The Stance team spoke with Charles Mills, noted philosopher and John Evans Professor of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy at Northwestern University whose work focuses on issues of social class, gender, and race, on December 1, 2014. Dr. Mills reviewed Stance’s transcription of the interview and made slight corrections for grammar, style, and reduction of repetition. He also inserted a sentence or two to add clarity. We hope readers find the result illuminating.
Between the later views of Wittgenstein and those of connectionism 1 on the subject of the mastery of language there is an impressively large number of similarities. The task of establishing this claim is carried out in the second section of this paper.
Liberalism is the political philosophy of equal persons, yet liberalism has denied equality to those it saw as black sub-persons. In Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism, political philosopher Charles Mills challenges mainstream accounts that ignore this history and its current legacy in the United States today.
In this paper, Charles Mills discusses what he calls “white ignorance”, developing one of the main themes of his 1997 book, The Racial Contract. His discussion is concerned with the idea of a cognitive disadvantage based on membership in a social group, which is not strange to the radical philosophical tradition, and that has been explored with more vigor in the recent Social Epistemology, in debates about epistemic injustices, silencing, willful ignorance, cognitive biases, epistemological standpoints, etc. Mills argues (...) for an “Epistemology of the white ignorance”, a racially and socially situated epistemology, which contraposes itself, in a great extent, to the individualistic tendencies of the traditional epistemological work, while conserving the interests in objectivity and truth of this work. (shrink)
Feminism and postcolonialism are allies, and the impressive selection of writings brought together in this volume demonstrate how fruitful that alliance can be. Reina Lewis and Sara Mills have assembled a brilliant selection of thinkers, organizing them into six categories: "Gendering Colonialism and Postcolonialism/Radicalizing Feminism," "Rethinking Whiteness," "Redefining the 'Third World' Subject," "Sexuality and Sexual Rights," "Harem and the Veil," and "Gender and Post/colonial Relations." A bibliography complements the wide-ranging essays. This is the ideal volume for any reader interested (...) in the development of postcoloniality and feminist thought. (shrink)
It is impossible to imagine contemporary critical theory without the work of Michel Foucault. His radical reworkings of the concepts of power, knowledge, discourse and identity have influenced the widest possible range of theories and impacted upon disciplinary fields from literary studies to anthropology. Aimed at students approaching Foucault's texts for the first time, this volume offers: * an examination of Foucault's contexts * a guide to his key ideas * an overview of responses to his work * practical hints (...) on 'using Foucault' * an annotated guide to his most influential works * suggestions for further reading. Challenging not just what we think but how we think, Foucault's work remains the subject of heated debate. Sara Mills' Michel Foucault offers an introduction to both the ideas and the debate, fully equipping student readers for an encounter with this most influential of thinkers. (shrink)
In their responses to James Tully’s article “Deparochializing Political Theory and Beyond,” Garrick Cooper, Charles W. Mills, Sudipta Kaviraj and Sor-hoon Tan engage with different aspects of Tully’s “genuine dialogue.” While they seem to concur with Tully on the urgency of deparochializing political theory, their responses bring to light salient issues which would have to be thought through in taking this project forward.
Mills argues for a new critical theory that develops the insights of the black radical political tradition. While challenging conventional interpretations of key Marxist concepts and claims, the author contends that Marxism has been 'white' insofar as it has failed to recognize the centrality of race and white supremacy to the making of the modern world.
Issue two contained three pieces arguing against relativism: the view that what is true from one individual's or community's perspective might be false from another, that there is no ‘absolute’ truth on any issue. Here David Mills, an anthropologist, argues that, even if we are right to reject philosophical relativism, there is still value in embracing a methodological form of relativism.
