Open Access: What if it doesn’t get better? Against more hopeful and optimistic views that it is not just ideal but possible to put an end to what John Rawls calls “the great evils of human history,” I aver that when it comes to evils caused by human beings, the situation is hopeless. We are better off with the heavy knowledge that evils recur than we are with idealizations of progress, perfection, and completeness; an appropriate ethic for living with such (...) heavy knowledge, which I call an ‘Imperfectionist Ethic,’ could include resisting evils, improving the lives of victims, and even enjoying ourselves. Better conceptions of the objects of hope, and the good life, inform a praxis-centered, nonideal ethic, supportive of sustained moral motivation, resilience, and even cheer. I connect elements of stoic and pessimistic philosophy in order to outline some normative recommendations for living with evils. A praxis-centered ethic would helpfully adjust our expectations from changing an uncontrollable future, to developing better skills for living in a world that exceeds our control. (shrink)
Online shaming is a subject of import for social philosophy in the Internet age, and not simply because shaming seems generally bad. I argue that social philosophers are well-placed to address the imaginal relationships we entertain when we engage in social media; activity in cyberspace results in more relationships than one previously had, entailing new and more responsibilities, and our relational behaviors admit of ethical assessment. I consider the stresses of social media, including the indefinite expansion of our relationships and (...) responsibilities, and the gap between the experiences of those shamed and the shamers’ appreciation of the magnitude of what they do when they shame; I connect these to the literature suggesting that some intuitions fail to guide our ethics. I conclude that we each have more power than we believe we do or than we think carefully about exerting in our online imaginal relations. Whether we are the shamers or the shamed, we are unable to control the extent to which intangible words in cyberspace take the form of imaginal relationships that burden or brighten our self-perceptions. (shrink)
Open Access: Appreciating the relationship of the living to our dead is an aspect of human life that seems to be neglected in philosophy. I argue that living individuals can have ongoing, non-imaginary, valuable relationships with deceased loved ones. This is important to establish because arguments for such relationships better generate claims in applied ethics about our conduct with respect to our dead. In the first half of the paper I advance the narrower claim that psychological literature affirmative of “imaginal (...) relationships” with the dead is relevant to philosophical literature on metaphysical arguments for the dead as relata. The relevance of those psychological insights to philosophers’ metaphysical insights matters for understanding the value of relationships with deceased loved ones. In the second half of the paper I advance the wider claim that the importance of one’s most dearly held relationships with living individuals is best explained in terms of imaginal content, as well; in other words, some interpersonal relationships between the living are personally important because of their imaginal content. Once we appreciate this, it is clearer why recognizably real, imaginally informed relationships with the living are not necessarily cut off on the day someone dies, and permit the possibilities for ethical activities including forgiving the dead, honoring the dead, and carrying out their wishes after they are gone. (shrink)
Philosophers generally prescribe against complaining, or endorse only complaints directed to rectification of the circumstances. Notably, Aristotle and Kant aver that the importuning of others with one’s pains is effeminate and should never be done. In this paper, I reject the prohibition of complaint. The gendered aspects of Aristotle’s and Kant’s criticisms of complaint include their deploring a self-indulgent "softness" with respect to pain, yielding to feelings at the expense of remembering one’s duties to others and one’s own self-respect. I (...) argue that complaining may also take the form of mindful attention to shared suffering. A complainer may observe affective duties, such as commiseration and invitations to disclose pains. Against more contemporary views that justify only constructive complaints directed to change, I suggest that quotidian, unconstructive complaining sometimes fulfills important social functions, including the amelioration of loneliness and affective solidarity, for the sake of others as well as oneself. (shrink)
