Since the introduction of ultrasound technology in the 1960s as a tool to visibly articulate the interiors of the pregnant body, feminist scholars across disciplines have provided extensive critique regarding the visual culture of fetal imagery. Central to this discourse is the position that fetal images occupy- as products of a visualizing technology that at once penetrates and severs pregnant and fetal bodies. This visual excision, feminist scholars describe, has led not only to an erasure of the female body from (...) fetal images but also to an erasure of the pregnant body in social, political, and biomedical discourses. Vital to feminist scholarship is, thereby, an engagement with fetal images in ways that reinscribe the pregnant body onto fetal images and into political discourses pertaining to reproductive rights. In this paper, similar to the feminist aim, I am interested in engaging with fetal images as way to gain agency for pregnant women and their bodies. The critical question that I ask is: Can we conceive of medical technology in an embodied way -one that interacts organically, dynamically, and through multisensory dimensions with pregnant bodies? In attempting to answer this question, I turn to Bruno Latour and Gilles Deleuze’s articulations of how bodies and machines interact to produce visual fact. (shrink)
Part II. Section 4. Autonomy Competency: Meyers takes John Rawls to task for giving a superficial account of autonomy. Endorsing deliberative rationality, he furnishes no account of how to achieve it. Meyers argues that her conception of autonomy competency fills the gap in Rawls's theory. Moreover, it is compatible with the emotional bonds of a relational self, and, acknowledging human fallibility, it provides an account of how autonomous people can recognize and correct their missteps. In the context of (...) a critique of Michael Sandel's distinction between the cognitive self and the voluntarist self, Meyers shows that autonomy competency allows for individual control and innovation without denying the social situatedness of the autonomous subject. (shrink)
Part I. The book begins with literary, cinematic, and historical scenarios that exemplify personal autonomy. Meyers uses these vignettes to distinguish personal autonomy from other, variously related types of autonomy and to show that other kinds of autonomy cannot adequately address the concern people have with their own personal decisions. Noting how profoundly social experience impinges on self-discovery, self-definition, and self-direction, Meyers characterizes autonomous individuals as persons who do what they really want, and she undertakes to supply an (...) account of an authentic self that acknowledges people's enmeshment in social relations as well as their psychological complexity. (shrink)
Part IV. Section 2. Self-Respect and Autonomy: Meyers's discussion of self-respect takes into account work by Stephen Darwall, Thomas Hill, Jr., and Stephen Massey and proposes a unified triadic account that undermines the distinction between self-respect and self-esteem. After distinguishing compromised respect from unqualified respect, she shows why self-respect is both required for and a product of exercising autonomy competency.
Part II. Section 1. Recent Accounts of Autonomy: Emphasizing the problematic relationship between autonomy and socialization, Meyers explores prominent views of autonomy, including Robert Young's, Stanley Benn's, Harry Frankfurt's, Gerald Dworkin's, and Gary Watson's. Having identified three main models for "rescuing autonomy from socialization," she identifies a single defect underlying all of them - namely, their assumption that personal autonomy requires transcending socialization through free will.
Part III. Section 3. Autonomy and Feminine Socialization: Having agreed with Beauvoir that narcissism and altruism contribute to women's lack of autonomy, Meyers examines Beauvoir's account of autonomy in light of her own conception of autonomy competency and argues that Beauvoir's conception of autonomy is too stringent. Autonomy competency, in contrast, allows for degrees of autonomy and variations in degree as viewed over a life-time, as well as for a distinction between programmatic and episodic autonomy. Meyers concludes by (...) characterizing minimal, medial, and full autonomy. (shrink)
Contrasting ontological accounts of autonomy with procedural accounts, Meyers defends the procedural model. For Meyers, the key question for a theory of autonomy is how people make decisions. She introduces the idea of autonomy competency - a repertoire of coordinated skills that make self-discovery, self-definition, and self-direction and hence autonomy possible. The authentic self is a self that has some degree of proficiency with respect to this competency and that emerges and evolves through the exercise of this competency. (...)Meyers distinguishes programmatic autonomy - living an autonomous life - from episodic autonomy - making particular decisions autonomously. (shrink)
Part IV. Section 1. The Personal and the Political Value of Autonomy: Disparities in autonomy competency number among the many ways in which women and men in western societies are unequal. Meyers holds that although personal autonomy is not the sole or paramount value, medial autonomy is not only a personal good, but is also a political good.
Part III. Section 1. Theories of Socialization. Autonomy as autonomy competency acknowledges the necessity of socialization for autonomy. Preliminary to considering this claim in relation to gender, Meyers sketches three social scientific models of socialization - psychoanalysis, social learning, and cognitive development.