Pierre Elliot Trudeau was a man of deep intellect, of strongly held philosophy, and of bold - if not occasionally audacious - personality. He was no high-minded, distant philosopher-ruler however. A consummate pragmatist, Trudeau sought to be a moral man of action. This important work looks his intellectual evolution as a young man, in the years before he entered politics.Beautifully written, this biography also paints a fascinating, colourful and multilayered portrait of Trudeau. Born into a wealthy family, Trudeau's years among (...) then-Jesuits at Brébeuf College in Montreal were formative, among other reasons for what would become his long-term interaction with Catholicism. Following law school at University of Montreal, Trudeau studied at Harvard in the US, at LSE in London, England, and at Sciences Po in Paris. Mills' considers the biggest influences on Trudeau, including Harold Laski, Jacques Maritain, and Emmanuel Mounier. Mills also recounts Trudeau's travels across the world throughout the 1950s, travelling in Europe, the Near and Far East, Egypt and Sudan, the USSR, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand, regions in West Africa, Israel, Vietnam, Persia and Taiwan. A chapter considers Trudeau's evolving thought on Federalism and Nationalism, both internationally and in terms of Quebec and Canada. A chapter on Trudeau's moralism highlights his belief that politics requires individuals of conscience, who have the courage to speak frankly about their beliefs. Mills' biography shows us that understanding Trudeau the thinker is key to understanding Trudeau the politician, whose life was both a practical and a theoretical one. He was a cool political thinker who believed that clear analysis of political questions was essential to good governance. (shrink)
Sara Mills offers a trenchant analysis of the complexities of social relations--including notions of class, nationality and gender--and spatial relations, landscape, topography and travel, in post-colonial contexts.
The question of what constitutes psychic reality has been of interest to philosophers and psychologists for as long as humans have thought about the mind. In Origins, Jon Mills presents a provocative challenge to contemporary theories of the difference between the mind and body in neuroscience. By re-examining our understanding of the unconscious, he explains the birth of the psyche and provides a detailed account of the ways in which subjectivity is formed. In the first comprehensive work to articulate (...) a psychoanalytic metaphysics based on process thought, the author uses dialectical logic to show how the nature and structure of mental life is constituted. Arguing that ego development is produced not only by consciousness but also evolves from unconscious genesis, he makes the controversial claim that an unconscious semiotics serves as the template for language and all meaning structures. A thought-provoking account of idealism, Origins confronts the limitations of materialism and empiricism while salvaging the roles of agency and freedom that have been neglected by the biological sciences. (shrink)
Moving from the social and political arena to the choices we face in our own private lives, Claudia Mills asks how information about someone’s mental illness should be shared with others. While open communication about mental illness works toward the important goal of reducing its unfair stigma, it can cause harm or embarrassment, violate privacy, and challenge an individual’s own preferred self-representation. She offers tentative guidelines for how to proceed on this sensitive and morally charged issue.
Psychoanalysis has traditionally had difficulty in accounting for the existence of evil. Freud saw it as a direct expression of unconscious forces, whereas more recent theorists have examined the links between early traumatic experiences and later ‘evil’ behaviour. _Humanizing Evil: Psychoanalytic, Philosophical and Clinical Perspectives _explores the controversies surrounding definitions of evil, and examines its various forms, from the destructive forces contained within the normal mind to the most horrific expressions observed in contemporary life. Ronald Naso and _Jon Mills_ bring (...) together an international group of experts to explore how more subtle factors can play a part, such as conformity pressures, or the morally destabilizing effects of anonymity, and show how analysts can understand and work with such factors in clinical practice._ _Each chapter is unified by the view that evil is intrinsically linked to human freedom, regardless of the gap experienced by perpetrators between their intentions and consequences. While some forms of evil follow seamlessly from psychopathology, others call this relationship into question. Rape, murder, serial killing, and psychopathy show very clear links to psychopathology and character whereas the horrors of war, religious fundamentalism, and political extremism resist such reductionism. Humanizing _Evil_ is unique in the diversity of perspectives it brings to bear on the problem of evil. It will be essential reading for psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, philosophers, and Jungians. Because it is an integrative depth-psychological effort, it will interest general readers as well as scholars from a variety of disciplines including the humanities, philosophy, religion, mental health, criminal justice, political science, sociology, and interdisciplinary studies. Ronald Naso, Ph.D., ABPP is psychoanalyst and clinical psychologist in independent practice in Stamford, CT. The author of numerous papers on psychoanalytic topics, he is an associate editor of _Contemporary Psychoanalytic Studies_, and contributing editor of _Division/Review _and _Journal of Psychology and Clinical Psychiatry_. His book, _Hypocrisy Unmasked: Dissociation, Shame, and the Ethics of Inauthenticity_, was published by Aronson in 2010. Jon Mills, Psy.D., Ph.D., ABPP is a philosopher, psychoanalyst, and clinical psychologist. He is Professor of Psychology & Psychoanalysis at Adler Graduate Professional School, Toronto. A 2006, 2011, and 2013 Gradiva Award winner, he is Editor of two book series in psychoanalysis, on the Editorial Board for _Psychoanalytic Psychology_, and is the author and/or editor of thirteen books including his most recent works, _Underworlds: Philosophies of the Unconscious from Psychoanalysis to Metaphysics_, and _Conundrums: A Critique of Contemporary Psychoanalysis_, which won the Goethe Award for best book in 2013. (shrink)
