In “Feminist ethics, autonomy and the politics of multiculturalism”, Sawitri Saharso argues that the feminist concern to protect women’s autonomy legitimates and permits two practices which might otherwise seem antithetical to feminism: hymen repair surgery and sex-selective abortion. Sex-selective abortion is given pragmatic support: since it is rare in the Netherlands (the focus of Saharso’s paper), and since limitations on abortion would adversely affect the autonomy of women who sought an abortion for other reasons, Saharso concludes that Dutch law ought (...) not to be changed to make such abortions more difficult. Hymen repair surgery is given much stronger support: she concludes that making it available is “both a multiculturalist action and good feminism” (Saharso, 2003: 211), thus suggesting that there need be no clash between feminism and multiculturalism. In this paper, I argue that Saharso’s argument takes inadequate account of the ways in which the practices reinforce sex inequality in the culture as a whole. As a result, her treatment of women’s autonomy gives insufficient weight to culture despite her aim to support multiculturalism. (shrink)
Liberals like choice.1 Human flourishing, they believe, is to some degree dependent on individuals’ ability to choose their ends and actions. However, liberals sometimes fail to note that this principle does not always work in reverse: it does not follow that an individual acting according to her own choices will flourish, or that she will necessarily have the freedom and autonomy which are crucial to flourishing. In this paper, I shall show that even outcomes which result from the choices of (...) the individuals concerned may be unjust, if two conditions hold. I call these conditions the disadvantage and influence factors. Together, they express the idea that if an individual is encouraged to make choices which disadvantage her, then the ensuing inequality is unjust – particularly if the disadvantage is significant and enduring, and if the encouragement comes from those who make different choices and so end up better off. Egalitarian liberals, I argue, should be particularly worried about such outcomes, despite a temptation to rely on choice as the determinant of justice. (shrink)
Feminists are starting to look to the work of Pierre Bourdieu, in the hope that it might provide a useful framework for conceptualising the tension between structure and agency in questions of gender. This paper argues that Bourdieu’s analysis of gender can indeed be useful to feminists, but that the options Bourdieu offers for change are problematic. The paper suggests that Bourdieu’s analysis of gender echoes the work of earlier radical feminists, particularly Catharine MacKinnon, in important ways. Consciousness-raising, one of (...) MacKinnon’s strategies for change, sits well with Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, despite Bourdieu’s own scepticism. The paper argues that recasting the role of consciousness-raising in Bourdieu’s theory helps to undermine the deterministic elements of his work. It concludes that a feminist turn to Bourdieu as an attempt to understand gender’s entrenchment-andmalleability can be fruitful, and that such a turn might find a re-engagement with the idea of consciousness-raising helpful. (shrink)
This paper considers the tension between political liberalism and gender equality in the light of social construction and multiculturalism. The tension is exemplified by the work of Martha Nussbaum, who tries to reconcile a belief in the universality of certain liberal values such as gender equality with a political liberal tolerance for cultural practices that violate gender equality. The paper distinguishes between first- and second-order conceptions of autonomy, and shows that political liberals mistakenly prioritise second-order autonomy. This prioritisation leads political (...) liberals to seek to limit state interference in individuals’ choices. However, the paper argues that if options, choices and the preferences which lead to them are socially influenced or constructed, it is no longer clear that state noninterference secures autonomy. Instead, it becomes a matter of justice what the content of the social or state influence is, which options are open to people, and political liberalism cannot deal with many forms of injustice. Rather than emphasising state neutrality, liberals should endorse state prohibition of practices which cause significant harm to those who choose them, if they are chosen only in response to unjust norms. (shrink)