The inclusion of more women’s works on introductory syllabi in philosophy has been suggested as one possible strategy to increase the proportion of philosophers that are female. Objections to this strategy often reflect the assumption that attention to the identity of authors is irrelevant to philosophy and detrimental to other pedagogical goals such as fairly and accurately representing the canon, and offering selections on the basis of their philosophical quality rather than the identities of their authors. I suggest the extent (...) to which one perceives it important to include women on introductory syllabi, one’s “gender perception,” may be affected by one’s largely unconscious, and unchosen, habits of moral perception; I appeal to Peggy DesAutel’s distinction between two types of moral perceiver to suggest that the differences between advocates and critics of more inclusive curriculum are not merely differences in values, but reflect fundamental and unchosen biases which result in receptivity to different considerations as to the reasons to change the way we introduce philosophy to newcomers. I provide evidence that inclusive curriculum may benefit all students, and suggest alternative approaches to representing the importance of those benefits to philosophers whose habits of moral perception may incline them to receptivity to principled rules and fairness rather than affective considerations. (shrink)
Our experiences with many sorts of evils yield debates about the role of forgiveness as a possible moral response. These debates include (1) the preliminary question whether evils are, by definition, unforgivable, (2) the contention that evils may be forgivable but that forgiveness cannot entail reconciliation with one’s evildoer, (3) the concern that only direct victims of evils are in a position to decide if forgiveness is appropriate, (4) the conceptual worry that forgiveness of evil may not be genuine or (...) complete if hard feelings recur, (5) the interest of many in holding that forgiveness is never required, and (6) the concern that analyses of evil ought to prioritize the suffering, and credit the perspectives, of victims of evils, in tension with the possibility that forgiveness concerns the well-being of offenders. In this paper, I critically evaluate these concerns from the perspective of nonideal theory. I conclude that crediting victims’ perspectives is importantly basic to empirically informed moral theory, and that objections to forgiveness including (1) evil’s unforgivability ignore victims’ differing accounts. When we take actualities and experiences to be informative and central, some of the usual debates become less pressing, perhaps even moot. (shrink)
Our attitudes toward human culpability for environmental problems have moral and emotional import, influencing our basic capacities for believing cooperative action and environmental repair are even possible. In this paper, I suggest that having the virtue of forgivingness as a response to environmental harm is generally good for moral character, preserving us from morally risky varieties of pessimism and despair. I define forgivingness as a forward-looking disposition based on Robin Dillon’s conception of preservative forgiveness, a preparation to be deeply and (...) abidingly accepting yet expecting human error. As with other virtues, however, preservative forgiveness is available to some of us more than others; in the second half of this paper, I consider the deep challenge posed by rational pessimism, especially on the part of those who have been given many reasons not to hope for the very moral improvements for which they strive. I conclude that for those of us with the power roles and personal resources especially conducive to environmental activism, preservative forgiveness inclines us to remain engaged in environmental activism with fellow flawed human beings, recognizing our own mutual depredations while committing us to cooperatively respond. (shrink)
Forgiveness has enjoyed intense scholarly interest since the 1980s. I provide a historical overview, then identify themes in the literature, with an emphasis on those relevant to the moral psychology of forgiveness in the twenty-first century. I conclude with some attention to dual-process theories of moral reasoning in order to suggest that key debates in forgiveness are not at odds so much as they may be aligned with the different moral aims of moral and mental processes that differ in kind. (...) I argue for the view that the moral aims of forgiveness are multiple, following scholars who maintain a multidimensional account of forgiveness with a focus on the functions of forgiveness in relationships and the importance of forgiveness to its practitioners rather than a unified definition or justification that applies to all moral occasions. (shrink)
Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac emphasizes values of receptivity and perceptivity that appear to be mutually reinforcing, critical to an ecological conscience, and cultivatable through concrete and embodied experience. His priorities bear striking similarities to elements of the ethics of care elaborated by feminist philosophers, especially Nel Noddings, who notably recommended receptivity, direct and personal experience, and even shared Leopold’s attentiveness to joy and play as sources of moral motivation. These commonalities are so fundamental that ecofeminists can and should (...) see Leopold as a philosophical ally. The three ecofeminist scholars who have devoted the most concerted attention to Leopold’s work argue that his Land Ethic is not, and does not provide a basis for, an ecofeminist ethic. I dispute the main criticisms of these scholars, and conclude that ecofeminists should attend more often to Leopold’s work, which extends possibilities for excellent praxis. (shrink)
