For years, mainstream feminist ethics focused criticism on male supremacy. Feminist philosophers in this volume adopt a less male-focused stance to look closely at oppression's impact on women's agency and on women's relations with women. Examining legal, social, and physical relationships, these philosophers confront moral ambiguity, moral compromise, and complicity in perpetuating oppression. Combining personal experience with philosophical inquiry, they vividly portray their daily engagement with oppression as both victims and perpetrators. They explore such issues as how pornography silences women (...) and radical feminist politics' complicity in racism. Among these insightful essays, Sandra Bartky argues that women share guilt for racism when they benefit from it without protest; Susan Brison reflects on uses of narrative in trauma recovery from such experiences as being targeted for rape or murder; Joan Callahan examines fallout of derogatory speech directed at lesbians; Virginia Held proposes carrying care into marketplaces and governments; and, in her introduction, ClaudiaCard draws on Primo Levi's conception of "gray zones" in exploring dangers of character damage to victims of misogyny. A fitting companion to Card's highly regarded Feminist Ethics, this volume interweaves observations on character, political ethics, violence, and love into an accessible sourcebook for students. It tackles some of feminism's most pressing issues and helps readers to identify and then overcome the real damage caused by oppression. (shrink)
The situationist challenge to global character traits claims that on the basis of findings in social psychology, we should only accept at most the existence of local or context-sensitive traits. In this article I explore a neglected area of J. S. Mill's work to outline an account of context-sensitive traits. This account of traits, coupled with a sophisticated consequentialist ethical framework, suggests an interesting view on which persons govern the circumstances of their actions in order to best promote overall well-being.
Rather than focusing on political and legal debates surrounding attempts to determine if and when genocidal rape has taken place in a particular setting, this essay turns instead to a crucial, yet neglected area of inquiry: the moral significance of genocidal rape, and more specifically, the nature of the harms that constitute the culpable wrongdoing that genocidal rape represents. In contrast to standard philosophical accounts, which tend to employ an individualistic framework, this essay offers a situated understanding of harm that (...) features the importance of interdependence and relationality and that conceptualizes harms as embodied and contextual. The paper ultimately reveals what is distinctive about this particular crime of sexual violence by exploring the logic of genocidal rape: genocidal rape involves the harm of forced self-betrayal unleashed relationally, causing victims as representatives of their group to participate inadvertently in the destruction of that group. (shrink)
Nel Noddings, in Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education, presents and develops an ethic of care as an alternative to an ethic that treats justice as a basic concept. I argue that this care ethic is unable to give an adequate account of ethical relationships between strangers and that it is also in danger of valorizing relationships in which carers are seriously abused.
From the editor: On behalf of the editors of FPQ, I thank our colleagues for providing us their public addresses at the Celebration of Life of Professor Claudia Falconer Card of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who died on Saturday, September 12, 2015. ClaudiaCard was the author of over one hundred articles and books, key works of moral and feminist philosophy including Confronting Evils: Terrorism, Torture, Genocide, The Atrocity Paradigm: A Theory of Evil, and The Unnatural (...) Lottery: Character and Moral Luck. She was the president of the Central division of the APA 2010-2011, which she often described as her favorite division of the APA. She earned her BA from UW-Madison, and her PhD in 1969 from Harvard University, as the advisee of John Rawls, whom she spoke of with affection as one of the most sensitive and generous of philosophers. I remain grateful to Claudia for being the sort of philosopher who helped her students, colleagues, and readers to confront our responsibilities, and the responsibilities of others, as she lived her own philosophy of taking responsibility for one’s own identity. K.J. Norlock. (shrink)
