A particularly important, pressing, philosophical question concerns whether Confederate monuments ought to be removed. More precisely, one may wonder whether a certain group, viz. the relevant government officials and members of the public who together can remove the Confederate monuments, are morally obligated to (of their own volition) remove them. Unfortunately, academic philosophers have largely ignored this question. This paper aims to help rectify this oversight by moral philosophers. In it, I argue that people have a moral obligation (...) to remove most, if not all, public Confederate monuments because of the unavoidable harm they inflict on undeserving persons. In the first section, I provide some relevant historical context. In the second section, I make my unique harm-based argument for the removal of Confederate monuments. In the third section, I consider and rebut five objections. (shrink)
This is a short reply to Dan Demetriou's "Ashes of Our Fathers: Racist Monuments and the Tribal Right." Both are included in Oxford University Press's Ethics, Left and Right: The Moral Issues That Divide Us.
In recent years, a new generation of activists has reinvigorated debate over the public commemorative landscape. While this debate is in no way limited to statues, it frequently crystallizes around public representations of historical figures who expressed support for the oppression of certain groups or contributed to their past or present oppression. In this paper, I consider what should be done about such representations. A number of philosophers have articulated arguments for modifying or removing public monuments. Joanna Burch-Brown (2017) (...) grounds her argument for removal in what I call the “honorific” function of such representations—the ways in which they express and tend to cultivate admiration for their subjects. In the first two sections of the paper, I develop a novel argument for modifying these representations based on this insight. I argue that leaving such representations unmodified in the public space tends to undermine the dignity of members of oppressed groups as well as their assurance that society and government are committed to their rights and constitutional entitlements. In the paper’s third section, I develop a “balancing test” for determining whether the relevant moral and pragmatic considerations favor making a particular representation inaccessible to the public, or recontextualizing it for public consumption. Unlike some of the existing philosophical treatments of honorific representations that focus on particular monuments, this balancing test is designed for general application to any honorific representation that satisfies the presumptive case for modification. To conclude, I offer some reasons why weak forms of recontextualization that do not involve altering institutional context may often be an insufficient remedy for the problems I describe. (shrink)
The striving for self-worth is recognized as a driving force in international relations; but if self-worth is understood as a function of status in a power hierarchy, this striving often is a source of anxiety and conflict over status. The quasi-international relations within the early modern German Empire have prompted seventeenth-century natural law theorists such as Samuel Pufendorf and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz to reflect about this problem. In his De statu imperii Germanici, Pufendorf regards the power differences and dependencies between (...) the Reichsstände to be an expression of the deficits of constitutional structure of the Empire—a structure that, in his view, causes internal division because it leads to distorted practices of esteem between the estates. Against Pufendorf, Leibniz argues De jure suprematus ac legationis that political actors such as the German princes who are not Electors could fulfill functions under the law of nations such as forming confederations and peace keeping. Incoherently, however, Leibniz excludes less powerful estates such as the Imperial cities and the Hanseatic cities from the ensuing duties of esteem. This shortcoming, in turn, is arguably remedied in Pufendorf’s later considerations concerning duties of esteem in diplomatic relations. (shrink)