Part III. Section 2. Feminine and Masculine Socialization: Two main problems are explored: 1) How are girls and boys socialized in contemporary western societies? and 2) What are adult women and men like? Meyers appropriates the main outlines of Simone de Beauvoir's account of feminine socialization in The Second Sex, but she also discusses more recent research.
Part II. Section 5. Interests, Self-Interest and Autonomy: Two questions drive this chapter: 1) What kinds of things can be objects of autonomous choices? and 2) How are these related to an individual's authentic self? If self-interest is construed as securing a set of basic goods for oneself, personal autonomy and self-interest can collide. Still, Meyers holds that autonomy based on exercising autonomy competency is compatible with the dominance principle, which counsels opting for a course of action that satisfies (...) at least one more authentic desire than other available possibilities. (shrink)
Subjection and Subjectivity offers an account of moral subjectivity and moral reflection designed to meet the needs of feminism, as well as other emancipatory movements. Diana Tietjens Meyers argues that impartial reason--the appraoch to moral reflection which has dominated 20th century Anglo-American philosophy and judicial reasoning--is inadequate for addressing real world injustices. Dealing with the problems of group-based social exclusion requires empathy with others. But empathy often becomes distorted by prejudicial attitudes which may be publicly condemned but continue to (...) be transmitted through cultural figurations. Meyers uses Julia Kristeva's work on xenophobia and aesthetic practices as a starting point for developing a feminist politics of dissident speech, one that aims to dislodge prejudice. With the goal of offering an empathy-friendly account of moral reflection and judgment, she shows how moral reflection embodies the value of mutual recognition--a value enunciated in the work of Nancy Chodorow and Jessica Benjamin. Meyers argues that it is a mistake to view the moral subject as independent, transparent and rational. Instead, she presents a picture of a heterogeneous and pluralistic subject, one that is defined by ties to other people, liable to misunderstand its own motives and aims, and in need of a repertory of strategies for purposes of moral reflection. (shrink)
Part III. Section 5. Autonomy-Enhancing Socialization: Meyers seeks a remedy for gendered inequality with respect to autonomy in processes of socialization. After critically examining proposals offered by Beauvoir, Chodorow, and Radcliffe Richards, Meyers describes a pedagogical model that fosters assertiveness and intimacy while avoiding the inculcation of aggression and that actively nurtures the development of autonomy skills.
Because it is characteristic of competencies that they have overarching functions, Meyers considers what the overarching function of autonomy competency might be. She defends a view of personal integration that does not entail counterproductive consistency or unity. She rejects several other solutions to this problem, including compartmentalization, sanity, happiness, and eccentric nonconformity.
Part II. Section 6. Responsibility for Self: Meyers criticizes Derek Parfit's arguments against the rationality of temporal neutrality -- in other words, the principle of responsibility to self. She urges that autonomy requires providing for one's future.
A response to Susan Hekman's article "Reconstituting the Subject: Feminism, Modernism, and Postmodernism" and to her review of Diana T. Meyers' book Self, Society, and Personal Choice both of which appeared in Hypatia 6(2).
The cultural imagery of women is deeply ingrained in our consciousness. So deeply, in fact, that feminists see this as a fundamental threat to female autonomy because it enshrines procreative heterosexuality as well as the relations of domination and subordination between men and women. Diana Meyers' book is about this cultural imagery - and how, once it is internalized, it shapes perception, reflection, judgement, and desire. These intergral images have a deep impact not only on the individual psyche, but (...) also on the social, political, and cultural syntax of society as a whole. Meyer's argues for the necessity of crafting a dissident, empowering, and 'emancipatory counter-imagery' for women. Rigorous, well written, and accessible, the reach of Gender in the mirror is arguably catholic, and addresses the interests or readers across an impressive range of intellectual disciplines. (shrink)
I defend a strong version of the Kantian claim that actions done solely from duty have moral worth by (1) considering pure cases of acting from duty, (2) showing that love and sympathy, unlike a sense of duty, can often lead us to do the wrong thing, (3) carefully distinguishing moral from non-moral virtues, and (4) by distinguishing pathological sympathy from practical sympathy. Not only is acting purely from a sense of duty superior to acting from love and sympathetic feelings, (...) but the cold-heartedness found in Kant’s examples should be thought of as a virtue rather than a vice. (shrink)