Existing accounts of meaning in reproductive contexts, especially those put forward in debates concerning abortion, tend to focus on the (moral) status of the fetus. This issue on miscarriage, pregnancy loss, and fetal death accomplishes a shift this conversation, in the direction of pushing past embryo-centric value judgments. To put it bluntly, the miscarried embryo is not the one who has to live with the experience. The essays in this special issue are a significant addition to the scarce literature on (...) miscarriage and fetal death. Contributions are from specialists in continental and analytical philosophy, feminism, bioethics, theoretical and applied ethics, social and political philosophy, social epistemology and philosophy of language, narrative, aesthetics, popular culture, and gender studies. As guest editors, we sought to offer a variety of approaches to the topic, to further the understanding of miscarriage and fetal death as important to many areas of philosophy, especially social philosophy. We suggest that the unchosenness and invisibility of miscarriage are central to its seeming irrelevance to social identities and social norms of testimony, recognition, and ascription of significance to experiences. (shrink)
With David Cooper and others, I argue that it is conceptually and ethically good to broaden the conception of misanthropy beyond that of hatred of humans. However, I hold that not everyone with misanthropic thoughts is a misanthrope. I propose thinking of a misanthrope as one who appraises the moral perception of misanthropy to be appropriate, weighty, and governing of other aspects of one’s moral outlook or character. I conclude that pessimism without misanthropy may be more ethically appropriate for some (...) of us with misanthropic thoughts who wish to reject the identity of a misanthrope. (shrink)
Open Access: I rely on Nel Noddings’ analysis of receptivity as "an essential component of intellectual work," to argue that receptivity is a virtue of argumentation, practicing the principle of charity excellently for the sake of an author and their philosophical community. The deficiency of receptivity is epitomized by the philosopher who listens to attack. The excess of receptivity is the vice of insufficiently critical acceptance of an author regardless of the merits of an argument.
I rely on Nel Noddings’ analysis of receptivity as "an essential component of intellectual work," to argue that receptivity is a virtue of argumentation, practicing the principle of charity excellently for the sake of an author and their philosophical community. The deficiency of receptivity is epitomized by the philosopher who listens to attack. The excess of receptivity is the vice of insufficiently critical acceptance of an author regardless of the merits of an argument.
(In The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy and Psychology of Forgiveness, edited by Glen Pettigrove and Robert Enright) This chapter discusses forgiveness conceived as primarily a volitional commitment, rather than an emotional transformation. As a commitment, forgiveness is distal, involving moral agency over time, and can take the form of a speech act or a chosen attitude. The purpose can be a commitment to repair or restore relationships with wrongdoers for their sake or the sake of the relationship, usually by forswearing (...) one’s hostile attitudes toward a particular wrongdoing; the commitment may also be to oneself for one’s own sake, to be a person with a virtue of forgivingness. It can be incident-specific, that is, a response to a particular occasion of harm, or a forward-looking disposition, an aim to cultivate the habit of being a forgiving person in advance. The enabling conditions of forgivingness as a virtue may be more basic master virtues including integrity and humility, motivations that also underpin commitments to be unforgiving, so this chapter concludes with some careful consideration of the ethics of unforgivingness to others, and the commitment to be unforgiving of oneself. (shrink)
