Social commentators have long asked whether racial categories should be conserved or eliminated from our practices, discourse, institutions, and perhaps even private thoughts. In _A Theory of Race_, Joshua Glasgow argues that this set of choices unnecessarily presents us with too few options. Using both traditional philosophical tools and recent psychological research to investigate folk understandings of race, Glasgow argues that, as ordinarily conceived, race is an illusion. However, our pressing need to speak to and make sense of social life (...) requires that we employ something like racial discourse. These competing pressures, Glasgow maintains, ultimately require us to stop conceptualizing race as something biological, and instead understand it as an entirely social phenomenon. (shrink)
An analysis of 'racism' in terms of disrespect. This article argues against the views that racism should be understood in reductive ways as, variously, an attitude of ill-will (Jorge Garcia), a cognitive object such as ideology (Tommie Shelby), a behavior (Michael Philips), or some disjunctive hybrid (Lawrence Blum). In fact, it argues that racism should be conceptually released from having any one location. The disrespect analysis favored here can accommodate a variety of important desiderata for a theory of racism.
In the debate over the reality of race, a three-way dispute has become entrenched: race is biologically real, socially real, or simply not real. These three theses have each enjoyed increasingly sophisticated defenses over roughly the past thirty years, but we argue here that this debate contains a lacuna: there is a fourth, mostly neglected, position that we call ‘basic racial realism.’ Basic racial realism says that though race is neither biologically real nor socially real, it is real all the (...) same. Our goal is to establish this theory's credentials and provide it with initial support. It appears to be in a strong dialectical position and to nicely capture what many want from a theory of race. (shrink)
We ordinarily think that, keeping all else equal, a life that improves is better than one that declines. However, it has proven challenging to account for such value judgments: some, such as Fred Feldman and Daniel Kahneman, have simply denied that these judgments are rational, while others, such as Douglas Portmore, Michael Slote, and David Velleman, have proposed justifications for the judgments that appear to be incomplete or otherwise problematic. This article identifies problems with existing accounts and suggests a novel (...) alternative theory: what best accounts for our preference for an uphill over a downhill life (and many other episodes) is that losses of momentary value are themselves bad and gains in momentary value are themselves good. (shrink)
Expressivist theories of punishment received largely favorable treatment in the 1980s and 1990s. Perhaps predictably, the 2000s saw a slew of critical rejections of the view. It is now becoming evident that, while several objections to expressivism have found their way into print, three concerns are proving particularly popular. So the time is right for a big picture assessment. What follows is an attempt to show that these three dominant objections are not decisive reasons to give up the most plausible (...) forms of the view. Moreover, in addition to the three common objections, expressivism has an acknowledged question mark concerning whether the value of punitive expression outweighs its drawbacks. Here I also map out some promising avenues that the expressivist can take to answer this question. (shrink)
Many hold that ordinary race-thinking in the USA is committed to the 'one-drop rule', that race is ordinarily represented in terms of essences, and that race is ordinarily represented as a biological (phenotype- and/or ancestry-based, non-social) kind. This study investigated the extent to which ordinary race-thinking subscribes to these commitments. It also investigated the relationship between different conceptions of race and racial attitudes. Participants included 449 USA adults who completed an Internet survey. Unlike previous research, conceptions of race were assessed (...) using concrete vignettes. Results indicate widespread rejection of the one-drop rule, as well as the use of a complex combination of ancestral, phenotypic, and social (and, therefore, non-essentialist) criteria for racial classification. No relationship was found between racial attitudes and essentialism, the one-drop rule, or social race-thinking; however, ancestry-based and phenotype-based classification criteria were associated with racial attitudes. These results suggest a complicated relationship between conceptions of race and racial attitudes. (shrink)
Supervenience has provided a way for nonreductive materialists to explain how the mental can be physically irreducible but still physically respectable. In recent years, doubts about this research program have emerged from a number of quarters. Consequently, Terence Horgan has argued that nonreductive materialists must appeal to an upgraded "superdupervenience," if supervenience is to do any materialist work. We argue that nonreductive materialism cannot meet this challenge. Superdupervenience is impossible.
