Though John Stuart Mill's long employment by the East India Company did not limit him to drafting despatches on relations with the princely states, that activity must form the centrepiece of any satisfactory study of his Indian career. As yet the activity has scarcely been glimpsed. It produced, on average, about a draft a week, which he listed in his own hand. He subsequently struck out items that he sought to disown in consequence of substantial revisions made by the Company's (...) directors or the Board of Control. He also listed items that achieved publication as parliamentary papers and they amount to about ten per cent of his drafts. The two lists, published in the most recent volume of his Collected Works, reveal, at the least, the ‘political’ despatches from which he did not seek to dissociate himself. The despatches were not entirely his work and authorship in the conventional sense may not be assumed. They were the product of an elaborate process, in which many hands were engaged. At worst, they were his work in much the same way that an Act of Parliament is the work of the Crown Solicitor who drafts the bill. At best they were his as are the drafts of a civil servant who believes in policy statements that he prepares for his political masters. The greatest English philosopher and social scientist of the nineteenth century was, in his daily occupation, an employee. His Company was charged with initiating policies for the Indian states and they were subject to the control of a minister of the Crown. (shrink)
One way of understanding the reduplicative formula ‘Christ is, qua God, omniscient, but qua man, limited in knowledge’ is to take the occurrences of the ‘ qua ’ locution as picking out different parts of Christ: a divine part and a human part. But this view of Christ as a composite being runs into paradox when combined with the orthodox understanding of the Incarnation, according to which Christ is identical to the second person of the Trinity. In response, we have (...) to choose between modifying the orthodox understanding, adopting a philosophically and theologically contentious perdurantist account of persistence through time, or rejecting altogether the idea of the composite Christ. (shrink)
In this paper, I address two connected issues that arise when one considers a rational agent facing a decision problem. One is whether or not the agent may find that the dictates of rationality are such that they cannot all be followed. For example, one may ask whether or not the requirements on the agent's actions imposed by rationality can conflict in an irreconcilable way, making it impossible to satisfy all of them. Put differently, one may ask whether or not (...) any apparent conflict of this type must in fact be capable of rational resolution. I shall say that an agent who is in a position in which the requirements of rationality cannot all be satisfied faces a feasibility dilemma, and I shall characterize certain conceptions of rationality that differ according to whether or not they admit such a possibility. A second issue concerns the number of options that may be deemed rational in a decision problem. Is rationality sufficiently determinate that it always dictates precisely one choice, or may there be more than one rationally permissible option? Is there anything about rationality itself that guarantees that any of the possible options could rationally be chosen? I shall call this issue – whether the concept of rationality itself places any limits on the number of options that may be deemed rational in a given problem – the numbers problem. (shrink)
Photographs, paintings, rigid sculptures: all these provide examples of static images. It is true that they change—photographs fade, paintings darken and sculptures crumble—but what change they undergo is irrelevant to their representational content. A static image is one that represents by virtue of properties which remain largely unchanged throughout its existence. Because of this defining feature, according to a long tradition in aesthetics, a static image can only represent an instantaneous moment, or to be more exact the state of affairs (...) obtaining at that moment'. It cannot represent movement and the passage of time. This traditional view mirrors a much older one in metaphysics: that change is to be conceived of as a series of instantaneous states and hence that an interval of time is composed of extensionless moments. The metaphysical view has been involved in more controversy than its aesthetic counterpart. Aristotle identified it as one of the premises of Zeno's arrow paradox and Augustine employed it in his proof of the unreality of time. (shrink)
Alan Carter's recent review in Mind of my Ethics of the Global Environment combines praise of biocentric consequentialism with criticisms that it could advocate both minimal satisfaction of human needs and the extinction of ‘inessential species’ for the sake of generating extra people; Carter also maintains that as a monistic theory it is predictably inadequate to cover the full range of ethical issues, since only a pluralistic theory has this capacity. In this reply, I explain how the counter-intuitive implications of (...) biocentric consequentialism suggested by Carter are not implications, and argue that since pluralistic theories either generate contradictions or collapse into monistic theories, the superiority of pluralistic theories is far from predictable. Thus Carter's criticisms fail to undermine biocentric consequentialism as a normative theory applicable to the generality of ethical issues. (shrink)
