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Philosophical Topics

Volume 41, Issue 2, Fall 2013
Envisioning Plurality: Feminist Perspectives on Pluralism in Ethics, Politics, and Social Theory

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Displaying: 1-10 of 11 documents


1. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Bonnie Mann, Jean Keller, Why a Feminist Volume on Pluralism? Bonnie Mann and Jean Keller
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pluralism’s failures and certain conditions for the possibility of success
2. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Scott L. Pratt, Indigenous Agencies and the Pluralism of Empire
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In 1914, Francis E. Leupp, former commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, presented an answer to the so-called Indian Problem that some have called pluralist. This paper examines the development of Leupp’s pluralism as part of the policies and practices of the genocide of American Indians as it was carried out in the years following the US Civil War. Rather than being a singular event in the history of US-Indian relations, I argue that Leupp’s pluralism is part of the settler colonial system that persists and finds present expression in contemporary liberal pluralism. I consider two examples of recent pluralist theory, those of Charles Taylor and William Galston. I conclude by arguing that what both forms of pluralism—Leupp’s and recent liberal varieties—have in common is a conception of agency that rejects the American Indian conception and conserves structural genocide as a central part of present-day society.
3. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Jennifer Lisa Vest, What Would Philosophic Pluralism Look Like?: True Dialogue, Epistemic Credibility, Rational Parity, and Death in the University
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Because pluralism at its heart is an epistemic problem in philosophy, what is at issue in discussions of philosophical pluralism are the definitions of who counts as a knower and what counts as knowledge. In this philopoetic article, in which philosophic claims are interwoven with poetic and narrative recountings of my own experiences with racist patriarchal violence in the discipline, I argue for an epistemic approach to creating pluralism in philosophy through the satisfaction of seven conditions. These conditions require, at minimum, that we consider the importance of hiring multiply-positioned persons; that we critique patriarchy and white hegemonic discourses; that we rethink assumptions about epistemic credibility; and that we dispense with “perverse dialogues.” Finally, we must encourage “true dialogue” and create a “new dialogic” in philosophy.
4. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Alison Reiheld, Asking Too Much? Civility vs. Pluralism
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In a morally diverse society, moral agents inevitably run up against intractable disagreements. Civility functions as a valuable constraint on the sort of behaviors that moral agents might deploy in defense of their deeply held moral convictions and generally requires tolerance of other views and political liberalism, as does pluralism. However, most visions of civility are exceptionless: they require civil behavior regardless of how strong the disagreement is between two members of the same society. This seems an excellent idea when those required to do the tolerating might otherwise smash us. However, the demands of civility areuniversal and fall upon everyone, including ourselves. They may seem to require us to tolerate the intolerable, leading us not into pluralism but rather into functional relativism, and also require the powerless to moderate their demands for redress. They also place moral agents in a very difficult position with respect to realizing our deeply held moral values. Isaiah Berlin’s pluralism, by contrast, allows us to violate tolerance when we come up against values that, put into practice, are incompatible with a form of life we can tolerate. Despite the many fronts on which civility and pluralism align, they are also pitted against each other. Only a qualified (not exceptionless) civility based in respect for persons can cohere with pluralism and thus resolve the double bind in which the moral agentseemed to be placed by exceptionless civility. I develop a rule for Accepted Exceptions that helps to explain how moral agents can be civil, value pluralism, demand redress, and maintain their own deeply held moral commitments.
5. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Shari Stone-Mediatore, Attending to Others: Simone Weil and Epistemic Pluralism Shari Stone-Mediatore
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Since the 1980s, feminist epistemologists have traced the cultural biases that have denied epistemic value to certain epistemic styles and agents while they have explored ways to reclaim the devalued epistemic modes—including more practical, emotionally invested, and community-situated modes of knowing—that many of us have found to be meaningful ways of engaging the world. At the same time, feminist critics have sought not merely to reverse received epistemic hierarchies but to explore more pluralistic epistemologies that appreciate as well as examine critically the diverse ways that humans engage the world. This paper examines how Simone Weil’s concept of paying attention can contribute to such a critical and pluralist epistemology. By reading Weil’s account of “a certain kind of attention” together with feminist and decolonial critiques of modern epistemic norms, I show how Weil points toward an epistemic framework that would open our intellectual communities to a greater plurality of epistemic styles and agents and, ultimately, would make possible richer knowledge practices that are more responsive to world problems.
