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Robin Zheng
Yale-NUS College
  1. What is My Role in Changing the System? A New Model of Responsibility for Structural Injustice.Robin Zheng - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (4):869-885.
    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 (...)
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  2. Moral Criticism and Structural Injustice.Robin Zheng - 2021 - Mind 130 (518):503-535.
    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 (...)
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  3. Why Yellow Fever Isn't Flattering: A Case Against Racial Fetishes.Robin Zheng - 2016 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 2 (3):400-419.
    Most discussions of racial fetish center on the question of whether it is caused by negative racial stereotypes. In this paper I adopt a different strategy, one that begins with the experiences of those targeted by racial fetish rather than those who possess it; that is, I shift focus away from the origins of racial fetishes to their effects as a social phenomenon in a racially stratified world. I examine the case of preferences for Asian women, also known as ‘yellow (...)
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  4. Bias, Structure, and Injustice: A Reply to Haslanger.Robin Zheng - 2018 - Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 4 (1):1-30.
    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.
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  5.  51
    Imagining in Oppressive Contexts, or What’s Wrong with Blackface?Robin Zheng & Nils-Hennes Stear - 2023 - Ethics 133 (3):381-414.
    What is objectionable about “blacking up” or other comparable acts of imagining involving unethical attitudes? Can such imaginings be wrong, even if there are no harmful consequences and imaginers are not meant to apply these attitudes beyond the fiction? In this article, we argue that blackface—and imagining in general—can be ethically flawed in virtue of being oppressive, in virtue of either its content or what imaginers do with it, where both depend on how the imagined attitudes interact with the imagining’s (...)
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  6. Attributability, Accountability, and Implicit Bias.Robin Zheng - 2016 - In Jennifer Saul & Michael Brownstein (eds.), Implicit Bias and Philosophy, Volume 2: Moral Responsibility, Structural Injustice, and Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 62-89.
    This chapter distinguishes between two concepts of moral responsibility. We are responsible for our actions in the first sense only when those actions reflect our identities as moral agents, i.e. when they are attributable to us. We are responsible in the second sense when it is appropriate for others to enforce certain expectations and demands on those actions, i.e. to hold us accountable for them. This distinction allows for an account of moral responsibility for implicit bias, defended here, on which (...)
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  7.  90
    What Kind of Responsibility Do We Have for Fighting Injustice? A Moral-Theoretic Perspective on the Social Connections Model.Robin Zheng - 2019 - Critical Horizons 20 (2):109-126.
    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 (...)
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  8. Theorizing social change.Robin Zheng - 2022 - Philosophy Compass 17 (4):e12815.
    Philosophy Compass, Volume 17, Issue 4, April 2022.
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  9.  94
    Precarity is a Feminist Issue: Gender and Contingent Labor in the Academy.Robin Zheng - 2018 - Hypatia 33 (2):235-255.
    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 (...)
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  10.  73
    Reconceptualizing solidarity as power from below.Robin Zheng - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (3):893-917.
    I propose a new concept of solidarity, which I call “solidarity from below,” that highlights an aspect of solidarity widely recognized in popular uses of the term, but which has hitherto been neglected in the philosophical literature. Solidarity from below is the collective ability of otherwise powerless people to organize themselves for transformative social change. I situate this concept with respect to four distinct but intertwined questions that have motivated extant theorizing about solidarity. I explain what it means to conceptualize (...)
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  11.  84
    A Job for Philosophers: Causality, Responsibility, and Explaining Social Inequality.Robin Zheng - 2018 - Dialogue 57 (2):323-351.
    People disagree about the causes of social inequality and how to most effectively intervene in them. These may seem like empirical questions for social scientists, not philosophers. However, causal explanation itself depends on broadly normative commitments. From this it follows that (moral) philosophers have an important role to play in determining those causal explanations. I examine the case of causal explanations of poverty to demonstrate these claims. In short, philosophers who work to reshape our moral expectations also work, on the (...)
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  12.  9
    Teaching & Learning Guide for: Theorizing Social Change.Robin Zheng - 2023 - Philosophy Compass 18 (10):e12948.
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  13. Social Dimensions of Responsibility. [REVIEW]Robin Zheng - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):0-0.
    Volume 97, Issue 4, December 2019, Page 843-844.
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  14.  10
    Rationalization, controversy, and the entanglement of moral-social cognition: A “critical pessimist” take.Robin Zheng - 2019 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 42:e167.
    I raise two worries about the Debunker's and Defeater Dilemmas, respectively, and I argue that moral cognition is inextricable from social cognition, which tends to rationalize deep social inequality. I thus opine that our moral-social capacities fare badly in profoundly unjust social contexts such as our own.
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  15.  19
    A Justice-Oriented Account of Moral Responsibility for Implicit Bias.Robin Zheng - 2015 - Dissertation, University of Michigan
    I defend an account of moral responsibility for implicit bias that is sensitive to both normative and pragmatic constraints: an acceptable theory of moral responsibility must not only do justice to our moral experience and agency, but also issue directives that are psychologically effective in bringing about positive changes in judgment and behavior. I begin by offering a conceptual genealogy of two different concepts of moral responsibility that arise from two distinct sources of philosophical concerns. We are morally responsible for (...)
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  16.  15
    Nussbaum, Martha C. The Monarchy of Fear: A Philosopher Looks at Our Political Crisis. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018. Pp. 272. $25.99 ; $17.00. [REVIEW]Robin Zheng - 2019 - Ethics 130 (2):250-255.
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  17.  19
    Responsibility from the Margins by David Shoemaker.Robin Zheng - 2017 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 27 (2):9-17.
    David Shoemaker's highly innovative and intricately argued new book brings much of his previous work together with substantial original material to form a detailed and cohesive treatment of responsibility. The book is engaging, crisp, and admirably clear. It is marvelously ambitious in its strategy and framework, engagement with multiple literatures, and decidedly novel approach to Strawsonian theory. Moral philosophers, psychologists, clinicians and practitioners, and anyone who has ever wondered about "marginal agents"—people with dementia, autism, depression, OCD, and psychopathy—will find much (...)
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