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Social Philosophy Today

Volume 17, 2001

Communication, Conflict, and Reconciliation

John R. Wright
Pages 217-231

Understanding Racism as an Ethical Ideology
An Approach to Critical Communication in a White Supremacist Society

To be fully understood, contemporary forms of racism must be grasped as ethical ideologies rooted in an independent system of value classification. Racism does not merely result from an intrusion of strategic action on communicative action, as discourse ethicists might argue. In contemporary racism, the minority group is seen as perversely incapable of developing a capacity for the behavior that would constitute just moral reciprocity as decided in the contractual situation. Their standing as members of the moral community is thereby qualilied To address racism discursively, the racist must be met with more than an abstract moral demand. Rather, racists must be confronted with the needs and capacities of the racial outsider, so that they might perceive her acts as virtuous and recognize the aptness of her use of value-concepts.

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