What distinguishes evils from ordinary wrongs? Is hatred a necessarily evil? Are some evils unforgivable? Are there evils we should tolerate? What can make evils hard to recognize? Are evils inevitable? How can we best respond to and live with evils? ClaudiaCard offers a secular theory of evil that responds to these questions and more. Evils, according to her theory, have two fundamental components. One component is reasonably foreseeable intolerable harm -- harm that makes a life indecent (...) and impossible or that makes a death indecent. The other component is culpable wrongdoing. Atrocities, such as genocides, slavery, war rape, torture, and severe child abuse, are Card's paradigms because in them these key elements are writ large. Atrocities deserve more attention than secular philosophers have so far paid them. They are distinguished from ordinary wrongs not by the psychological states of evildoers but by the seriousness of the harm that is done. Evildoers need not be sadistic:they may simply be negligent or unscrupulous in pursuing their goals. Card's theory represents a compromise between classic utilitarian and stoic alternatives (including Kant's theory of radical evil). Utilitarians tend to reduce evils to their harms; Stoics tend to reduce evils to the wickedness of perpetrators: Card accepts neither reduction. She also responds to Nietzsche's challenges about the worth of the concept of evil, and she uses her theory to argue that evils are more important than merely unjust inequalities. She applies the theory in explorations of war rape and violence against intimates. She also takes up what Primo Levi called "the gray zone", where victims become complicit in perpetrating on others evils that threaten to engulf themselves. While most past accounts of evil have focused on perpetrators, Card begins instead from the position of the victims, but then considers more generally how to respond to -- and live with -- evils, as victims, as perpetrators, and as those who have become both. (shrink)
The opportunities to become a good person are not the same for everyone. Modern European ethical theory, especially Kantian ethics, assumes the same virtues are accessible to all who are capable of rational choice. Character development, however, is affected by circumstances, such as those of wealth and socially constructed categories of gender, race, and sexual orientation, which introduce factors beyond the control of individuals. Implications of these influences for morality have, since the work of Williams and Nagel in the seventies, (...) raised questions in philosophy about the concept of moral luck. In The Unnatural Lottery, ClaudiaCard examines how luck enters into moral character and considers how some of those who are oppressed can develop responsibility. Luck is often best appreciated by those who have known relatively bad luck and have been unable to escape steady comparison of their lot with those of others. The author takes as her paradigms the luck of middle and lower classes of women who face violence and exploitation, of lesbians who face continuing pressure to hide or self-destruct, of culturally Christian whites who have ethnic privilege, and of adult survivors of child abuse. How have such people been affected by luck in who they are and can become, the good lives available to them, the evils they may be liable to embody? Other philosophers have explored the luck of those who begin from privileged positions and then suffer reversals of fortune. ClaudiaCard focuses on the more common cases of those who begin from socially disadvantaged positions, and she considers some who find their good luck troubling when its source is the unnatural lottery of social injustice. (shrink)
Scholarship in the multidisciplinary field of genocide studies often emphasizes body counts and the number of biological deaths as a way of measuring and comparing the severity and scope of individual genocides. The prevalence of this way of framing genocide is problematic insofar it risks marginalizing the voices and experiences of victims who may not succumb to biological death but nevertheless suffer the loss of family members and other loved ones, and suffer the destruction of relationships, as well as the (...) foundational institutions that give rise to and sustain those relationships. The concept of social death, which ClaudiaCard offers as the central evil of genocide, marks a radical shift in conceptualizing genocide and provides space for recovering the marginalized voices of many who suffer the evils of genocide but do not suffer biological death. Here her concept of social death is explored, defended, and criticized. (shrink)
In this contribution to philosophical ethics, ClaudiaCard revisits the theory of evil developed in her earlier book The Atrocity Paradigm, and expands it to consider collectively perpetrated and collectively suffered atrocities. Redefining evil as a secular concept and focusing on the inexcusability - rather than the culpability - of atrocities, Card examines the tension between responding to evils and preserving humanitarian values. This stimulating and often provocative book contends that understanding the evils in terrorism, torture and (...) genocide enables us to recognise similar evils in everyday life: daily life under oppressive regimes and in racist environments; violence against women, including in the home; violence and executions in prisons; hate crimes; and violence against animals. Card analyses torture, terrorism and genocide in the light of recent atrocities, considering whether there can be moral justifications for terrorism and torture, and providing conceptual tools to distinguish genocide from non-genocidal mass slaughter. (shrink)
What distinguishes evils from ordinary wrongs? Are some evils unforgivable? How should we respond to evils? Card offers a secular theory of evil--representing a compromise between classic utilitarian and stoic approaches--that responds to these and other questions.
