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Alcoff, Linda Martin, , . On Judging Epistemic Credibility: Is Social Identity Relevant?
2000, In Naomi Zack (ed.), Women of Color and Philosophy: A Critical Reader. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 235-262.
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Abstract: In assessing the likely credibility of a claim or judgment, is it ever relevant to take into account the social identity of the person who has made the claim? There are strong reasons, political and otherwise, to argue against the epistemic relevance of social identity. However, there are instances where social identity might be deemed relevant, such as in determinations of criminal culpability where a relatively small amount of evidence is the only basis for the decision and where social prejudices can play a role in inductive reasoning. This paper explores these issues.

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Alcoff, Linda Martin, , . Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self
2006, Oxford University Press.
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Publisher’s Note: Visible Identities critiques the critiques of identity and of identity politics and argues that identities are real but not necessarily a political problem. Moreover, the book explores the material infrastructure of gendered identity, the experimental aspects of racial subjectivity for both whites and non-whites, and in several chapters looks specifically at Latio identity.

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Appiah, Kwame Anthony, , . Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (Issues of Our Time)
2010, WW Norton & Company.
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Back matter: “A welcome attempt to resurrect an older tradition of moral and political reflection and to show its relevance to our current condition.” — John Gray “Cosmopolitanism is… of wide interest-invitingly written and enlivened by personal history… Appiah is wonderfully perceptive and levelheaded about this tangle of issues.” — Thomas Nagel “Elegantly provocative.” — Edward Rothstein “[Appiah’s] belief in having conversations across boundaries, and in recognizing our obligations to other human beings, offers a welcome prescription for a world still plagued by fanaticism and intolerance.” — Kofi A. Annan, former United Nations secretary-general “[Appiah’s] exhilarating exposition of his philosophy knocks one right off complacent balance… All is conveyed with flashes of iconoclastic humor.” — Nadine Gordimer, winner of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature “An attempt to redefine our moral obligations to others based on a very humane and realistic outlook and love of art… I felt like a better person after I read it, and I recommend the same experience to others.” — Orham Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Comment: The introduction provides a particularly good entry text to ethics, race and cosmopolitanism.
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Appiah, Kwame Anthony, , . In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture
1992, Oxford University Press.
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Back matter: Africa’s intellectuals have long been engaged in a conversation with each other, and with Europeans and Americans about what it means to be African. At the heart of these debates on African identity are the seminal works of politicians, creative writers and philosophers from Africa and its diaspora. In this book, Appiah draws on his experiences as a Ghanaian in the New World to explore the writings of these African and African-American thinkers and to contribute his own vision of the possibilities and pitfalls of an African identity in the late twentieth century. Appiah sets out to dismantle the specious oppositions between “us” and “them,” the West and the Rest, that have governed so much of the cultural debate about Africa in the modern world. All of us, he maintains, wherever we live on the planet, must explore together the relations between our local cultures and an increasingly global civilization. Combining philosophical analysis with more personal reflections, Appiah addresses the major issues in the philosophy of culture through an exploration of the contemporary African predicament.

Comment: Chapters 1 & 2 can be particularly useful in teaching on the social construction of race.
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Appiah, Kwame Anthony, , . Reconstructing Racial Identities
1996, Research in African Literatures 27 (3):58-72.
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Abstract: The main theoretical gap in In My Father’s House – in the opinion, at least, of its author – is the lack of a proposed alternative to the account of identity in the black diaspora that the book criticizes. The pseudo- biological essentialist account of black identity is, in my judgment, now generally understood to be untenable; what is lacking is an alternative positive account of black identity. In the book I criticized the biological account as a proposed basis for identities in the continent as well: but I offered, in the chapter on “African Identities,” some suggestions for a positive basis for a range of continentally based mobilizations of Africa as what I called “a vital and enabling badge.” But what I had to say about diasporic identities was, to put it kindly, perfunctory. Katya Azoulay’s critique of my work (“Outside Our Parents’ House: Race, Culture, and Identity” in RAL 27.1 [1996]: 129-42) identifies this theoretical gap and rightly draws attention to it. Let me offer at least a sketch of an approach.

