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Finlayson, Lorna, , . The Political is Political: Conformity and the Illusion of Dissent in Contemporary Political Philosophy
2015, London: Rowman and Littlefield International
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Added by: Carl Fox, Contributed by: Emily Dyson

Publisher’s Note: Nobody should really have to point out that political philosophy is political. Yet in this highly original and provocative book Lorna Finlayson argues that in fact it is necessary to do so. Offering a critique of mainstream liberal political philosophy through close, critical engagement with a series of specific debates and arguments, Finlayson analyzes the way in which apparently neutral methodological devices such as ‘charitable interpretation’ and ‘constructive criticism’ function so as to protect against challenges to the status quo.
At each stage, Finlayson demonstrates that political philosophy is suffering from a complex process of ‘depoliticization.’ Even in cases where it appears that the dominant framework of liberal political philosophy is being strongly challenged – as, for example, in the case of the ‘realist’ critique of ‘ideal theory’ – this book argues that the debate is set up in such a way as to impose strict limits on the kind of dissent that is possible. Only by dragging these hidden presuppositions into the foreground can we arrive at a clear-eyed appreciation of such debates, and perhaps look beyond the artificially constricted landscape in which they seek to confine us.

Comment: Good further or advanced reading on the methodology of political philosophy, and an incredibly illuminating critical complement to a Rawls-heavy syllabus. Finlayson provides an interesting and challenging critique of liberal presuppositions that are widespread in political philosophy. Individual chapters would also make very good further or advanced reading in their own right, especially the chapters on Rawls, the norm of philosophical charity, speech acts and silencing, and political realism.

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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.

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Haslanger, Sally, , . Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them To Be?
2000, Nous 34(1): 31-55.
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Abstract: This paper proposes social constructionist accounts of gender and race. The focus of the inquiry–inquiry aiming to provide resources for feminist and antiracist projects–are the social positions of those marked for privilege or subordination by observed or imagined features assumed to be relevant to reproductive function, or geographical origins. I develop these ideas and propose that other gendered and racialized phenomena are usefully demarcated and explained by reference to these social positions. In doing so, I address the concern that attempts to define race or gender are misguided because they either assume a false commonality or marginalize some members of the group in question.

Comment: Seminal reading for modules on gender or race.
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