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Burch-Brown, Joanna. Is it Wrong to Topple Statues and Rename Schools?
2017, Journal of Political Theory and Philosophy 1(1):59-88
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Added by: Ten-Herng Lai
Abstract: In recent years, campaigns across the globe have called for the removal of objects symbolic of white supremacy. This paper examines the ethics of altering or removing such objects. Do these strategies sanitize history, destroy heritage and suppress freedom of speech? Or are they important steps towards justice? Does removing monuments and renaming schools reflect a lack of parity and unfairly erase local identities? Or can it sometimes be morally required, as an expression of respect for the memories of people who endured past injustices; a recognition of this history's ongoing legacies; and a repudiation of unjust social hierarchies?

Comment (from this Blueprint): It is often thought that statues and monuments, even those of terrible people, are innocuous, that they cannot harm or affect us negatively. This paper helps to spell out the harms of preserving these commemorations. Among other important issues, this paper also engages with the “anachronism” problem, that we are judging people of the past with contemporary standards. This paper also gives a good introduction on the notion of “ideology” and its relation to objectionable commemorations.

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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
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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Davis, Angela. Women, Race, and Class
1981, Random House.
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Added by: Anne-Marie McCallion
Publisher’s Note:

Angela Davis provides a powerful history of the social and political influence of whiteness and elitism in feminism, from abolitionist days to the present, and demonstrates how the racist and classist biases of its leaders inevitably hampered any collective ambitions. While Black women were aided by some activists like Sarah and Angelina Grimke and the suffrage cause found unwavering support in Frederick Douglass, many women played on the fears of white supremacists for political gain rather than take an intersectional approach to liberation. Here, Davis not only contextualizes the legacy and pitfalls of civil and women’s rights activists, but also discusses Communist women, the murder of Emmitt Till, and Margaret Sanger’s racism. Davis shows readers how the inequalities between Black and white women influence the contemporary issues of rape, reproductive freedom, housework and child care in this bold and indispensable w

Comment: Angela Davis is an American political activist, philosopher, academic and author. She is a professor at the University of California and a longtime member of the Communist Party USA. She is also a founding member of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS) and the author of over ten books on class, feminism, race, and the US prison system. Women, Race and Class is a Marxist feminist analysis of gender, race and class. The third book written by Davis, it covers U.S. history from the slave trade and abolitionism movements to the women's liberation movements which began in the 1960s. In this chapter, Davis examines and describes the unwritten history of black women slaves and their legacies.

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hooks, bell. Ain’t I A Woman? Black Women and Feminism
1981, South End Press
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Added by: Rebecca Buxton
Publisher’s Note: In this classic study, cultural critic bell hooks examines how black women, from the seventeenth century to the present day, were and are oppressed by both white men and black men and by white women. Illustrating her analysis with moving personal accounts, Ain't I a Woman is deeply critical of the racism inherent in the thought of many middle-class white feminists who have failed to address issues of race and class. While acknowledging the conflict of loyalty to race or sex is still a dilemma, hooks challenges the view that race and gender are two separate phenomena, insisting that the struggles to end racism and sexism are inextricably intertwined.

Comment (from this Blueprint): This text discusses Black women's struggle against oppression and subjugation in America, focusing on white women's role in slavery. hooks argues that this history of slavery is directly linked to Black women's contemporary marginalization.

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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 article would be useful in teaching the following areas: animal ethics, environmental ethics, certain sophisms (in relation to our use of animals in exploitative practices) ethics of bloodsports, issues of equality, speciesism, future creatures and their existence.

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Kempadoo, Kamala. Sexing the Caribbean: Gender, Race and Sexual Labour
2004, Routledge.
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Added by: Emma Holmes, David MacDonald, Yichi Zhang, and Samuel Dando-Moore
Publisher’s Note: This unprecedented work provides both the history of sex work in this region as well as an examination of current-day sex tourism. Based on interviews with sex workers, brothel owners, local residents and tourists, Kamala Kempadoo offers a vivid account of what life is like in the world of sex tourism as well as its entrenched roots in colonialism and slavery in the Caribbean.

Comment (from this Blueprint): Chapter 3 is about the perceptions of sex as transactional in the Caribbean and how the definition of "prostitution" has shifted over time. It details how sex work is organised, both in brothels and in other establishments, such as hotels, nightclubs, etc. It explores the experiences and feelings of women who have experiences of various kinds of transactional sex. This chapter can be used as a case study which allows the reader to explore sex work through a variety of lenses: its interaction with broader social issues like racism and poverty; the place of transactions and intimacy in sex and sex work; sexual norms and the social meanings of sexual relationships; and freedom and choice when engaging in sex and sex work.

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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
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
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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Zera Yacob (Warqe). Hatata
2012, Other internet resources
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Added by: Sara Peppe, Contributed by: Jonathan Egid
Publisher’s Note:

In the name of God who alone is just. I shall describe the life, the wisdom and the investigation of Zera Yacob who said: “Come and listen, all you who fear God, while I tell you what he has done for me.” Behold, I begin. In the name of God, who is the creator of all things, the beginning and the end, the possessor of all, the source of all life and of all wisdom, I shall write of some of the things that I have encountered during my long life. Let my soul be blessed in the sight of God and let the meek rejoice. I sought God and he answered me. And now you approach him and he will enlighten you; let not your face be ashamed. Join me in proclaiming the greatness of God and together let us extol his name.

Comment: This is a treatise that covers several philosophical themes such as the morality of actions, the proof of the existence of God and a critique of religious beliefs as presented in the religious systems of the modern era. This text provides good basis for a developing knowlege of Ethiopian Philosophy, it can be viewed as a starting point in the field.

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