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Social Philosophy Today

Volume 28, 2012
Freedom, Religion, and Gender

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Displaying: 1-15 of 15 documents

1. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 28
Jeff Gauthier Introduction
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i: keynote address 2011 nassp conference
2. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 28
Jodi O'Brien Stained Glass Ceilings: Religion, Leadership, and the Cultural Politics of Belonging
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This article is based on a keynote address delivered at the annual meetings of the North American Society for Social Philosophy. It chronicles the story of my hire as the Dean of Arts and Sciences at Marquette University, and the subsequent revocation of that deanship in reaction to pressure from conservative Catholic sources. This is a story about religion, leadership, sexuality, and politics. In these comments, I describe the case, offer an analysis of the event based on the logic of a cultural politics of belonging and exclusion within a religious framework, and suggest a critique of forms of institutional power whereby diversity is intentionally cultivated in accordance with the Jesuit educational mission and then betrayed when it becomes controversial.
ii : problems of politics and knowledge
3. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 28
Christine Wieseler A Philosophical Investigation: Interrogating Practices and Beliefs about Disability
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Sometimes beliefs that are shared are treated as if they are knowledge in spite of a lack of evidence or even in the face of evidence to the contrary. Beliefs informed by prejudices and ignorance about people with disabilities are often treated as certain and reinforced by social practices. In this paper, I distinguish between knowledge claims and beliefs that are treated as if they are true. I use Wittgenstein’s account of the connection between epistemic and other social practices in On Certainty to consider how it is possible to change beliefs about disability. I draw on Naomi Scheman’s “Forms of life: Mapping the Rough Ground” to consider political applications of Wittgenstein’s thought. I use a Wittgensteinian framework to critique Peter Singer’s claims regarding the lives of disabilities in Practical Ethics. I draw attention to the ways in which unjustified beliefs about disability can inform and be reified through social practices. Likewise, changes in social practices can dislodge common ableist beliefs about disability.
4. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 28
Abigail Gosselin Addiction Narratives: Background Assumptions and Policy Implications
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The predominant narratives of addiction—Disease and Choice narratives—frame addiction as a personal problem to be addressed by controlling an individual’s behavior. By analyzing the epistemic function of narratives of addiction, this paper shows that these narratives construct a story about the nature of addiction by assuming simplistic views about human agency, leading to drug policies that narrowly focus on individual behavior. Assumptions embedded within narratives must be made transparent so that the partial, perspectival, and situated nature of the knowledge that narratives convey is made evident and can be evaluated. As a result of their over-simplistic assumptions about human agency, Disease and Choice narratives neglect a significant factor in addiction: the social context which informs and sets limits on the reasons and values that enter into decision-making. This paper argues for the adoption of Social Constraint narratives, which would require policy agendas to focus on the social contexts that make drug use so appealing. As a result, agencies dealing with drug policy would need to collaborate with other agencies focusing on relevant social issues in order to create structural change, thus affecting the social environment and not merely the individual.
5. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 28
Devora Shapiro "Objectivity" and the Arbitration of Experiential Knowledge
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In order to arbitrate conflicting propositional knowledge claims—such as when two individuals claim to know the height of a tree in the yard—there is (ostensibly) a “fact of the matter” about who is correct. Experiential, non-propositional knowledge, on the other hand, is not so obviously mediated. For one, experiential knowledge is—at least partially—subjective; one of its virtues is that it matters what a person’s background is, socially, etc., when determining the legitimacy of their claims. But this suggests a question: How do we decide whose experience of an event is right, when two individuals differ in their accounts of a single event?In this paper I present the concept of experiential knowledge, asserting that this knowledge is frequently nonpropositional. I argue that accepting experiential knowledge is fundamental to issues of social justice, specifically when it is precisely the claims of those who have the least social or political “authority” who are in danger of having their experiences and the knowledge gained from those experiences, discounted. I address worries over the arbitration of experiential knowledge, and conclude that in cases where necessary, arbitration is both possible and often morally required.