Comment: The article follows up on Appiah’s In My Father’s House.
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Demarest, Heather, , . Fission May Kill You (But Not for the Reasons You Thought)
2016, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 93, 3.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Shen Pan

Abstract: If a person, A, branches into B and C, then it is widely held that B and C are not identical to one another. Many think that this is because B and C have contradictory properties at the same time. In this paper, I show why this explanation cannot be right. I argue that contradictory properties at times are not necessary for non-identity between descendants, and that contradictory properties at times are not sufficient for non-identity. I also argue that the standard explanation cannot be salvaged by a shift to personal time. Appeals to a lack of continuity, or to the absence of unity of consciousness likewise fail. Rather, B and C are non-identical simply because A branched into B and C. Why branching should be problematic for personal identity remains a deep puzzle though I offer some tentative suggestions.

Comment: Useful for teaching time, time travel, and personal identity.
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Demaria, Christina, , . The Performative Body of Marina Abramović Rerelating (in) Time and Space
2004, The European Journal of Women’s Studies 1(3): 295-307.
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Added by: Rossen Ventzislavov, Contributed by:

Abstract: Can a performance be analysed as a textual practice? Starting from this question, the article tries to describe the effets du sens (meaning effects) of some of the work of Marina Abramović, a Serbian performer and visual artist. From the 1970s, when the so-called body art emerged as a visual genre, offering the artist’s body as a naked site of inscription, up to the present, when performing has become a more playful and direct transmission of energy between the doer and the viewer, the work of Abramović represents an effective and powerful example of the body-as-a-text in which subjectivity can be re-expressed and reinvented through the transformations of the relation between time and space. In the strong relationship created between the performer and the audience, what is enacted is a translation–transduction of material and cognitive meanings that results in a redefinition of a subjective and, simultaneously, collective experience of identity.

Comment: This is a prime example of feminist aesthetics and its treatment of the human body. Demaria’s main contention is that performance art can be understood textually and representationally even if it does not lay an explicit claim to either type of content. She agrees with Judith Butler’s notion of citationality as a perpetual re-inscription of power norms and codes onto the human body. Since bodily presence plays such an important part in most performance art, the question of the possibility of embodied meaning arises naturally. Demaria uses the art of Marina Abramović to show that the question should be answered in the affirmative. Abramović’s body exercises discursive transgressions (of language and code) in ways that, according to Demaria, establish a new language of dissent.

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Eva Kit Wah Man, , . Issues of Contemporary Art and Aesthetics in Chinese Context
2015, Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
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Publisher’s Note: This book discusses how China’s transformations in the last century have shaped its arts and its philosophical aesthetics. For instance, how have political, economic and cultural changes shaped its aesthetic developments? Further, how have its long-standing beliefs and traditions clashed with modernizing desires and forces, and how have these changes materialized in artistic manifestations? In addition to answering these questions, this book also brings Chinese philosophical concepts on aesthetics into dialogue with those of the West, making an important contribution to the fields of art, comparative aesthetics and philosophy.

Comment: A timely discussion of the influence of the last century’s political, economic, and cultural changes in China upon its philosophical aesthetics. Man’s book addresses a number of key neglected topics of comparative aesthetics between China and the West, contemporary aesthetics and art in Hong Kong, the relation of gender and art in the politics of identity, and the role of tradition in new creative practices. Chapter 4 introduces the leaders of the major schools of aesthetics in new China, including Li Zehou. This text is best used in a comparative aesthetics context, especially in discussions of contemporary aesthetic mediums.

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Fusco, Coco, , . The Other History of Intercultural Performance
1994, The Drama Review 38(1): 143-167.
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Summary: Fusco’s text chronicles the preparation, performance, and public reception of an artwork – “Two Undiscovered Amerindians” – she created in collaboration with Guillermo Gómez-Peña in 1992. The performance was intended as a critique of the contemporary artworld, whose shallow redemptive multiculturalism often sidelined important issues of racial difference and racialized aesthetic perception. It consisted of the two artists spending three days in a golden cage presented, in the manner of live ethnographic spectacles of the not so distant colonial past, as members of an exotic and newly discovered island nation in the Gulf of Mexico. Fusco contends that otherness is always performative and, as such, has held the entire history of performance art – from the Dadaists to the present day – captive. The resulting frequent gestures of appropriation, condescension and erasure discredit the social and intercultural consciousness most performance artists see themselves as representing. Ironically, the strange journey the “Two Undiscovered Amerindians” project has travelled has plentifully confirmed the iniquities the two artists set out to expose.

