Procreative Justice Reconceived: Shifting the Moral Gaze

Journal of the American Philosophical Association (First View):1-23 (2024)
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This paper reconsiders Tommie Shelby's (2016) analysis of procreation in poor black communities. I identify three conceptual frames within which Shelby situates his analysis—feminization, choice-as-control, and moralization. I argue that these frames should be rejected on conceptual, empirical, and moral grounds. As I show, this framing engenders a flawed understanding of poor black women's procreative lives. I propose an alternative framework for reconceiving the relationship between poverty and procreative justice, one oriented around reproductive flourishing instead of reproductive responsibility. More generally, the paper develops a methodological challenge for nonideal moral and political philosophy, especially concerning the obligations of the oppressed. Specifically, I argue that in the absence of descriptive and conceptual accountability, the moral gaze of the philosopher risks preserving, rather than destabilizing, oppressive ideologies.



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Emmalon Davis
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

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