The recent explosion of philosophical papers on Confederate and Colonialist statues centers on a central question: When, if ever, is it permissible to admire a person? This paper contends it’s not just Confederates and slavers whose reputations are on the line, but also pacifists like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Daisy Bates whose commitments to pacifism meant they were unwilling to save others using defensive violence, including others they talked into endangering themselves for the sake of racial equality. (...) Other things being equal, that’s gravely immoral if pacifism is false, and we shouldn’t admire people guilty of grave immorality. So, it appears that we shouldn’t admire Bates or King, which is counterintuitive. To solve this problem, I explore several possibilities: that only selective traits of Bates and King are admirable, that Bates and King are admirable despite their grave immorality, and that Bates and King are admirable by virtue of their integrity. However, each of these proposals fails: the first because it inadequately captures our moral phenomenology (we admire people, not just their traits), the second because it ignores the extent to which gravely immoral commitments are constitutive of a person’s moral character, and the third because we ought not to admire people for acting on their immoral beliefs. The paper concludes, first, that either pacifists like Bates and King aren’t admirable or they are, and the latter presupposes the truth of pacifism. Second, I borrow from Vanessa Carbonell’s ratcheting-up argument from moral sainthood to argue that pacifists like Bates and King provide epistemic defeaters to the objection that pacifism is unreasonably costly. Thus, not only are pacifists admirable only if they’re right—they are right. (shrink)
This book brings together a large and diverse collection of philosophical papers addressing a wide variety of public policy issues. Topics covered range from long-standing subjects of debate such as abortion, punishment, and freedom of expression, to more recent controversies such as those over gene editing, military drones, and statues honoring Confederate soldiers. Part I focuses on the criminal justice system, including issues that arise before, during, and after criminal trials. Part II covers matters of national defense and (...) sovereignty, including chapters on military ethics, terrorism, and immigration. Part III, which explores political participation, manipulation, and standing, includes discussions of issues involving voting rights, the use of nudges, and claims of equal status. Part IV covers a variety of issues involving freedom of speech and expression. Part V deals with questions of justice and inequality. Part VI considers topics involving bioethics and biotechnology. Part VII is devoted to beginning of life issues, such as cloning and surrogacy, and end of life issues, such as assisted suicide and organ procurement. Part VIII navigates emerging environmental issues, including treatments of the urban environment and extraterrestrial environments. (shrink)
There has recently been a focus on the question of statue removalism. This concerns what to do with public history statues that honour or otherwise celebrate ethically bad historical figures. The specific wrongs of these statues have been understood in terms of derogatory speech, inapt honours, or supporting bad ideologies. In this paper I understand these bad public history statues as history, and identify a distinctive class of public history-specific wrongs. Specifically, public history plays an important identity-shaping (...) role, and bad public history can commit specifically ontic injustice. Understanding bad public history in terms of ontic injustice helps understand not just to address bad public history statues, but also understand the value of public history more broadly. (shrink)
We apply a familiar distinction from philosophy of language to a class of material artifacts that are sometimes said to “speak”: statues. By distinguishing how statues speak at the locutionary level versus at the illocutionary level, or what they say versus what they do, we obtain the resource for addressing two topics. First, we can explain what makes statues distinct from street art. Second, we can explain why it is mistaken to criticize—or to defend—the continuing presence of (...)statues based only on what they represent. Both explanations are driven by the same core idea: the significance of statues arises primarily from what they do, and not what they say. (shrink)
On the most popular account of material constitution, it is common for a material object to coincide precisely with one or more other material objects, ones that are composed of just the same matter but differ from it in sort. I argue that there is nothing that could ground the alleged difference in sort and that the account must be rejected.
I offer a way of classifying Confederate monuments and two ways of extracting meaning from these monuments. A few of them are racist on one of the two interpretations. Most of them, in the final analysis, implicitly acknowledge racial equality by extolling in African Americans the same virtues to which southern whites themselves aspired. Toppling those which seem racist entails serious difficulties, constitutional and philosophical. Additional interpretive material about the controversial ones is the more appropriate response.
