ABSTRACT In ‘Scorekeeping in a Pornographic Language Game’, Rae Langton and Caroline West borrow ideas from David Lewis to attempt to explain how pornography might subordinate and silence women. Pornography is supposed to express certain misogynistic claims implicitly, through presupposition, and to convey them indirectly, through accommodation. I argue that the appeal to accommodation cannot do the sort of work Langton and West want it to do: Their case rests upon an overly simplified model of that phenomenon. I (...) argue further that, once we are clear about why Langton and West's account fails, a different and more plausible account of pornography's influence emerges. (shrink)
Rae Langton and Caroline West have argued that pornography silences women by presupposing misogynistic attitudes, such as that women enjoy being raped. More precisely, they claim that a somewhat infamous pictorial, “Dirty Pool”, makes such presuppositions. I argue for four claims. (i) Langton and West's account of how pornography silences women is empirically dubious. (ii) There is no evidence that very much pornography makes the sorts of presuppositions they require. (iii) Even "Dirty Pool", for all its other problems, (...) does not make the presuppositions that Langton and West claim it does. (iv) Langton and West misread “Dirty Pool” because they do not take proper account of the fact that pornography traffics in sexual fantasy. (shrink)
This paper provides an analysis of conscience-based refusals in healthcare from a Sartrean view, with an emphasis on the tension between individual responsibility and professional role morality. Conscience-based refusals in healthcare involve healthcare workers refusing to perform actions based on core moral beliefs. Initially this appears in line with Sartrean authenticity, which requires acknowledgment that one is not identical with professional role. However, by appealing to Sartre’s later social thought, I show that professional role morality is authentic when one considers (...) common group practices, which Sartre refers to as pledged group praxis. I demonstrate that for healthcare providers, authenticity mandates putting the goals and generally accepted praxis of healthcare front and center in the workplace decision process. I conclude by strengthening Andrew West’s existentialist decision-making model with Sartre’s later social thought. With the updated model, I show that for healthcare workers most often the authentic decision is to perform generally accepted healthcare procedures in spite of individual moral qualms. This is because working in healthcare necessitates viewing one’s professional tasks in their broader social context—as unified, communal group praxis. (shrink)
From self-cultivation to global justice, from environmental ethics to the interrelation of religion and science, this collection of essays highlights the central role of philosophy, and comparative philosophy in particular, for understanding and appreciating the connections and discontinuities of East and West.
Comparative Political Theory and Cross-Cultural Philosophy explores new forms of philosophizing in the age of globalization by challenging the conventional border between the East and the West, as well as the traditional boundaries among different academic disciplines. This rich investigation demonstrates the importance of cross-cultural thinking in our reading of philosophical texts and explores how cross-cultural thinking transforms our understanding of the traditional philosophical paradigm.
Cornel West is one of the nation's premier public intellectuals and one of the great prophetic voices of our era. Whether he is writing a scholarly book or an article for Newsweek, whether he is speaking of Emerson, Gramsci, or Marvin Gaye, his work radiates a passion that reflects the rich traditions he draws on and weaves togetherÑBaptist preaching, American transcendentalism, jazz, radical politics. This anthology reveals the dazzling range of West's work, from his explorations of ”Prophetic Pragmatism” (...) to his philosophizing on hip-hop.The Cornel West Reader traces the development of West's extraordinary career as academic, public intellectual, and activist. In his essays, articles, books, and interviews, West emerges as America's social conscience, urging attention to complicated issues of racial and economic justice, sexuality and gender, history and politics. This collection represents the best work of an always compelling, often controversial, and absolutely essential philosopher of the modern American experience. (shrink)
Although formal barriers to women’s social and political participation have crumbled, society remains, to a significant degree, gendered in the roles that women and men play. Women’s and men’s choices regarding work and family are largely responsible for maintaining and reinforcing the differences. While feminists recognize the need to criticize women’s choices, too often they focus on restrictive conditions rather than the choices themselves. Kimberly A. Yuracko argues instead that encouraging women to make choices in accordance with a grounded (...) and well-defined conception of perfectionism—a philosopy concerned with human flourishing—is the most effective way to redress persistent gender inequality. To this end, Yuracko seeks not only to expose the perfectionism underlying current choice critiques, but to articulate a concrete set of feminist perfectionist principles that would improve the quality of individual women’s lives and improve the social standing of women as a whole. (shrink)
Governing Animals explores the role of the liberal state in protecting animal welfare. Examining liberal concepts such as the social contract, property rights, and representation, Kimberly K. Smith argues that liberalism properly understood can recognize the moral status and social meaning of animals and provides guidance in fashioning animal policy.
