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Dotson, Kristie. On the Costs of Socially Relevant Philosophy Papers: A Reflection
2019, Journal of Social Philosophy .
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Corbin Covington

Introduction: The noticeable uptake of the paper ‘How Is This Paper Philosophy?’ (Dotson 2012a) within professional philosophy has given me the occasion to reflect about the uptake of philosophy papers. This may shed light on producing socially relevant philosophy articles and their costs. The relative success of that paper is a huge surprise to me. What I mean by success is pretty straightforward and not particularly ambitious. I am counting success as whether one regularly runs into people who have read one’s paper and cite it as having had an impact on their considered or ambient positions on the paper’s content. That is, it has received some uptake in a populated domain of activity. What I take to be central to ques-tions of how an article becomes socially relevant are questions of uptake. Uptake, here, is understood broadly to refer to readership that takes one’s stated positions seriously enough to adopt (or be influenced by) them in part or in whole. What I have found is that many people in academic philosophy, for example, have read ‘How Is This Paper Philosophy?’ Some folks pay serious attention to it.

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Glaude, Eddie S.. In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America
2007, University of Chicago Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Bart Schultz

Publisher’s Note: In this timely book, Eddie S. Glaude Jr., one of our nation’s rising young African American intellectuals, makes an impassioned plea for black America to address its social problems by recourse to experience and with an eye set on the promise and potential of the future, rather than the fixed ideas and categories of the past. Central to Glaude’s mission is a rehabilitation of philosopher John Dewey, whose ideas, he argues, can be fruitfully applied to a renewal of African American politics. According to Glaude, Dewey’s pragmatism, when attentive to the darker dimensions of life – or what we often speak of as the blues – can address many of the conceptual problems that plague contemporary African American discourse. How blacks think about themselves, how they imagine their own history, and how they conceive of their own actions can be rendered in ways that escape bad ways of thinking that assume a tendentious political unity among African Americans simply because they are black, or that short-circuit imaginative responses to problems confronting actual black people. Drawing deeply on black religious thought and literature, In a Shade of Blue seeks to dislodge such crude and simplistic thinking, and replace it with a deeper understanding of and appreciation for black life in all its variety and intricacy. Only when black political leaders acknowledge such complexity, Glaude argues, can the real-life sufferings of many African Americans be remedied. Heady, inspirational, and brimming with practical wisdom, In a Shade of Blue is a remarkable work of political commentary on a scale rarely seen today. To follow its trajectory is to learn how African Americans arrived at this critical moment in their history and to envision where they might head in the twenty-first century

Comment: A really terrific, historically sophisticated work that highlights how philosophical pragmatism can be developed in connection with critical race theory.

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Young, Iris Marion. Justice and the Politics of Difference
1990, Princeton University Press.
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Added by: Nick Novelli

Publisher’s note: In this classic work of feminist political thought, Iris Marion Young challenges the prevailing reduction of social justice to distributive justice. It critically analyzes basic concepts underlying most theories of justice, including impartiality, formal equality, and the unitary moral subjectivity. The starting point for her critique is the experience and concerns of the new social movements about decision making, cultural expression, and division of labor–that were created by marginal and excluded groups, including women, African Americans, and American Indians, as well as gays and lesbians. Iris Young defines concepts of domination and oppression to cover issues eluding the distributive model. Democratic theorists, according to Young do not adequately address the problem of an inclusive participatory framework. By assuming a homogeneous public, they fail to consider institutional arrangements for including people not culturally identified with white European male norms of reason and respectability. Young urges that normative theory and public policy should undermine group-based oppression by affirming rather than suppressing social group difference. Basing her vision of the good society on the differentiated, culturally plural network of contemporary urban life, she argues for a principle of group representation in democratic publics and for group-differentiated policies.

Comment: This is an important work of feminist political philosophy. It would be useful to teach in a course on feminist philosophy, or as part of a course or unit on theories of justice, as it engages with many of the seminal thinkers in this area, such as Locke, Rousseau, and Rawls.

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