The new millennium has opened with a perfectly splendid decade of scholarship relating to the ‘Species Problem’. So, at least we now have a clear idea of what this is, but still no clear solution that will suit both biologists and philosophers. Richards (The species problem. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2010 ) has recently attempted to capture this story and to fill the void with two projects in one book. The first project (Chapters 1–4) is a descriptive and analytical history (...) of the problem, which provides links to other recent works and thereby allows one to fully reconstruct the literature. The second (Chapters 5–7) is prescriptive and presents Richards’s solution via a ‘ division of labour in a conceptual framework ’ followed by recapitulation and conclusions. It is my assessment as presented here that the first project will appeal more to biologists and the second one to philosophers. There is much of value in Richards ( 2010 ) approach including an excellent evaluation of the essentialism story in the descriptive project and clear exposition of several key issues such as the ‘ species - as - individuals ’ versus ‘ species - as - categories ’ debate which are covered in the second project. Interesting and informative as these arguments undoubtedly are, something still seems to be missing here. In this essay I suggest that this perception arises from Richards’ (and others) failure to embrace ideas about the importance of relativity and contingency in species definitions and further that his new conceptual framework lacks one hierarchical level to link overarching lineage concepts of species as evolutionary units with practical definitions for their recognition. In my view, the missing link is reproductive isolation and I conclude my review by presenting a prescriptive project for biologists to balance the one that Richards has delivered to philosophers. (shrink)
The purpose of this article is to explore the meaning of domination and slavery in the political philosophy of Augustine of Hippo (354–430), particularly in the major work of his later years, the City of God. It offers an exploration of this aspect of Augustine's thought in the light of relatively recent scholarship on the meaning of these terms for political philosophy (in particular, the work of Quentin Skinner and Philip Pettit). It finds that, in Augustine's eyes, the nature of (...) domination or slavery in the political sphere differed from its nature in the domestic sphere. (shrink)
What if "liberal democracy" were a contradiction in terms? This book distinguishes liberalism (a logic of order) from democracy (a principle of disordering) to defend a Rancièrean vision of impure politics.
The year 2010 marks the hundredth anniversary of the Report on Medical Education in the United States and Canada (1910), written by Abraham Flexner as Bulletin Four of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. This report was monumental in helping to define excellence for the next century of medical education. The editors of Perspectives in Biology and Medicine determined that in recognition of the Flexner Report, this year is appropriate to consider emerging trends that are likely to guide (...) and revitalize medical education in the 21st century. That the observations and changes embodied in the Flexner Report have so long endured is a fitting tribute to the wisdom of the medical education reformers at .. (shrink)
Identification of those who have the potential to become knowledgeable, skilled, and compassionate physicians, and determining how best to prepare them for medical education has been an on ongoing challenge since the mid-1800s (Ludmerer 1985). When medical education was almost exclusively proprietary, the primary consideration for admission was having adequate financial resources. However, in the late 1800s, two men became the driving forces for structuring medical and premedical education in the United States. Daniel Coit Gilman, of Yale and the University (...) of California, later the founding President of Johns Hopkins University, and Charles W. Eliot, President of Harvard, articulated two radical objectives that .. (shrink)
This article introduces the concept of a Moment of Equal Opportunity (MEO): a point in an individual’s life at which equal opportunity must be applied and after which it need not. The concept of equal opportunity takes many forms, and not all employ an MEO. However, the more egalitarian a theory of equal opportunity is, the more likely it is to use an MEO. The article discusses various theories of equal opportunity and argues that those that employ an MEO are (...) problematic. Unjust inequalities, those that motivate the use of equal opportunity, occur throughout people’s lives and thus go unrectified after an MEO. However, it is not possible to abandon the MEO approach and apply more egalitarian versions of equal opportunity throughout a person’s life, since doing so entails problems of epistemology, efficiency, incentives, and counter-intuitive results. The article thus argues that liberal egalitarian theories of equality of opportunity are inconsistent if they support an MEO and unrealizable if they do not. (shrink)
Judith Butler has been arguably the most important gender theorist of the past twenty years. This edited volume draws leading international political theorists into dialogue with her political theory. Each chapter is written by an acclaimed political theorist and concentrates on a particular aspect of Butler's work. The book is divided into five sections which reflect the interdisciplinary nature of Butler's work and activism: Butler and Philosophy: explores Butler’s unique relationship to the discipline of philosophy, considering her work in light (...) of its philosophical contributions Butler and Subjectivity: covers the vexed question of subjectivity with which Butler has engaged throughout her published history Butler and Gender: considers the most problematic area, gender, taken by many to be primary to Butler’s work Butler and Democracy: engages with Butler’s significant contribution to the literature of radical democracy and to thecentral political issues faced by our post-cold war Butler and Action: focuses directly on the question of political agency and political action in Butler’s work. Along with its companion volume, Political Theory of Judith Butler, it marks an intellectual event for political theory, with major implications for feminism, women’s studies, gender studies, cultural studies, lesbian and gay studies, queer theory and anyone with a critical interest in contemporary American ‘great power’ politics. (shrink)
