think about how biological difference can be produced over time in response to different environmental and social experiences.

This book gives a clearly written explanation of the biological and cultural underpinnings of gender. Anne Fausto-Sterling provides an introduction to the biochemistry, neurobiology, and social construction of gender with expertise and humor in a style accessible to a wide variety of readers. In addition to the basics, Sex/Gender ponders the moral, ethical, social and political side to this inescapable subject.

Comment: This is a good text for courses in philosophy of science dealing with biology, feminist philosophy (and feminist philosophy of science), as well as courses dealing with issues of sex and gender. While it uses a lot of scientific detail, it is suitable for advanced undergraduates regardless of major.

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Freter, Yvette, , . Difference in African Educational Contexts
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 217-237
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Added by: , Contributed by: Björn Freter

Abstract: Educational institutions pull together students of different genders, abilities, races, classes, and religions and are the microcosm of their communities. In African contexts, schools have been the location of “cultural parochialism” and “colonial epistemicide and the consolidation of colonization” (Lebakeng et al. 72, 2006). Thus an additional dimension of difference drawn along the fallacious line of the superior dominant Eurowestern colonizer versus the inferior indigenous African population has been institutionalized within the educational system. I engage in a philosophical examination of the African context of difference in the sphere of education. I consider the hopeful gaze philosophy offers in the light of difference, by considering the concept of pluralism, and argue for a view of difference that is both inclusive and appreciative of diversity and suggests ways educators can critically assess their own differences by considering their positionality. I conclude by applying the philosophical outlook that embraces pluralism to our classroom spaces and suggests multicultural theory that embraces difference by including both dominant and marginalized educators to impact education in an efficacious way.

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

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Gilbert, Margaret, , . Walking Together: A Paradigmatic Social Phenomenon
1990, Midwest Studies in Philosophy 15(1): 1-14.
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Added by: Lukas Schwengerer, Contributed by:

Abstract: The everyday concept of a social group is approached by examining the concept of going for a walk together, an example of doing something together, or ‘shared action’. Two analyses requiring shared personal goals are rejected, since they fail to explain how people walking together have obligations and rights to appropriate behaviour, and corresponding rights of rebuke. An alternative account is proposed: those who walk together must constitute the ‘plural subject’ of a goal (roughly, their walking alongside each other). The nature of plural subjecthood, the thesis that social groups are plural subjects, and the relation of these ideas to Rousseau’s and Hobbes’s, are briefly explored.

Comment: The article uses a clear example to explore shared agency. It is both an accessible and fundamental paper for the discourse on collective intentionality, and as such it is ideal as an introduction to those topics. It is also a good addition for courses on social ontology.

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Gutmann, Amy, , . Democratic Education
1999, Princeton University Press.
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Added by: Carl Fox, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Who should have the authority to shape the education of citizens in a democracy? This is the central question posed by Amy Gutmann in the first book-length study of the democratic theory of education. The author tackles a wide range of issues, from the democratic case against book banning to the role of teachers’ unions in education, as well as the vexed questions of public support for private schools and affirmative action in college admissions.

Comment: Comprehensive and insightful treatment of the subject of education in a democracy. Could provide a main text for a specialised lecture or seminar, or solid further reading on a more general module for anyone particularly interested in civic education.

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Ivanova, Milena, , . Pierre Duhem’s Good Sense as a Guide to Theory Choice
2010, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science part A 41(1): 58-64.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by: Ivanova, Milena

Abstract: This paper examines Duhem’s concept of good sense as an attempt to support a non rule-governed account of rationality in theory choice. Faced with the underdetermination of theory by evidence thesis and the continuity thesis, Duhem tried to account for the ability of scientists to choose theories that continuously grow to a natural classification. The author examines the concept of good sense and the problems that stem from it. The paper presents a recent attempt by David Stump to link good sense to virtue epistemology. It is argued that even though this approach can be useful for the better comprehension of the concept of good sense, there are some substantial differences between virtue epistemologists and Duhem. The athor proposes a possible way to interpret the concept of good sense, which overcomes the noted problems and fits better with Duhem’s views on scientific method and motivation in developing the concept of good sense.

Comment: Interesting article that could serve as further reading in both epistemology courses and philosophy of science classes. Really good as an in-depth study of Duhem’s views on scientific method. Recommendable for postgraduates or senior undergraduates.

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McIntosh, Esther, , . John Macmurray’s Religious Philosophy: What It Means to Be a Person
2011, Routledge.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Esther McIntosh

Publisher’s Note: Recent dissatisfaction with individualism and the problems of religious pluralism make this an opportune time to reassess the way in which we define ourselves and conduct our relationships with others. The philosophical writings of John Macmurray are a useful resource for performing this examination, and recent interest in Macmurray’s work has been growing steadily.
A full-scale critical examination of Macmurray’s religious philosophy has not been published and this work fills this gap, sharing his insistence that we define ourselves through action and through person-to-person relationships, while critiquing his account of the ensuing political and religious issues. The key themes in this work are the concept of the person and the ethics of personal relations.

Comment: There are hardly any women working on the concept of the person or on Macmurray’s philosophy. As well as being of use for modules on personhood, this book is useful for philosophy of religion, philosophy of education, feminist ethics and theology.

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Mitchell, Sandra, , . Complexity and explanation in the social sciences
2009, Mitchell, Sandra. “Complexity and explanation in the social sciences.” Chrysostomos Mantzavinos (Hg.), Philosophy of the Social Sciences. Philosophical Theory and Scientific Practice, Cambridge (2009): 130-145.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Patricia Rich

Abstract: To answer Condorcet, in this chapter I will investigate what it is about the social world that makes the universal, exceptionless generalizations that are heralded as the foundation of knowledge of the physical world so elusive. I am not going to rehearse all the arguments for and against the possibility of laws in the social realm. What I aim to do is not to take either side of the debate, that is, not to say – “YES! Social science does have laws just like physics (or close enough any-way)” or “NO! Social science can never have laws like those of physics; knowledge of the social has a wholly different character.” Rather I will suggest replacing the standard conception of laws that structure the debate with a more spacious conceptual framework that not only illuminates what it is about knowledge of the social that is similar to knowledge of the physical, but also explains what is so different in the two scientific endeavors.

Comment: When studying the philosophy of the social sciences, the nature of explanation and the role of laws in explanation are important issues. This text provides a valuable argument on this topic, provides an example of how philosophy of biology is relevant to the social sciences, and brings in some other useful philosophical concepts.

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