Puzzles about persistence and change through time, i.e., about identity across time, have foundered on confusion about what it is for ‘two things’ to be have ‘the same thing’ at a time. This is most directly seen in the dispute over whether material objects can occupy exactly the same place at the same time. This paper defends the possibility of such coincidence against several arguments to the contrary. Distinguishing a temporally relative from an absolute sense of ‘the same’, we see (...) that the intuition, ‘this is only one thing’, and the dictum, ‘two things cannot occupy the same place at the same time’, are individuating things at a time rather than absolutely and are therefore compatible with coincidence. Several other objections philosophers have raised ride on this same ambiguity. Burke, originating what has become the most popular objection to coincidence, argues that if coincidence is possible there would be no explanation of how objects that are qualitatively the same at a time could belong to different sorts. But we can explain an object’s sort by appealing to its properties at other times. Burke’s argument to the contrary equivocates on different notions of ‘cross-time identity’ and ‘the statue’. From a largely negative series of arguments emerges a positive picture of what it means to say multiple things coincide and of why an object’s historical properties explain its sort rather than vice versa – in short, of how coincidence is possible. (shrink)
This paper argues that public statues of persons typically express a positive evaluative attitude towards the subject. It also argues that states have duties to repudiate their own historical wrongdoing, and to condemn other people’s serious wrongdoing. Both duties are incompatible with retaining public statues of people who perpetrated serious rights violations. Hence, a person’s being a serious rights violator is a sufficient condition for a state’s having a duty to remove a public statue of that person. I (...) argue that this applies no less in the case of the ‘morally ambiguous’ wrongdoer, who both accomplishes significant goods and perpetrates serious rights violations. The duty to remove a statue is a defeasible duty: like most duties, it can be defeated by lesser-evil considerations. If removing a statue would, for example, spark a violent riot that would risk unjust harm to lots of people, the duty to remove could be outweighed by the duty not to foreseeably cause unjust harm. This would provide a lesser-evil justification for keeping the statue. But it matters that the duty to remove is outweighed, rather than negated, by these consequences. Unlike when a duty is negated, one still owes something in cases of outweighing. And it especially matters that it is outweighed by the predicted consequences of wrongful behaviour by others. (shrink)
In this article, I outline my position regarding the use of deception in psychology experiments, based on my experience as a confederate. I describe an experiment I participated in and the problems resulting from the study: subjects' differing responses to the deception; angry reactions of some subjects to the experiment; and the general discomfort of both subjects and confederates, in particular, who had their doubts concerning the external validity of the study and the ethics involved in running it. issues (...) of informed consent and debriefing are also addressed; it is argued that the success of deception depends on the subject being misinformed as to the experiment's true nature and that debriefing itself sometimes angers subjects. I encourage a decrease in the use of deception and the reexamination of a system that attempts to balance the pain of experimental participants with anticipated benefit to scientific knowledge. (shrink)
Why do people in South Africa fight over statues – even to the extent of tying themselves to a mere bust? Using insights, especially from Jan Assmann, the study develops the argument that material culture provides the social energy that drives the manner in which history is told, that is, historiography; they provide the ‘silent objects’ with the power to control the public discourse and collective identity. Statues encapsulate all we need to know, inversely, concerning public discourse, particularly, (...) concerning issues pertaining to control, power and class. From this perspective, those who vandalise them may be regarded as contesting public discourse identity and historiography. Insights from this discussion provide parallel discussions, especially, in Galatians where Paul contrasts the image of Abraham with that of Moses – choosing Abraham as the public image that best represents the identity complexity, cosmopolitan and heterogeneous nature that characterises the Hellenistic context. (shrink)
This book is a collection from the articles of 'The Skeptic' and brings together the best from the magazine's archive in one myth-busting volume. It includes mystery articles on the weeping statue at a Dublin suburban home, Turin Shroud, Britain's Roswell, Nostradamus's predictions and UFOs.
By the law of the 8 August 1980 concerning the institutional reform of the state, the Belgian political system is becoming a federalistic country. Nevertheless, after three years of implementation, most of political scientists state that these constitutional reform is incomplete and inadequate to solve functionally the economical, political and cultural complexities of the relationships between Flanders, W allonia and Brussels. A confederation based on three components equally autonomous by preserving economic integration and monetary unity could be a better framework (...) to establish equitable relationships between the three regional components of the belgian political structure. These proposal of creating a Belgian confederation presents specific adaptations in allocation tasks, functions and competences that are the results of historical factorsand cultural caracteristics of the Belgian community. (shrink)
Are a material object, such as a statue, and its constituting matter, the clay, parts of one another? One wouldn't have thought so, and yet a number of philosophers have argued that they are. I review the arguments for this surprising claim showing how they all fail. I then consider two arguments against the view concluding that there are both pre-theoretical and theoretical considerations for denying that the statue and the clay are mutual parts.
