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1. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 35
Zachary Hoskins, Joan Woolfrey, Gregory Hoskins Editors' Introduction
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part i: keynote addresses
2. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 35
S. Matthew Liao Human Rights and Public Health Ethics
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This paper relates human rights to public health ethics and policies by discussing the nature and moral justification of human rights generally, and the right to health in particular. Which features of humanity ground human rights? To answer this question, as an alternative to agency and capabilities approaches, the paper offers the “fundamental conditions approach,” according to which human rights protect the fundamental conditions for pursuing a good life. The fundamental conditions approach identifies “basic health”—the adequate functioning of the various parts of our organism needed for the development and exercise of the fundamental capacities—as the object of a human right. A human right to basic health entails human rights to the essential resources for promoting and maintaining basic health, including adequate nutrition, basic health care, and basic education. Duty bearers include every able person in appropriate circumstances, as well as governments and government agencies, private philanthropic foundations, and transnational corporations.
3. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 35
Serene Khader Is Universalism the Cause of Feminist Complicity in Imperialism?
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Global and transnational feminist praxis has long faced a seemingly inexorable dilemma. Universalism is often charged with causing feminist complicity in imperialism. In spite of this, it seems clear that feminists should not embrace relativism; feminism is, after all, a view about how certain types of treatment based on gender are wrong. This article clears the path for an anti-imperialist feminist universalism by showing how feminist complicity in imperialism is not caused by the fact of having universalist normative commitments. What I call “missionary feminism” stems more from ethnocentrism, justice monism, and idealizing and moralizing ways of seeing that associate Western culture with morality (and thus prevent Western culture and Western intervention from becoming objects of normative scrutiny) than from universalism about the value of gender justice.
part ii: health, well-being, and society
4. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 35
Chong Choe-Smith Should Undocumented Immigrants Have Access to Public Benefits?
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Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for most federally funded public benefits programs with few exceptions such as emergency medical assistance and nutrition assistance for women and children. This paper defends the view that a liberal society should provide greater access to undocumented immigrants to public benefits programs and responds to an important economic objection that a state should be able to prioritize the needs of its own members who contribute to these programs. This paper specifically addresses empirical and moral versions of this objection. It also distinguishes between two kinds of public benefits. Certain public benefits, such as social security, may reflect an agreed-upon distribution of public goods, to which people are entitled based on their membership or contribution. Other public benefits, such as nutrition assistance, are set aside primarily to help people based on their need. In the latter case, it is not membership or contribution, but need or which need is greater, that supplies justification for the distribution of these benefits even when resources are limited.
5. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 35
David J. Leichter Communication Breakdown: Probing the Limits of Narrative Medicine and its Discontents
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The turn to narrative in biomedicine has been one of the most important alternatives to traditional approaches to bioethics. Rather than using ethical theories and principles to guide behavior, narrative ethics uses the moral imagination to cultivate and expand one’s capacities for empathy. This paper argues that by themselves narratives do not, and cannot, fully capture the range of the illness experience. But more than that, the emphasis on narrative often obscures how dominant forms of narrative discourse often operate to marginalize those whose narratives fall outside the parameters of traditional narrative forms or whose stories are occluded by structural violence and oppression. Rather, by focusing on forms of embodiment that are irreducible to narrative discursivity, this paper highlights forms of selfhood that exist outside of the narrative self.
6. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 35
Karen C. Adkins Gaslighting by Crowd
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Most psychological literature on gaslighting focuses on it as a dyadic phenomenon occurring primarily in marriage and family relationships. In my analysis, I will extend recent fruitful philosophical engagement with gaslighting (Abramson, “Turning up the Lights on Gaslighting” [2014]; McKinnon, “Allies Behaving Badly: Gaslighting as Epistemic Injustice” [2017]; Ruiz, “Spectral Phenomenologies” [2014]) by arguing that gaslighting, particularly gaslighting that occurs in more public spaces like the workplace, relies upon external reinforcement for its success. I will ground this study in an analysis of the film Gaslight, for which the phenomenon is named, and in the course of the analysis will focus on a paradox of this kind of gaslighting: it wreaks significant epistemic and moral damages largely through small, often invisible actions that have power through their accumulation and reinforcement.
7. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 35
Lisa H. Schwartzman Defining Rape: Gender Equality, Force, and Consent
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Legal definitions of rape traditionally required proof of both force and nonconsent. Acknowledging the difficulty of demonstrating the conjunction of force and nonconsent, many feminists argue that rape should be defined based on one element or the other. Instead of debating which of these two best defines the crime of rape, I argue that this framework is problematic, and that both force and nonconsent must be situated in a critique of social power structures. Catharine MacKinnon provides such a critique, and she reframes rape as a matter of gender inequality. However, rather than rejecting the force/nonconsent dichotomy, MacKinnon focuses exclusively on force, which she thinks can be reconceived to include inequalities. Considering the #MeToo movement and feminist efforts to use Title IX to address campus rape, I argue that the concept of consent is more flexible than MacKinnon suggests and that “affirmative consent” can challenge this liberal model. In requiring active communication, affirmative consent shifts responsibility for rape, opens space for women’s sexual agency, and allows for the transformation of rape culture. Thus, I argue that rape should be defined by the use of force, the lack of affirmative consent, or the presence of both elements.
8. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 35
Jill Hernandez Transmuted Goods and the Legacy of the Atrocity Paradigm
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This paper responds to a recent challenge posed to Claudia Card’s atrocity paradigm by “transmuted goods,” or, goods which positively transmute victims of atrocity in ways which are difficult for the paradigm to explain. Whereas the legacy of Card’s atrocity paradigm will surely be its demand that we hold others culpable for allowing and perpetuating systems of harm which threaten our ability to flourish, this paper suggests a way for the paradigm to incorporate transmuted goods in a manner that strengthens the paradigm’s overall goal of holding people responsible for perpetuating atrocious harms. To that end, I will articulate the systematicity and transmutativity conditions of an “atrocity,” will demonstrate how “transmuted goods” can threaten the transmutativity condition of an atrocity (and, so, the efficacy of the atrocity paradigm as an ethical theory), and will conclude by suggesting a potential integration of transmuted goods into the atrocity paradigm to salvage the transmutativity condition for the paradigm.
9. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 35
Matthew R. Silliman Staying Well in Heraclitus’s River
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This philosophical dialogue explores some of the barriers to an adequate definition of general health, encompassing physical, social, and mental/emotional well-being. Many of the putative obstacles to such a definition—concerns about subjectivity, cultural difference, marginal cases, etc.—prove to be chimerical once the characters take seriously the Peircean insight that truth-claims methodologically grounded in people’s lives, experiences, and conversations need not be apodictic to be useful. Drawing on Canguilhem and others, the characters critically discuss a proposed definition of health: a dynamic equilibrium by which a human being thrives in relation to its situation. Although they do not manage to resolve all of this definition’s difficulties, or all of their differences, their interaction in some ways models the ongoing task of inquiry.
10. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 35
Emily Mathias Groundwork for the Moral Evaluation of Speech Acts
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The childhood platitude, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” has become nothing more than wishful thinking as we prepare each new generation for the slew of hurtful words they will inevitably encounter throughout their life. The truth of the matter is, words can hurt. To discuss how this is possible, a recent surge in philosophy of language literature has had the sole focus of analyzing pejorative language, particularly slurs. From semantic content theories to deflationary accounts, there have been numerous attempts to answer the questions “How can words hurt?” and “Why do some words hurt?” Unfortunately, in the current discourse, the focus has been so heavily on accounting for the features of derogatory words that the accounts skip over providing for even the most basic insult, as an indirect speech act. Using an analysis of insults, I argue that there is a layer of analysis prior to any semantic content that theories regarding speech acts should include and and I present a framework for an ethicist to do such an analysis.
11. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 35
Ben Almassi Skepticism and Pluralism on Ethics Expertise
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Does expertise have a place in ethics? As this question has been raised in moral philosophy and bioethics literatures over the past twenty years, skepticism has been a common theme, whether metaphysical (there is no such thing as ethics expertise), epistemological (we cannot know who has ethics expertise) or social-political (we should not treat anyone as having ethics expertise). Here I identify three common, contestable assumptions about ethics expertise which underwrite skepticism of one form or another: (1) a singular conception of ethics expertise constituted by a core property or unity among multiple properties, (2) equivocation of ethics expertise and ethicists’ expertise, and (3) priority of moral deference as an unavoidable implication of ethics expertise. Taken separately, each assumption can have unpalatable implications for ethics expertise that make skepticism seem more attractive; taken together, the resulting picture of ethics expertise is that much worse. Each of these assumptions is vulnerable to criticism, however, and jettisoning them enables a pluralist approach to ethics expertise less prone to skepticism and better suited for the ranging functions of ethics expertise in healthcare and other contexts.
part iii: repllies
12. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 35
Anna Terwiel Between Carceral Feminism and Transformative Justice: A Critical Response to “Anti-Carceral Feminism and Sexual Assault—A Defense” by Chloë Taylor
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part iv: nassp book award
13. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 35
Emily McGill Introduction: NASSP Award Winner: Colleen Murphy, The Conceptual Foundations of Transitional Justice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017)
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14. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 35
Karen Adkins We Need More Transitional Justice
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15. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 35
Seth Mayer Equality, Democracy, and Transitional Justice
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16. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 35
James Boettcher Transitional Justice, Trade-offs, and the Troubles
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17. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 35
Colleen Murphy Transitional Justice, the United States, Equality, and Trade-offs: A Response to Adkins, Mayer, and Boettcher
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18. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 35
Notes on Contributors
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19. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 34
Zachary Hoskins, Joan Woolfrey Editors’ Introduction
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part i: keynote address
20. 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.