iii : violence, authority, liberation, and community
6. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 28
Andrew Fitz-Gibbon Somaesthetics: Body Consciousness and Nonviolence
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In this paper I suggest that an ambivalence toward—sometimes hatred of—bodies has contributed to violence against bodies. I take my cue from the work of Richard Shusterman who coined the word “somaesthetics” and who has called for a new philosophical discipline of the same name. Shusterman’s work provides the beginning of a new matrix for a positive body consciousness. I also glance briefly at the work of Mark Johnson and other pragmatists who have urged a new conceptualization of bodies and minds in the light of cognitive science. I suggest that this positive body consciousness is an essential element in the philosophy of nonviolence and the quest for less violence against bodies. I then consider helpful traditions from the east, particularly Daoism, that already have a developed system of body-mind-spirit practices that aid body consciousness. Such traditions, adapted and modified to our context in the west, may provide the practice for an authentic nonviolent existence where bodies matter more than they have in the past.
7. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 28
David K. Chan The Ethics of War and Law Enforcement in Defending Against Terrorism
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There are two contrasting paradigms for dealing with terrorists: war and law enforcement. In this paper, I first discuss how the just war theory assesses the military response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. I argue that the ethical problems with the U.S. attack on Afghanistan in response to 9/11 concern principles of jus ad bellum besides just cause. I show that the principles of right intention, last resort, proportionality and likelihood of success were violated. Furthermore, both jus in bello principles of proportionality and discrimination were not satisfied in targeting terrorists in places where civilians not linked to them live. The law enforcement that takes place in liberal democracies is fully respectful and protective of innocent lives. Crime is dealt with by apprehending lawbreakers and putting them on trial if possible, and by keeping criminal elements on the loose away from potential victims. Good law enforcement also includes acting to remove causes of crime. I examine how this model applies to the problem of terrorism and address objections concerning the impossibility ofeliminating terrorism, the slowness of success, and the possibility that there are “nut cases” who hate America no matter what.
8. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 28
Justin L. Harmon Dwelling In the House that Porn Built: A Phenomenological Critique of Pornography In the Age of Internet Technology
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This paper is a critique of pornography from within the framework of Heideggerian phenomenology. I contend that pornography is a pernicious form of technological discourse in which women are reduced to spectral and anonymous figures fulfilling a universal role, namely that of sexual subordination. Further, the danger of pornography is covered over in the public sphere as a result of the pervasive appeal to its status as mere fantasy. I argue that relegating the problem to the domain of fantasy is superficial and specious at best, inasmuch as fantasy itself is ultimately grounded in everyday reality. When not concealed as innocuous “fantasy,” pornography has been defended under the rubric of “free speech.” One of my aims is to repudiate this approach by revealing it as grounded in a highly suspect and self-contradictory phallocentric view of language. Rae Langton’s (2009) recently published collection of essays on pornography attacks the problem largely in terms of “objectification” and the Austinian notion of “illocutionary disablement” from a position of authority. In this paper, I too confront the issues of language, objectification, and authority, but as articulated by means of Heidegger’s critique of technology.
9. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 28
Saba Fatima Presence of Mind: A Political Posture
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The political posture often encouraged in liberatory movements is that of urgency. Urgency is based on the idea that if oppressed peoples do not act “now,” then their fate is forever sealed as subordinates within social and political power hierarchies. This paper focuses on a contrasting political posture, termed presence of mind, motivated by the current political atmosphere of distrust and disenfranchisement in which some Muslim-Americans find themselves. Presence of mind is defined as the ability to critically unpack visceral affective responses to injustice—giving special consideration to power structures, one’s social location, and relationships—and then to asses an appropriate response in virtue of that consideration that best upholds our commitments. This paper argues that cultivating presence of mind acknowledges the complexities of the Muslim-Americans’ identity while providing a posture that allows the resistor to best represent their political commitments.
10. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 28
Erica L. Neely Two Concepts of Community
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Communities play an important role in many areas of philosophy, ranging from epistemology through social and political philosophy. However, two notions of community are often conflated. The descriptive concept of community takes a community to be a collection of individuals satisfying a particular description. The relational concept of community takes a community to consist of more than a set of members satisfying a particular trait; there must also be a relation of recognition among the members or between the members and the community as a whole. The descriptive concept is simpler, however, it does not provide a sufficiently robust concept of community. I argue instead that the relational notion is philosophically richer and more accurately captures the true nature of a community.
iv. nassp book award: stephen nathanson, terrorism and the ethics of war
11. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 28
Joan McGregor Commentary on Nathanson’s Terrorism and the Ethics of War
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Understanding the nature of terrorism is extremely important given the role it currently plays in national and international rhetoric and politics. Nathanson’s book Terrorism and the Ethics of War is a fascinating and extremely timely detailed account of terrorism. He explores what terrorism is, what makes it morally wrong, and whether there are conditions that might ever justify its use. Though terrorism is widely and universally condemned, what count as specific instances of terrorism are often in dispute. One person’s “freedom fighter” is another person’s terrorist. In this commentary, I raise some questions about Nathanson’s account and offer a friendly suggestion about an additional condition for terrorism. Beyond that I question how the term ‘terrorism’ is currently used by law enforcement in this country and suggest that law enforcement would be wise to utilize Nathanson’s analysis of terrorism.
12. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 28
Sally J. Scholz Innocence and Vulnerability: Comments on Terrorism and the Ethics of War, by Stephen Nathanson
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In Stephen Nathanson’s important new book, he offers and defends a definition of terrorism that relies on a conception of innocence that blends both moral innocence and status innocence. I argue that this understanding of innocence needs to be modified in two ways. First, status innocence ought to incorporate the notion of opposition. It is not just in becoming a soldier that one sacrifices status innocence; it is in the context of war or opposition. Second, I argue that moral innocence understood according to a liability-based notion of responsibility is insufficient. It does not address the various relational elements of responsibility. To remedy that gap, I suggest that we add a vulnerability-based notion of responsibility together with the liability-based model for a more complete account of moral innocence.
13. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 28
Matthew R. Silliman Is Terrorism, or War, Ever Justified? Comment on Nathanson’s Terrorism and the Ethics of War
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Nathanson asks how we can properly understand terrorism such that it is (a) always unjustified, and (b) does not thereby preclude justified warfare. By means of a novel ruleutilitarian argument bolstering the inviolability of noncombatants, he hopes to have crafted such an understanding. While praising Nathanson’s rigor and originality, this paper questions the moral-theoretic completeness of his procedure, and then raises challenges from two directions: (1) an argument for the justifiability of terrorism in certain circumstances, and (2) an argument against the justifiability of warfare under any circumstances. The first challenge can probably be met by the argumentative resources of the book; it is possible that the second cannot, though perhaps it unfairly asks the author to go beyond the scope of the project.
14. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 28
Stephen Nathanson Terrorism and the Ethics of War: Responses to Joan McGregor, Sally Scholz, and Matthew Silliman
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The primary thesis of Terrorism and the Ethics of War is that terrorist acts are always wrong. I begin this paper by describing two views that I criticize in the book The first condemns all terrorism but applies the term in a biased way; the second defends some terrorist acts. I then respond to issues raised by the commentators. I discuss Joan McGregor’s concerns about the definition of terrorism and about how terrorism differs from other forms of violence againstinnocent people. I respond to Sally Scholz’s challenges to my interpretation of innocence. She argues that soldiers can be innocent victims of terrorism and that both relationships and vulnerability are important to understanding innocence. Matthew Silliman questions my defense of utilitarianism and challenges two views that I defend: that all terrorist acts are wrong and that war can sometimes be right. I sketch brief responses to these important points.
15. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 28
Notes on Contributors
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