Comment: While not a philosophical text per se, this article is very helpful in discussions of the political dimension of the contemporary artworld, and the race dynamics within it.

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Goldberg, RoseLee, , . Identities: Feminism, Multiculturalism, Sexuality
2004, In: Performance: Live Art Since the 60’s. New York: Thames & Hudson. 128-145.
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Summary: Goldberg provides a richly illustrated historical account of the intimate connection between identity and performance art. Starting from the feminist art of the 1960’s, the recognition and assertion of identity was a fundamental bid for social visibility. The next frontier was social recognition, which concerned ethnic and sexual minorities as much as it did women. The final frontier – political equality – is one that is still out of reach. Still, according to Goldberg, performance art continues to chart new territories of identification. In fact, while at the outset performance art used early feminist writing as inspiration, Goldberg recognizes a gradual reversal – today’s feminists are as likely to chart new philosophical directions as they are to follow the exploratory charge of their performance art counterparts.

Comment: This text provides a historical background on the relationship between identity politics and art. It would be useful in classes on performance art, on the social context of art, as well as classes focusing on philosophy or race, gender and sexuality and ways to achieve social visibility.

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Harman, Elizabeth, , . Can we harm and benefit in creating?
2004,
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Abstract: The non-identity problem concerns actions that affect who exists in the future. If such an action is performed, certain people will exist in the future who would not otherwise have existed: they are not identical to any of the people who would have existed if the action had not been performed. Some of these actions seem to be wrong, and they seem to be wrong in virtue of harming the very future individuals whose existence is dependent on their having been performed. The problem arises when it is argued that the actions do not harm these people – because the actions do not make them worse off than they would otherwise be.1 Consider: Radioactive Waste Policy: We are trying to decide whether to adopt a permissive radioactive waste policy. This policy would be less inconvenient to us than our existing practices. If we enact the newly-proposed policy, then we will cause there to be radioactive pollution that will cause illness and suffering. However, the policy will have such significant effects on public policy and industry functioning, that different people will exist in the future depending on whether we enact the policy. Two things should be emphasized. First, the illness and suffering caused will be very serious: deformed babies, children with burns from acid rain, and adults dying young from cancer. Second, the policy will affect who will exist in the future because our present practices invade people’s everyday lives, for example by affecting recycling practices in the home; these practices will change if the policy is adopted. Furthermore, whether we adopt the policy will determine which plants are built where, what jobs are available, and what trucks are on the road. These effects will create small differences in everyone’s lives which ultimately affect who meets whom and who conceives with whom, or at least when people conceive. This affects who exists in the future.