_Contract and Domination _offers a bold challenge to contemporary contract theory, arguing that it should either be fundamentally rethought or abandoned altogether. Since the publication of John Rawls's _A Theory of Justice_, contract theory has once again become central to the Western political tradition. But gender justice is neglected and racial justice almost completely ignored. Carole Pateman and Charles Mills's earlier books, _The Sexual Contract _ and _The Racial Contract _, offered devastating critiques of gender and racial domination and (...) the contemporary contract tradition's silence on them. Both books have become classics of revisionist radical democratic political theory. Now Pateman and Mills are collaborating for the first time in an interdisciplinary volume, drawing on their insights from political science and philosophy. They are building on but going beyond their earlier work to bring the sexual and racial contracts together. In _Contract and Domination_, Pateman and Mills discuss their differences about contract theory and whether it has a useful future, excavate the settler contract that created new civil societies in North America and Australia, argue via a non-ideal contract for reparations to black Americans, confront the evasions of contemporary contract theorists, explore the intersections of gender and race and the global sexual-racial contract, and reply to their critics. This iconoclastic book throws the gauntlet down to mainstream white male contract theory. It is vital reading for anyone with an interest in political theory and political philosophy, and the systems of male and racial domination. (shrink)
_Contract and Domination_ offers a bold challenge to contemporary contract theory, arguing that it should either be fundamentally rethought or abandoned altogether. Since the publication of John Rawls's _A Theory of Justice_, contract theory has once again become central to the Western political tradition. But gender justice is neglected and racial justice almost completely ignored. Carole Pateman and Charles Mills's earlier books, _The Sexual Contract_ and _The Racial Contract_, offered devastating critiques of gender and racial domination and the contemporary (...) contract tradition's silence on them. Both books have become classics of revisionist radical democratic political theory. Now Pateman and Mills are collaborating for the first time in an interdisciplinary volume, drawing on their insights from political science and philosophy. They are building on but going beyond their earlier work to bring the sexual and racial contracts together. In _Contract and Domination_, Pateman and Mills discuss their differences about contract theory and whether it has a useful future, excavate the settler contract that created new civil societies in North America and Australia, argue via a non-ideal contract for reparations to black Americans, confront the evasions of contemporary contract theorists, explore the intersections of gender and race and the global sexual-racial contract, and reply to their critics. This iconoclastic book throws the gauntlet down to mainstream white male contract theory. It is vital reading for anyone with an interest in political theory and political philosophy, and the systems of male and racial domination. (shrink)
Stephanie Mills presented the following as the keynote address at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the International Association for Environmental Philosophy in Chicago. Mills addresses the readers of this journal in her role as a bioregional author and social critic. Adopting a narrative style rather than the typical format of the “philosophical essay,” she raises questions that are always and still at the core of our philosophical dialogue: What is nature? How do we humans perceive our relationship with (...) nature? And how may the blind spots of academic philosophy be discerned in traditional approaches to issues such as “nature versus humans,” the wilderness debate, and the possibility and limits of technology? (shrink)
White supremacy is the unnamed political system that has made the modern world what it is today. You will not find this term in introductory, or even advanced, texts in political theory. A standard undergraduate philosophy course will start off with plato and Aristotle, perhaps say something about Augustine, Aquinas, and Machiavelli, move on to Hobbes, Locke, Mill, and Marx, and then wind up with Rawls and Nozick. It will introduce you to notions of aristocracy, democracy, absolutism, liberalism, representative government, (...) socialism, welfare capitalism, andlibertarianism. But though it covers more than two thousand years of Western political thought and runs the ostensible gamut of political systems, there will be no mention of the basic political system that has shaped the world for the past several hundred years. And this omission is not accidental. Rather, it reflects the fact that standard textbooks and courses have for the most part been written and designed by whites, who take their racial privilege so much for granted that they do not even see it as political, as a form of domination. Ironically, the most important political system of recent global history-the system of domination by which white people have historically ruled over and, in certain important ways, continue to rule over nonwhite people-is not seen as a political system at all. It is just taken for granted; it is the background against which other systems, which we are to see as political are highlighted. This book is an attempt to redirect your vision, to make you see what, in a sense, has been there all along. (shrink)
Hegel's interpretation of Sophocles' play Antigone is central to an understanding of woman's role in the Hegelian system. Hegel is fascinated by this play and uses it in both the Phenomenology and the Philosophy of Right to demonstrate that familial ethical life is woman's unique responsibility. Antigone is revealed as the paradigmatic figure of womanhood and family life in both the ancient and modern worlds, although there are fundamental differences between these two worlds for Hegel. Through an immanent critique of (...) both the Phenomenology and the Philosophy of Right which focuses on the role of woman as presented by Hegel in the figure of Antigone, my analysis reveals the limitations of Hegel’s dialectical theory. (shrink)
The concept of "fitness" is a notion of central importance to evolutionary theory. Yet the interpretation of this concept and its role in explanations of evolutionary phenomena have remained obscure. We provide a propensity interpretation of fitness, which we argue captures the intended reference of this term as it is used by evolutionary theorists. Using the propensity interpretation of fitness, we provide a Hempelian reconstruction of explanations of evolutionary phenomena, and we show why charges of circularity which have been levelled (...) against explanations in evolutionary theory are mistaken. Finally, we provide a definition of natural selection which follows from the propensity interpretation of fitness, and which handles all the types of selection discussed by biologists, thus improving on extant definitions. (shrink)
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.