Open Access: Social media participation undermines individual autonomy in ways that ought to concern ethicists. Discussions in the philosophical literature are concerned primarily with egregious conduct online such as harassment and shaming, keeping the focus on obvious ills to which no one could consent; this prevents a wider understanding of the risks and harms of quotidian social media participation. Two particular concerns occupy me: social media participation carries the risks of (1) negatively formative experiences and (2) continuous partial attention due (...) to our habituation to the variable rewards that social media platforms provide. Although social media offer benefits as well as risks, self-knowledge of whether one benefits more than one suffers from one’s social media participation is vexed by the very processes involved in participating. We are not as free to leave social media as we are to enter. I conclude with a consideration and rejection of the objections that the ubiquity of the practice indicates implied consent to risks, and that users of social media can simply choose not to use such communication technologies at all. I argue that we cannot be said to consent to enter into social media usage meaningfully, even implicitly, and we do not all have equally easy options to avoid the contexts that provide the stimuli of persistent desires. (shrink)
The inclusion of attendance and participation in course grade calculations is ubiquitous in postsecondary syllabi, but can penalize the silent or anxious student unfairly. I outline the obstacles posed by social anxiety, then describe an assignment developed with the twin goals of assisting students with obstacles to participating in spoken class discussions, and rewarding methods of participation other than oral interaction. When homework assignments habituating practices of writing well-justified questions regarding well-documented passages in reading assignments are the explicit project of (...) weekly class meetings, participation increases on the part of all students. My focus shifted away from concern that I must get students to talk more, and turned instead to ensuring their marks reflected their learning rather than their speaking. Students’ improved engagement as a result of the assignment bears out evidence in the literature for active learning and for alternatives to taking attendance and quantifying participation. (shrink)
In Against Purity, Alexis Shotwell takes up a multiplicity of tasks with respect to what I think of as non-ideal ethical theory. In what follows, I trace the relationship of her work to that of non-ideal theorists whose work influences mine. Then, more critically, I probe her analysis of gender voluntarism in Chapter 5, “Practicing Freedom: Disability and Gender Transformation,” partly to better understand what she takes it to be, and partly to advance a cautious defense of some of the (...) moral functions of individualistic performances of gender voluntarism that non-ideal theory leads me to value. I conclude that my interest in retaining a positive account of individualistic gender voluntarism as a form of resistance to a hostile world is due to my tendency to take non-ideal theory as a recommendation for some pessimism, whereas Shotwell’s similar commitments turn out to inform her more optimistic philosophy. (shrink)
“I am still in despair over losing my identity,” said a blog comment in a discussion about post-menopause weight gain. Instead of recovering an identity, for some of us, as women age, our attitudes toward fitness may require forging new identities. But the challenge in coming to desire fitness, post-menopause, is a project of actually changing my desires. Habituating a good practice can lead to a change in our appetites, so that instead of losing our identities, we may become the (...) characters that we set goals to be. (shrink)
I argue that humans have moral relationships with dogs and cats that they could adopt, but do not. The obligations of those of us who refrain from incurring particular relationships with dogs and cats are correlative with the power of persons with what Jean Harvey calls “interactive power,” the power to take the initiative in and direct the course of a relationship. I connect Harvey’s points about interactive power to my application of Eva Kittay’s “dependency critique,” to show that those (...) of us who refrain from incurring particular relationships of dependency rely on caregivers in our communities and regions to fulfill the moral and social demands that an abundance of unowned companionable animals makes on the community. (shrink)
I offer a brief survey of thematic elements in contemporary literature on forgiveness and then an overview of the responses to that literature comprising the contents of this volume. I concentrate on the extent to which work in moral psychology provides a needed corrective to some excesses in philosophical aversion to empirically informed theorizing. I aim to complicate what has been referred to at times as the standard or classic view, by which philosophers often mean the predominant view of forgiveness (...) in the first half of the thirty-year boom in contemporary philosophy of forgiveness. I conclude by enjoining philosophers to further consider psychological contexts in which forgiveness may be seen primarily as a commitment rather than primarily as an emotional state. (shrink)