This paper deals with ClaudiaCard's important contributions to a theory of evil that steps out from traditional models of thinking about this problem . Instead, our author seeks to explore important elements from other theorists in order to build up her ideas of what she calls the "atrocity paradigm." This critical essay focuses mainly in the spaces where Card's conclusions need to rethink the limits and constraints of her theory.
This paper deals with ClaudiaCard's important contributions to a theory of evil that steps out from traditional models of thinking about this problem (theodicies, metaphysical theories, etc.). Instead, our author seeks to explore important elements from other theorists (such as Kant and Nietzsche) in order to build up her ideas of what she calls the "atrocity paradigm." This critical essay focuses mainly in the spaces where Card's conclusions need to rethink the limits and constraints of her (...) theory. (shrink)
: This paper deals with ClaudiaCard's important contributions to a theory of evil that steps out from traditional models of thinking about this problem (theodicies, metaphysical theories, etc.). Instead, our author seeks to explore important elements from other theorists (such as Kant and Nietzsche) in order to build up her ideas of what she calls the "atrocity paradigm." This critical essay focuses mainly in the spaces where Card's conclusions need to rethink the limits and constraints of (...) her theory. (shrink)
Fifteen essays address subjects ranging from the history of feminist ethics to the logic of pluralist feminism and present feminist perspectives on such topics as terrorism, bitterness, women trusting other women, and survival and ethics. Paper edition, $14.95. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR.
This essay argues that current advocacy of lesbian and gay rights to legal marriage and parenthood insufficiently criticizes both marriage and motherhood as they are currently practiced and structured by Northern legal institutions. Instead we would do better not to let the State define our intimate unions and parenting would be improved if the power presently concentrated in the hands of one or two guardians were diluted and distributed through an appropriately concerned community.
Marilyn Frye's first book, The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory, presents nine philosophical lectures: four on women's subordination, four on resistance and rebellion, one on revolution. Its approach combines a lesbian perspective with analytical philosophy of language. The major contributions of the book are its analysis of oppression, highly suggestive discussions of the roles of attention in knowledge and ignorance and in arrogance and love, a defense of political separatism not based on female supremacism, and a development of (...) the idea of lesbian epistemology. Its proposal for resisting White racism will be controversial. Its treatment of gay rights is not balanced by an acknowledgement that drag queens, like “totaled women,” are products of oppression, not simply of intolerance. The most philosophically problematic aspect of the book is its analysis of coercion and of the roles of coercion in women's subordination. This creates an unresolved tension with the positive message of the second half of the book. Despite this difficulty, these essays are an outstanding contribution to contemporary feminist theory. (shrink)
Nel Noddings, in Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education (1984), presents and develops an ethic of care as an alternative to an ethic that treats justice as a basic concept. I argue that this care ethic is unable to give an adequate account of ethical relationships between strangers and that it is also in danger of valorizing relationships in which carers are seriously abused.
: Although the exclusion of LGBTs from the rites and rights of marriage is arbitrary and unjust, the legal institution of marriage is itself so riddled with injustice that it would be better to create alternative forms of durable intimate partnership that do not invoke the power of the state. Card's essay develops a case for this position, taking up an injustice sufficiently serious to constitute an evil: the sheltering of domestic violence.
This essay examines how rape of women and girls by male soldiers works as a martial weapon. Continuities with other torture and terrorism and with civilian rape are suggested. The inadequacy of past philosophical treatments of the enslavement of war captives is briefly discussed. Social strategies are suggested for responding and a concluding fantasy offered, not entirely social, of a strategy to change the meanings of rape to undermine its use as a martial weapon.
Although the exclusion of LGBTs from the rites and rights of marriage is arbitrary and unjust, the legal institution of marriage is itself so riddled with injustice that it would be better to create alternative forms of durable intimate partnership that do not invoke the power of the state. Card's essay develops a case for this position, taking up an injustice sufficiently serious to constitute an evil: the sheltering of domestic violence.
