SOCIAL AND POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
“Multiculturalism,” for Denis Phillips (ed.), Encyclopedia of Educational Theory and Philosophy (SAGE Publishers 2014)
Surveys issues in educational multiculturalism: equality and difference; culture and race; tolerance and respect; relativism; the multiple, distinct values understood as compromising multiculturalism.
“Racial and Other Asymmetries: A Problem for the Protected Categories Framework for Antidiscrimination Thought,” in Philosophical Foundations of Discrimination Law, edited by Sophia Moreau and Deborah Hellman, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013: 182-199
In the American judicial tradition, “protected categories” are social categories regarded as deserving of special protection against discrimination on the basis of them (e.g. race, gender, religion, disability). The protected category framework implies a default presumption of moral symmetry across a given category—for example that discriminating against blacks, or women, has the same moral valence as discriminating against whites, or men. I argue that this presumption is false and that we should generally abandon the language of “discrimination on the basis of.” Discrimination is not a unitary wrong, but involves a plurality of different wrongs in different contexts. This plurality, as well as moral asymmetries within some of the wrongs singly, account for the asymmetries among sub-groups of a given protected category.
“Political Identity and Moral Education: A Response to Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind,” Journal of Moral Education, 42:3, 298-315 (2013)
In The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt claims that liberals have a narrower moral outlook than do conservatives; they are concerned with fairness and relief of suffering, which Haidt sees as individualistic values, while conservatives in addition care about authority and loyalty, values concerned with holding society together. I question Haidt’s methodology, which overlooks liberals who express concerns with social bonds that do not fit within an “authority” or “loyalty” framework. Political liberalism has richer moral resources to draw on than Haidt recognizes.
I also argue that of Haidt's six “moral foundations,” fairness and relief of suffering are more fundamental values than are authority and loyalty, which are virtues only if their objects are worthy. Moral education programs must also permit inquiry into the reasons for political behavior (e.g. voting) other than professed (liberal or conservative) value commitments. In light of these considerations, conservatism emerges as morally flimsier than Haidt claims, and liberalism more morally robust.
“Prejudice,” for Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Education, ed. Harvey Siegel (Oxford University Press, 2009): 451-468
Prejudice is an affect (generally negative, but not necessarily) toward an entity, often (and here) a group, bound up with an insufficiently warranted evaluation of the group negatively or positively. The article focuses on negative prejudice, taking up whether prejudice has a different psychic structure when directed against different groups (e.g. gays, blacks, Jews, Muslims); reactive prejudice (prejudice on the part of the victimized toward members of the victimizing group but not necessarily the actual victimizers themselves); prejudices that encompass only certain sub-groups within a larger group (young black men, or black people who express their identity in a public way, but not all black people); and social, individual, and historical causes of prejudices. Prejudice is widespread but not ineradicable, and is not a necessary product of drawing an in-group/out-group boundary. Education can mitigate prejudice under certain conditions, although it is not easy to do so. The “contact hypothesis” articulates one influential theory of the required conditions. Respectful (though not sanitized) curricular approaches to the study of groups widely targeted for prejudice can also have salutary effects. Since prejudice can be either conscious or unconscious (sometimes called “implicit”), different educational approaches are called for for each of their mitigation.
“Ethnicity, Disunity, and Equality,” in Laurence Thomas (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Social Philosophy (Blackwell’s, 2008): 193-211
The concern with social identities in recent social philosophy has tended to push issues of class-linked justice into the background, a different concern than that the valorizing of those identities detracts from a sense of national unity. I illustrate the former with respect to “liberal culturalism” (Kymlicka and Taylor) and “liberal pluralism” (Rawls). Brian Barry and Nancy Fraser share this class-based critique, but neither adequately captures the value of recognition of distinct identities. Fraser sees only the correction of a social devaluing of social identities (e.g. racial, gender), an important value to be sure, but one not capturing the acknowledgment of difference emphasized by Taylor.
