There are good reasons to celebrate the Super Bowl. It provides a de facto national holiday that crosses religious, racial, class, and, increasingly, gender lines, and its exhibition of human athletic prowess and perseverance can be, I believe, ennobling to the viewer. Perhaps most importantly, it epitomizes the place of the NFL in our culture and can thus illuminate why certain incidents involving professional football players have incited widespread discussion of contemporary social ills. Can anyone doubt the impact of Richard (...) Sherman’s response to being called a “thug,” Michael Sam’s kiss, Jonathan Martin’s withdrawal from the Miami Dolphins, and Ray Rice’s expulsion from the league on the national conversation.. (shrink)
My project is to demonstrate the pragmatic importance of respecting the distinctions between science and myth and fact and fiction. In a country in which intelligent design is still taught as respectable science at some public universities and national figures make claims about “legitimate” rape,1 it is irresponsible to blur the boundaries between myth and science in some all-encompassing notion of “narrative.” Furthermore, its value as a political strategy is negligible because such blurring hinders the realization of those liberatory ideals (...) in whose defense many progressive science scholars undertake their analyses in the first place—or so I will argue in this article.My procedure will be .. (shrink)
I argue here that Beth Singer's analysis of rights as operative social norms allows us to make sense of the personal and political complexities of the abortion debate. In particular, I argue that it is only by means of Singer's analysis that we, as feminists, can reconcile our conviction that Carol Gilligan's celebration of empathy and partiality gestures toward something definitive of our moral experience with the need to avail ourselves of the politically efficacious language of rights.
Alexandra Shuford's book is primarily designed to address the following question: "What can Deweyan pragmatism contribute to a feminist empiricist epistemology?" (viii). Her answer is Dewey's conception of habit, and in her final chapter, she illustrates the utility of this conception by comparing what she labels the "medicalized" model of labor and birth to that employed by practitioners of midwifery. Before looking at Shuford's reading of this contrast more closely, however, it needs to be noted at the outset that she (...) also regards her constructive project to be one of "augmenting" or "extending" the efforts of Lynn Hankinson Nelson to formulate a feminist empiricism derived from Quine's naturalized epistemology. .. (shrink)
The artist Sandra McMorris Johnson once told me that, as much as she had always loved Gauguin, she had nevertheless become increasingly uncomfortable looking at his paintings because so many of them depict thirteen-year-old girls in an extremely sexualized way. I think about her discomfort with Gauguin whenever I consider my reaction to Balthus, an artist whose best paintings I find to be utterly beautiful.1 These paintings are, however, highly, if not obsessively, eroticized portraits of prepubescent girls. It should be (...) noted that Balthus—known to some as the "Lolita painter"—dismissed criticism of his subject matter by declaring an allegiance to formalism.2 But, as a pragmatist, I cannot hide behind a strict .. (shrink)
ABSTRACT In this article, I argue that an essential part of our obligation as teachers and scholars of philosophy is to insist that the ultimate point of criticism is to foster the development of increasingly better explanations of natural and social phenomena. Doing so, moreover, requires that we cultivate in ourselves and our students a sense of gratitude for the very possibility of human flourishing and scientific advance. I illustrate these claims by showing how Dewey's analysis in Human Nature and (...) Conduct is the sine qua non of a good explanation. (shrink)
ABSTRACT It is my claim that there is a significant parallel to be drawn between the relationship that holds between local success and national flourishing and the relationship that holds between rational belief and truth. This is not simply because all four can only be achieved through communal effort. I argue that understanding how local success contributes to national flourishing best illuminates the connection between rational belief and truth.
ABSTRACT I advance two claims about memory. The first is that memory itself is best conceived as consisting of scenes, which thus provide the raw material for the stories that we can tell about the past. The second is that these narratives can be revised in the light of new possibilities for redescription. In support of these claims, I examine the photographer Sally Mann's stunning 1992 series entitled “Immediate Family.” By appealing to Ian Hacking's account of how, in the latter (...) part of the twentieth century, multiple personality became “a culturally sanctioned way of expressing distress,” I argue that both the condemnation of Mann's work and the explosion in diagnoses of multiple personality were ultimately rooted in the then-popular belief that memories of childhood abuse determined adult character. (shrink)
ABSTRACT The choreographer George Balanchine famously declared that “I don't create or invent anything, I assemble.” I take the import of this pronouncement to be that he conceived his artistic mission to be that of articulating those liberatory tendencies that, without his work, might very well have remained inchoate for his audience, and I illustrate this reading through an examination of his 1957 masterpiece Agon, a ballet whose central pas de deux is a symbolic violation of the laws against miscegenation.
I argue that a fruitful approach to exploring the significance of the abstract expressionist Barnett Newman’s body of work, understood as as an attempt to “paint the sublime,” is by appeal to Peircian phenomenology and the conception of “originativity” that it entails. By attending, in particular, to Peirce’s conception of “the firstness of thirdness,” I show how this “reasonable feeling” both signifies our “affinity” with the world with which we transact and, with specific respect to what happens when looking at (...) Newman’s paintings, explains why we are spurred to reflect upon the meaning of these experiences. In this way, “the firstness of thirdness” accounts for our recognition of a form of reasonableness that exceeds that exhibited in ordinary conceptualization. (shrink)
What is missing from the many contemporary social scientific accounts that aim to explain our moral and political judgments by reference to our capacity to experience disgust is any acknowledgment of our fascination with disgusting objects. For this reason, Magada-Ward argues that disgust must be understood as fundamentally an aesthetic conception. In order to demonstrate this, the author explores the disturbing and very funny sculptures of Rona Pondick. This exploration shows that disgust is seldom a reliable indicator of political or (...) moral wrongdoing but instead reveals both the contingent nature of our brute reactions and our inescapable vulnerability as embodied creatures. (shrink)
I take as my title a claim made by Arthur Mitchell about George Balanchine’s 1957 ballet Agon. Mitchell, a MacArthur Fellow, U.S. Medal of Arts winner, and founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem,1 was the first African American principal dancer in the history of the New York City Ballet. Most importantly for my purposes, he was also the premier danseur upon whom Balanchine choreographed the central pas de deux of Agon. Mitchell’s partner was the ballerina Diana Adams, whom Balanchine (...) christened his “alabaster princess” and whom a British critic declared to be the only ballerina in the company with “a proper face”. (It should be remembered that Maria... (shrink)
In claiming that "the method of our great teacher, Experience" is "a system of teaching by practical jokes," Peirce's objective, I argue, is to get us to see the unexpected as cause for neither despair nor nihilism but as an opportunity to strengthen our affinity with the natural world. Peirce's celebration of the flexibility demanded by the "pedagogic method" employed by "Dame Experience" reinforces the dependence between cultivating a sense of humor and developing fruitful habits of inquiry.