Enacting Ought: Ethics, Anti-Racism, and Interactional Possibilities

Topoi 41 (2):355-371 (2022)
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Focusing on political and interpersonal conflict in the U.S., particularly racial conflict, but with an eye to similar conflicts throughout the world, we argue that the enactive approach to mind as life can be elaborated to provide an exigent framework for present social-political problems. An enactive approach fills problematic lacunae in the Western philosophical ethics project by offering radically refigured notions of responsibility and language. The dual enactive, participatory insight is that interactional responsibility is not singular and language is not an individual property or ability, something that someone simply and uniformly 'has' or 'controls'. These points have not been integrated into our self-understanding as moral actors, to everyone’s detriment. We first advocate for adequate appreciation of Colombetti and Torrance’s 2009 suggestion that participatory sense-making necessarily implies shared responsibility for interactional outcomes. We argue that the enactive approach presents open-ended cultivation of virtue as embodied, contextualized, and dynamic know-how and destabilizes an individualist metaphysics. Putting this framework to work, we turn to the interactional challenges of conversations that concern differences and that involve potentially oppositional parties, offering a reading of Claudia Rankine’s Just Us. Finally, we make explicit Rankine’s normative project of mindful navigation of multiple perspectives in an interaction. We abstract three interrelated spheres of participatory intervention: location, language, and labor. These also indicate routes for empirical investigation into complex perspective-taking in dynamic interactions.



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Elena Cuffari
Franklin and Marshall College

References found in this work

I and Thou.Martin Buber - 1970 - New York,: Scribner. Edited by Walter Arnold Kaufmann.
[Book review] the racial contract. [REVIEW]Charles W. Mills - 1997 - Social Theory and Practice 25 (1):155-160.
Participatory sense-making: An enactive approach to social cognition.Hanne De Jaegher & Ezequiel Di Paolo - 2007 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 6 (4):485-507.
I and thou.Martin Buber - 1970 - New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons 57.

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