What responsibility do individuals bear for structural injustice? Iris Marion Young has offered the most fully developed account to date, the Social Connections Model. She argues that we all bear responsibility because we each causally contribute to structural processes that produce injustice. My aim in this article is to motivate and defend an alternative account that improves on Young’s model by addressing five fundamental challenges faced by any such theory. The core idea of what I call the “Role-Ideal Model” is (...) that we are each responsible for structural injustice through and in virtue of our social roles, i.e. our roles as parents, colleagues, employers, citizens, etc., because roles are the site where structure meets agency. In short, the Role-Ideal Model explains how individual action contributes to structural change, justifies demands for action from each particular agent, specifies what kinds of acts should be undertaken, moderates between demanding too much and too little of individual agents, and provides an account of the critical responses appropriate for holding individuals accountable for structural injustice. (shrink)
For as long as realists and instrumentalists have disagreed, partisans of both sides have pointed in argument to the actions and sayings of scientists. Realists in particular have often drawn comfort from the literal understanding given even to very theoretical propositions by many of those who are paid to deploy them. The scientists' realism, according to the realist, is not an idle commitment: a literal understanding of past and present theories and concepts underwrites their employment in the construction of new (...) theories. The theme of this book is philosophy and technology, and here's the connection: new theories point out—and explain— new phenomena. So realism, claim the realists, is at the heart of science's achievement of what Bacon, that early philosopher of technology, identified as science's aim: new knowledge offering new powers. (shrink)
Postmodernism and Education responds to the interest in postmodernism as a way of understanding social, cultural and economic trends. Robin Usher and Richard Edwards explore the impact which postmodernism has had upon the theory and practice of education, using a broad analysis of postmodernism and an in-depth introduction to key writers in the field, including Lacan, Derrida, Foucault and Lyotard. In examining the impact which this thinking has had upon contemporary theory and practice of education, Usher and Edwards concentrate (...) particularly upon how postmodernist ideas challenge existing concepts, structures and hierarchies. (shrink)
Alex Byrne’s article, “Are Women Adult Human Females?”, asks a question that Byrne treats as nearly rhetorical. Byrne’s answer is, ‘clearly, yes’. Moreover, Byrne claims, 'woman' is a biological category that does not admit of any interpretation as (also) a social category. It is important to respond to Byrne’s argument, but mostly because it is paradigmatic of a wider phenomenon. The slogan “women are adult human females” is a political slogan championed by anti-trans activists, appearing on billboards, pamphlets, and anti-trans (...) online forums. In this paper, I respond to Byrne’s argument, revealing significant problems with its background assumptions, content, and methodology. (shrink)
Nietzsche's thinking on justice and punishment explores the motives and forces which lie behind moral concepts and social institutions. His dialogue with several writers of his time is discussed here. Eugen Dühring had argued that a natural feeling of ressentiment against those who have harmed us is the source of the concept of injustice, so that punishment, even in its most impersonal form, is always a form of revenge. In attacking this theory, Nietzsche developed his own powerful critique of moral (...) concepts such as responsibility and guilt. He borrowed his ‘historical’ approach to moral concepts from Paul Ree, who suggested that the utilitarian function of punishment had been obscured by its practice, which appears to be directly linked with moral guilt. Nietzsche responds that punishment has quite different purposes and meanings at different times, so that any single explanation or justification is inadequate. In this way, he rejects the pre-suppositions common to the retributivists and utilitarians of his time. (shrink)
Sally Haslanger has recently argued that philosophical focus on implicit bias is overly individualist, since social inequalities are best explained in terms of social structures rather than the actions and attitudes of individuals. I argue that questions of individual responsibility and implicit bias, properly understood, do constitute an important part of addressing structural injustice, and I propose an alternative conception of social structure according to which implicit biases are themselves best understood as a special type of structure.
