Moral psychology studies the features of cognition, judgement, perception and emotion that make human beings capable of moral action. Perspectives from feminist and race theory immensely enrich moral psychology. Writers who take these perspectives ask questions about mind, feeling, and action in contexts of social difference and unequal power and opportunity. These essays by a distinguished international cast of philosophers explore moral psychology as it connects to social life, scientific studies, and literature.
After a brief summary of the 17 essays in Sally Haslanger ’s collection, Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique, I raise questions in two areas, the defense of constructionism and the definition of gender and race in terms of social oppression. I cite Robin Andreasen’s and Philip Kitcher’s essays arguing that races are both biologically real and socially constructed, and also Joshua Glasgow’s claim that constructionist arguments ultimately fail. I then cite Jennifer Saul’s critique that “ oppression ” definitions (...) of gender and race run into problematic counterexamples, and add some other points arising from the different histories of gender and racial categories and realities. As someone sympathetic to constructionism myself, my aim is not a critique of Haslanger but rather an inquiry as to how she thinks constructionists should answer such challenges. (shrink)
Since its original 1996 publication,Jorge Garcia''s ``The Heart of Racism'''' has beenwidely reprinted, a testimony to its importanceas a distinctive and original analysis ofracism. Garcia shifts the standard framework ofdiscussion from the socio-political to theethical, and analyzes racism as essentially avice. He represents his account asnon-revisionist (capturing everyday usage),non-doxastic (not relying on belief),volitional (requiring ill-will), and moralized(racism is always wrong). In this paper, Icritique Garcia''s analysis, arguing that hedoes in fact revise everyday usage, that hisaccount does tacitly rely on belief, (...) thatill-will is not necessary for racism, and thata moralized account gets both the scope and thedynamic of racism wrong. While I do not offeran alternative positive account myself, Isuggest that traditional left-wing structuralanalyses are indeed superior. (shrink)
Starting from Thomas Hobbes's distinctively materialist version of social contract theory, I argue that Hobbes can assist us in theorizing the racialized body politic of the white LEVIATHAN that is the United States. However, we will need to go beyond his own qualified materialism to recognize the social materiality of race, a materiality not to be reduced to, though incorporating, the body.
The “Occupy Wall Street!” movement has stimulated a long listing of other candidates for radical “occupation.” In this paper, I suggest the occupation of liberalism itself. I argue for a constructive engagement of radicals with liberalism in order to retrieve it for a radical egalitarian agenda. My premise is that the foundational values of liberalism have a radical potential that has not historically been realized, given the way the dominant varieties of liberalism have developed. Ten reasons standardly given as to (...) why such a retrieval cannot be carried out are examined and shown to be fallacious. (shrink)
G. A. Cohen's influential ?technological determinist? reading of Marx's theory of history rests in part on an interpretation of Marx's use of ?material? whose idiosyncrasy has been insufficiently noticed. Cohen takes historical materialism to be asserting the determination of the social by the material/asocial, viz. ?socio?neutral? facts about human nature and human rationality which manifest themselves in a historical tendency for the forces of production to develop. This paper reviews Marx's writings to demonstrate the extensive textual evidence in favour of (...) the traditional interpretation ? that for Marx, the ?material? includes the economic, and is thus ineluctably social in character. Thus those critics of Cohen who have urged the inclusion of the relations of production in historical materialism's explanans do seem to have Marx's terminological and conceptual backing. (shrink)
In this paper, I differentiate “two Enlightenments,” the mainstream Enlightenment and what I call the “radical Enlightenment,” that is, Enlightenment theory (rationalism, humanism, objectivism) informed by the fact of social oppression. Marxism can be seen as the pioneering example of radical Enlightenment theory, but it is, of course, relatively insensitive to gender and race issues, so we also need to include Enlightenment versions of feminism and critical race theory. I defend the radical Enlightenment against (on one front) the mainstream Enlightenment (...) criticism that it is either already included in the latter, or if excluded, justifiably so, and (on the other front) against anti-Enlightenment criticisms (poststructuralism and some multiculturalists) that in whatever form, Enlightenment theory cannot adequately address social oppression. (shrink)
Derrick Darby’s book Rights, Race, and Recognition defends the seemingly startling thesis that all rights, moral as well as legal, are dependent upon social recognition. So there are no “natural” rights independent of social practices, and subordinated groups in oppressive societies do not have rights. Darby appeals to intersubjectivist constructivism to make his meta-ethical case, but in this critique, I argue that he conflates, or at least fails to consistently distinguish, two radically different varieties of constructivism: idealized intersubjectivist constructivism, which (...) is objectivist, and non-idealized conventionalist constructivism, which is relativist. In neither case, then, can Darby establish the shocking thesis that white supremacy objectively takes away blacks’ moral standing. (shrink)
I argue that race -- the European Spectre of the title -- has received insufficient attention within Marxist theory. Liberal and Marxist accounts of modernity differ on various points, but agree in characterizing modern society/capitalism as marked by the collapse of ancient and medieval status distinctions and the corresponding emergence of moral and juridical egalitarianism. But this basically Eurocentric narrative ignores the new system of ascriptive hierarchy established by European expansionism: white supremacy. Particularly in the United States, I suggest, race (...) has been the primary social division, in that racial identity has generally trumped other kinds of group identity. Ironically, then, the Marxist model works better for race than class, and if the concept of a bourgeois revolution is expanded to mean the overturning of ascriptive hierarchy of all kinds, it has yet to be fully carried out. (shrink)
In his pioneering Caliban's Reason: Introducing Afro-Caribbean Philosophy, Paget Henry points out that because of the region's colonial history, Caribbean philosophy is far more often found ‘embedded’ in other discourses, such as literature, than in explicit theorising. Following Henry's lead, I seek to find the philosophical ‘moral of the story’ of Voices Under the Window, the 1955 first novel of the late Jamaican writer John Hearne, which some critics regard as his best work. In a novel with significant autobiographical elements, (...) Hearne, a ‘high-brown’ or ‘red’ Jamaican, recounts the story of Mark Lattimer, likewise a ‘red man’ positioned at the upper edge of the ‘brown’ stratum of the white/brown/black Jamaican social pyramid. Lattimer moves from a race-denying attempt to ‘pass’ in World War II Britain to a Marxist social activism upon his later return to post-war Jamaica, but is killed in a black protest riot. His tragic fate raises important philosophical questions about race, colour, class, and personal and social transformation that remain very relevant today, especially considering the failure of 1970s Anglo-Caribbean radicalism to fulfil its revolutionary promise. (shrink)
In this paper, I differentiate “two Enlightenments,” the mainstream Enlightenment and what I call the “radical Enlightenment,” that is, Enlightenment theory informed by the fact of social oppression. Marxism can be seen as the pioneering example of radical Enlightenment theory, but it is, of course, relatively insensitive to gender and race issues, so we also need to include Enlightenment versions of feminism and critical race theory. I defend the radical Enlightenment against the mainstream Enlightenment criticism that it is either already (...) included in the latter, or if excluded, justifiably so, and against anti-Enlightenment criticisms that in whatever form, Enlightenment theory cannot adequately address social oppression. (shrink)