Some of the methods for data collection in experimental psychology, as well as many of the inferences from observed behavior or image scanning, are based on the implicit premise that language use can be linked, via the meaning of words, to specific subjective states. Wittgenstein’s well known private language argument (PLA), however, calls into question the legitimacy of such inferences. According to a strong interpretation of PLA, all of the elements of a language must be publicly available. Thus the meaning (...) of words is not fixed by reference to our private experiences, and so data from subjective state claims indicates nothing about our subjective experiences. Application of PLA to psychological studies based on descriptions of the experience of orgasm offers support for the strong version of the conclusion of PLA. We show that PLA has deep implications for data collection methods and inferences in experimental psychology. In particular we critique two contemporary research projects in neuroscience: one studying the ability to remember emotionally loaded words and the other studying experience of attraction. Both of these projects attempt to link subjective experiences and thought processes to particular observable brain states. The research methods appeal to (implicit) inferences from linguistic usage to subjective states. Application of PLA will show that such inferences cannot be made because the meaning of a word is not determined by any subjective state of the speaker. (shrink)
One of the most familiar arguments for expressivist metaethics is the claim that the rival theory, moral realism, cannot provide a satisfying explanation of why moral properties supervene on natural properties. Non-cognitivism, however, has its own problems explaining supervenience. Expressivists try to establish supervenience either by second-order disapproval of type-inconsistent moral evaluations or by pragmatic considerations. But disapproval of inconsistency is merely a contingent attitude that people happen to have; and pragmatic justification does not allow for appraisers to take their (...) own moral attitudes seriously enough. What has been overlooked is a third alternative. The metaethical theory that can best account for supervenience is neither realist nor non-cognitivist but an objectivist version of constructivism. On the constructivist theory, right and wrong are determined by the principles that people would (hypothetically) consent to under ideal conditions. Type-consistency is a required feature of any principles regulating our conduct, if they are to be freely agreed to by ideally rational people. (shrink)
In this paper I will argue against the Humean theory of motivation, or “conativism” which claims that all actions are ultimately generated by desires. Conativism is supported by (1) a behavioral analysis of desire as a disposition to act in certain ways, and (2) the difference between belief and desire in terms of their different “direction of fi t” with the world. I will show that this behavioral account of desire cannot provide an adequate explanation of action. Mere disposition to (...) act (what I call “wanting”) does not explain why the agent acts; insofar as it explains the action desire is a feeling. I will then argue against the direction of fit argument by showing that beliefs about what we ought to do have both directions of fit—the belief has one direction of fit, and the content of the belief (the ought-clause) has the opposite direction of fit. (shrink)
: J. David Velleman develops a canny, albeit mentalistic, theory of selfhood that furnishes some insights feminist philosophers should heed but that does not adequately heed some of the insights feminist philosophers have developed about the embodiment and relationality of the self. In my view, reflexivity cannot do the whole job of accounting for selfhood, for it rests on an unduly sharp distinction between reflexive loci of understanding and value, on the one hand, and embodiment and relationality, on the other. (...) I conclude that what is missing from Velleman's account is an appreciation of the psycho-corporeal attributes and capabilities embedded in the embodied self and the relational self. (shrink)
Much of the work in professional ethics sees ethical problems as resulting from ethical ignorance, ethical failure or evil intent. While this approach gets at real and valid concerns, it does not capture the whole story because it does not take into account the underlying professional or institutional culture in which moral decision making is imbedded. My argument in this paper is that this culture plays a powerful and sometimes determinant role in establishing the nature of the ethical debate; i.e., (...) it helps to define what are viable action options, what is the organization’s genuine mission, and what behaviors will be rewarded or criticized. Given these conclusions, I also argue that consulting ethicists need more than an understanding of ethics theory, concepts and principles; they also need a sufficiently rich understanding of organizational culture and a willingness and an ability to critique that culture. (shrink)
In this article I describe the theoretical underpinnings of 20th-century British philosopher W. D. Ross's approach to linking deontological and teleological decision making. I attempt to fill in what Ross left on the whole unanswered, that is, how to use his duties to resolve dilemmas. A case study in journalism demonstrates how to apply the theory. I conclude with an analysis of what I take to be the strengths and weaknesses in Ross's theory.
The value of autonomy - even personal autonomy - cannot be confined to the private sphere. Because autonomy bears a reciprocal relation to equal opportunity, it must be counted among the cardinal political values.