Moral agency is limited, imperfect, and structurally constrained. This is evident in the many ways we all unwittingly participate in widespread injustice through our everyday actions, which I call ‘structural wrongs’. To do justice to these facts, I argue that we should distinguish between summative and formative moral criticism. While summative criticism functions to conclusively assess an agent's performance relative to some benchmark, formative criticism aims only to improve performance in an ongoing way. I show that the negative sanctions associated (...) with summative responses are only justifiably imposed under certain conditions when persons exercise their agency wrongly — conditions that do not always hold for structural wrongs. Yet even in such cases we can still use formative responses, which are warranted whenever agents fall short of moral ideals. Expanding our repertoire of moral criticism to include both summative and formative responses enables us to better appreciate both the powers and limitations of our agency, and the complexity of moral life. (shrink)
As I shall be taking issue with Michael Durrant for the bulk of this paper, it is appropriate, as well as a good way to start, to register my endorsement of his arguments in chapter 4 of The Logical Status of God l for the conclusion that sentences about God are typically used to express propositions, and that acts of thanksgiving and petition to God presuppose that some such propositions are true. The present paper is therefore a continuation of Mr (...) Durrant's attempt to locate the status of the term ‘God’ in propositions expressed by sentences of the form ‘God is F’. (shrink)
Iris Marion Young’s influential Social Connections Model of responsibility offers a compelling approach to theorizing structural injustice. However, the precise nature of the kind of responsibility modelled by the SCM, along with its relationship to the liability model, has remained unclear. I offer a reading of Young that takes the difference between the liability model and the SCM to be an instance of a more longstanding distinction in the literature on moral responsibility: attributability vs. accountability. I show that interpreting the (...) SCM as a conception of accountability resolves a number of objections, while also highlighting the SCM’s distinctive stance on the relationship between ethics and politics. (shrink)
We want to know what gender is. But metaphysical approaches to this question solely have focused on the binary gender kinds men and women. By overlooking those who identify outside of the binary–the group I call ‘genderqueer’–we are left without tools for understanding these new and quickly growing gender identifications. This metaphysical gap in turn creates a conceptual lacuna that contributes to systematic misunderstanding of genderqueer persons. In this paper, I argue that to better understand genderqueer identities, we must recognize (...) a new type of gender kind: critical gender kinds, or kinds whose members collectively destabilize one or more pieces of dominant gender ideology. After developing a model of critical gender kinds, I suggest that genderqueer is best modeled as a critical gender kind that destabilizes the ‘binary axis’, or the piece of dominant gender ideology that says that the only possible genders are the binary, discrete, exclusive, and exhaustive kinds men and women. (shrink)
Characteristic of metaphysics are general questions of existence, such as ‘Are there numbers?’ This kind of question is the target of Carnap's argument for deflationism, to the effect that general existential questions, if taken at face value, are meaningless. This paper considers deflationism in a theological context, and argues that the question ‘Does God exist?’ can appropriately be grouped with the ‘metaphysical’ questions attacked by Carnap. Deflationism thus has the surprising consequence that the correct approach to theism is that of (...) radical theology. The paper attempts to show why Carnap's argument fails, and why, nevertheless, enough remains of it for us to conclude that God cannot be outside time and space. (shrink)
