It is often held that people have a moral right to believe and say whatever they want. For instance, one might claim that they have a right to believe racist things as long as they keep those thoughts to themselves. Or, one might claim that they have a right to pursue any philosophical question they want as long as they do so with a civil tone. In this paper I object to those claims and argue that no one has such (...) unlimited moral rights. In Part 1 I explore the value of the freedoms of thought and expression. In Part 2 I argue against the unlimited moral right to free expression, focusing in particular on the special obligations and moral constraints that obtain for academics. In Part 3 I argue against the unlimited moral right to free thought. (shrink)
In this paper I explore how we ought to respond to the problematic inner lives of those that we love. I argue for an understanding of love that is radical and challenging—a powerful form of resistance within the confines of everyday relationships. I argue that love, far from the platitudinous and saccharine view, does not call for our acceptance of others’ failings. Instead, loving another means believing in their potential to grow and holding them to account when they fail. I (...) argue that loving others means meeting them where they are and working to understand the role that oppressive ideologies, coupled with cognitive biases, play in generating and entrenching their problematic mental states. I then argue that we ought not disengage with our loved ones or write them off as lost causes, nor should we accept that we will simply “agree to disagree.” Instead, we should stand in moral solidarity with our loved ones and press them to become better while simultaneously understanding that such moral growth is usually a slow and painful process—often, the project of a lifetime. (shrink)
Forgiveness and reconciliation are central to moral life; after all, everyone will be wronged by others and will then face the dual decisions of whether to forgive and whether to reconcile. It is therefore important that we have a clear analysis of each, as well as a thoroughly articulated understanding of how they relate to and differ from each other. -/- Forgiveness has received considerably more attention in the Western philosophical literature than has reconciliation. In this paper I aim to (...) give it the attention it deserves and develop an account of interpersonal reconciliation. On my view reconciliation is fundamentally bilateral (whereas forgiveness is fundamentally unilateral). It entails transparency and agreement between the wrongdoer and the victim as to the nature of a past wrong or set of wrongs. And, it requires that moral repair be made between the two parties (which entails that both parties bear proper attitudes towards each other). In making my case I contrast reconciliation with toleration and collaboration, in order to demonstrate that reconciliation also entails forgiveness (though forgiveness does not entail reconciliation). (shrink)
Most social policies cannot be defended without making inductive inferences. For example, consider certain arguments for racial profiling and affirmative action, respectively. They begin with statistics about crime or socioeconomic indicators. Next, there is an inductive step in which the statistic is projected from the past to the future. Finally, there is a normative step in which a policy is proposed as a response in the service of some goal—for example, to reduce crime or to correct socioeconomic imbalances. In comparison (...) to the normative step, the inductive step of a policy defense may seem trivial. We argue that this is not so. Satisfying the demands of the inductive step is difficult, and doing so has important but underappreciated implications for the normative step. In this paper, we provide an account of induction in social contexts and explore its implications for policy. Our account helps to explain which normative principles we ought to accept, and as a result it can explain why it is acceptable to make inferences involving race in some contexts (e.g., in defense of affirmative action) but not in others (e.g., in defense of racial profiling). (shrink)
Over the course of her career, Jean Harvey contributed many invaluable insights that help to make sense of both injustice and resistance. Specifically, she developed an account of what she called “civilized oppression,” which is pernicious in part because it can be difficult to perceive. One way that we ought to pursue what she calls a “life of moral endeavor” is by increasing our perceptual awareness of civilized oppression and ourselves as its agents. In this article I argue that one (...) noxious form of civilized oppression is what Miranda Fricker calls “testimonial injustice.” I then follow Harvey in arguing that one of the methods by which we should work to avoid perpetrating testimonial injustice is by empathizing with others. This is true for two reasons. The first is that in order to manifest what Fricker calls the virtue of testimonial justice, we must have a method by which we “correct” our prejudices or implicit biases, and empathy serves as such a corrective. The second is that there are cases where the virtue of testimonial justice wouldn't in fact correct for testimonial injustice in the way that Fricker suggests, but that actively working to empathize would. (shrink)
This chapter argues that for human, technological, and human-technological reasons, disagreement, critique, and counterspeech on social media fall squarely into the province of non-ideal theory. It concludes by suggesting a modest but challenging disposition that can help us when we are torn between opposing oppression and contributing to a flame war.