Softlifting, or the illegal duplication of copyrighted software by individuals for personal use, is a serious and costly problem for software developers and distributors. Understanding the factors that determine attitude toward softlifting is important in order to ascertain what motivates individuals to engage in the behavior. We examine a number of factors, including personal moral obligation (PMO), perceived usefulness, and awareness of the laws and regulations governing software acquisition and use, along with facets of personal self-identity that may play a (...) role in the development of attitudes and therefore intentions regarding this behavior. These factors are examined across multiple settings expected to be pertinent to our survey respondents: home, work and school. Personal moral obligation and perceived usefulness are significant predictors of attitude across all settings. Past behavior is a significant predictor of intention across all settings, and a significant predictor of attitude in the home setting. We find evidence that awareness of the law causes a less favorable evaluation of softlifting in the school setting only, but has little effect in the home and work settings. As in previous studies, attitude is a significant predictor of intent. We do not find indications that one’s personal self-identity influences one’s attitude towards the behavior and the intention to perform it, except in the case of legal identity, where marginally significant effects are found in the work environment. (shrink)
This essay considers the tension between political liberalism and gender equality in the light of social construction and multiculturalism. The tension is exemplified by the work of Martha Nussbaum, who tries to reconcile a belief in the universality of certain liberal values such as gender equality with a political liberal tolerance for cultural practices that violate gender equality. The essay distinguishes between first? and second?order conceptions of autonomy, and shows that political liberals mistakenly prioritise second?order autonomy. This prioritisation leads political (...) liberals to seek to limit state interference in individuals' choices. However, the essay argues that if options, choices and the preferences which lead to them are socially influenced or constructed, it is no longer clear that state non?interference secures autonomy. Instead, it becomes a matter of justice what the content of the social or state influence is, which options are open to people, and political liberalism cannot deal with many forms of injustice. Rather than emphasising state neutrality, liberals should endorse state prohibition of practices which cause significant harm to those who choose them, if they are chosen only in response to unjust norms. (shrink)
"[T]he richness of his analysis, [...] his poststrucuralist emphasis on genealogy, historicity, temporality, and discourse can supplement the sometimes arid terms of the agency/structure debate. [...] An invitation to readers who might not normally turn to Continental theory for methodological inspiration, to learn from Chamber's splendid, and, yesy, timely volume." -Diana Coole, Queen Mary University of London , from a book review in the June 04 Perspectives The standard, linear view of history is founded on the belief that political outcomes (...) are predetermined by what has gone before. This book challenges this view, arguing for what Samuel A. Chambers calls an untimely politics which renders the past problematic and the future unpredictable. This pathbreaking argument is advanced through a close reading of key texts in political theory and by entering into debates involving metaphysics, philosophy of language, and psychoanalysis versus discursive analysis. Chambers focuses on the theme of the relevance of language analysis to political debate, answering those critics who insist discourse approaches to politics are irrelevant. Heidegger, Nietzsche, Foucault and Derrida are used to challenge the political burden which is placed on language analysis to prove its value in the real world. Drawing from political theory and cultural studies Chambers takes on the same-sex marriage debate, showing how the use and misuse of language has contributed to an impasse that is not likely to be broken. Wide ranging and insightful, Untimely Politics makes a timely plea for a more politically relevant and culturally engaged form of intellectual engagement. (shrink)
As James Coleman and Allan Gibbard have suggested, human morality may be viewed as a feedback control system. Each of the standard normative ethical theories emphasizes only part of this complex system. Social reform requires both new theoretical syntheses and a practical effort to better uphold ideal norms.
