Over the last several years, as cesarean deliveries have grown increasingly common, there has been a great deal of public and professional interest in the phenomenon of women 'choosing' to deliver by cesarean section in the absence of any specific medical indication. The issue has sparked intense conversation, as it raises questions about the nature of autonomy in birth. Whereas mainstream bioethical discourse is used to associating autonomy with having a large array of choices, this conception of autonomy does not (...) seem adequate to capture concerns and intuitions that have a strong grip outside this discourse. An empirical and conceptual exploration of how delivery decisions ought to be negotiated must be guided by a rich understanding of women's agency and its placement within a complicated set of cultural meanings and pressures surrounding birth. It is too early to be 'for' or 'against' women's access to cesarean delivery in the absence of traditional medical indications – and indeed, a simple pro- or con- position is never going to do justice to the subtlety of the issue. The right question is not whether women ought to be allowed to choose their delivery approach but, rather, taking the value of women's autonomy in decision-making around birth as a given, what sorts of guidelines, practices, and social conditions will best promote and protect women's full inclusion in a safe and positive birth process. (shrink)
This collection of essays by American philosopher Alain Locke makes readily available for the first time his important writings on cultural pluralism, value relativism, and critical relativism. As a black philosopher early in this century, Locke was a pioneer: having earned both undergraduate and doctoral degrees at Harvard, he was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, studied at the University of Berlin, and chaired the Philosophy Department at Howard University for almost four decades. He was perhaps best known as a leading (...) figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Locke’s works in philosophy—many previously unpublished—conceptually frame the Harlem Renaissance and New Negro movement and provide an Afro-American critique of pragmatism and value absolutism, and also offer a view of identity, communicative competency, and contextualism. In addition, his major works on the nature of race, race relations, and the role of race-conscious literature are presented to demonstrate the application of his philosophy. Locke’s commentaries on the major philosophers of his day, including James, Royce, Santayana, Perry, and Ehrenfels help tell the story of his relationship to his former teachers and his theoretical affinities. In his substantial Introduction and interpretive concluding chapter, Leonard Harris describes Locke’s life, evaluates his role as an American philosopher and theoretician of the Harlem Renaissance, situates him in the pragmatist tradition, and outlines his affinities with modern deconstructionist ideas. A chronology of the philosopher’s life and bibliography of his works are also provided. Although much has been written about Alain Locke, this is the first book to focus on his philosophical contributions. (shrink)
I am a Walkerite. David Walker (1796– 97/1830), born in Wilmington, Delaware, to a free mother and a slave father, inherited his mother’s status as free. Walker witnessed the misery of slavery in his native state and during his various travels in the South, including one episode where a son was forced to whip his mother until she died. He settled in Boston in the 1820’s where he established a secondhand clothing business and became the most noted abolitionist in Boston, (...) associating with the abolitionist groups Prince Hall Freemasonry, Massachusetts General Colored Association and the newspaper, Freedom’s Journal. In 1929, he published the first of three editions of his APPEAL, IN FOUR ARTICLES; together with A .. (shrink)
Locke consistently argues for the importance of cosmopolitan identity, i.e., cultural-citizenship. Paradoxically, he also argues for the importance of particular, local, and racial/ethnic identities. People have a natural instinct that Locke terms a consciousness of kind, to bond with persons in relatively closed communities. Communities are not natural social groups for Locke, but historical social constructions. I argue that Locke''s ethical and conceptual paradox is revolved by considering the relationship between instincts and particular social groups as asymmetrical; that groups are (...) inherently constructed, and thus require continual revaluation. Particular communities are, at best, Gemeinschaft. (shrink)
Charles Mills makes visible in the world of mainstream philosophy some of the crucial issues of the black experience. Ralph Ellison's metaphor of black invisibility has special relevance to philosophy, whose demographic and conceptual "whiteness" has long been a source of wonder and complaint to racial minorities. Mills points out the absence of any philosophical narrative theorizing and detailing race's centrality to the recent history of the West, such as feminists have articulated for gender domination. European expansionism in its various (...) forms, Mills contends, generates a social ontology of race that warrants philosophical attention. Through expropriation, settlement, slavery, and colonialism, race comes into existence as simultaneously real and unreal: ontological without being biological, metaphysical without being physical, existential without being essential, shaping one's being without being in one's shape. His essays explore the contrasting sums of a white and black modernity, examine standpoint epistemology and the metaphysics of racial identity, look at black-Jewish relations and racial conspiracy theories, map the workings of a white-supremacist polity and the contours of a racist moral consciousness, and analyze the presuppositions of Frederick Douglass's famous July 4 prognosis for black political inclusion. Collectively they demonstrate what exciting new philosophical terrain can be opened up once the color line in western philosophy is made visible and addressed. (shrink)
To Vallortigara & Rogers's (V&R's) evidence of everyday directional asymmetries in the natural environment of a variety of species, we offer one more example for human beings. It is the bias for holding an infant on the left side, and it illustrates several themes in the target article.