Apologies are an important part of moral life and a method by which someone can satisfy their reparative obligations. At the same time, apologies can be used both as a shield to protect the person apologizing and as a weapon against the person to whom the apology is owed. In this paper we unpack both claims. We defend two principles one should employ to try to avoid such bad outcomes: (1) Apologies must be one-sided and nontransactional, and (2) the wrongdoer (...) must be willing to pay what they owe. We argue that these principles require the wrongdoer’s emotional vulnerability. Furthermore, we argue that the duty to be vulnerable in issuing apologies helps to make sense of why apologizing well is so difficult and why members of privileged groups might be especially prone to apologizing badly. (shrink)
I argue that silencing (the act of preventing someone from communicating, broadly construed) can be an act of both interpersonal and institutional violence. My argument has two main steps. First, I follow others in analyzing violence as violation of integrity and show that undermining someone’s capacities as a knower can be such a violation. Second, I argue that silencing someone can violate their epistemic capacities in that way. I conclude by exploring when silencing someone might be morally justifiable, even if (...) doing so is an act of violence. (shrink)
Everyone thinks they know who Prince Zuko is and can be. His father, Fire Lord Ozai, and sister, Azula, think him weak, disobedient, and undeserving of the crown. His Uncle Iroh thinks him good, if troubled, but ultimately worthy of his faith. The kids initially think him a villain, but eventually come to see him as a person – neither monster nor saint – someone who can choose to go in a new way. Zuko himself shows great ambivalence between these (...) conflicting stories about who he is, though each one helps to craft his own self-understanding. In this paper, we apply Hilde Lindemann’s narrative account of the self to explore the ways that others “hold” Zuko in one identity or “let him go” from others. According to Lindemann, our personal identities consist of the first- and third-person stories that cluster around significant acts, relationships, and commitments in our lives. Our identities are fundamentally relational, formed by the interaction between our own self-conception and the ways in which others see us. As such, others’ stories can enable or prevent us from imaginatively projecting ourselves into a particular future. This can lead us to becoming trapped in our identities; without the possibility of being perceived differently by others, we might find ourselves unable to try different ways of being or acting. The converse is also true, in that others can open up new possible identities by seeing things in us that we have trouble seeing in ourselves. If others in our moral community see us as wicked, beyond redemption and unable to repair our wrongs, we are held in the role of the villain and might come to live into that role without question. Zuko’s story is a perfect illustration of Jean Harvey’s reminder that, “it is just not true that once a thief, always a thief” and that agents can choose to go in a new way, can choose to change. How does Zuko change? We argue that Zuko’s redemption is enabled by those in his moral community holding him in identities in which he is a good person, capable and deserving of care, friendship, and love. While the identity he has in relation to his father and sister closes down many possible futures, his uncle Iroh in particular persists in holding him in an identity in which he is loved and worthy of love. And in doing so - in holding this space for him - Iroh opens up a way for Zuko to exercise agency and choose to become a different kind of person than the one he thought he was destined to be. (shrink)
Over the course of her career, Jean Harvey argued that as agents engaged in a “life of moral endeavor,” we should understand ourselves and others to be moral works in progress, always possessing the potential to grow beyond and become more than the sum of our past wrongs. In this paper I follow Harvey and argue that in order to live a life of moral endeavor, it is not enough merely to know about injustice. Instead, we must engage in the (...) difficult and often painful task of overcoming deep-seated cognitive biases that cause us to fail to perceive the ubiquitous injustice that pervades our world. I conclude by arguing that education, empathy, and love can each help us to increase our perceptual awareness of injustice and so should be recognized to be crucial parts of a life of moral endeavor. (shrink)
This paper explores a phenomenon that we call “justified-but-misdirected anger,” in which one’s anger is grounded in or born from a genuine wrong or injustice but is directed towards an inappropriate target. In particular, we argue that oppressive ideologies that maintain systems of gender, race, and class encourage such misdirection and are thereby self-perpetuating. We engage with two particular examples of such misdirection. The first includes poor white voters who embrace racist and xenophobic politics; they are justified in being angry (...) about their own economic exploitation, but that anger is misdirected in a way that maintains capitalism (which is the appropriate target of their anger). The second includes so-called “incels” who embrace misogyny; they are justified in being angry about unrealistic and unhealthy standards of contemporary masculinity, but that anger is misdirected in a way that maintains patriarchy. One goal of exploring this type of justified-but-misdirected anger is to thread the needle between holding wrongdoers to account while also clearly identifying the oppressive ideologies that influence their actions. (shrink)
This paper analyzes the relationship between love and social justice activism, focusing in particular on ways in which activists rely on either the union account of love (to argue that when one person is oppressed everyone is oppressed), the sentimentalist account of love (to argue that overcoming injustice is fundamentally about how we feel about one another), or love as fate (to argue that it is in love’s nature to triumph over hatred and injustice). All three accounts, while understandable and (...) attractive, are seriously problematic, as they tend either to obscure important differences in the ways that various groups are socially situated or to enable inaction by trusting that justice is inevitable. Alternative, deeper interpretations of each account (and their relationships to activism) are explored. (shrink)
This chapter talks about the role that others play in who we are as people. Someone's identity who they are as an individual is formed of what philosopher Hilde Lindemann called a “connective tissue of narratives,” all woven together around important values, relationships, projects, and experiences. Lindemann's account of personhood is grounded in the idea that we are fundamentally social beings, always becoming who we are via relationships with others. The work of holding each other in their identities falls on (...) many people and social institutions. In the absence of this moral community, there can be a lot of luck in the process. When Iroh and Zuko reunite at the White Lotus encampment, Iroh tells his nephew that he was not angry, but rather afraid that Zuko had lost his way something that Zuko admits as well Iroh holding Zuko in his personhood is instructive and morally important. (shrink)
-/- Feminist philosophers Barrett Emerick and Audrey Yap bring theoretical arguments about personhood and moral repair into conversation with the work of activists and the experiences of incarcerated people to make the case that prisons ought to be abolished. They argue that contemporary carceral systems in the United States and Canada fail to treat people as genuine moral agents in ways that also fail victims and their larger communities. Such carceral systems are a form of what Emerick and Yap call (...) “institutionalized moral abandonment”. Instead, they argue that we should create communities of moral solidarity which open up space for wrongdoers to make up for their wrongs. -/- As part of this argument, the book directly addresses one of the paradigm cases of wrongdoing often used to justify carceral systems: rape. Carceral systems that treat perpetrators of sexual violence as irredeemable monsters both obscure the reality of sexual violence and are harmful to everyone involved. -/- As an alternative to carceral systems, Emerick and Yap argue for an orientation towards justice that is grounded in moral repair. This incorporates elements of restorative justice, mutual aid, and harm reduction. Instead of advocating for one specific and universal approach, the authors argue for multigenerational collective action that aims to build resilient communities that support the wellbeing of everyone. (shrink)
This introduction by guest-editors Barrett Emerick and Scott Wisor to the special issue reflecting on the work of Alison Jaggar includes summaries of the six anonymously peer-reviewed articles and three invited articles.