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1. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 39
Karen Adkins, Geoffrey Karabin Introduction
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part i: keynote address
2. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 39
C. Thi Nguyen Hostile Epistemology
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part ii: polarization, reconciliation, and community
3. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 39
Mary Townsend Beauvoir, Irigaray, and #Me Too: The Language of Subjectivity and Revolution
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Simone de Beauvoir remarks that women have trouble articulating a “we” together; this foible of language is connected to our unwillingness to claim our subjectivity, and to our ability to say “I” in ordinary conversation. The corresponding political difficulty is that the “we” of a non-exclusionary women’s solidarity and revolution seems almost impossible to imagine. Luce Irigaray’s paradigm of between-women-talk, best designated as talk amongst women and non-cis-men, offers a way of reforming the language required: a Platonic participation where desire beyond purpose is the only qualification, with #MeToo being one imperfect conversational example. Interrogating our reluctance and hesitation at the possibilities of this conversation makes our need for the language of mutually reinforcing subjectivity clear.
4. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 39
Shaun Respess Caring Affinity Networks: Integrating Relational Epistemologies into Mental Health Justice
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The medicalization of mental health remains a point of contention for bioethicists, especially as it concerns the epistemic capabilities of those diagnosed with an illness or disorder. Gosselin (2019) argues that biomedicalization commits epistemic injustices against these persons and consequently entraps them in a “cycle of vulnerability”; in response, she proposes principles of justice to defend them from such affronts. This paper builds off of her work and responds particularly to the demand for a “sociocentric view of the self as essentially relational.” I present a theory of interdependent agency and affiliation that I contend conceptually bolsters her normative principles. I explain how an expanded use of relational epistemologies, united with a non-ideal theory of mental health, can enrich our hermeneutical resources with respect to those with mental illnesses/disorders. My account introduces normative considerations premised on interdependency, most notably from care theory. Concepts such as vulnerability, relational autonomy, attentiveness, and responsiveness ground a relationally-situated approach that (1) improves the epistemic positionalities of patients, (2) informs more suitable dynamics of care/treatment, and (3) unites groups of mutually interested actors against harm and injustice. I thus use a framework of care to promote affiliations of similarly disadvantaged persons under shared causes and initiatives. I refer to these assemblages as “caring affinity networks.”
5. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 39
Katharina Anna Sodoma, Daniel Sharp Democratic Empathy and Affective Polarization
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Social scientists have observed a sharp rise in affective polar­ization in many societies, particularly the United States. Since it is widely agreed that this poses a threat to democracy, finding solutions to this predicament is essential. One prominent proposal to depolarize the electorate holds that citizens need to exercise their capacities for empathy with the political opposition. However, defenders of the empathy response to affective polarization have yet to fully specify the range of mechanisms through which empathy can counteract polarization. Recent proposals focus on empathy’s role in finding common ground and humanizing others. Drawing on the wider empathy literature, we identify several additional ways empathy might counter affective polarization. We show that the resultant account has important implications for the sorts of empathetic engagement with cross-partisans that is likely to reduce polarization. Our aim is to contribute to a deeper understanding of the potential of different kinds of empathetic engagement to counter polarization as well as the limits of empathy as a response to polarization.
6. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 39
Brandon Carey Misinformation and Epistemic Harm
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Standard accounts of misinformation require that it is either false or misleading, in the sense that it leads people to false beliefs. But many examples of misinformation involve true information that leads people to true beliefs. So, I propose a new theory of misinformation: misinformation is information that is epistemically harmful in the sense that it is disposed to reduce the overall quality of a subject’s epistemic position. This includes not only causing the subject to form a false belief, but also causing the subject to form beliefs that are otherwise epistemically deficient or to abandon or reduce confidence in epistemically good beliefs.This account improves on standard accounts in two ways. First, it more closely matches intuitive judgments about what counts as misinformation, including cases of failed deception and information that is spread without regard for its truth. Second, it provides a natural account of what is wrong with spreading misinformation: it contributes to an epistemically hostile environment in which we are more likely to become epistemically worse off when we gather more information.
7. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 39
Desiree Valentine Reproductive Justice as Reparative Justice
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While the principles of reproductive justice are generally agreed upon in progressive reproductive political circles, other theoretical frameworks such as reparative justice can further foster the goals of the movement. In the literature, however, reparative justice has been insufficiently explored as it relates to reproductive injustice. My concern in this essay is therefore the development of conceptual architecture for understanding reproductive justice as reparative in nature. A reparative approach to reproductive ethics importantly takes up the demand to situate reproduction within ongoing historical and sociopolitical contexts. It makes transparent the harms generated by an oppressive social order and the depths to which conditions must change for reproductive justice to emerge. To construct the relationship between reparative and reproductive justice, I employ Olúfemi Táíwò’s constructivist view of reparations as an ongoing, generative, and ultimately world-building project. For, if reproductive justice is about developing enabling conditions wherein folks can control their birthing options and parent in safe and healthy environments, then a constructivist reparative approach is necessary—one which takes seriously the accumulative harms of history and their relation to transforming social structures in the present.
8. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 39
Lara Millman Situating Cancel Culture: On Harm Reduction, Elite Capture, and Epistemic Hurdles
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Many view cancellation as a method for holding influential personalities accountable for bad behavior, while others think cancelling amounts to censorship and bullying. I hold that neither of these accounts are worth pursuing, especially if the aim is social progress. In this paper, I offer a situated account of cancellation and cancel culture, locating the phenomenon in our exclusionary history while examining the social dynamics of belief. When we situate cancel culture, we can see how problematic instances of cancelling are embedded in ignorance. While combatting ignorance appears to call for a remedy rooted in feminist standpoint epistemology, there are risks in adopting naive practices of deference. Applying criticisms of epistemic injustice and adopting Táíwò’s elite capture framework, I explain how well-intentioned cancelling can work against social movements. Since epistemic trust mechanisms discourage self-reflection and belief revision, the relevant tactics for enacting social change—coalition politics and education—seem out of reach. I conclude by sketching cancel culture as a diagnostic tool: cancellation can be used appropriately in marginalized communities, but when it comes to combatting ignorance among privileged folks, we should view cancel culture as a method for determining where our social institutions are failing us.
9. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 39
Tony White Our Problem Isn’t Polarization—It’s Sectarianism: A Kingian Diagnosis and Response
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A common analysis of current U.S. politics identifies the main problem as ideological polarization leading to government dysfunction, and moderation as the main solution. But drawing from Martin Luther King Jr., I contend that the main problem is sectarianism or us-them thinking, leading to injustice, and the main solution a social movement of love and justice. Notably, while many call for deemphasizing ideas, my solution calls for more emphasis on ideas. The purpose of government is justice. The moderation solution, although superficially value-free, implicitly values the status quo or gradualism over justice, reflecting King’s “white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice.” Sectarianism is bad for involving animosity toward outgroup members and undermining critical thinking, resulting in decision-making based on group power rather than rationality and justice. The moderation solution resembles sectarianism in encourag­ing decision-making based not on substance but relative to where others stand. Moreover, responding to injustice with moderation often involves capitulation to it. Counteracting sectarianism requires caring across group lines and making political decisions based on justice. A social movement, appealing to high ideals and broad solidarity—like King’s “extremism” for love and justice—is necessary to transform policies and our political culture.
10. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 39
Johanna C. Luttrell Demanding Apology, Demanding Forgiveness: American Expectations of Atonement in Anti-Black Violence
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American media is very quick to ask victims of anti-Black violence if they forgive their victimizers. The media’s nearly reflexive framing is a symptom of the broader, cultural demand that Black victims grant forgiveness for racist violence. Reading Juliet Hooker and Myisha Cherry, this paper links the current preponderance of such demand for forgiveness to a demand for apology in America’s lynching tradition. Drawing from Sonya Renee Taylor, Ida B. Wells, and Frederick Douglass, I give a history to both kinds of normative demands and show how, though they appear as seem­ing contraries, demands for forgiveness and apology function together as methods of anti-Black violence. I then draw from work in transformative justice to differentiate the perspectives of asking, giving, and demanding forgiveness. When understood through the perspective of victims, a certain kind of embodied forgiveness can have liberatory potential. However, observers’ demands for forgiveness too often function as a method of racial oppression.
11. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 39
Kevin M. Graham, Anaja Arthur, Ali Griswold, Beau Kearns, Quinlyn Klade, Maddox Larson, Suraya Wayne Black Trust and White Allies: Insights from Slave Narratives
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In this article, we explore two related questions. First, under what conditions, if any, can a Black person trust a white person to be a reliable ally in the context of a society founded on racial slavery? Second, under what conditions, if any, can a Black person trust a white person to be a reliable ally in the context of a white supremacist society? We follow Karen Jones and Nancy Nyquist Potter in arguing that allies must not only be competent, conscientious, and accurately self-assess their epistemic capacities, but they must also signal their trustworthiness in advance to those who would trust them. Furthermore, we argue based on our readings of the slave narratives of Mary Prince, Harriet Jacobs, and Frederick Douglass that allies must display social awareness of the social context that they share with those who would trust them and the power dynamics involved in that social context.
part iii: 2002 nassp book award
12. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 39
Shannon Fyfe Summary of Getting our Act Together: A Theory of Collective Moral Obligations
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13. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 39
Shannon Fyfe In Hopes of "Getting Our Act Together"
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14. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 39
William McBride Individualism and Morality
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15. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 39
Randall C. Morris Collective Moral Obligations: A Need for Moral Theory
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16. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 39
Anne Schwenkenbecher Commentary for NASSP Award Symposium: Response to Commentators
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17. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 39
Notes on Contributors
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18. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 38
Zachary Hoskins, Joan Woolfrey Introduction
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part 1: keynote address
19. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 38
Mark Lance Revolutionary Repair
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part 2: revolutions and reparations
20. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 38
Erik A. Anderson Countering MacKinnon on Rape and Consent
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Feminists are divided on whether consent should be employed in legal definitions of rape. Catharine MacKinnon has criticized the usefulness of consent in enabling legal systems to recognize and prosecute instances of rape (MacKinnon 1989, 2005, 2016). In a recent article in this journal, Lisa H. Schwartzman defends the use of affirmative consent in rape law against MacKinnon’s critique (Schwartzman 2019). In contrast to MacKinnon, Schwartzman claims our understanding of rape must include both force and consent components. In this paper, I will argue in agreement with Schwartzman and against MacKinnon that the legal definition of rape should include an affirmative consent component. I will take Schwartzman’s discussion as my point of departure and consider whether she has responded adequately to MacKinnon’s criticisms of consent. I will argue that her responses are not fully adequate. In particular, she has not successfully rebutted the argument that an appeal to consent is unnecessary once we have accepted an expanded definition of coercion. I will then provide a more affirmative defense of affirmative consent in response to MacKinnon’s most challenging criticism.