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Darby, Derrick, , . Reparations and Racial Inequality
2010, Philosophy Compass 5 (1): 55-66.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord, Contributed by:

Abstract: A recent development in philosophical scholarship on reparations for black chattel slavery and Jim Crow segregation is reliance upon social science in normative arguments for reparations. Although there are certainly positive things to be said in favor of an empirically informed normative argument for black reparations, given the depth of empirical disagreement about the causes of persistent racial inequalities, and the ethos of ‘post-racial’ America, the strongest normative argument for reparations may be one that goes through irrespective of how we ultimately explain the causes of racial inequalities. By illuminating the interplay between normative political philosophy and social scientific explanations of racial inequality in the prevailing corrective justice argument for black reparations, I shall explain why an alternative normative argument, which is not tethered to a particular empirical explanation of racial inequality, may be more appealing.

Comment: This text provides a clear overview and introduction to debates about reparations for decendents of African American slaves. It also surveys quite a bit of empirical data surrounding racial inequalities. It would fit well in a course that considered questions of social justice, racial inequality, or reparations.

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Humphreys, Rebekah , , . The Argument from Existence, Blood-Sports, and ‘Sport-Slaves’
2014, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 27 (2): 331-345
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Rebekah Humphreys

Abstract: The argument from existence is often used as an attempted justification for our use of animals in commercial practices, and is often put forward by lay-persons and philosophers alike. This paper provides an analysis of the argument from existence primarily within the context of blood-sports (applying the argument to the example of game-birding), and in doing so addresses interesting and related issues concerning the distinction between having a life and living, or worthwhile life and mere existence, as well as issues surrounding our responsibilities to prospective and actual beings. However, my analysis of the argument will go beyond the animal ethics context; it is important that it does so in order to reveal the troublesome implications of the argument and to highlight the sorts of unethical practices it supports. In particular, in applying the argument to a relevant example concerning human beings, I will discuss how the argument from existence could be used to justify the ownership of slaves who were reared for slavery. My objective is to show just how problematic the argument from existence is, with the aim of laying the argument to rest once and for all.

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

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Okin, Susan Moller, , . Forty acres and a mule’ for women: Rawls and feminism
2005, Politics, Philosophy and Economics 4 (2):233-248.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Lizzy Ventham

Abstract: This article assesses the development of Rawls’s thinking in response to a generation of feminist critique. Two principle criticisms are sustainable throughout his work: first, that the family, as a basic institution of society, must be subject to the principles of justice if its members are to be free and equal members of society; and, second, that without such social and political equality, justice as fairness is as meaningful to women as the unrealized promise of ‘Forty acres and a mule’ was to the newly freed slaves.

Comment: I would use this piece to accompany any teaching on John Rawls and his political philosophy. It provides some good summary of a number of different feminist critiques of Rawls and his responses to them, as well as providing new ideas for why Rawls still misses the mark. It can be a good basis for discussion on a number of different feminist criticisms of Rawls' philosophy.

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Pointon, Marcia, , . Slavery and the Possibility of Portraiture
2013, in: Portrayal and the Search for Identity, Reaktion Books, pp. 47-73.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by:

Summary: Draws attention to the fact that portraits of slaves are rarely exhibited or discussed; and that not all images of slaves are portraits. Reflects on the dynamics of power involved in portraiture and on the relation between subject and viewer in particular. Includes extensive commentary on the historical development of portraiture and the place of portraits of slaves therein.

Comment: Useful in discussing portraiture and depiction, as well as power relations and art's role in them in general.

Artworks to use with this text:

Francis Wheatley, A Family Group in a Landscape (c.1775)

A dark clad black boy stands motionless at the extreme left of the canvass, scarcely making into the group. He is literally in the shadows.

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Roberts, Rodney C., , . The Counterfactual Conception of Compensation
2006, Metaphilosophy, 37 (3-4): 414-428.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord, Contributed by:

Abstract: My aim in this essay is to remove some of the rubbish that lies in the way of an appropriate understanding of rectificatory compensation, by arguing for the rejection of the counterfactual conception of compensation. Although there is a significant extent to which contemporary theorists have relied upon this idea, the counterfactual conception of compensation is merely a popular assumption, having no positive argument in support of it. Moreover, it can make rendering compensation impossible, and absurd notions of compensation can result from its use, results that may themselves constitute injustices. This latter difficulty is most troubling when the CCC is employed in large compensatory cases like the case of rectificatory compensation for the descendants of American slaves. I want to suggest that, taken together, the difficulties with the CCC yield sufficient reason for rejecting it as an acceptable rectificatory notion.

Comment: This text presents an interesting and accessible discussion of the counterfactual conception of compensation (most famously presented by Nozick, though one need not have read Nozick to understand this text) as a matter of rectificatory justice. It would be of use in courses concerning schemes or principles of distributive and rectificatory justice. As the text analyzes the justification for reparations to the decendents of African slaves in the U.S., it would also be of use in a course that covers questions of reparations for historical injustices (perhaps alongside Coates' well known "The Case for Reparations").

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