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Galgut, Elisa. A Critique of the Cultural Defense of Animal Cruelty
2019, Journal of Animal Ethics 9 (2):184
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Anonymous
Abstract: I argue that cultural practices that harm animals are not morally defensible: Tradition cannot justify cruelty. My conclusion applies to all such practices, including ones that are long-standing, firmly entrenched, or held sacred by their practitioners. Following Mary Midgley, I argue that cultural practices are open to moral scrutiny, even from outsiders. Because animals have moral status, they may not be harmed without good reason. I argue that the importance of religious or cultural rituals to adherents does not count as a sufficiently good reason to harm or kill animals, since rituals are inherently symbolic, and cultures are able to adapt and change, making adherence to cruel traditions unnecessary.

Comment: This paper can be used in a class on animal ethics / rights. It argues that rituals involving harm or cruelty to animals are not justifiable. The paper can be used in a discussion on animal rights issues and multi-culturalism.

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Galgut, Elisa. Raising the Bar in the Justification of Animal Research
2015, Journal of Animal Ethics 5 (1):5-19
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Anonymous
Abstract: Animal ethics committees (AECs) appeal to utilitarian principles in their justification of animal experiments. Although AECs do not grant rights to animals, they do accept that animals have moral standing and should not be unnecessarily harmed. Although many appeal to utilitarian arguments in the justification of animal experiments, I argue that AECs routinely fall short of the requirements needed for such justification in a variety of ways. I argue that taking the moral status of animals seriously—even if this falls short of granting rights to animals—should lead to a thorough revision or complete elimination of many of the current practices in animal experimentation.

Comment: This paper can be used in a course on animal research ethics.

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Galgut, Elisa. Hume’s Aesthetic Standard
2012, Hume Studies 38 (2):183-200
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Anonymous
Abstract: In his famous essay “Of the Standard of Taste,” Hume seeks to reconcile two conflicting intuitions—the intuition that there is a great variety of taste, on the one hand, and the intuition that there is an artistic standard based on taste that has stood the test of time, on the other—by appealing to the joint verdict of his “true judges” or “ideal critics.” But Hume’s critics have themselves been the objects of criticism as not providing an adequate basis on which to establish a normative aesthetic standard based on taste. In this paper, I defend an interpretation of Hume’s ideal critics as akin to judges in certain common law traditions, and I argue that Hume does satisfactorily resolve conflicting intuitions about the nature of taste.

Comment: This paper offers a reading of Hume's "Of the Standard of Taste" that examines the role of the 'true judges'

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Burra, Arudra. The Lamps in our House: Reflections on Postcolonial Pedagogy
2021, Miami Institute for the Social Sciences blog
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Arudra Burra

Introduction: I teach philosophy at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi. My teaching reflects my training, which is in the Western philosophical tradition: I teach PhD seminars on Plato and Rawls, while Bentham and Mill often figure in my undergraduate courses.

What does it mean to teach these canonical figures of the Western philosophical tradition to students in India? I have often asked myself this question. Similar questions are now being asked by philosophers situated in the West: Anglophone philosophy, at least in the analytic tradition, seems to have arrived at a late moment of post-colonial reckoning. [...]

Comment: This is a long blog post originally published in an online forum on philosophy in the Global Majority organised by the Miami Institute of Social Sciences. It defends a place for thinking and teaching the Western philosophical canon in postcolonial educational spaces such as India, bringing together both recent discussions of decolonising philosophy in the West, as well as older discussions within India about the place of the Western canon. It concludes with a debate on these themes between Mahatma Gandhi and the poet Rabindranath Tagore. I wrote it as a reflection on my own pedagogical practice teaching philosophy in India, but it has also been used in a course on Indian philosophy taught at the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee. I think it would be a useful counterpoint to think with while talking about the importance of diversity in philosophy -- among other things because it points out that even the question of what constitutes 'diversity' might vary from place to place; and in that sense it might be seen as an instance of philosophical diversity in action.