feminist pluralism and religious worldviews
6. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Allison Weir, Islamic Feminisms and Freedom
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This essay discusses the interaction of struggles for gender equality with a plurality of conceptions of freedom in Islamic feminist scholarship and activism. I discuss Islamic feminist critiques of feminism and rights, the concept of Islamic secularism, and the problematization of freedom in relation to women’s piety movements. Finally I take up Islamic feminist interpretations of the Qur’an to identify conceptions of freedom in this work. I argue, first, that there are diverse conceptions of freedom at play in Islamic feminist scholarship, and second, that a plurality of conceptions of freedom can support feminist practice and goals.
7. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Paria Gashtili, Is an “Islamic Feminism” Possible?: Gender Politics in the Contemporary Islamic Republic of Iran
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In recent years, Islamic feminism has become a prevalent and controversial topic among scholars from Muslim countries and Western feminists. While respecting the efforts of Muslim activists, this paper argues that because Islamic perspective is inherently anti-pluralist, it is not conducive to feminism and even at odds with it. Since it is impossible to make any generalizations about Muslim countries, this paper focuses on the debate of Islam and feminism as it relates to Iran. Islamic laws that are the ground for constitutions in many Muslim countries treat men and women unequally. In countries with a theocracy, Islam becomes a political system where the power of the ruling elite, which are the clerics, becomes an important obstacle on the way of reforms. As a worldview, Islam provides a fixed identity of women and men that is irreconcilable with any liberating theory. The significance of this discussion lies in the potential of celebration of “Islamic feminism” for reinforcing the fusion of religion and politics in a country such as Iran, which has a religious state.
8. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Fulden Ibrahimhakkioglu, Beyond the Modern/Religious Dichotomy: The Veil and Feminist Solidarity in Contemporary Turkey
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Secular nationalism and Islamism constitute a major political polarization in current day Turkey. The proponents of both political orientations use the trope of the veiled woman, in order to advance their respective ideologies. However, the instrumentalization of women’s bodies in this way not only proves inefficient in adequately addressing many of the problems that women face today, but it is also linked to the relentless state control and regulation over our bodies. The following essay gives an account of the ways in which both secular nationalists and Islamists are not hesitant about policing our bodies at the service of theirideology. This is a call for solidarity and a true feminist pluralism outside the confines of this divide within which women’s interests always take the back seat to nationalist projects.
9. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Kim Q. Hall, Philosophy, Religion, Race, and Queerness: A Question of Accommodation or Access
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In this paper I consider recent feminist critiques of the whiteness of philosophy’s secularism. Building on the distinction in disability studies between accommodation and access, I argue that, in order to effectively address philosophy’s whiteness and heteronormativity, critiques of philosophy’s secularism must be accountable to religion’s historical and contemporary role in perpetuating harm against queer people. While it is absolutely crucial to critique and work to undo the whiteness of mainstream philosophy, it is equally important to do so in a way that does not further marginalize queer people. I build on Gloria Anzaldùa’sdistinction between spirituality and religion, Sara Ahmed’s discussion of willfulness, and the distinction between accommodation and accessin disability studies to suggest a nonadditive concept of pluralism that moves toward the transformation of philosophy.
feminist pluralism and fundamental values
10. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Lisa Tessman, Value Pluralism, Intuitions, and Reflective Equilibrium
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A constructivist approach to ethics must include some process—such as John Rawls’s reflective equilibrium—for moving from initial evaluative judgments to those that one can affirm. Margaret Urban Walker’s feminist version of reflective equilibrium incorporates what she calls “transparency testing” to weed out pernicious, ideologically shaped intuitions. However, in light of empirical work on the plurality of values and on the cognitive processes through which people arrive at moral judgments (i.e., an automatic, intuitive process and/or a controlled reasoning process), I raise one concern: some moral requirements can only be grasped intuitively and should not have to be affirmed from the perspective of other confidently held values. For Harry Frankfurt, the “requirements of love” are one such example; failing to fulfill these requirements is, for someone who loves, unthinkable; one transgresses the associated values merely by considering sacrificing them. I suggest—citing empirical work on “sacred values” (such as the work of Philip Tetlock)—that to subject these requirements to transparency testing would be to transgress them by having “one thought too many” (as in the work of Bernard Williams). One’s confidence in these values and the authority of these valuesdepend on an automatic process. I consider the risks, and the necessity, of embracing both intuitive and reasoning processes for affirming the authority of a plurality of moral values.