Ronald Dworkin maintains that particular rights, like the right to free speech and the right to own personal property, can be derived from a foundational right, the right to equal concern and respect. This paper questions the tenability of this program for rights-based rights. A right is an individuated moral or political guarantee which confers a specified benefit on each right-holder and which resists conduct that would derogate it. For there to be rights-based rights, both the foundational right and the (...) rights it implies must satisfy this definition. It is doubtful, however, that the right to equal concern and respect should count as a right since the benefits it confers are at best highly controversial and may not be assignable to individuals. But even if we grant that the content of the right to equal concern and respect can be satisfactorily specified, the status of the derived rights remains problematic. The trouble is that the relation between the right to equal concern and respect and the rights it implies parallels the relation between the principle of utility and the rights it may imply. Both of these foundational principles can extinguish derived rights. Consequently, rights dependent on either of these principles are not trumps, and their standing as rights is suspect. I conclude that Dworkin's method of defending rights is inappropriate for the most important of our rights though it may well serve for less critical ones. (shrink)
We describe how a Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) process was used to develop a means of discussing end-of-life care needs of Deaf seniors. This process identified a variety of communication issues to be addressed in working with this special population. We overview the unique linguistic and cultural characteristics of this community and their implications for working with Deaf individuals to provide information for making informed decisions about end-of-life care, including completion of health care directives. Our research and our work with (...) members of the Deaf community strongly show that communication and presentation of information should be in American Sign Language, the language of Deaf citizens. (shrink)
Abstract Hybrid languages are introduced in order to evaluate the strength of “minimal” mereologies with relatively strong frame definability properties. Appealing to a robust form of nominalism, I claim that one investigated language Hm is maximally acceptable for nominalistic mereology. In an extension Hgem of Hm, a modal analog for the classical systems of Leonard and Goodman (J Symb Log 5:45–55, 1940) and Lesniewski (1916) is introduced and shown to be complete with respect to 0- deleted Boolean algebras. We characterize (...) the formulas of first-order logic invariant for Hgem-bisimulations. (shrink)
Although we think 1 of the basic purposes of journalism is to provide information vital to enhancing citizen autonomy, we also see this goal as being in direct tension with the power news media hold and wield, power that may serve to undercut, rather than enhance, citizen autonomy. We argue that the news media are ethically constrained by proceduralism, resulting in journalists asserting power inappropriately at the individual level, and unwittingly surrendering moral authority institutionally and globally. Anonymity, institutionalization, and routinization (...) cloak power relationships among citizens, journalists and the institutions of which they are a part, ultimately inculcating these distinctly Western values in the global community. (shrink)
Part III. Section 4. Full Autonomy - An Attainable Ideal: Maximal or full autonomy is an unrealistic goal for all people. Contrary to a common assumption, however, masculine socialization does not generally result in full autonomy, but rather in medial autonomy. Conformism is as much of an obstacle to the full autonomy of men as it is for women. Still, men in western cultures are more likely to be more autonomous than women, and this discrepancy calls for change.
The goal of this article is to try to resolve two key problems in the duty-based approach of W. D. Ross: the source of principles and a process for moving from prima facie to actual duty. I use a naturalistic explanation for the former and a nine-step method for making concrete ethical decisions as they could be applied to journalism. Consistent with Ross's position, the process is complicated, particularly in tougher problems, and it cannot guarantee correct choices. Again consistent with (...) Ross, such complexity and uncertainty speak in the method's favor, given the difficulty?factual, motivational, and organizational?of ethics problems and decision making. (shrink)
In this article I argue, first, that genuinely effective ombudsmen could help restore news credibility-thereby staving off other, more intrusive external intervention-and that the position must have true sanctioning authority, much like that of the ethics officer in many corporations. I also argue that the effective ombudsman will be one who sufficiently understands the workings of journalism but who is not immersed in its ethos. This distancing is necessary for genuine critical appraisal to be possible.
When external groups accuse a business organization of unethical practices, managers of the accused organization usually offer a communicative response to attempt to protect their organization's public image. Even though many researchers readily concur that analysis of these communicative responses is important to our understanding of business and society conflict, few investigations have focused on developing a theoretical framework for analyzing these communicative strategies used by managers. In addition, research in this area has suffered from a lack of empirical investigation. (...) In this paper we address both of these weaknesses in the existing literature. First, we explicate Impression Management Theory as an appropriate framework for studying organizational communicative responses, paying particular attention to the concept of accounts. Second, we critique previous investigations of organizational accounts and discuss the major contributions of our study. Third, we propose a coding system and content analyze the accounts offered by managers from 21 organizations that were recently the targets of consumer boycotts. Finally, we report the results of our empirical investigation and discuss ethical issues related to organizational accounts. (shrink)
In this paper I shall offer an account of the authentic self that is compatible with human intrapsychic, interpersonal, and social experience. I begin by examiningHarry Frankfurt’s influential treatment of authenticity as a form of personal integration, and argue that his conception of the integrated self is too restrictive. I then offer an alternative processual account that views integration as the intelligibility of the self that emerges when a person exercises autonomy skills.