Gender classifications often are controversial. These controversies typically focus on whether gender classifications align with facts about gender kind membership: Could someone really be nonbinary? Is Chris Mosier really a man? I think this is a bad approach. Consider the possibility of ontological oppression, which arises when social kinds operating in a context unjustly constrain the behaviors, concepts, or affect of certain groups. Gender kinds operating in dominant contexts, I argue, oppress trans and nonbinary persons in this way: they marginalize (...) trans men and women, and exclude nonbinary persons. As a result, facts about membership in dominant gender kinds should not settle gender classification practices. (shrink)
The central doctrine of traditional Christianity, the doctrine of the Incarnation, is that the Second Person of the Trinity lived a human existence on Earth as Jesus Christ for a finite period. In the words of the Nicene Creed, the Son is him who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
In this paper, we defend two main claims. The first is a moderate claim: we have a negative duty to not use binary gender-specific pronouns he or she to refer to genderqueer individuals. We defend this with an argument by analogy. It was gravely wrong for Mark Latham to refer to Catherine McGregor, a transgender woman, using the pronoun he; we argue that such cases of misgendering are morally analogous to referring to Angel Haze, who identifies as genderqueer, as he (...) or she. The second is a radical claim: we have a negative duty to not use any gender-specific pronouns to refer to anyone, regardless of their gender identity. We offer three arguments in favor of this claim (which appeal to concerns about inegalitarianism and risk, invasions of privacy, and reinforcing essentialist ideologies). We also show why the radical claim is compatible with the moderate claim. Before concluding, we examine common concerns about incorporating either they or a neologism such as ze as a third-person singular gender-neutral pronoun. These concerns, we argue, do not provide sufficient reason to reject either the moderate or radical claim. (shrink)
Originally published in 1987 and re-issued in 2020 with a new Preface, this book presents and elaborates interrelated solutions to a number of problems in moral philosophy, from the location of intrinsic value and the nature of a worthwhile life, via the limits of obligation and the nature of justice, to the status of moral utterances. After developing a biocentric account of moral standing, the author locates worthwhile life in the development of the generic capacities of a creature, whether human (...) or nonhuman, and presents an account of relative intrinsic value which later generates a theory of interspecific justice. This value-theory also informs a consequentialist understanding of obligation, of moral rightness and of supererogation. The understanding thus supplied is shown to cope with the problems of integrity, of justice and of the 'Repugnant Conclusion' in population ethics. A cognitivist account of ethical conclusions such as those so far reached is then defended against non-cognitivist and relativist objections and a far-reaching naturalist theory is defended, integrating earlier conclusions with an account of the logic of the fundamental ethical concepts. This wide-ranging volume which maps the whole area of morality is thoroughly argued with reference both to contemporary philosophical developments and to classical theories. (shrink)
Ordinary discourse is filled with discussions about ‘sexual orientation’. This discourse might suggest a common understanding of what sexual orientation is. But even a cursory search turns up vastly differing, conflicting, and sometimes ethically troubling characterizations of sexual orientation. The conceptual jumble surrounding sexual orientation suggests that the topic is overripe for philosophical exploration. This paper lays the groundwork for such an exploration. In it, I offer an account of sexual orientation – called ‘Bidimensional Dispositionalism’ – according to which sexual (...) orientation concerns what sex[es] and gender[s] of persons one is disposed to sexually engage, and makes no reference to one’s own sex and gender. (shrink)
The legend of Robin Hood exemplifies a distinct concern of justice neglected by theorists: the distributive results of systemic injustices. Robin Hood’s redistributive activities are justified by the principle that the distributive results of systemic injustices are unjust and should be corrected. This principle has relevance beyond the legend: since current inequalities in the US are results of systemic injustices, the US has good reason to take from the rich and give to the poor.