This comprehensive text offers a systematic and thematic approach to West's philosophical work. It moves the reader through his distinctive form of prophetic pragmatism, his historicist and improvisational philosophy of religion, his socialist democratic and truncated Marxist political philosophy, and his reflections on a range of cultural issues.
On November 18, 1994, academic, activist, and philosopher Cornel West addressed the National Alliance of Black School Educators at a conference in the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Dr. West’s speech, captured in this video recording, focuses on the experience of African Americans in America, a culture that, according to West, is steeped in the “pernicious and vicious” influence of white supremacy. West argues that 1994 is one of the “more frightening and terrifying moments” (...) in the history of the United States, and he laments the election of Newt Gingrich as well as the leadership positions of such figures as Strom Thurmond and Orrin Hatch. He urges the audience to adopt an approach to democratizing American politics by not only resisting white supremacy but also male supremacy, heterosexual supremacy, and any other attitude that dehumanizes other people. West also deplores the decline of “non-market values” such as kindness, community, and love, contending that “market culture” leads to “market morality,” in which every part of human life is commodified. (shrink)
In recent years, scholars have come to understand emotions as dynamic and socially constructed—the product of interdependent cultural, relational, situational, and biological influences. While researchers have called for a multilevel theory of emotion construction, any progress toward such a theory must overcome the fragmentation of relevant research across various disciplines and theoretical frameworks. We present affect control theory as a launching point for cross-disciplinary collaboration because of its empirically grounded conceptualization of social mechanisms operating at the interaction, relationship, and cultural (...) levels, and its specification of processes linking social and individual aspects of emotion. After introducing the theory, we illustrate its correspondence with major theories of emotion construction framed at each of four analytical levels: cultural, interactional, individual, and neural. (shrink)
: In a short and much-neglected passage in the second Critique, Kant discusses the threat posed to human freedom by theological determinism. In this paper we present an interpretation of Kant’s conception of and response to this threat. Regarding his conception, we argue that he addresses two versions of the threat: either God causes appearances directly or he does so indirectly by causing things in themselves which in turn cause appearances. Kant’s response to the first version is that God cannot (...) cause appearances directly because they depend essentially on the passive sensibility of finite beings. Kant’s response to the second version is that human beings are endowed with transcendental freedom, which blocks the causal transitivity that is presupposed by this version. We also contrast his position on this topic with Leibniz’s and Spinoza’s. (shrink)
This book presents a comprehensive overview of what the criminal law would look like if organised around the principle that those who deserve punishment should receive punishment commensurate with, but no greater than, that which they deserve. Larry Alexander and Kimberly Kessler Ferzan argue that desert is a function of the actor's culpability, and that culpability is a function of the risks of harm to protected interests that the actor believes he is imposing and his reasons for acting in (...) the face of those risks. The authors deny that resultant harms, as well as unperceived risks, affect the actor's desert. They thus reject punishment for inadvertent negligence as well as for intentions or preparatory acts that are not risky. Alexander and Ferzan discuss the reasons for imposing risks that negate or mitigate culpability, the individuation of crimes, and omissions. (shrink)
Nothing was more important for W. E. B. Du Bois than to promote the upward mobility of African Americans. This essay revisits his “The Conversation of Races” to demonstrate its general philosophical importance. Ultimately, Du Bois’s three motivations for giving the address reveal his view of the nature of philosophical inquiry: to critique earlier phenotypic conceptions of race, to show the essentiality of history, and to promote a reflexive practice. Commentators have been unduly invested in the hermeneutic readings and as (...) a result have misunderstood it as a philosophical text. Du Bois did more than introduce the concept of race into the purview of philosophy, he provided a method for philosophical inquiry into a concept that is notoriously difficult to approach with precision. My goal here is to show why no introduction to philosophy and no discussion about the nature of philosophical inquiry is complete without consideration of “Conservation.” Certainly, it is a text about race, but it is also an important philosophical text in general. (shrink)
