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81. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 30
Gaile Pohlhaus, Jr. Resistance and Epistemology: A Response to José Medina’s The Epistemology of Resistance
82. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 30
Andrew J. Pierce The Power and Politics of Disgust: Toward a Critical Theory of Food
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This essay argues, drawing from both philosophical and scientific work on disgust, that since disgust is a universal human emotion with roots in evolutionary adaptation, and since capitalism inevitably produces disgusting food, a critique of capitalism based upon the category of disgust and centered on the food system may be more practically effective than traditional critiques of capitalism. This critique forms the basis of what I call a critical theory of food.
83. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 30
Notes on Contributors
84. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 30
Joan McGregor Eat Right: Eating Local or Global?
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In this paper, I will consider the moral considerations surrounding our food choices, including whether those choices are sustainable. Sustainability means preserving ecological integrity for current and future generations, and includes cultural sustainability which embodies values like justice and care for current and future generations as well as non-human animals. I will explore the widely accepted view that buying local is morally superior. In considering the moral reasons for buying local, I will investigate Peter Singer’s arguments against buying local, which he supports by our duty to aid those suffering immediate harm. Singer’s arguments force us to examine our duties to aid those in developing nations versus duties to support local economies. I will argue that our duties in regard to food purchases are complex and impinge on multiple values, including supporting local communities, ecological integrity, and concern for fair global food practices.
85. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 30
Neil Hibbert, Lisa F. Clark Democratic Legitimacy, Risk Governance, and GM Food
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The use of Genetic Modification (GM) in food is the subject of deep political disagreement. Much of the disagreement involves different perceptions of the kinds of risks posed by pursuing GM food, and how these are to be tolerated and regulated. As a result, a primary institutional site of GM food politics is regulatory agencies tasked with risk assessment and regulation. Locating GM food politics in administrative areas of governance regimes produces unique challenges of democratic legitimacy, conventionally secured through legislative channels. In particular, debate over the ends of a society’s policy on GM food inevitably continues in these institutional locations, despite conventional instrumental understandings of administrative legitimacy resting on effective application of ‘ends-means’ norms. This paper assesses the two major regulatory frameworks currently applied to GM food—the ‘precautious’ (associated with European jurisdictions) and ‘proof of harm’ (associated with North American jurisdictions) approaches—and presents their respective limits in securing the procedural and substantive dimensions of the legitimacy of administrative deference in democratic societies. On the basis of these criticisms, a synthesized and emergent approach—‘experiential precaution’—is presented as having the resources to deepen the legitimacy of risk governance institutions in the case of GM food. It is characterized by deepened participatory practices of negotiated rulemaking and inclusion of further substantive requirements in approval criteria.
86. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 30
William W. Young III Listening and Obedience in the Political Realm
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Listening has received renewed attention in recent political philosophy. A central question in considering the modes of listening appropriate to democratic politics is their relationship to obedience. This paper develops an account of democratic listening, and its contrast with obedience, through the work of Theodor Adorno and Michel Foucault. Adorno’s analysis of the technological imposition of obedience on modern patterns of listening, and Foucault’s account of obedience as central to the rise of modern governmentality, both help to reflect upon the operation of obedience in the contemporary political realm. It further examines the modes of listening which they offer as a counterpoint to obedience—Adorno’s musical listening and Foucault’s listening, which undergirds the care of the self. However, while both authors offer alternative modes of listening as part of their cultivation of a politics of resistance, this essay argues that democratic listening must go beyond their conceptions, offering a more affective, pluralized, and improvisational listening which enables responsive solidarity rather than individual liberation.
87. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 30
José Medina Response to Beth Sperry, Chris Lowry, and Gaile Pohlhaus
88. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 31
Duncan Purves GMOs, Future Generations, and the Limits of the Precautionary Principle
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The Precautionary Principle is frequently invoked as a guiding principle in environmental policy. In this article, I raise a couple of problems for the application of the Precautionary Principle when it comes to policies concerning Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). First, I argue that if we accept Stephen Gardiner’s sensible conditions under which it is appropriate to employ the Precautionary Principle for emerging technologies, it is unclear that GMOs meet those conditions. In particular, I contend that GM crops hold the potential to provide more than a mere bonus; they hold the (admittedly uncertain) potential to prevent serious harm to millions of people. This means that, if proponents of the Precautionary Principle take prevention of harm as seriously as avoidance of harm, then precaution may tell in favor of GMOs rather than against them. Second, I observe that the use of GM technology in the developing world is likely to be identity-affecting; it will cause people to exist who otherwise would not have. I argue that this undermines Precautionary Principle-based objections to GM technology that appeal to the potentially harmful effects of GMOs on future generations.
89. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 31
Colena Sesanker De-Trivializing the Kantian Duty to Resist Oppression
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An argument can be constructed from Kantian resources to the effect that we not only can, but must resist our own oppression according to the second formulation of the categorical imperative. This derivation of the duty from the Humanity formulation presents it as a fully moral categorical duty. Such a portrayal of our obligations in even the harshest of circumstances suggests that no circumstances can take our humanity away. On this Kantian view, it is possible to maintain a self worthy of respect no matter what. Such a view is saddled with difficulties, however. This paper addresses the ways that these difficulties can be successfully addressed and discusses the limitations of a more modest version of a Kantian account of the duty to resist oppression, advanced by Carol Hay. This paper will conclude that the more modest account cannot provide the hope for retaining our worth and the explanation of the injustice of oppression the way that a more straightforward reading of a fully moral obligation can and that the apparent difficulties of the more extreme view are surmountable.
90. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 31
Meira Levinson Reply to Critics: A Citizen for All Seasons? The Promises and Perils of a Trans-Ideological Vision of Civic Empowerment
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In No Citizen Left Behind, I argue that the United States suffers from a civic empowerment gap that is predictable, pervasive, shameful, and avoidable. Citizens who are well-educated, middle-class or wealthy, and white are systematically more civically and politically empowered than are citizens who are less well-educated, working class or poor, and non-white. Although these disparities have been well documented for decades, they have been treated as inevitable and as such have failed to generate outrage. This fatalism is normatively inexcusable and empirically unjustified. Schools and districts can and should shrink the civic empowerment gap by revising their history and social studies instruction, civic identity construction, school culture, pedagogical practices, service learning, action civics, and standardized curriculum and assessment policies. I am pleased that Zachary Hoskins, Krista Thomason, and David Leichter find these arguments generally convincing, especially as they come from three somewhat different ideological standpoints. At the same time, I caution against each commentator’s tendency to overgeneralize. In contrast to Hoskins, I argue that schools’ pervasive, intrusive, and excessive regulations over children’s behaviors should be understood as civic microaggressions—and the same is true for adults in many urban communities of color. In response to Thomason, I agree that the state should foster autonomy, but disagree that autonomy requires assumption of new, particularistic identities rather than expansion of one’s current identity to be more inclusive. Finally, I embrace Leichter’s proposed extensions of action civics, but warn that such approaches could be deployed across the political and ideological spectrum.
91. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 31
Maurice Hamington Jean Harvey: Care, Moral Solidarity, and Civilized Oppression
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On April 20, 2014, Jean Harvey passed much too soon. Professor of Philosophy at University of Guelph, Harvey was an active member of the North American Society for Social Philosophy and the Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy. Her passing has left many people with a profound loss of both an accomplished social and political philosopher who fought for the voiceless and oppressed, as well as a kind professional colleague who helped so many younger scholars thrive. I cannot claim to be anything more than an acquaintance of Jean, who conversed with her by e-mail and met her occasionally at conferences. Academically, Harvey was best known for her book, Civilized Oppression, however she wrote and presented widely on a variety of social justice issues including humor, consumerism, education, and animal-welfare. One of the byproducts of the scholarly life is that one’s insights can continue to contribute to intellectual discussions long after death. As a care ethicist, I would like pay tribute to Jean Harvey’s scholarly career by suggesting paths of intellectual exploration between care theory and Harvey’s work on confronting oppression. Specifically, Harvey’s work can contribute to a political ethic of care through elaborating the role of moral solidarity for those possessing differentiated social power.
92. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 31
Barrett Emerick Perceptual Failure and a Life of Moral Endeavor
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Over the course of her career, Jean Harvey argued that as agents engaged in a “life of moral endeavor,” we should understand ourselves and others to be moral works in progress, always possessing the potential to grow beyond and become more than the sum of our past wrongs.In this paper I will follow Harvey and argue that in order to live a life of moral endeavor, it is not enough merely to know about injustice. Instead, we must engage in the difficult and often painful task of overcoming deep-seated cognitive biases that cause us to fail to perceive the ubiquitous injustice that pervades our world. I will conclude by arguing that education, empathy, and love can each help us to increase our perceptual awareness of injustice and so should be recognized to be crucial parts of a life of moral endeavor.
93. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 31
Zachary Hoskins Education, Civic Empowerment, and Race: Commentary on Meira Levinson’s No Citizen Left Behind
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Meira Levinson’s No Citizen Left Behind is a thoughtful, accessible, philosophically rich look at civic education in U.S. schools. The book’s central claims are, on the whole, quite persuasive. In the interests of fostering further discussion, this essay raises some questions about the book’s accounts of racial microaggressions in schools, the extent of authenticity in student experiences, and the practice of code-switching.
94. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 31
Florian Grosser In Search of the Good Revolution: Arendt on Violence and ‘the Social Question’
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The paper concerns Hannah Arendt’s attempt to identify both historical types and conceptual understandings of revolution that can be considered to be genuinely ‘political.’ Its aim is to first reconstruct Arendt’s distinction between ‘political’ and ‘anti-political’ processes and conceptions of profound, lasting transformation. In this section of the paper, it will be shown to what extent the critical distinction she proposes is informed by her understanding of (a) the role of ‘the social question’ and (b) the role of violence for the praxis as well as the theory of revolution. In a second step, the focus will be on the problematization of certain aspects of her critique of political revolution that lead, as will be argued, to the counter-intuitive exclusion of a variety phenomena and theories as properly revolutionary. The final part of the paper will hint at the possibility of a productive re-appropriation of Arendt’s critique of political revolution.
95. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 31
Kacey Warren Does Nussbaum’s Capabilities Approach Support Political Surrogacy?
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Martha Nussbaum offers a robust vision of justice in terms of capability that she contends is capable of handing the most difficult cases. In recent work, she suggests that her capabilities approach supports a range of accommodations to make voting accessible and feasible for citizens with cognitive disabilities, including surrogate voting in the instance of profound cognitive impairment. Although Nussbaum’s call for political surrogacy is noble, I argue that it conflicts with at least three of five commitments that together characterize her capabilities approach to justice. The commitments that characterize her capabilities approach to justice include the commitment to justice in terms of capability, the commitment to an Aristotelian conception of human dignity, the commitment to a universal standard of justice, and the commitment to liberal individualism. In addition, Nussbaum’s approach is a “social minimum” approach to justice. Thus my critique is methodological. I do not contend that political surrogacy is either undesirable or unjustifiable, only that it is incompatible with Nussbaum’s capabilities approach.
96. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 31
Sally J. Scholz Engaged Respect: A Tribute to Jean Harvey
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In this tribute to Jean Harvey, I take up a project that she left unfinished: the articulation of an account of engaged respect. Building on her discussion of facets of the moral community—namely self-respect, the irreducibly individual nature of civilized oppression and interactional justice, education and empathetic understanding, and moral solidarity—I suggest we can discern a Harveyian conception of engaged respect. Harvey acknowledges the fallibility of human beings, including well-meaning moral actors responding to their moral obligation to ameliorate relations of oppression. This, together with her accounts of “involvement and accountability” and gratitude, guides the development of a concept of engaged respect that captures the attentiveness and support she envisioned for the moral community.
97. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 31
Karin R. Howe Is There a Rawlsian Duty to Engage in Civil Disobedience?
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Debates concerning Rawls’s definition of civil disobedience have been the focus of much of the discussion on civil disobedience since the publication of A Theory of Justice. However, in this paper I will be focusing on a question about Rawls’s view of civil disobedience that has been largely ignored in the literature. Throughout the section on the justification of civil disobedience, Rawls clearly and explicitly says that people have a right to engage in civil disobedience, provided that all of the conditions for civil disobedience are met. My question is: Can we say something stronger than people have a right to engage in civil disobedience? In other words, is it possible that people have either a duty or an obligation to engage in civil disobedience under certain circumstances? If so, who has these duties or obligations—would everyone in the state have these duties and/or obligations, or just some people? In this paper I propose to carefully examine what Rawls has to say about political obligations and the natural duty of justice, and see what light I can shed on the question of an obligation or duty to engage in civil disobedience from a Rawlsian perspective.
98. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 31
David A. Borman Protest, Parasitism, and Community: Reflections on the Boycott
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T. M. Scanlon defines intolerance as the “enforcement of morals,” particularly of controversial moral norms, and especially (though not exclusively) through the law. If this is correct, then the “boycott” is a form of “intolerant” protest: indeed, it is part of a long social tradition of intolerant protest practices, often aiming at the exclusion of norm-violators from the community, which developed in the course of the still unresolved historical struggle over the boundaries of the moral domain. Drawing on Marcuse’s account of “repressive tolerance,” I argue that the fact that the boycott is indeed intolerant in this sense is in no way a reason for condemning it, and that such condemnation in fact reflects an implausibly ideal view of politics and the law in our actually existing societies. On the contrary, such “intolerant” tactics should be seen by progressive movements today as attractive tools, especially for those which, like Occupy, the environmental and anti-globalization movements, attempt to exert pressure on purportedly norm-free or norm-excluding economic practices.
99. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 31
Crista Lebens “Sacredly Cultivated Ignorance”: Attacks on Anti-Racist Instructors as a Form of Academic Repression
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A pattern of attacks against instructors of color, often untenured and female, has emerged in recent years. A democratic society depends, for healthy functioning, on an educated citizenry. The attacks on education, especially on race and ethnic studies programs, are a part of a systemic movement to suppress radical thought within the university. I argue that this pattern of repression is a form of white ignorance and fits into Charles Mills’s analysis of the epistemology of ignorance. Moreover, this ignorance of systemic racism on the part of white people is as James Baldwin called it, ‘sacred and sacredly cultivated.’ To counter this pattern of repression, those of us with a measure of protection under the principles of academic freedom must be attentive to the ways in which efforts to address racial injustice in the university, such as work on diversity committees, can be turned to support institutional goals that conflict with the goal of racial and other forms of social justice.
100. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 31
Larry Busk Sleepwalker: Arendt, Thoughtlessness, and the Question of Little Eichmanns
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Academia is still feeling the echoes of a controversy that emerged in 2005 over an essay by Ward Churchill, former professor at the University of Colorado, in which he refers to (certain) victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks as “little Eichmanns.” While there have been many (violent) condemnations and (limited) defenses of the piece, there has been little discussion of what the term “little Eichmann” actually means. This paper analyzes the incendiary remark in the context of its reference, the work of Hannah Arendt. Read in this light, it ceases to be a simple defamation and becomes a momentous intellectual challenge.