Let us take, as a starting assumption, the Benthamic understanding of the point of law: We should make laws that will increase the overall happiness of the people whose lives are affected by them. But how should we go about doing that? And more particularly, what role, if any, should our held desires play in the task of ascertaining the content of our happiness? And when, if ever, should we defer to the desires of the affected masses, and when should (...) we not, in determining what will or will not promote happiness? The classical, or “hedonic,” utilitarians of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries suggested a number of answers to these related questions, of which I will mention two. (shrink)
In the ongoing debate concerning the nature of human racial categories, there is a trend to reject the biological reality of race in favour of the view that races are social constructs. At work here is the assumption that biological reality and social constructivism are incompatible. I oppose the trend and the assumption by arguing that cladism, in conjunction with current work in human evolution, provides a new way to define race biologically. Defining race in this way makes sense when (...) compared to the developments in other areas of systematic biology, where shared history has largely replaced morphological similarity as the foundation of a natural biological classification. Surprisingly, it turns out that cladistic races and social constructivism are compatible. I discuss a number of lessons about the way human biological races have been conceptualized. (shrink)
Race was once thought to be a real biological kind. Today the dominant view is that objective biological races don't exist. I challenge the trend to reject the biological reality of race by arguing that cladism (a school of classification that individuates taxa by appeal to common ancestry) provides a new way to define race biologically. I also reconcile the proposed biological conception with constructivist theories about race. Most constructivists assume that biological realism and social constructivism are incompatible views about (...) race; I argue that the two conceptions can be compatible. (shrink)
The question that I propose to consider is the ghost in modern philosophy. Its step has been heard more distinctly at some times than at others. But it has never rattled its chains so loudly as during the recent popularity of Existentialism. The question is: How is man related to the universe? All philosophers who pride themselves on being modern reject the ancient answer to the question. The most emancipated modern philosophers refuse to hear the question. Nevertheless some answer to (...) this question is presupposed by all philosophy. (shrink)
The goal of this article is to show that mainstream liberal accounts of civil disobedience fail to fully capture the latter’s specific characteristics as a genuinely political and democratic practice of contestation that is not reducible to an ethical or legal understanding either in terms of individual conscience or of fidelity to the rule of law. In developing this account in more detail, I first define civil disobedience with an aim of spelling out why the standard liberal model, while providing (...) a useful starting point, ultimately leads to an overly constrained, domesticated and sanitized understanding of this complex political practice. Second, I place the political practice of civil disobedience between two opposing poles: symbolic politics and real confrontation. I argue that the irreducible tension between these poles precisely accounts for its politicizing and democratizing potential. Finally, I briefly examine the role of civil disobedience in representative democracies, addressing a series of recent challenges made in response to this radically democratic understanding of disobedience. (shrink)
This book provides an overview of recent debates about critical theory from Pierre Bourdieu via Luc Boltanski to the Frankfurt School. Robin Celikates investigates the relevance of the self-understanding of ordinary agents and of their practices of critique for the theoretical and emancipatory project of critical theory.
What’s important about ‘coming out’? Why do we wear business suits or Star Trek pins? Part of the answer, we think, has to do with what we call agential identity. Social metaphysics has given us tools for understanding what it is to be socially positioned as a member of a particular group and what it means to self-identify with a group. But there is little exploration of the general relationship between self-identity and social position. We take up this exploration, developing (...) an account of agential identity—the self-identities we make available to others. Agential identities are the bridge between what we take ourselves to be and what others take us to be. Understanding agential identity not only fills an important gap in the literature, but also helps us explain politically important phenomena concerning discrimination, malicious identities, passing, and code-switching. These phenomena, we argue, cannot be understood solely in terms of self-identity or social position. (shrink)
Feminist philosophers have challenged a wide range of gender injustices in professional philosophy. However, the problem of precarity, that is, the increasing numbers of contingent faculty who cannot find permanent employment, has received scarcely any attention. What explains this oversight? In this article, I argue, first, that academics are held in the grips of an ideology that diverts attention away from the structural conditions of precarity, and second, that the gendered dimensions of such an ideology have been overlooked. To do (...) so, I identify two myths: the myth of meritocracy and the myth of work as its own reward. I demonstrate that these myths—and the two-tier system itself—manifest an unmistakably gendered logic, such that gender and precarity are mutually reinforcing and co-constitutive. I conclude that feminist philosophers have particular reason to organize against the casualization of academic work. (shrink)
Patriarchy and white supremacy are unjust social systems, constituted by causal structures that produce systemic gender injustice and racial injustice. Intersectional theory highlights that these forms of injustice often are inseparable, as in instances of misogynoir. What does this mean for our understanding of unjust systems? Recent work in feminist theory suggests that intersectional insights undermine the idea that there are multiple unjust systems. In this paper, I hope to show that this is not the case. I’ll suggest that intersectional (...) injustice is best explained by the overlap of unjust systems, or when unjust systems are co-constituted by the same causal structures. I’ll then argue that, despite their overlap, unjust systems can be individuated in terms of their essential ideologies. These distinct ideologies reveal unjust systems like patriarchy and white supremacy to be distinct goal-oriented processes that can be simultaneously manifested by the same causal structures. (shrink)