Journalists are regularly criticized for causing harm to others, such as invading privacy, printing, or airing offensive material, and so forth. Although most sensitive journalists readily acknowledge these harms, they frequently argue that the pursuit and coverage of news is nonetheless justified because it fulfills a greater moral purpose - satisfaction of the public's right to know. This article argues that although "the public s right to know" does justify some harmful journalistic behavior, too often the phrase is used without (...) the conceptual precision necessary to justify the competing harm. That is, journalists often confuse having a right to know with having an interest or curiosity in knowing and such conceptual confusion too often allows journalistic behavior to occur that would otherwise be seen as unethical. (shrink)
This paper considers two accounts of the self that have gained prominence in contemporary feminist psychoanalytic theory and draws out the implications of these views with respect to the problem of moral reflection. I argue that our account of moral reflection will be impoverished unless it mobilizes the capacity to empathize with others and the rhetoric of figurative language. To make my case for this claim, I argue that John Rawls's account of reflective equilibrium suffers from his exclusive reliance on (...) impartial reason. (shrink)
Recent liberal moral and political philosophy has placed great emphasis on the good of self-respect. But it is not always evident what is involved in self-respect, nor is it evident how societies can promote it. Assuming that self-respect is highly desirable, I begin by considering how people can live in a self-respecting fashion, and I argue that autonomous envisaging and fulfillment of one's own life plans is necessary for self-respect. I next turn to the question of how societal implementation of (...) rights may affect self-respect, and I urge that discretionary rights, which allow people to decline the benefits they confer, support self-respect more effectively than mandatory rights, which forbid people to refuse the benefits they confer. I conclude by examining the import of these contentions for feminist theory. I believe that my arguments are of particular concern to women because women have traditionally been victimized by a mandatory right to play a distinctively "feminine" role which has undermined their self-respect. (shrink)
Most of the philosophical work written on environmental issues focuses on notions such as rights, consequences, duties, etc. And most of the theoretical philosophy done in environmental ethics focuses on questions of whether animals, plants, or ecosystems have inherent value or moral standing independently of their usefulness to humans. A character-based approach has been largely neglected (despite a few important works). In this paper, I consider what a plausible environmental virtue ethics would look like. Specifically, I argue (pace Sandler) that (...) it would not require any distinct eco-virtue but would involve merely widening the scope of traditional virtues to include the non-human world. I further argue that a successful environmental virtue ethics would have to be pluralistic (involving more than one virtue) and would require the formulation of prima facie (rather than absolute) v-rules. Finally, borrowing from Naess, I suggest a way that eco-friendly character could be acquired. (shrink)
How is women’s conception of self affected by the caregiving responsibilities traditionally assigned to them and by the personal vulnerabilities imposed on them? If institutions of male dominance profoundly influence women’s lives and minds, how can women form judgments about their own best interests and overcome oppression? Can feminist politics survive in face of the diversity of women’s experience, which is shaped by race, class, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, as well as by gender? Exploring such questions, leading feminist thinkers have (...) reinvigorated work on the concept of self and personal identity, as demonstrated by the discussions in this insightful volume.The concerns that animate feminist scholarship have prompted feminist philosophers to sideline the theme of individualism and to focus on the theme of intersubjectivity. In conceptualizing the self, the contributors to this volume highlight emotional bonds among people, the stories people tell one another, and the systems of categories and behavioral norms that unite and divide groups of people. Topics addressed include sexual violence and the self, the social self and autonomy, the narrative self and integrity, self-ownership and the body, forgetting yourself and your race, group membership and personal identity, grief and gender, sympathy and women’s diversity, emotion and emancipatory epistemology, and dependency and justice. This volume will be important reading for students of feminist theory, ethics, and social and political philosophy. (shrink)
The proliferation of news and information sources has motivated a need to identify those providing legitimate journalism. One temptation is to go the route of such fields as medicine and law, namely to formally professionalize. This gives a clear method for determining who is a member, with an array of associated responsibilities and rewards. We argue that making such a formal move in journalism is a mistake: Journalism does not meet the traditional criteria, and its core ethos is in conflict (...) with the professional mindset. We thus shift the focus from whether the person is journalist to whether the work satisfies the conditions that characterize legitimate journalism. In explaining those conditions we also look at mechanisms for enhancing the power of persons doing journalism, drawing upon lessons from the labor movement. We also consider a self-declaration model while urging increased literacy from all participants in the news gathering and consuming enterprise. (shrink)