Discussions of sexual ethics often focus on the wrong of treating another as a mere object instead of as a person worthy of respect. On this view, the task of sexual ethics becomes putting the other’s subjectivity above their status as erotic object so as to avoid the harms of objectification. Ward and Anderson argue that such a view disregards the crucial, moral role that erotic objecthood plays in sexual encounters. Important moral features of intimacy are disclosed through the experience (...) of being an erotic object for another, as well as in perceiving another as an erotic object. Drawing on phenomenology, especially the insights of Simone de Beauvoir, Ward and Anderson argue that erotic encounters are shaped by the human condition of ambiguity, where being an object for others is intertwined with bodily agency. Because sexual agency is complex in this way, theories of sexual ethics and responsibility must widen their focus beyond transparent communication and authoritative expressions of will. (shrink)
Throughout her work, Audre Lorde maintains that her self-preservation in the face of oppression depends on acting from the recognition and valorization of her feelings as a deep source of knowledge. This claim, taken as a portrayal of agency, poses challenges to standard positions in ethics, epistemology, and moral psychology. This article examines the oppositional agency articulated by Lorde’s thought, locating feeling, poetry, and the power she calls “the erotic” within her avowed project of self-preservation. It then explores the implications (...) of taking seriously Lorde’s account, particularly for theorists examining ethics and epistemology under nonideal social conditions. For situations of sexual intimacy, for example, Lorde’s account unsettles prevailing assumptions about the role of consent in responsibility between sexual partners. I argue that obligations to solicit consent and respect refusal are not sufficient to acknowledge the value of agency in intimate encounters when agency is oppositional in the way Lorde describes. (shrink)
Audre Lorde’s account of the erotic is one of her most widely celebrated contributions to political theory and feminist activism, but her explanation of the term in her brief essay “Uses of the Erotic” is famously oblique and ambiguous. This article develops a detailed, textually grounded interpretation of Lorde’s erotic, based on an analysis of how Lorde’s essay brings together commitments expressed across her work. I describe four integral elements of Lorde’s erotic: feeling, knowledge, power, and concerted action. The erotic (...) is a way of feeling in the work a person does, which makes possible new knowledge about the self and the social environment— particularly to counteract epistemic oppression imposed by an unjust society. The erotic is a source of power by providing vision and energy for actions integrating a person’s multiple commitments and political interests. It facilitates concerted action and coalition by enhancing a person’s appreciation of their interests and values, while fostering embodied, personal connections that build trust on the basis of shared vulnerability. Thus, the erotic helps build coalitions where genuine differences of perspective and experience can be examined, in resistance against an oppressive society’s epistemic distortions. (shrink)
While the history of philosophy has traditionally given scant attention to food and the ethics of eating, in the last few decades the subject of food ethics has emerged as a major topic, encompassing a wide array of issues, including labor justice, public health, social inequity, animal rights and environmental ethics. This handbook provides a much needed philosophical analysis of the ethical implications of the need to eat and the role that food plays in social, cultural and political life. Unlike (...) other books on the topic, this text integrates traditional approaches to the subject with cutting edge research in order to set a new agenda for philosophical discussions of food ethics. The Routledge Handbook of Food Ethics is an outstanding reference source to the key topics, problems and debates in this exciting subject and is the first collection of its kind. Comprising over 35 chapters by a team of international contributors, the Handbook is divided into 7 parts: the phenomenology of food gender and food food and cultural diversity liberty, choice and food policy food and the environment farming and eating other animals food justice Essential reading for students and researchers in food ethics, it is also an invaluable resource for those in related disciplines such as environmental ethics and bioethics. (shrink)
In both popular and scholarly discussions, sexual consent is gaining traction as the central moral consideration in how people should treat one another in sexual encounters. However, while the concept of consent has been indispensable to oppose many forms of sexual violence, consent-based sexual ethics struggle to account for the phenomenological complexity of sexual intimacy and the social and structural pressures that often surround sexual communication and behavior. Feminist structural critique and social research on the prevalence of violation even within (...) consensual sex suggest that consent is insufficient to ground responsibility; a more fundamental orientation toward the value of sexual agency provides a better foundation for sexual ethics. Using feminist critical theory, phenomenology, and black feminist thought, this dissertation develops a socially situated and relational notion of sexual agency and diagnoses how such agency is neglected in prevailing discussions of consent in moral philosophy and legal theory. I argue that the ethical question of responsibility to another in a sexual encounter—apart from juridical considerations—should be reframed around the value of each person’s socially situated practices of agency. Preceding and extending beyond the obligation to gain valid consent for an action, responsibility demands adapting one’s intentions and behaviors in response to the wider range of another’s communicative expressions of agency. However, communicative expressions can be ambiguous or overdetermined by social context and cultural norms; they often offer only provisional traces of agency. To address this inherent uncertainty in intimacy, I propose drawing on insights from Emmanuel Levinas about the dynamic, open-ended nature of relationality, responsibility, and communication. Responsibility toward another does not depend on securing certainty about their “yes” or “no,” but requires responding continuously under conditions of uncertainty and ambiguity, adapting behaviors and intentions to make room for another’s agency despite its opacity. (shrink)
This review examines Burke's phenomenological analysis of normative femininity, examining how femininity is implicated in both historical and present racial violence. It lauds Burke's analysis of the temporality of gendered experience—in the Beauvoirean tradition of feminist phenomenology—but it criticizes Burke for coming up short in the critical aspect of their project. It closes with some methodological reflections about doing effect critical phenomenology.
Conventional ethics of how humans should eat often ignore that human life is itself a form of organic activity. Using Henri Bergson’s notions of intellect and intuition, this chapter brings a wider perspective of the human organism to the ethical question of how humans appropriate life for nutriment. The intellect’s tendency to instrumentalize living things as though they were inert seems to subtend the moral failures evident in practices such as industrial animal agriculture. Using the case study of Temple Grandin’s (...) sympathetic cattle technologies, this chapter moves beyond animal welfare concerns to ground food ethics on the phenomenal character of food that is obscured by human activities of fabrication. (shrink)
As Brillant-Savarin remarked in 1825 in his classic text Physiologie du Goût, “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” Philosophers and political theorists have only recently begun to pay attention to food as a critical domain of human activity and social justice. Too often these discussions treat food as a commodity and eating as a matter of individual choice. Policies that address the global obesity crisis by focusing on individual responsibility and medical interventions ignore (...) the dependency of human agency on a culture of possibilities. -/- The essays collected here address this lack in philosophy and political theory by appreciating food as an origin of human culture and a network of social relations. They show how an approach to the current global obesity epidemic through individual choice deflects the structural change that is necessary to create a culture of healthy eating. Analyzing the contemporary food crises of obesity, malnutrition, environmental degradation, and cultural displacement as global issues of public policy and social justice, these essays display the essential interconnections among issues of social inequity, animal rights, environmental ethics, and cultural identity. They call for new solidarities and new public policies to ensure the sustainable practices necessary to the production and distribution of wholesome and satisfying food. -/- Lévi-Strauss located the origin of ethics in table manners. By learning what and how to eat, humans learned respect for others, for the earth, and for the other forms of life that sustain human existence. Lévi-Strauss fears that in our time this “lesson in humility” coursing throughout the mythologies of “savage peoples” may have been forgotten, so that the world is treated as a thing to be appropriated and the extinction of species and cultures as an inevitable result of the ascendancy of global capital. This volume makes clear the need to change the way we eat, if we are to live on the earth together with what Lévi-Strauss calls “decency and discretion.”. (shrink)