We argue that, under certain plausible assumptions, de Sitter space settles into a quiescent vacuum in which there are no dynamical quantum fluctuations. Such fluctuations require either an evolving microstate, or time-dependent histories of out-of-equilibrium recording devices, which we argue are absent in stationary states. For a massive scalar field in a fixed de Sitter background, the cosmic no-hair theorem implies that the state of the patch approaches the vacuum, where there are no fluctuations. We argue that an analogous conclusion (...) holds whenever a patch of de Sitter is embedded in a larger theory with an infinite-dimensional Hilbert space, including semiclassical quantum gravity with false vacua or complementarity in theories with at least one Minkowski vacuum. This reasoning provides an escape from the Boltzmann brain problem in such theories. It also implies that vacuum states do not uptunnel to higher-energy vacua and that perturbations do not decohere while slow-roll inflation occurs, suggesting that eternal inflation is much less common than often supposed. On the other hand, if a de Sitter patch is a closed system with a finite-dimensional Hilbert space, there will be Poincaré recurrences and dynamical Boltzmann fluctuations into lower-entropy states. Our analysis does not alter the conventional understanding of the origin of density fluctuations from primordial inflation, since reheating naturally generates a high-entropy environment and leads to decoherence, nor does it affect the existence of non-dynamical vacuum fluctuations such as those that give rise to the Casimir effect. (shrink)
When a provocateur intentionally provokes a deadly affray, the law of self-defense holds that the provocateur may not use deadly force to defend himself. Why is this so? Provocateurs are often seen as just one example of the problem of actio libera in causa, the causing of the conditions of one’s defense. This article rejects theories that maintain a one-size-fits-all approach to actio libera in causa, and argues that provocateurs need specific rules about why they forfeit their defensive rights. This (...) article further claims that provocateurs need to be distinguished from their cousins, initial aggressors, as initial aggressors engage in conduct that grounds the permissibility of the defender’s behavior whereas the provocateur’s behavior does not justify the respondent’s use of force against him. In addition, this article rejects that the basis of this forfeiture can be found in the doctrines surrounding when and why mitigation for provocation is appropriate for the respondent. Provocateurs forfeit their defensive rights for the very simple reason that they start the fight. This forfeiture occurs when they behave culpably, meaning that they subjectively appreciate that they are running the risk of causing force to be used against them and they engage in this behavior without justification or excuse. The question of when the provocateur’s behavior is justified is incredibly complex. It requires analysis of when it is that one is justified in increasing the risk of another’s wrongdoing. Any analysis of this justification must take seriously the liberty rights of the potential provocateur to engage in otherwise permissible behavior. Moreover, the determination of whether the provocateur is justified will turn on whether the later acts that he puts into motion are themselves justified. Thus, when Charles Bronson in the movie Death Wish presents himself as a victim so that muggers will attack him, the justifiability of his conduct in appearing as a vulnerable victim will turn on whether he is entitled to engage in this conduct, intending to later defend himself. This article argues that in Death Wish-type cases, the reason that the provocateur is not justified is because he becomes a vigilante, thereby usurping the role of the state and undermining rule of law values. (shrink)
Discussions of non-racialism in South Africa and discussions of post-racialism in the United States are sufficiently similar to invite the question as to whether South African thinkers could help to develop new ways of thinking about post-racialism and its potential in the United States. Biko's ideas are rarely taken up in the United States, yet they are relevant to contemporary discussions in critical philosophy of race. This article begins with an evaluation of the typology of non-racialism provided by Rupert Taylor (...) and the historical study of non-racialism provided by Julie Frederikse, distinguishing different understandings of non-racialism. The second section presents Biko's understanding of non-racialism, arguing that Biko's understanding of which is embedded in his account of Black Consciousness, and not a variant of racial eliminativism. The final section focuses on the striking similarities between understandings of non-racialism and post-racialism using a distinction it introduces between principled and progressive forms of both these terms. Ultimately, this article makes the case for a progressive understanding of post-racialism, which has yet to be articulated and is too easily dismissed in the United States. (shrink)
A philosophically and historically influential section of the Critique of Judgement presents an ‘intuitive intellect’ as a mind whose representation is limited to what actually exists, and does not extend to mere possibilities. Kant’s paradigmatic instance of such an intellect is however also the divine mind. This combination threatens to rule out the reality of the mere possibilities presupposed by Kant’s theory of human freedom. Through an analysis of the relevant issues in metaphysical cosmology, modal metaphysics and philosophical theology, I (...) show that Kant in fact possesses the resources to reconcile the philosophical claims of §76 of the Critique of Judgement with his keystone commitment to the reality of human freedom. (shrink)
