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1. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 34
Zachary Hoskins, Joan Woolfrey Editors’ Introduction
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part i: keynote address
2. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 34
Lisa Guenther Unmaking and Remaking the World in Long-term Solitary Confinement
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This paper analyzes the Security Housing Unit in Pelican Bay State Prison as a form of weaponized architecture for the torture of prisoners and the unmaking of the world. I argue that through collective resistance, prisoners in the Pelican Bay Short Corridor have re-purposed this weaponized architecture as a tool for remaking the world by creating new, resistant and resurgent forms of social life. This collective practice of remaking of the world used the self-destructive tactic of a hunger strike to weaponize their bodies and their lives against the weaponized architecture of solitary confinement. But it also developed less spectacular, everyday practices of communication, self-expression, and community-building within a system that is designed to suppress these practices. By collectively refusing food, and by articulating the meaning and motivation of this refusal in articles, interviews, artwork, and legal documents, prisoners at Pelican Bay reclaimed and expanded their perceptual, cognitive, and expressive capacities for world-making, even in a space of systematic torture.
part ii: justice: social, criminal, and juvenile
3. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 34
Chloë Taylor Anti-Carceral Feminism and Sexual Assault—A Defense: A Critique of the Critique of the Critique of Carceral Feminism
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Most mainstream feminist anti-rape scholarship and activism may be described as carceral feminism, insofar as it fails to engage with critiques of the criminal punishment system and endorses law-and-order responses to sexual and gendered violence. Mainstream feminist anti-rape scholars and activists often view increased conviction rates and longer sentences as a political goal—or, at the very least, are willing to collaborate with police and lament cases where perpetrators of sexual violence are given “light” or non-custodial sentences. Prison abolitionists, on the other hand, have tended to insist that most lawbreakers are non-violent and that the “dangerous” are “few” (Morris, “But What About the Dangerous Few?”; Carrier and Piché, “Blind Spots of Abolitionist Thought in Academia”), thus avoiding serious engagement with the widespread phenomenon of sexual violence (Critical Resistance and INCITE, “Gender Violence and the Prison-Industrial Complex”). Despite the prevalence of carceral feminism, to my knowledge no feminist scholar has explicitly embraced this label, and the closest I have found to a defense of carceral feminism is feminist legal scholar Lise Gotell’s “critique of the critique of carceral feminism” (Gotell, “Reassessing the Place of Criminal Law Reform”). For this reason, it is with Gotell’s article that I primarily engage in defending anti-carceral feminism and prison abolitionism even in the difficult case of sexual assault.
4. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 34
Carmen Madorrán Ayerra Towards a Poliethics of Enhanced Responsibility
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This paper aims at providing some insights into the philosophical tools that may help solve the huge problems of social (and environmental) justice. For that purpose, I focus on the concept of responsibility, since it could be a suitable catalyst for debate. This paper argues that we must necessarily develop an enhanced notion of responsibility and commit to it both at a social and institutional level. First, I will introduce the relation between ethics and politics—necessarily rather than contingently intertwined. I will elaborate on the concept of poliethics coined by the Spanish philosopher Francisco Fernández Buey. Second, I will outline certain changes undergone in recent years to the understanding of the concept of responsibility in the field of ethics and politics. Finally, I will argue that a significant extension of the notion of responsibility is still necessary if it is to play a relevant role in the contemporary world. I will therefore contend that there are sufficient reasons why our societies should do the moral stretch exercises suggested by Günther Anders. For that purpose, I suggest ten tenets that could serve as a basis for this poliethics of enhanced responsibility and for a collective reflection on this issue.
5. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 34
Irene Ortiz Who Has the Right to Have Rights?
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Who has the right to be a full member of a nation-state? Inherited privileges, for reasons of birth or blood, as they are put forward by and , should force us to ask: Why is it that someone cannot become a full member of a society, even if she lives, works, and has her affective relations within the borders of that nation-state? As Ayelet Shachar (“Just Membership: Between Ideals and Harsh Realities,” 2012) underlines, the place of birth is fundamental in the assignment of political membership. The aim of this article is to examine if we should get rid of the idea of citizenship or if we can just widen the concept in order to think a theory wide enough to include those who now are misrecognized.
part iii: epistemic justice
6. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 34
Abigail Gosselin Mental Illness Stigma and Epistemic Credibility
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In this paper I explore the way that mental illness stigma impacts epistemic credibility in people who have mental illness. While any kind of stigma has the potential to discredit a person’s epistemic agency, in the case of mental illness the basis for discrediting is in some cases and to some extent justifiable, for impairments in rationality, control, and reality perception can indeed be obstacles to participating appropriately in epistemic activities such as normal conversation and public discourse. People with mental illness are still potentially subject to epistemic injustices, however, especially when we rely on stereotypes and fail to make complicated and nuanced judgments which are more accurate. In this paper, I explain some of the ways that people with mental illness may be subject to epistemic injustices, and I propose some suggestions for how epistemic injustice can be avoided.
7. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 34
Ben Almassi Epistemic Injustice and Its Amelioration: Toward Restorative Epistemic Justice
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Recent works by feminist and social epistemologists have carefully mapped the contours of epistemic injustice, including gaslighting and prejudicial credibility deficits, prejudicial credibility excesses, willful hermeneutical ignorance, discursive injustices, contributory injustice, and epistemic exploitation. As we look at this burgeoning literature, attention has been concentrated mainly in four areas in descending order of emphasis: (1) phenomena of epistemic injustice themselves, including the nature of wrongdoings involved, (2) attendant consequences and repercussions, (3) individual and structural changes for prevention or mitigation, and (4) restorative, restitutive, or retributive responses. This project urges greater attention to the last of these, and to that end offers a relational approach to epistemic justice drawing upon Margaret Walker’s work on moral repair and reparative justice. In developing and enacting better epistemic practices, how can such practices be made meaningfully restorative: not only recognizing the prospects for epistemic improvement, but responding to the perpetration and experience of epistemic injustice with effective epistemic amelioration?
part iv: other questions of justice
8. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 34
Matt Silliman, David K. Braden-Johnson Doing Justice to the Is-Ought Gap
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The two characters in this philosophical dialogue, Russell Steadman and Jules Govier, take up the meaning and significance of David Hume’s famous “is-ought gap”—the proscription on inferring a fully moral claim from any number of purely descriptive statements. Building on the recent work of Hilary Putnam and John F. Post (among others), Jules attempts to show that Hume’s rule is of little consequence when discussing matters related to justice or morality as we encounter them in daily life. He derives his conclusion from the observations that all nontrivial human discourse contains, however tacitly, some degree of embedded normativity, and that an overlapping continuum of different types of normativity permits reasonable inference from apparently pure descriptions to fully moral prescriptions. While Russell agrees that moral concepts inevitably make reference to empirical reality, he insists that, precisely in virtue of the tacit normativity of discourse, Hume’s gap persists, rendering fallacious any attempt to fashion an argumentative bridge between the two types of statements. Although the two do not resolve all of their differences, both of their positions shift significantly in response to the other’s insights.
9. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 34
Larry Udell Rawls, Libertarianism, and the Employment Problem: On the Unwritten Chapter in A Theory of Justice
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Barbara Fried described John Rawls’s response to libertarianism as “the unwritten theory of justice.” This paper argues that while there is no need for a new theory of justice to address the libertarian challenge, there is a need for an additional chapter. Taking up Fried’s suggestion that the Rawlsian response would benefit from a revised list of primary goods, I propose to add employment to the list, thus leading to adoption of a full employment principle in the original position that ensures that anyone who wants to work will be able to do so. I argue that although Rawls famously proposed government as employer of last resort, he never integrated that comment into his theory, which lacks a full employment principle and says nothing about the injustice of involuntary unemployment in its ideal theory. I first refute the received view of Rawls’s treatment of employment as required by its importance for citizens’ self-respect, then show that in fact, the full employment assumption is the result of the role of general equilibrium theory in Rawls’s model of a well-ordered society, and indicate why developments in economic theory and economic policy support the proposed revision.
