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Social Philosophy Today

Volume 16, 2000
Race, Social Identity, and Human Dignity

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Displaying: 11-20 of 22 documents


part iii: dignity
11. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 16
Ernesto V. Garcia The Social Nature of Kantian Dignity
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Most scholars describe Kant’s idea of dignity as what I term his “vertical” account—that is, our human dignity insofar as we rise above heteronomous natural inclinations and realize human freedom by obeying the moral law. In this paper, I attempt to supplement this traditional view by exploring Kant’s neglected “horizontal” account of dignity—that is, our human dignity insofar as we exist in relationship with others. First, I examine the negative aspect of this horizontal account of dignity, found in Kant’s discussion of public heteronomy perpetuated by unjust social institutions. Second, I explore Kant’s idea of public dignity realized via social interaction: both (1) at the interpersonal level of education and friendship, and (2) at the societal level, in terms of moral education in the public sphere and a communal moral striving towards the highest good. I argue that we cannot realize our full human dignity for Kant outside of the context of concrete social relations with other moral agents.
12. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 16
Jessica Prata Miller A Critical Moral Ethnography of Social Distrust
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This paper explores the ways in which trust and distrust, especially among relative strangers, are connected to social identities and locations. It begins by sketching an account of interpersonal trust, emphasizing the role that socially salient identities, based in part upon cultural figurations, play in their development. It then contends that these cultural figurations both foster and result from distrust of specific social groups, including African Americans, the poor, and (some) women. Treating social roles and relations as central to moral analysis enables an understanding of the injustice of some forms of social distrust which does not imply that one individual’s distrust of another is culpable in a straightforward way. The paper then develops the claim that one’s social location can affect the moral desirability of trust and distrust, concluding that social distrust can sometimes function as a kind of dissident attitude, a political stance with emancipatory potential.
13. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 16
Jan Narveson Race, Social Identity, Human Dignity: Respect for Individuals
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This general discussion asks just what social identity is and to what extent race, gender, and ethnicity contribute to it—the answer being, basically, very little. Social identity is how we are seen and classified by others, involving, in part, classifications that are empirically checkable; but there are also attitudes at work that are not wholly subject to testing. A major concern here is respect for and maintenance of human dignity, which in turn is analyzed into a fundamental “core” notion, and a more “special” notion. It is argued that the core notion stems from general humanity and that respecting it is basic to all good social relations. The “special” notions, on the other hand, are more variable and we need to be careful not to subordinate the core conception to special ones; doing this might have the ill effect, say, of taking it that someone’s right not to be murdered is due to race or gender.
14. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 16
John R. Rowan Privacy, Safety, and Human Dignity: The Moral Status of Megan’s Laws
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This paper is an analysis of the reasoning behind Megan’s Laws, which pertain to the notification of communities when convicted sex offenders move into the area, especially those offenders who have carried out crimes against children. Liberals tend to criticize these laws and often point to the value of privacy, which they claim would be unacceptably compromised by allowing them. Communitarians tend to endorse these laws and often point to the value of safety, which they claim would be unacceptably compromised were it not for such laws. Both sides also rely on the notion of human dignity in support of their arguments. In this paper, I offer a common foundation for these values and suggest implications regarding the moral acceptability of Megan’s Laws.
part iv: language and belief
15. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 16
Kory Schaff Hate Speech and the Problems of Agency: A Critique of Butler
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At the center of the hate speech controversy is the question whether it constitutes conduct. If hate speech is not conduct, then restricting it runs counter to free speech. But even if it could be shown that it is a kind of conduct, complicated questions arise. Does it necessarily follow that we restrict speech? Practically speaking, can speech even be restricted, either through new legislation or the enforcement of existing laws regulating conduct? Are measures such as hate crimes legislation both useful and appropriate in protecting individuals and groups from violence? The present paper aims to address these questions by reconstructing and assessing Judith Butler’s important treatment of speech-acts and hate speech in her book Excitable Speech: The Politics of the Performative
16. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 16
Shaireen Rasheed Power, Pedagogy, and Social Reality: A Critical Examination of Language Theory in Academia
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Living Dangerously: Multiculturalism and the Politics of Difference, Henry Giroux critically examines the emphasis on “clarity” in educational discourse, the best known advocate for which is Michael Apple. Giroux points out that a new generation of social critics, particularly in feminist theory, literary studies, post-colonial analysis, and Afro-American cultural criticism, has broken with traditional conventions that call for writing in a clear, unambiguous discourse. In contrast to Apple’s interpretation of “clarity” in language, the present paper will emphasize Giroux’s claim that educators need to center their discussion of language around a politics of difference that allows teachers and students to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to govern and shape society rather than be relegated to society’s margins. This paper will argue for the development of methods of articulating how social locations shape various social and intellectual perspectives. Education for critical consciousness should focus on the links between the historical configuration of social forms and how these links work subjectively.
17. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 16
Yeager Hudson Responsible Religious Belief: The Limits of Entitlement
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This paper argues that, despite the widespread assumption that everyone has an absolute right to hold any religious belief whatever, no matter how bizarre or irrational, there are limits to responsible belief. Epistemic responsibility means that we are not entitled to hold beliefs that, by recognized epistemic methods, have been discredited. The paper distinguishes epistemic responsibility from legal and from moral responsibility. Because our beliefs tend to affect our behavior, epistemically irresponsible beliefs become morally irresponsible when they conduce to discrimination or harm. To insist that scripture and religious doctrine must be believed literally and in every detail is epistemically irresponsible, because they have been shown to be, at many points, inconsistent with well-established scientific and historical knowledge. Such beliefs are morally irresponsible when they encourage racism or discrimination against women, gays and lesbians, ethnic groups, the poor, or any other individual or group.
part v: 1999 nassp book award
18. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 16
Ulf Nilsson Making Peace with Libertarians: Comments on James Sterba’s Justice for Here and Now
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19. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 16
Barbara S. Andrew Peacemaking, Virtues, and Subjectivity
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20. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 16
Christopher B. Gray Argument and Aggression Against Humans and Animals: Philosophical Peacemaking in the Real Wars
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