Open Access: This essay argues that Claudia Card numbers among important contributors to nonideal ethical theory, and it advocates for the worth of NET. Following philosophers including Lisa Tessman and Charles Mills, the essay contends that it is important for ethical theory, and for feminist purposes, to carry forward the interrelationship that Mills identifies between nonideal theory and feminist ethics. Card's ethical theorizing assists in understanding that interrelationship. Card's philosophical work includes basic elements of NET indicated by Tessman, Mills, and (...) others, and further offers two important and neglected elements to other nonideal ethical theorists: her rejection of the “administrative point of view,” and her focus on “intolerable harms” as forms of “extreme moral stress” and obstacles to excellent ethical lives. The essay concludes that Card's insights are helpful to philosophers in developing nonideal ethical theory as a distinctive contribution to, and as a subset of, nonideal theory. (shrink)
Open Access: Trudy Govier (FR) argues for “conditional unforgivability,” yet avers that we should never give up on a human being. She not only says it is justifiable to take a “hopeful and respectful attitude” toward one’s wrongdoers, she indicates that it is wrong not to; she says it is objectionable to adopt an attitude that any individual is “finally irredeemable” or “could never change,” because such an attitude “anticipates and communicates the worst” (137). Govier’s recommendation to hold a hopeful (...) attitude seems to follow from one’s knowing that an appropriate object of unforgivability is also an agent capable of moral transformation. I appeal to Blake Myers-Schultz’s and Eric Schwitzgebels’ account of knowledge without belief, and Schwitzgebels’ account of attitudes, to argue that a victim’s knowledge that a wrongdoer has the capacities of a moral agent does not entail belief in the possibility that a wrongdoer will exercise those moral capacities, nor does knowledge of a wrongdoer’s moral capacities entail hopeful attitudes toward the prospects of an individual wrongdoer’s moral transformation. I conclude that what victims can hope for should not be that which victims are held to as a moral minimum. (shrink)
Glen Pettigrove's work enlarges my own thinking on forgiveness. In this review, I argue for even more attention to some philosophical connections that I suggest he neglects. But it is undeniably the case that Pettigrove advances a new view of forgiveness, taking the results of his analysis of the utterance, “I forgive you,” to inform a “broader definition that encompasses a wider range of experiences” than are accommodated by predominant conceptions of forgiveness as an emotional state (151). Philosophers interested in (...) moral emotions and moral practices should read this book in order to have a fuller sense of the state of forgiveness studies and the possibilities for thinking about forgiveness in its many manifestations. Philosophers who are already very familiar with the literature on forgiveness will find that Pettigrove takes up exceptionally detailed discussion of forgiveness as it relates to understanding, love, grace, gratitude, and desert. (shrink)
This collection of previously published essays by Cheshire Calhoun, with an original introduction, supplies an absorbing assemblage of some well-known and some lesser-known essays that hang together remarkably well. The overall effect is that of a robust and provocative approach to ethical theory. Calhoun builds a persuasive case for morality as an enterprise constituted as much by social practices as by abstract theorizing. Calhoun's is not merely the position that moral theory has feasibility constraints when applied. On the contrary, she (...) offers these essays as multiple viewing angles on her position that, "absent a social practice, there is no morality, although there might be moral knowledge" (13). Conventionally, we conceive of morality as a correct action guide, a theory that aims for accuracy in an attempt to "get it right," which we then carry into application in the world. Calhoun argues that our critically reflective aim of theorizing toward accuracy supervenes on -- and often unwittingly presumes -- the backdrop of a social practice of morality (17). (shrink)
Holmgren’s position is that the attitudes of forgiveness and compassion, when achieved by requisite moral and emotional work through other feelings, are always appropriate responses to wrongdoing, regardless of any conditions a wrongdoer may meet or fail to meet. In this review I disagree with her arguments for unconditional forgiveness. But one need not agree with her to appreciate Holmgren’s attentive reasoning as she maps the architecture of the field of forgiveness and her place in with lucidity and usually, but (...) not always, accuracy, as I explain. (shrink)
In this paper, we contextualize Claudia Card's work on forgiveness within wider literatures on forgiveness. With Card, we emphasize the costs of forgiveness and the sufferings of victims, and suggest alternatives to forgiving evils. Women who live in particularly unsafe contexts require recognition more than reconciliation. We conclude that those who forgive evil also require recognition that respects the choices of forgiving agents, seeing their decisions as relevant to conceptual analysis about forgiveness.