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Lord, Catherine, , . A Kripkean approach to the identity of a work of art
1977, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 36 (2):147-153.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: Now THAT THE NEW essentialism is forcing us to reconsider many issues in diverse areas of philosophy, it is appropriate to examine some of the implications of Saul Kripke’s work for aesthetics. I shall be focusing on Kripke’s “Naming and Necessity.” 1 On Kripke’s account, the table in my dining room could not have been made out of any other wood than the wood that was, in fact, actually used to make it. It is not merely that this particular kind of wood must have been used, namely oak, but this very piece, otherwise it would not be this particular table. I intend to show how Kripke’s line of argument applies to a work of art and to draw the consequences of it for aesthetics. If we do not want to accept these consequences, then we will be forced into a ra- tional reconstruction of the identity issue. My application of Kripke’s position is con- fined to painting and sculpture and turns for its example on Michelangelo’s David. (Whether or not or how Kripke’s analysis and our conclusions can be extended to the other arts is outside the scope of this paper.) Let me be clear about strategy. Through- out I assume without argument Kripke’s position. I also assume and, in fact hold, again without argument, that the David is a physical entity. When the consequences of CATHERINE LORD is professor of philosophy at Syra- cuse University. the Kripkean analysis are explored, I engage in a descriptive metaphysics and assume these to be the facts. There is no waffling on the assumption that the David is a physical object. When the consequences of the Kripkean analysis are applied to that assumption, we may not wish to accept them. At that point I engage in a rational reconstruction. The descriptive metaphysics and the rational reconstruction or revisionary meta- physics must not be confused. Following Kripke’s analysis, I shall show how it is that Michelangelo could not have made his David out of a different block of marble than the block which he actually used. Since this is counter-intuitive, we may want to protest as follows. Let us pretend that Michelangelo walks into his studio. There are two blocks of marble before him, block A and block B. As the sculptor de- liberates as to which block he will use, he has the work of art in his mind. In fact he has before his mind a perfect image, complete in every detail, of the statue which will result from his efforts. (Here I am not com- mitted to any particular theory of the imagination – one could be Rylean. On any account I see no logical difficulty in supposing that Michelangelo knew exactly what he wanted to do, that he had a representation vivid in every detail of what he would later execute.) We may say, then, that Michelangelo’s intention, and I emphasize the word, intention, was to embody a certain idea in matter perhaps even a certain kind of matter, marble, and even perhaps a certain kind of marble. (Again, in speaking of embodying a certain idea, I should not be taken as prejudicing the case in favor of or against any theory of aesthetics.) After examining block A and block B and finding nothing to choose between them, Michelangelo chose block A. Now as far as Michelangelo’s intention was concerned it could have been realized in block B. His intention was to create a definite statue which he envisioned in every detail. Accordingly, we seem bound to say that the David might just as readily have been made out of block B as block A. On a Kripkean analysis that is not the case. Had Michelangelo chosen to embody his idea in block B, an entity different from the David would have resulted. It would have looked exactly as the David does in fact look. It might, indeed, have weighed the same amount, etc., but it would not have been identical to the entity to which the David is identical. It would certainly have been a David. “. . . is a David” is a general term which is true of many statues; “the David,” as I am using the expression, is a singular term referring to only one. Al- though there is a possible world in which Michelangelo embodies his idea in block B and in which the resulting sculpture comes to be put in the Academia in Florence and even to be enjoyed in precisely the same way as we do in fact enjoy the David, the object of our attention in that possible world is not to be identified with the entity in the Academia, i.e., with the David we ac- tually do enjoy. To grasp Kripke’s central contention, let us consider it in its most dramatic formula- tion where he argues that Socrates could not possibly have come from different parents. More precisely, Kripke is willing to allow that the sperm and egg from which Socrates came might possibly have been transplanted from the bodies of his mother and father to the bodies of a different man and woman. Had such a transplantation taken place, Socrates might well have come from differ- ent parents, as the term is ordinarily under- stood. The key issue can be brought out as follows. Suppose that Socrates’ parents had died in an earthquake in their early youth at a time before they first met. There is such a possible world. Now suppose that some other Athenian couple gave birth to a son on the precise date on which Socrates, our Socrates, was born. Suppose that this son was snub-nosed like Socrates, indeed looked exactly like him at every stage of his life. We may even suppose that his per- sonality, his genetic make-up, etc. was the same as our Socrates. We can imagine his living a life from birth to death just like the life Socrates lived, even becoming the teacher of Plato and being given the hem- lock. Would that person have been our Socrates? The answer for Kripke is No. Somewhere in outer space there may now, in fact, be a double of Gerald Ford. He may live on a planet qualitatively indistin- guishable in every respect down to the last detail from the planet Earth. He may even be president of a country exactly like ours, etc., but he would not be Gerald Ford even though his name may be “Gerald Ford.” Qualitative similarity cannot suffice to es- tablish identity. To return to the table in my dining room, in traditional Aristotelian terms, Kripke in- sists that essential to the table is both its form and its matter, its being a table, on the one hand, and its being made of the very wood it is indeed made of, on the other. Supposing Michelangelo had chosen block B instead of block A for embodying his idea. Suppose also that Leonardo da Vinci had stepped into his studio and absconded with block A.2 Suppose that by some extraordi- nary coincidence Michelangelo and Leo- nardo, working separately, each produced a statue qualitatively indistinguishable from the David which is in the Academia. Which of the two works, that of Michelangelo or that of Leonardo would be the David, Michelangelo’s made out of block B or Leo- nardo’s made out of block A? Take a simpler case. Suppose that Michelangelo had worked on both blocks of marble and produced two qualitatively indistinguish- able statues. Let the one made from block A find its way to the Uffizi or the Louvre and the one made from block B find its way to the Academia (perhaps in the manner of Kripkean Approach To Identity of Art Work those statues of Daedelus). There is no logical reason why our David should have found its way to the Academia. There is, however, a necessity – an onto- logical necessity – that the David should have been made out of block A, though the truth of the sentence, “The David was made out of block A,” cannot be established on the basis of a purely a priori reflection. We have here, then, a necessary a posteriori proposition. And it is the a posteriori char- acter of the proposition that encourages one to suppose that we could have discovered that the David was made out of granite. If we discover that the David is made out of granite, not marble, then we have dis- covered that the David is necessarily made out of granite. This is merely an epistemic possibility. We could even now, in a scepti- cal frame of mind, say that as far as we know David might in fact have been made out of granite. But since, in fact, the David is made out of marble and made from block A, in all possible worlds it is made of marble and from block A. There is no ontologically possible world in which we discover it to be made of granite or out of block B.