This article examines the concept of creating shared value as articulated by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer, in non-Western and Western contexts. We define non-Western contexts as those in so-called “developing” countries and emerging economies, whereas Western ones pertain to dominant thinking in “developed” regions. We frame our research in postcolonial theory and offer an overview of existing critiques of CSV. We conduct a critical discourse analysis of 66 articles to identify how CSV is being cited by authors, and potential (...) underlying power dynamics that affect its relevance for non-Western contexts. Our review exposes increasingly critical views about the paradoxical positioning of CSV as an instrumental concept that can offer “win-win” solutions, particularly from those working in non-Western settings. Western perspectives generally tend to be more supportive of its instrumental nature, but also recognize the increasing complexity of the business-society nexus and stakeholder engagement. We argue that the CSV framework requires further development to maintain credibility and applicability, especially in non-Western domains. (shrink)
Issues in reproductive ethics, such as the capacity of parents to ‘choose children’, present challenges to philosophical ideas of freedom, responsibility and harm. This book responds to these challenges by proposing a new framework for thinking about the ethics of reproduction that emphasizes the ways that social norms affect decisions about who is born. The book provides clear and thorough discussions of some of the dominant problems in reproductive ethics - human enhancement and the notion of the normal, reproductive liberty (...) and procreative beneficence, the principle of harm and discrimination against disability - while also proposing new ways of addressing these. The author draws upon the work of Michel Foucault, especially his discussions of biopolitics and norms, and later work on ethics, alongside feminist theorists of embodiment to argue for a new bioethics that is responsive to social norms, human vulnerability and the relational context of freedom and responsibility. This is done through compelling discussions of new technologies and practices, including the debate on liberal eugenics and human enhancement, the deliberate selection of disabilities, PGD and obstetric ultrasound. (shrink)
Giorgio Agamben has gained widespread popularity in recent years for his rethinking of radical politics and his approach to metaphysics and language. However, the extraordinary breadth of historical, legal and philosophical sources which contribute to the complexity and depth of Agamben's thinking can also make his work intimidating. Covering the full range of Agamben's work, this critical introduction outlines Agamben's key concerns: metaphysics, language and potentiality, aesthetics and poetics, sovereignty, law and biopolitics, ethics and testimony, and his powerful vision of (...) post-historical humanity. Highlighting the novelty of Agamben's approach while also situating it in relation to the work of other continental thinkers, "The Philosophy of Agamben" presents a clear and engaging introduction to the work of this original and influential thinker. (shrink)
Choice architecture is heralded as a policy approach that does not coercively reduce freedom of choice. Still we might worry that this approach fails to respect individual choice because it subversively manipulates individuals, thus contravening their personal autonomy. In this article I address two arguments to this effect. First, I deny that choice architecture is necessarily heteronomous. I explain the reasons we have for avoiding heteronomous policy-making and offer a set of four conditions for non-heteronomy. I then provide examples of (...) nudges that meet these conditions. I argue that these policies are capable of respecting and promoting personal autonomy, and show this claim to be true across contrasting conceptions of autonomy. Second, I deny that choice architecture is disrespectful because it is epistemically paternalistic. This critique appears to loom large even against non-heteronomous nudges. However, I argue that while some of these policies may exhibit epistemically paternalistic tendencies, these tendencies do not necessarily undermine personal autonomy. Thus, if we are to find such policies objectionable, we cannot do so on the grounds of respect for autonomy. (shrink)