Early in _The Atrocity Paradigm_, Claudia Card briefly defends the idea that one can inflict evil on oneself. In this paper, I extend the work Card begins on self-inflicted evils, especially with attention to self-forgiveness. Following the work of philosophers of trauma, I argue that the fragmented nature of the self, especially the traumatized self, is one which supports and enables the possibilities of self-inflicted evil and self-forgiveness. The fragmented self is also the source of obstacles to self-forgiveness, which Card's (...) considerations of interpersonal forgiveness are helpful in elucidating. (shrink)
This volume considers challenges to forgiveness in the most difficult circumstances, such as in criminal justice contexts, when the victim is dead or when bystanders disagree, and when anger and resentment seem preferable and important. Contributing philosophers include Myisha Cherry, Jonathan Jacobs, Barrett Emerick, Alice MacLachlan, David McNaughton and Eve Garrard. Contributing psychologists include Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Robert D. Enright and Mary Jacqueline Song, C. Ward Struthers, Joshua Guilfoyle, Careen Khoury, Elizabeth van Monsjou, Joni Sasaki, Curtis Phills, Rebecca Young, and Zdravko (...) Marjanovic. (shrink)
This article considers the experiences of a group of women science students of color who reported encountering moral injustices, including misrecognition, lack of peer support, and disregard for their altruistic motives. We contend that university science departments face a moral imperative to cultivate equal relationships and the altruistic power of science.
The author develops her account of Claudia Card's ethical work as nonideal ethical theory (NET). She clarifies Card's role in ethical theorizing of the recent past, partly in order to brief the unfamiliar reader on Card's ethics and nonideal theory, and partly to enter Card's contributions into the story of nonideal theory's emergence in philosophy. She then recommends, to other NET philosophers, the prioritization of (i) Card's rejection of the "administrative point of view", and (ii) Card's focus on "intolerable harms" (...) as critical to excellent ethical theorizing. She ends with the observation that NET may helpfully point toward reasons to take a pessimistic stance toward moral progress as elaborated in some classic texts in political philosophy; her appreciation of Card's insights yields a variety of pessimism that Card herself did not share. (shrink)
Summary: An introduction to this special issue of Hypatia, in which feminist philosophers analyze, critically engage, and extend several predominant ideas in the work of Claudia Card. Authors in this collection include Lisa Tessman, Marilyn Friedman, Hilde Lindemann, Sheryl Tuttle Ross, Joan Callahan, David Concepción, Kathryn Norlock and Jean Rumsey (co-authors), Linda Bell, Samantha Brennan, and Victoria Davion.
In this dissertation, I argue that a feminist and multidimensional account of forgiveness must take seriously our everyday experience with forgiving, and the nature of the power relationship in which forgiver and forgiven stand. According to my model, forgiveness is a moral act with at least two dimensions, namely the choice to take up, or take seriously, a new attitude toward one's wrongdoer for moral reasons and the performative utterance to the wrongdoer of one's making this choice. It is my (...) position that and are distinct, that either can be discussed as a discreet occasion of forgiveness separately from the other, and the ethical recommendations regarding one of these dimensions can be discussed apart from ethical recommendations regarding the other. ;Mainstream accounts of forgiveness inadequately consider that forgiveness inevitably involves one's relationship with another, and that women and men have disparate experience with forgiveness in their often unequal relations. I argue for a feminist framework which holds we are constituted by our relations , and attends to women's experience with this traditionally feminine virtue. I argue that the statement, "I forgive you," is itself an instance of forgiveness; it is what J. L. Austin calls a performative utterance because more than reporting, truly or falsely, how one feels, saying "I forgive you" performs an act that sets something new in motion, and changes the relation between wrongdoer and victim. I argue for the logical possibility of third-party forgiveness , by which I mean the act of forgiving a wrongdoer for wrongs done to someone other than the forgiving agent. Although 3PF is not a substitute for the forgiveness of victims, it plays an important role in our relationships with the wrongdoers of those with whom we identify. I conclude that both third-party and group forgiveness, like the forgiveness of victims, can be ethically problematic but powerful moral acts. (shrink)