“Best traditions patriotism: A commentary on Miller, Wingo, and Ben-Porath” in Theory and Research in Education, vol. 5, #1, 2007: 61-69
I propose a conception of patriotism that involves aspiring to achieve the best traditions of what can be plausibly counted as among the historical ideals in one’s national history. This conception does not require thinking that one’s nation has already achieved these ideals, and so avoids the epistemic distortions about one’s national history that lead Miller to reject patriotism; allows for a combination of universal and particular values that is absent in Wingo’s conception; and provides stronger democratic commitments than is required by Ben-Porath’s.
“Race, National Ideals, and Civic Virtue,” in Social Theory and Practice, vol. 33, #4, October 2007: 533-556
I suggest a polity-specific meta-virtue consisting in “aligning the practices of one’s society with its ideals.” I suggest that promoting racial equality is a specific form of that aligning meta-virtue in the U.S., and suggest two domains in which it can operate—customer/service worker interactions, and housing. In both domains African Americans are stigmatized and at risk of further stigmatization. Reducing such risk or the stigma itself is action in accordance with racial equality, and thus an essential part of civic virtue.
“Three Types of Race-Related Solidarity,” Journal of Social Philosophy, vol. XXXVIII, #1, Spring 2007 (Special issue on Solidarity): 53-72
Solidarity within a group facing adversity realizes certain human goods, some instrumental to the goal of mitigating the adversity, some non-instrumental, such as trust, loyalty, and mutual concern. Group identity, shared experience, and shared political commitments are three distinct but often-conflated bases of racial group solidarity. Solidarity groups built around political commitments include members of more than one identity group, even when the political focus is primarily on the justice-related interests of only one identity group (such as African Americans). (A solidarity group is more than a mere political coalition or alliance.) Two other forms of political commitment solidarity groups are ones devoted to racial justice more generally, and social justice even more generally.
“Global Inequalities and Race,” in Philosophical Topics (Chad Flanders and Martha Nussbaum (eds.)), vol. 30, #2, fall 2002 [actually published in March 2004]: 291-324
"Social Justice Within and Against Multiculturalism," Transformations: A Resource for Curriculum Transformation and Scholarship, vol. 10, #2, fall 1999: 52-59
"Ethnicity, Identity, and Community," in Michael Katz, Nel Noddings, and Kenneth Strike (eds.), Justice and Caring: The Search for Common Ground in Education, Teachers College Press (1999)
"Recognition, Value, and Equality: A Critique of Charles Taylor's and Nancy Fraser's Accounts of Multiculturalism," in Cynthia Willett (ed.), Theorizing Multiculturalism: A Guide to the Current Debate, Blackwell's, 1998: 73-99 [shorter version in Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory, vol 5:1, March 1998]
Taylor’s canonical work on recognition plausibly defends the idea that persons have a strong desire to be acknowledged by others with respective to their distinctive identities, cultural ones in particular. However, he fails to see that persons also wish their group identities not to be taken as inferior to others; he only barely mentions this equality-seeking aspect of recognition. Finally, he plausibly argues that all cultures of great longevity contain something of value to humanity; but he often slides from this point to the much more expansive view that all cultures are of equal value, a stance that is either false or meaningless.
Fraser, in her influential work on recognition and redistribution, exemplifies the complementary omission. She powerfully articulates the equality and distributive justice dimension of racial and gender inequities, which barely show up in Taylor’s work. She also treats “recognition” of group identities as having a strong equality dimension in the form of a revaluing of a devalued or stigmatized group, that is, of bringing about recognitional equality in the face of stigma. But she leaves no place for the value of recognition of difference as difference that Taylor places at the center of his analysis (e.g. the distinctness of French Canadian culture).
"Community," in J. J. Chambliss (ed.), Philosophy of Education: An Encyclopedia, Garland Publishing, 1996
"Community and Virtue," in Roger Crisp (ed.), How Should One Live? (Oxford University Press, 1996)
"Multiculturalism, Racial Justice, and Community: Reflections on Charles Taylor's 'The Politics of Recognition'," in L. Foster and P. Herzog (eds.), Defending Diversity: Contemporary Philosophical Perspectives on Pluralism and Multiculturalism, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1994