Confederate service, Confederate propaganda. Although not born in the South, Henry Hotze's devotion to the cause of the Confederacy was as ardent as that of any native secessionist. As a member of the Mobile Cadets, an elite volunteer company of the Gulf City, Hotze was ordered to Virginia at the start of war as part of the Third Alabama Regiment. He distinguished himself in many ways, primarily off the battlefield as a clerk and European go-between. In November of (...) 1861, he was appointed to the position of Commercial Agent at London by C.S.A. Secretary of State R.M.T. Hunter, who instructed him to take the pulse of the English public on Confederate sentiment and to publish articles there that would cast the Confederacy in a favorable light. These articles appeared first in The Index, the newspaper that Hotze established in London, and reveal Hotze's skill as both a reporter and a propagandist for the Confederacy. (shrink)
The focus of this article is on monuments variously referred to as statues, symbols, signages, busts, icons etc. The words are used interchangeably. Three words are highlighted to represent a common concept. These are statues, symbols and signages. The South African history with its painful experience of the indigenous inhabitants is highlighted and how symbols had to change in 1994 to represent the aspirations of the new democratic dispensation. Biblical reflections on monuments demonstrate the importance of these symbols (...) during the Old and the New Testament times. The two symbols singled out to reinforce this notion are the Holy Communion and the cross. The significance and potency of the monuments is explained and conclusion drawn is that symbols are valuable for didactive purpose because they serve as teaching aids. They also serve the memory for generations to come so that they know how God's faithfulness has been demonstrated in the national history of Israel, therefore serving missiological function of the church today. (shrink)
One simple but relatively neglected solution to the notorious coincidence puzzle of the statue and the piece of clay claims that the property being a statue is a phase sortal property that the piece of clay instantiates temporarily. I defend this view against some standard objections by reinforcing it with a novel counterpart-theoretic account of identity under a sortal. This proposal does not require colocation, four-dimensionalism, eliminativism, deflationism, or unorthodox theses about classical identity.
The Confederate Battle Flag (CBF) is in the news again. On January 16th, 2000, 46,000 people came to Columbia, South Carolina, to protest its display over the state’s capital dome. On July 1st, the CBF was removed. But on the same day, it was raised in front of the Statehouse steps. The controversy has received a great deal of media coverage and was a factor in the 2000 presidential primaries. CBF displays raise a philosophical question I wish to address: (...) What determines whether a symbol or symbol-display is racist? I will focus on the CBF because of its contemporary relevance. But the discussion will shed light on the general issue of when a symbol or symbol-display has a particular meaning and when it does not. (shrink)
“African thinking,” “African thought,” and “African philosophy.” These phrases are often used indiscriminately to refer to intellectual activities in and/or about Africa. This large field, which sits at the crossroads between analytic philosophy, continental thought, political philosophy and even linguistics is apparently limitless in its ability to submit the object “Africa” to a multiplicity of disciplinary approaches. This absence of limits has far-reaching historical origins. Indeed it needs to be understood as a legacy of the period leading to African independence (...) and to the context in which African philosophy emerged not so much as a discipline as a point of departure to think colonial strictures and the constraints of colonial modes of thinking. That the first exponents of African philosophy were Westerners speaks volumes. Placide Tempels but also some of his predecessors such as Paul Radin and Vernon Brelsford were the first scholars to envisage this extension of philosophy into the realm of the African “primitive.” The material explored in this article – Statues Also Die, Bantu Philosophy, The Cultural Unity of Negro Africa, and It For Others - resonates with this initial gesture but also with the ambition on part of African philosophers such as VY Mudimbe to challenge the limits of a discipline shaped by late colonialism and then subsequently recaptured by ethnophilosophers. Statues Also Die is thus used here as a text to appraise the limitations of African philosophy at an early stage. The term “stage,” however, is purely arbitrary and the work of African philosophers has since the 1950s often been absorbed by an effort to retrieve African philosophizing practices before, or away from, the colonial matrix. This activity has gained momentum and has been characterized by an ambition to excavate and identify figures and traditions that had hitherto remained unacknowledged: from Ptah-hotep in ancient Egypt and North-African Church fathers such as Saint Augustine, Tertullian and Arnobius of Sicca, to “falsafa”-practising Islamic thinkers, from the Ethiopian tradition of Zera Yacob and Walda Heywat, to Anton-Wilhelm Arno, the Germany-trained but Ghana-born Enlightenment philosopher. (shrink)