In this debate-format book, four philosophers--Joshua Glasgow, Sally Haslanger, Chike Jeffers, and Quayshawn Spencer--articulate contrasting views on race. Each author presents a distinct viewpoint on what race is, and then replies to the others, offering theories that are clear and accessible to undergraduates, lay readers, and non-specialists, as well as other philosophers of race.
Analyzing racial concepts has become an important task in the philosophy of race. Aside from any inherent interest that might be found in the meanings of racial terms, these meanings also can spell the doom or deliverance of competing ontological and normative theories about race. One of the most pressing questions about race at present is the normative question of whether race should be eliminated from, or conserved in, public discourse and practice. This normative question is often answered in part (...) by appealing to the ontological status of race: if race is an illusion, then it should be eliminated, and if it is real, then it can be conserved. 1 Thus, for.. (shrink)
Recently the idea that race is biologically real has gained more traction. One argument against this claim is that the populations identified by science do not sufficiently map onto the concept of race as deployed in the relevant racial discourse, namely folk racial discourse. Call that concept the concept of race-f. Robin Andreasen (2005) argues that this "mismatch" criticism fails, on a variety of grounds including: ordinary folk semantically defer to scientists; scientists can disagree about facts; historians disagree about the (...) origins of the term 'race'; 'race' has had a diversity of meanings; some of those meanings privileges geography over visible traits; and that the scientific definition of 'race' is autonomous from the folk definition of 'race.' It is argued here that all of these responses to the mismatch criticism do not succeed, and that the last in fact vindicates it. Similar arguments to the last, autonomy argument, are also examined. (shrink)
Moral phenomenology has enjoyed a resurgence lately, and within the field, a trend has emerged: uniform rejection of the idea that the experience of making ‘direct’ moral judgments has any phenomenal essence, that is, any phenomenal property or properties that are always present and that distinguish these experiences from experiences of making non-direct- moral judgments. This article examines existing arguments for this anti-essentialism and finds them wanting. While acknowledging that phenomenological reflection is an unstable pursuit, it is maintained here that (...) phenomenological essentialism about a certain domain of direct moral judgment, namely direct judgment of obligation and prohibition, is more credible than has been recognized. The positive proposal is to rehabilitate something close to Maurice Mandelbaum’s essentialism, specifically to maintain that direct moral judgment ’s phenomenal essence is arguably its felt categorical demand. The key to making this argument is to assume a ‘rich view’ of moral consciousness, the view that phenomenal features of moral judgment might be present even when they are not attended to. This assumption is controversial, but it is warranted by two considerations. First, though controversial, the rich view is intuitively plausible. Second, it reveals that the existing arguments against the kind of essentialism defended here appear to tacitly presuppose an equally controversial – and arguably less intuitive – rejection of the rich view. (shrink)
Despite all the attention given to Kants universalizability tests, one crucial aspect of Kants thought is often overlooked. Attention to this issue, I will argue, helps us resolve two serious problems for Kants ethics. Put briefly, the first problem is this: Kant, despite his stated intent to the contrary, doesnt seem to use universalization in arguing for duties to oneself, and, anyway, it is not at all clear why duties to oneself should be grounded on a procedure that envisions a (...) world in which everyone wills the contrary of those duties. The second, more global problem is that if we follow Barbara Herman in holding that Kantian ethics can provide a structure for moral deliberation, we need an interpretation of the universalization procedure that unproblematically allows it to generate something like prima facie duties to guide that deliberation; but it is not at all clear that we have such an interpretation. I argue here that if we expand our limited way of thinking about universalization, we can solve the first problem and work towards a solution to the second. We can begin by recalling that Kants Law of Nature formulation (FLN) of the Categorical Imperative obligates us to act as if the maxim of your action were to become by your will a universal law of nature (G, 421). (shrink)
It is widely thought that we have good reason to try to be important. Being important or doing significant things is supposed to add value to our lives. In particular, it is supposed to make our lives exceptionally meaningful. This essay develops an alternative view. After exploring what importance is and how it might relate to meaning in life, a series of cases are presented to validate the perspective that being important adds no meaning to our lives. The meaningful life (...) does need valuable projects, activities, and relationships. But no added meaning is secured by those projects, activities, and relationships being especially significant. The extraordinary life has no more meaning than the ordinary life. (shrink)
Contemporary Kant scholarship generally takes 'humanity' in Kant's ethical writings to refer to beings with rational capacities. However, his claims that only the good will has unqualified goodness and that humanity is unconditionally valuable suggests that humanity might be the good will. This problem seems to have infiltrated some prominent scholarship, and Richard Dean has recently argued that, in fact, humanity is indeed the good will. This paper defends, and tries to make sense of, the more conventional view that humanity (...) and the good will are distinct. (shrink)
Social constructionists about race frequently hold that race does not travel, that race is socially constructed, and that racial passing is possible. Ron Mallon has argued that these three principles cannot be consistently held at once. This article argues otherwise.