Culture After Humanism asks what happens to the authority of traditional Western modes of thought in the wake of postcolonial theory. Iain Chambers investigates moments of tension, interruptions which transform our perception of the world and test the limits of language, art and technology. In a series of interlinked discussions, ranging in focus from Susan Sontag's novel The Volcano Lover to the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, Jimi Hendrix and Baroque architecture and music, Chambers weaves together a critique of Western humanism, (...) exploring issues of colonization and migration, language and identity. Culture After Humanism offers a new approach to cultural history, a 'post-humanist' perspective which challenges our sense of a world in which the subject is sovereign language, the transparent medium of its agency, and truth, the product of reason. (shrink)
Human morality may be thought of as a negative feedback cotrol system in which moral rules are reference values, and moral disapproval, blame, and punishment are forms of negative feedback given for violations of the moral rules. In such a system, if moral agents held each other accountable, moral norms would be enforced effectively. However, even a properly functioning social negative feedback system could not explain acts in which individual agents uphold moral rules in the face of contrary social pressure. (...) Dr. Frances Kelsey, who withheld FDA approval for thalidomide against intense social pressure, is an example of the degree of individual moral autonomy possible in a hostile environment. Such extreme moral autonomy is possible only if there is internal, psychological negative feedback, in addition to external, social feedback. Such a cybernetic model of morality and moral autonomy is consistent with certain aspects of classical ethical theories. (shrink)
In a recent article, John Leslie has defended the intriguing Carter-Leslie ‘Doomsday Argument’ (Philosophy, January 2000). I argue that an essential presupposition of the argument—that ‘the case of one's name coming out of [an] urn is sufficiently similar to the case of being born into the world’—engenders, in turn, a parallel ‘Ussherian Corollary’. The dubiousness of this Corollary, coupled with independent considerations, casts doubt upon the Carter-Leslie presupposition, and hence, dooms the Doomsday argument.
This article argues for the importance of theoreticalreflections that originate from patients' experiences.Traditionally academic philosophers have linked their ability totheorize about the moral basis of medical practice to their roleas outside observer. The author contends that recently a new typeof reflection has come from within particular patientpopulations. Drawing upon a distinction created by AntonioGramsci, it is argued that one can distinguish the theorygenerated by traditional bioethicists, who are academicallytrained, from that of ``organic'' bioethicists, who identifythemselves with a particular patient community. (...) Thecharacteristics of this new type of bioethicist that are exploredin this article include a close association of memoir andphilosophy, an interrelationship of theory and praxis, and anintimate connection between the individual and a particularpatient community. (shrink)
This article argues that the equality versus difference dispute in feminism is not essentially a dispute about the basis of public policy as Georgia Warnke implies. Furthermore, rarely can public policy issues concerning women be resolved by direct appeal to interpretation. Interpretation should be understood as offering a model of cultural transformation rather than public policy adjudication. Key Words: deliberation democracy difference equality feminism interpretation.
This paper treats a question which first arose in these Proceedings: Can Anselm's ontological argument be inverted so as to yield parallel proofs for the existence (or non-existence) of a least (or worst) conceivable being? Such 'devil parodies' strike some commentators as innocuous curiosities, or redundant challenges which are no more troubling than other parodies found in the literature (e.g., Gaunilo's Island). I take issue with both of these allegations; devil parodies, I argue, have the potential to pose substantive, and (...) novel, challenges to Anselm's ontological argument. (shrink)
The following three points are made. One must consider not only the levels of circulating hormone but the target tissue upon which the hormone acts. Increased testosterone levels alone do not account for differences in displayed intermale aggression, because testosterone and social environment interact in complex ways to influence behavior. A given behavior can be triggered by multiple motivational systems.