This paper examines two popular arguments for the nonidentity of the statue and its constituent material. An essentialist response is provided to one of the arguments; that response is then shown to undermine the other argument as well. It is also shown that even if we accept these arguments and concede nonidentity, we can still avoid the further conclusion that constitution is not identity. These ideas are then extended to other applications of the arguments for nonidentity (specifically, their application to (...) a person and the constituent body, and to a mental event and its constituent neural event). (shrink)
This article examines literary, epigraphic and archaeological evidence for the Christian reidentification of statuary and reliefs as biblical scenes and protagonists, saints and angels. It argues that Christian identifications were promulgated, amongst others by local bishops, to make sense of imagery of which the original identity had been lost and/or was no longer meaningful. Three conditions for a new identification are discussed: the absence of an epigraphic label, geographical and/or chronological distance separating the statue from its original context of display, (...) and the presence of a specific attribute or characteristic that could become the prompt for reidentification. In their manipulation and modernization of older statuary, Christians showed a much greater appreciation of the statuary medium than generally assumed. (shrink)
Jeff Bernard was a distinguished semiotician, always au courant with the main accomplishments in the field. Although Jeff himself had specialized in socio-semiotics, his architectural training and his artistic youth had lent him a really open mind, able to comprehend almost everything.Jeff Bernard was also an excellent administrator. He and Gloria organized countless international conferences, most of them based in Vienna , but also in other places in Austria, Germany, Italy. All of them were a success. Jeff ran the ISSS (...) almost single-handed. He edited books , anthologies, semiotic journals. He knew how to raise funding, of which the whole semiotic community benefitted. In 2003, he acted as my “impresario”, as he jokingly said, and organized a lecturing tour through Central Europe for me.Jeff was also a wonderful host; he considered his guests as part of the family and treated them accordingly. Many were the times when he picked me up from one Viennese railway station or the other, or when he drove me there, when I stopped in Vienna, to or from other places. It was owing to Jeff and Gloria that I discovered Grinzig, Baden, and various other cozy places in and around Vienna. Last but not least, it was also due to Jeff and Gloria that I discovered the charm of many Viennese restaurants.Jeff was kind and generous, elegant and discreet. He helped quite a lot of semioticians to forward their careers, and more important still, he did it unobtrusively. Jeff was also a likeable person, with an entertaining conversation and a fine sense of humor.“I am a Feminist”, Jeff once said. . And he further expanded: “Otherwise, we couldn’t be living with Gloria. And my life would be pretty difficult, virtually surrounded as I am by so many professional women. But they all think I am a Feminist, and they are happy to work for my benefit. So I sit at my desk in Vienna, and my women colleagues from all over the world send me contributions for this and that, come over to participate in conferences, etc. It pays being a Feminist”.“Ich bin ein Berliner”, said Jeff on another occasion. For historical accuracy, it was in September 2003, during the conference celebrating his 60th birthday, in answer to a remark made by Roland Posner. It seemed a humorous statement, and everybody smiled. But I think this was true in spirit. These few lines, as well as those written by other colleagues who have contributed to the present issue, are meant to illustrate this self-definition. Jeff had always sympathized with the less privileged people everywhere. (shrink)
It is the purpose of this article to present the archaeological, epigraphic and literary evidence on the materials of honorific statues in Late Antiquity with a fresh outlook to delve into their cultural meaning and potential for manipulation and power display. The article questions how material choice and employment fits the conventions of state tradition and social customs, whether certain materials were deemed more prestigious and appropriate for the statues of the imperial family versus other honorands, and whether (...) this prestige depended on the cost of the material or other visual/cultural factors. The results of the inquiry show that the choice of materials depended on a mix of factors and diverse local practices, and of all the available materials, bronze remained as the most widely-manipulated one. (shrink)