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Mich Ciurria. An Intersectional Feminist Theory of Moral Responsibility
2019, Routledge
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Anonymous
Publisher’s Note: This book develops an intersectional feminist approach to moral responsibility. It accomplisheses four main goals. First, it outlines a concise list of the main principles of intersectional feminism. Second, it uses these principles to critique prevailing philosophical theories of moral responsibility. Third, it offers an account of moral responsibility that is compatible with the ethos of intersectional feminism. And fourth, it uses intersectional feminist principles to critique culturally normative responsibility practices. This is the first book to provide an explicitly intersectional feminist approach to moral responsibility. After identifying the five principles central to intersectional feminism, the author demonstrates how influential theories of responsibility are incompatible with these principles. She argues that a normatively adequate theory of blame should not be preoccupied with the agency or traits of wrongdoers; it should instead underscore, and seek to ameliorate, oppression and adversity as experienced by the marginalized. Apt blame and praise, according to her intersectional feminist account, is both communicative and functionalist. The book concludes with an extensive discussion of culturally embedded responsibility practices, including asymmetrically structured conversations and gender- and racially biased social spaces. An Intersectional Feminist Approach to Moral Responsibility presents a sophisticated and original philosophical account of moral responsibility. It will be of interest to philosophers working at the crossroads of moral responsibility, feminist philosophy, critical race theory, queer theory, critical disability studies, and intersectionality theory.

Comment: This book offers a critique of mainstream theories of moral responsibility and defends an intersectional feminist alternative that holds people responsible for their contributions, whether intentional or not, to intersecting systems of oppression.

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Georgi Gardiner. Banal Skepticism and the Errors of Doubt: On Ephecticism about Rape Accusations
2021, Midwest Studies in Philosophy
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Anonymous
Abstract: Ephecticism is the tendency towards suspension of belief. Epistemology often focuses on the error of believing when one ought to doubt. The converse error—doubting when one ought to believe—is relatively underexplored. This essay examines the errors of undue doubt. I draw on the relevant alternatives framework to diagnose and remedy undue doubts about rape accusations. Doubters tend to invoke standards for belief that are too demanding, for example, and underestimate how farfetched uneliminated error possibilities are. They mistake seeing how incriminating evidence is compatible with innocence for a reason to withhold judgement. Rape accusations help illuminate the causes and normativity of doubt. I propose a novel kind of epistemic injustice, for example, wherein patterns of unwarranted attention to farfetched error possibilities can cause those error possibilities to become relevant. Widespread unreasonable doubt thus renders doubt reasonable and makes it harder to know rape accusations. Finally, I emphasise that doubt is often a conservative force and I argue that the relevant alternatives framework helps defend against pernicious doubt-mongers.

Comment: Applies epistemology's relevant alternatives theory to diagnosis why rape accusations are doubted so much. It outlines the theory first, so no need for a pre-read. Identifies the tricks and mistakes of "doubt mongers", who refuse to believe despite good evidence. Good for an applied philosophy, feminism, or upper-level epistemology course. Also good to interject current topics / MeToo into a course. Comes with a "cheat sheet" (i.e. a handout that outlines the published essay, to make teaching it easier). A word and PDF version of the cheat sheet are here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Uyki8vj7_FkVHcmThrAbEiw5-BtRSF0n

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Lai, Ten-Herng. Civil Disobedience, Costly Signals, and Leveraging Injustice
2021, Ergo 7(40): 1083-1108
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Anonymous
Abstract: Civil disobedience, despite its illegal nature, can sometimes be justified vis-à-vis the duty to obey the law, and, arguably, is thereby not liable to legal punishment. However, adhering to the demands of justice and refraining from punishing justified civil disobedience may lead to a highly problematic theoretical consequence: the debilitation of civil disobedience. This is because, according to the novel analysis I propose, civil disobedience primarily functions as a costly social signal. It is effective by being reliable, reliable by being costly, and costly primarily by being punished. My analysis will highlight a distinctive feature of civil disobedience: civil disobedients leverage the punitive injustice they suffer to amplify their communicative force. This will lead to two paradoxical implications. First, the instability of the moral status of both civil disobedience and its punishment to the extent where the state may be left with no permissible course of action with regard to punishing civil disobedience. Second, by refraining from punishing justified civil disobedience, the state may render uncivil disobedience—illegal political activities that fall short of the standards of civil disobedience—potentially permissible.

Comment: Talks about civil disobedience, especially on how its punishment can be problematic.

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Dhanda, Meena. Philosophical Foundations of Anti-Casteism
2020, Dhanda, Meena (2020)'. 'Philosophical Foundations of Anti-Casteism. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. 120 (1):71-96.
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Added by: Suddha Guharoy and Andreas Sorger
Abstract:

The paper begins from a working definition of caste as a contentious form of social belonging and a consideration of casteism as a form of inferiorization. It takes anti-casteism as an ideological critique aimed at unmasking the unethical operations of caste, drawing upon B. R. Ambedkar’s notion of caste as ‘graded inequality’. The politico-legal context of the unfinished trajectory of instituting protection against caste discrimination in Britain provides the backdrop for thinking through the philosophical foundations of anti-casteism. The peculiar religio-discursive aspect of ‘emergent vulnerability’ is noted, which explains the recent introduction of the trope of ‘institutional casteism’ used as a shield by deniers of caste against accusations of casteism. The language of protest historically introduced by anti-racists is thus usurped and inverted in a simulated language of anti-colonialism. It is suggested that the stymieing of the UK legislation on caste is an effect of collective hypocrisies, the refusal to acknowledge caste privilege, and the continuity of an agonistic intellectual inheritance, exemplified in the deep differences between Ambedkar and Gandhi in the Indian nationalist discourse on caste. The paper argues that for a modern anti-casteism to develop, at stake is the possibility of an ethical social solidarity. Following Ambedkar, this expansive solidarity can only be found through our willingness to subject received opinions and traditions to critical scrutiny. Since opposed groups ‘make sense’ of their worlds in ways that might generate collective hypocrisies of denial of caste effects, anti-casteism must be geared to expose the lie that caste as the system of graded inequality is benign and seamlessly self-perpetuating, when it is everywhere enforced through penalties for transgression of local caste norms with the complicity of the privileged castes. The ideal for modern anti-casteism is Maitri formed through praxis, eschewing birth-ascribed caste status and loyalties.

Comment: This is a brilliant introductory essay to the problem of casteism which plagues not only Indian societies in India, but also the diaspora abroad. The essay provides a nuanced perspective of how we must understand caste (both in its concept and its practice), introduces us to the 20th century debates which were ongoing alongside the freedom struggle against the Raj, and links the caste debate to the debates around it in contemporary British politics. It is a novel attempt to unearth the philosophical underpinnings of the movement against caste oppression. The timing of the essay seems apposite, given the current political situation in India and its impact in the politics of the countries where Indians constitute a sizeable population.

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Khader, Serene J.. Decolonizing Universalism: A Transnational Feminist Ethic
2018, OUP USA
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Added by: Suddha Guharoy and Andreas Sorger
Publisher’s Note:

Ecolonizing Universalism develops a genuinely anti-imperialist feminism. Against relativism/universalism debates that ask feminists to either reject normativity or reduce feminism to a Western conceit, Khader's nonideal universalism rediscovers the normative core of feminism in opposition to sexist oppression and reimagines the role of moral ideals in transnational feminist praxis.

Comment: The book is a prescription for feminist praxis in lands and cultures which have histories different from that of the vanguards of the (‘Western’) world. It challenges both the ‘progressive’ ideals of the Enlightenment, which (according to the author) are ethnocentric in many ways, and their universalizing tendencies. It recognizes, and is apprehensive of, the fact that Enlightenment values operate as background assumptions in the works of many Northern and Western feminists, all the more when they are concerned with advancing women’s rights in ‘other’ cultures. The author rejects such tendencies and proposes a different approach to the understanding of normativity and universalism.

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Chen, Kuan-hsing. Asia as Method: Toward Deimperialization
2010, Duke University Press.
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Publisher’s Note:

Centering his analysis in the dynamic forces of modern East Asian history, Kuan-Hsing Chen recasts cultural studies as a politically urgent global endeavor. He argues that the intellectual and subjective work of decolonization begun across East Asia after the Second World War was stalled by the cold war. At the same time, the work of deimperialization became impossible to imagine in imperial centers such as Japan and the United States. Chen contends that it is now necessary to resume those tasks, and that decolonization, deimperialization, and an intellectual undoing of the cold war must proceed simultaneously. Combining postcolonial studies, globalization studies, and the emerging field of “Asian studies in Asia,” he insists that those on both sides of the imperial divide must assess the conduct, motives, and consequences of imperial histories.

Chen is one of the most important intellectuals working in East Asia today; his writing has been influential in Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and mainland China for the past fifteen years. As a founding member of the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Society and its journal, he has helped to initiate change in the dynamics and intellectual orientation of the region, building a network that has facilitated inter-Asian connections. Asia as Method encapsulates Chen’s vision and activities within the increasingly “inter-referencing” East Asian intellectual community and charts necessary new directions for cultural studies.

Comment: Chen Kuan-hsing’s book Asia as Method theorises what deimperialization efforts might look like, in order to begin imagining new possibilities and new futures that have been foreclosed by the entanglement of imperialization, colonisation, and the cold war in the Asian context. In this chapter, Chen puts forward his idea of “Asia as method”, which he sees as being able to “move forward on the tripartite problematic of decolonisation, deimperialization, and de-cold war” (p.212) by pushing back against the universalism of Western ideas. Thus, Chen suggests the need for “shifting [the] points of reference toward Asia”, thereby enabling Asian societies to learn from each other when faced with similar problems rather than engage in a dialogue mediated through Western theories and forms of knowledge production.

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