The existence of free will has been both an enduring presumption of Western culture and a subject for debate across disciplines for millennia. However, little empirical evidence exists to support the almost unquestioned assumption that, in general, Westerners endorse the existence of free will. The few studies that measure belief in free will have methodological problems that likely resulted in underestimating the true extent of belief. Recently, Rakos et al. (Behavior and Social Issues 17:20–39, 2008 ) found a stronger endorsement (...) of free will when demand characteristics were eliminated. The current study builds on this work by sampling incarcerated adolescents and adults, whose freedom to act is externally constrained. Belief in free will as well as attitudes toward punishment, self-esteem, and locus of control were measured. The results indicate that free will is strongly endorsed in Western society even when freedom to act is severely restricted. However, incarcerated adolescents endorsed free will to a slightly lesser extent than their nonincarcerated counterparts from Rakos et al. (Behavior and Social Issues 17:20–39, 2008 ), while incarcerated and nonincarcerated adults offered equally strong endorsements. The comparable endorsement by adults is consistent with the hypothesis that the belief in agency is an evolutionary adaptation. The small decrease found for incarcerated adolescents may reflect the interaction between developmental factors and the expression of an evolutionary adaptation. Additionally, incarcerated adolescents and adults associated beliefs in free will with viewing punishment as a means of deterrence, rehabilitation, and retribution. Incarcerated adults, but not incarcerated adolescents, associated beliefs in free will with greater self-esteem and with an external locus of control. Finally, though both incarcerated adults and adolescents endorsed free will strongly, the former manifested the belief by emphasizing free agentic choice whereas the latter focused on the personal responsibility that is interwoven with free choice. The implications of these findings are discussed in the context of evolutionary, cultural, and developmental factors. (shrink)
Though many have recently attempted either to locate Arendt within feminism or feminism within the great body of Arendt's work, these efforts have proven only modestly successful. Even a cursory examination of Arendt's work should suggest that these efforts would prove frustrating. None of her voluminous writings deal specifically with gender, though some of her work certainly deals with notable women. Her interest is not in gender as such, but in woman as assimilated Jew or woman as social and political (...) revolutionary. In this paper, I argue that Arendt recognized that what frequently passes for a gender question is not essentially a matter of gender at all, but rather an idiosyncratic form of loneliness that typically affects, though is by no means limited to, women. In her work one finds the conceptual tools necessary to understand the “woman problem” rather than an explicit argument or a solution to it. (shrink)
Philosophy has long been concerned with ‘moral status’. Discussions about the moral status of children, however, seem often to promote confusion rather than clarity. Using the creation of ‘savior siblings’ as an example, this paper provides a philosophical critique of the moral status of children and the moral relevance of parenting and the role that formative experience, regret and relational autonomy play in parental decisions. We suggest that parents make moral decisions that are guided by the moral significance they attach (...) to children, to sick children and most importantly, to a specific sick child (theirs). This moral valorization is rarely made explicit and has generally been ignored by both philosophers and clinicians in previous critiques. Recognizing this, however, may transform not only the focus of bioethical discourse but also the policies and practices surrounding the care of children requiring bone marrow or cord blood transplantation by better understanding the values at stake behind parental decision making. (shrink)
Some children living with life-shortening medical conditions may wish to attend school without the threat of having resuscitation attempted in the event of cardiopulmonary arrest on the school premises. Despite recent attention to in-school do-not-attempt-resuscitation (DNAR) orders, no assessment of state laws or school policies has yet been made. We therefore sought to survey a national sample of prominent school districts and situate their policies in the context of relevant state laws. Most (80%) school districts sampled did not have policies, (...) regulations, or protocols for dealing with student DNARs. A similar majority (76%) either would not honor student DNARs or were uncertain about whether they could. Frequent contradictions between school policies and state laws also exist. Consequently, children living with life-shortening conditions who have DNARs may not have these orders honored if cardiopulmonary arrest were to occur on school premises. Coordinated efforts are needed to harmonize school district, state, and federal approaches in order to support children and families' right to have important medical decisions honored. (shrink)
In “Potential Subjects’ Responses to an Ethics Questionnaire in a Phase I Study of Deep-Brain Stimulation in Early Parkinson’s Disease,” Finder, Bliton, Gill, Davis, Konrad, and Charles undertake informed consent research on what they describe as a Phase I trial of deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease. We argue that the authors should have more carefully characterized the nature of the DBS study at the start of their clinical study.
Kant's theory of the intuitive intellect has a broad and substantial role in the development and exposition of his critical philosophy. An emphasis on this theory's reception and appropriation on the part of the German idealists has tended to divert attention from Kant's own treatment of the topic. In this essay, I seek an adequate overview of the theory Kant advances in support of his critical enterprise. I examine the nature of the intuitive intellect's object; its epistemic relation to its (...) object; its mode of comprehension; the relationship between these cognitive elements; and I ask which minds Kant regards as intuitive intellects. (shrink)