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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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Megan Wallace, , . Composition as Identity
2011, Philosophy Compass 6 (11): 804–827
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Eric de Araujo

Abstract: Many of us think that ordinary objects – such as tables and chairs – exist. We also think that ordinary objects have parts: my chair has a seat and some legs as parts, for example. But once we are committed to the thesis that ordinary objects are composed of parts, we then open ourselves up to a whole host of philosophical problems, most of which center on what exactly the composition relation is. Composition as Identity is the view that the composition relation is the identity relation. While such a view has some advantages, there are many arguments against it. In this essay, I will briefly canvass three different varieties of Composition as Identity, and suggest why one of them should be preferred over the others. Then I will outline several versions of the most common objection against CI. I will suggest how a CI theorist can respond to these charges by maintaining that some of the arguments are invalid.

Comment: This introduction (in two articles) to the Composition as Identity debate can either stand alone among a collection of topics in metaphysics, or as an entry into more readings. It presents a range of Composition as Identity positions and helpfully organizes objections to the view.

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Roberts, Melinda A., , . The Nonidentity Problem
2013, E. N. Zalta (ed.), Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy [electronic resource]
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Introduction: The nonidentity problem focuses on the obligations we think we have in respect of people who, by our own acts, are caused both to exist and to have existences that are, though worth having, unavoidably flawed – existences, that is, that are flawed if those people are ever to have them at all. If a person’s existence is unavoidably flawed, then the agent’s only alternatives to bringing that person into the flawed existence are to bring no one into existence at all or to bring a different person – a nonidentical but better off person – into existence in place of the person whose existence is flawed. If the existence is worth having and no one else’s interests are at stake, it is unclear on what ground morality would insist that the choice to bring the one person into the flawed existence is morally wrong. And yet at the same time – as we shall see – it seems that in some cases that choice clearly is morally wrong. The nonidentity problem is the problem of resolving this apparent paradox.

The problem raises the question whether the (usually significant) good that an agent confers along with existence counterbalances the (usually limited) bad that an agent confers along with any unavoidably flawed existence in such a way that our existence-inducing act (usually) will be deemed permissible. And if it isn’t – if we think instead that obligations are left unsatisfied despite the good that comes with existence – is the moral of the story that moral obligation extends beyond what we must do for people? If we agree, in other words, that it is our obligation to create additional good, is it enough that we create additional good for each and every existing and future person? Or does the nonidentity problem show that our focus should instead be on creating additional good for the universe? As we query how to evaluate existence-inducing acts for their moral permissibility – as well as outcomes or possible futures or worlds, for their moral betterness against still other worlds – we find that some of our most deeply held intuitions regarding the nature and structure of morality are thrown into doubt.

Comment: This text offers a comprehensive introduction to the nonidentity problem and lists several illustrative thought experiments and examples used in the literature. It is a very helpful introductory or further reading for any topic which touches on the nonidentity problem.

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