Rawls saw need for non-ideal theory also within society but never developed that project. In this chapter, Card suggests that the non-ideal part of Rawls’ Law of Peoples can be a resource for thinking about responding to evils when the subject is not state-centered. It is plausible that defense against great evils other than those of aggressive states should be governed by analogues of scruples that Rawlsian well-ordered societies observe in defending themselves against outlaw states. This essay explores those (...) hypotheses in relation to women’s self-defense and mutual defense against evils of misogyny, the term feminists apply to the most deeply hostile environments of and attitudes toward women and girls and to the cruelest wrongs to them/us, regardless whether perpetrators harbor feelings of hatred. It extrapolates and adapts to this case values, concepts, and methods from Rawls’s life’s work, especially his writing on war. (shrink)
: Social death, central to the evil of genocide (whether the genocide is homicidal or primarily cultural), distinguishes genocide from other mass murders. Loss of social vitality is loss of identity and thereby of meaning for one's existence. Seeing social death at the center of genocide takes our focus off body counts and loss of individual talents, directing us instead to mourn losses of relationships that create community and give meaning to the development of talents.
Social death, central to the evil of genocide, distinguishes genocide from other mass murders. Loss of social vitality is loss of identity and thereby of meaning for one's existence. Seeing social death at the center of genocide takes our focus off body counts and loss of individual talents, directing us instead to mourn losses of relationships that create community and give meaning to the development of talents.
This essay reflects on issues raised by commentators regarding my book, The Atrocity Paradigm: A Theory of Evil (Oxford 2002). They are (1) Robin Schott's observation of the tension between my discussion of forgiveness and of castration fantasies; (2) Bat-Ami Bar On's questions regarding whether evil is ethical, political, or both; (3) Adam Morton's queries regarding the relative seriousness of evils and injustices; and (4) María Pía Lara's concerns regarding what is valuable in Kant's ethics.
Simone de Beauvoir was a philosopher and writer of notable range and influence whose work is central to feminist theory, French existentialism, and contemporary moral and social philosophy. The essays in this 2003 volume examine all the major aspects of her thought, including her views on issues such as the role of biology, sexuality and sexual difference, and evil, the influence on her work of Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Husserl, and others, and the philosophical significance of her memoirs and fiction. New (...) readers and nonspecialists will find this the most convenient and accessible guide to Beauvoir currently available. Advanced students and specialists will find a conspectus of recent developments in the interpretation of Beauvoir. (shrink)
Gray zones, which develop wherever oppression is severe and lasting, are inhabited by victims of evil who become complicit in perpetrating on others the evils that threaten to engulf themselves. Women, who have inhabited many gray zones, present challenges for feminist theorists, who have long struggled with how resistance is possible under coercive institutions. Building on Primo Levi's reflections on the gray zone in Nazi death camps and ghettos, this essay argues that resistance is sometimes possible, although outsiders are rarely, (...) if ever, in a position to judge when. It also raises questions about the adequacy of ordinary moral concepts to mark the distinctions that would be helpful for thinking about how to respond in a gray zone. (shrink)
: The concept of a war on terrorism creates havoc with attempts to apply rules of war. For "terrorism" is not an agent. Nor is it clear what relationship to terrorism agents must have in order to be legitimate targets. Nor is it clear what kinds of terrorism count. Would a war on terrorism in the home be a justifiable response to domestic battering? If not, do similar objections apply to a war on public terrorism?
Suzanne Pharr's Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism may be an effective tool for women committed to overcoming their own homophobia who want practical advice on recognizing and eradicating it, although as an essay in theory it does not advance the issues. The author seems unaware that Celia Kitzinger has argued recently that “homophobia” is not a helpful concept because it individualizes problems better seen as political and begs the question of the rationality of the fear. I argue that “homophobia” has (...) been misused but that freed of the medical model and understood in connection with issues of pride and shame, it can be a helpful concept. (shrink)