In this paper we argue that our conception of and intuitions about paradoxes are themselves paradoxical. Specifically, we argue that our commitment to the existence and nature of paradoxes is inconsistent with a norm of rationality—which is a paradox.
Is there a benefit to dying around 75 or 80 years old? Ezekiel Emmanuel argues that there is, but his reasoning is dubious. However it is argued here that Emmanuel is right that there is another benefit in store for the adult children of the one who dies.
Constructivists holds that social facts are what make race. One prominent version of this view is historical: it claims that historical social facts make race. Famously, this view has been accused (by Appiah) of being circular or (as emphasized by Gooding-Williams) redundant. Recently historicalism has been defended against this view by Paul Taylor and Jorge Gracia. It is argued here that these defenses only work at the cost of making historicalism indeterminate.
Sometimes we descriptively name that which we condemn. “Hate crime” is such a name: it not only identifies the crime, it also refers to what we think is morally unique about the crime—its hatefulness morally sets it apart from other actions. On one theory of terrorism, “terrorism” is a similar name. What is morally special about terrorism, according to this view, is built right into the name itself: it aims to terrorize. C all this the straightforward analysis of terrorism. The (...) straightforward view is inconsistent with a number of recent attempts to identify what, if anything, is morally distinctive about terrorism. Some are skeptical that terrorism really should be thought of as morally unique, on the grounds that its morally relevant properties are exhausted by more general qualities, such as causing harm, being coercive, or violating autonomy. David Rodin, for example, believes that there is no morally relevant quality typically displayed by terrorism that is not also found in acts of conventional war. Others do think that terrorism is morally distinctive, but they nonetheless conclude that its morally distinctive feature is something other than its aim of producing fear. For example, we will see below that Robert Goodin, Jeff McMahan, and Samuel Scheffler maintain that the morally distinctive feature of terrorism is not the aiming to cause fear itself, but an intention to use that fear to bring about certain further effects. For Scheffler the unique problem lies in terrorism’s use of fear to undermine order in the society that the terrorist targets; for Goodin it is the terrorist’s use of fear for sociopolitical ends that is especially troubling; McMahan, finally, holds that the morally special aspect of terrorism is that it is the intentional harming of innocent people in order to intimidate and coerce others. (shrink)
Mourning the loss of loved ones can be one of the hardest things we go through. But what if we changed the way we thought about it, and learned to find positive value in death as part of life? This book examines how we can take solace in the fact that we and our loved ones will die, surprising or impossible as that may seem. Along the way, it investigates the nature of gratitude, how good and bad relate, and enduring (...) theories surrounding death. Based on philosopher Joshua Glasgow's experience confronting his mother's battle with cancer, and his search for a meaningful, comforting way to think about it, the book will appeal to readers who confront the loss of loved ones and those who worry about their own death--in other words, everyone. (shrink)
Kant's ethics is traditionally categorized and defended as deontological. Recent scholarship has left this tradition, arguing variously that Kantians should leave deontology behind, or that Kant had a teleological ethics, or that the best Kantian position is a consequentialist one. In this dissertation, I articulate and defend a middle path between these interpretations and defenses. I argue that Kant's ethics is, and Kantian ethics ought to be, a value-based deontology. In Part One, I argue that contrary to conventional discussion, deontology (...) can be value-based. In Part Two, I interpret Kant's ethics as a value-based deontology, and I defend it as such, both against the traditional and more contemporary alternates. Finally, in Part Three, I defend Kantian value-based deontology from various attacks that might be posed against it. (shrink)