v: nassp book award
10. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 34
Greg Hoskins Make America Again: The 2016 NASSP Book Prize: Award Winner: Tommie Shelby, Dark Ghettos: Injustice, Dissent, and Reform (Harvard University Press, 2016)
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11. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 34
Patrick Taylor Smith Commentary on Dark Ghettos
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12. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 34
Karen Adkins Comments on Tommie Shelby, Dark Ghettos: Injustice, Dissent, and Reform
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13. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 34
Emily McGill Response to Dark Ghettos: Injustice, Dissent, and Reform
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14. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 34
Tommie Shelby The Ethics of Ghetto Abolitionism: Response to Commentators
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15. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 34
Notes on Contributors
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16. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 33
Zachary Hoskins, Joan Woolfrey Introduction
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part 1: keynote addresses
17. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 33
Noëlle McAfee Humanity and the Refugee: Another Stab at Universal Human Rights
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This paper takes up the questions of (1) how the refugee crisis exhibits the fault lines in what might otherwise seem to be a robust human rights regime and (2) what kinds of ways of seeing and thinking might better attune us to solving these problems. There is surprising agreement internationally on the content of human rights, although there is a huge gulf between international agreements on human rights and the protection of those most vital. The subtitle of the paper, “another stab at universal human rights,” has a double entendre: in the midst of a crisis that is stabbing international agreements on human rights to its core, I will take a stab at using the crisis situation to point a way forward toward a cosmopolitan social imaginary that uses human imagination, not just as an ability to represent in one’s mind what one has seen elsewhere, but also as an ability to imagine something radically new. This social imaginary points to the necessity of according everyone, refugees included, as having a right to politics and thus a hand in shaping their own world, including their new, host communities.
18. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 33
Gerald Gaus Is Public Reason a Normalization Project? Deep Diversity and the Open Society
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At one point Rawls thought that “a normalization of interests attributed to the parties” is “common to social contract doctrines.” Normalization has a great appeal: once we specify the normalized perspective, we can generate strong and definite principles of justice. Public reasoning is restricted to those who reason from the eligible, normalized, perspective; those who fall outside the “normal” are to be dismissed as unreasonable, unjust, or illiberal. As Rawls’s political liberalism project developed he increasingly relaxed his normalization assumptions, allowing room for not only different conceptions of the good, but of justice. This paper explores the post-Rawlsian movement in public reason to maximally relax, or even abandon, normalizing assumptions, drawing on a maximal diversity of normative perspectives in public justification. The public reason project is at a critical juncture. Are we to look back, defending Rawls’s substantive conclusions by devising new defenses of normalization, circling the wagons around the cherished two principles? Or are we to seek to fulfill the promise of public reason as providing a common public and moral world in the midst of diversity?
part ii: power and public reason
19. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 33
Jeremy Butler Participation, Legitimacy, and the Epistemic Dimension of Deliberative Democracy
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The aim of this paper is to elucidate a significant epistemic dimension of deliberative democracy. I argue that the role of citizens’ political judgments in deliberative democratic theory commits deliberative democracy to a view of deliberation as an essentially epistemic enterprise, one aimed at identifying correct answers to questions of political morality. This epistemic reading stands in contrast to prevailing views of deliberative democracy that tend to hold that the normatively significant function of deliberation is merely to legitimate democratic decisions, regardless of their substantive correctness. These views tend to regard any epistemic benefit of deliberation as a mere welcome side effect, ancillary to the aim of securing legitimacy. My argument, however, shows deliberative democratic legitimacy itself to depend on the epistemic success of deliberative procedures with respect to questions of political morality. I approach this argument by way of a contrast between deliberative democracy and the so-called aggregative conception of democracy. It will turn out that the important philosophical differences between the two views are located in their different conceptions of political participation and democratic legitimacy. I then go on to argue that the deliberative conceptions of participation and legitimacy give rise to an epistemic dimension which is generally underappreciated, but which is crucial to a proper understanding of deliberative democracy. I conclude that it is incumbent upon deliberative democrats to offer a compelling account of the epistemic value of deliberative procedures. The epistemic value of deliberation is not just a convenient epiphenomenon of deliberative democracy’s legitimation procedures. Rather, it is a necessary condition of those procedures playing their legitimating role at all.
20. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 33
Melissa Yates Public Reasoning under Social Conditions of Strangerhood
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Political philosophers have long focused on how to explain democratically legitimate governance under social conditions of pluralism. The challenge, when framed this way, is how to justify a common set of political principles without imposing controversial moral, religious, or metaphysical doctrines on one another. In this paper I propose an alternate starting point, replacing the concept of “social conditions of pluralism” with the background assumption that democratic societies must respond to “social conditions of strangerhood.” In the first section, I make my case for viewing political relationships in terms of relationships with and as strangers, partly illustrated by empirical examples. In the second section, I explain why I think solutions to the challenges of democratic pluralism in terms of the support for public deliberation and reasoning are doomed to fail in addressing much deeper dilemmas posed by the persistence of governing as strangers to the extent that they depend on ties of cultural or epistemic familiarity and commonality. Finally, in the third section, I propose ways we might change our expectations of democratic legitimacy to better facilitate our political relationships with and as strangers.