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Political Imagination and Community
How do we go about imagining different and better worlds for ourselves? Collective Dreams looks at ideals of community, frequently embraced as the basis for reform across the political spectrum, as the predominant form of political imagination in America today. Examining how these ideals circulate without having much real impact on social change provides an opportunity to explore the difficulties of practicing critical theory in a capitalist society. Different chapters investigate how ideals of community intersect with conceptions of self and identity, family, the public sphere and civil society, and the state, situating community at the core of the most contested political and social arenas of our time. Ideals of community also influence how we evaluate, choose, and build the spaces in which we live, as the author’s investigations of Celebration, Florida, and of West Philadelphia show. Following in the tradition of Walter Benjamin, Keally McBride reveals how consumer culture affects our collective experience of community as well as our ability to imagine alternative political and social orders. Taking ideals of community as a case study, Collective Dreams also explores the structure and function of political imagination to answer the following questions: What do these oppositional ideals reveal about our current political and social experiences? How is the way we imagine alternative communities nonetheless influenced by capitalism, liberalism, and individualism? How can these ideals of community be used more effectively to create social change?
The Political Morality of Race
In America today, the problem of achieving racial justice--whether through "color-blind" policies or through affirmative action--provokes more noisy name-calling than fruitful deliberation. In Color Conscious, K. Anthony Appiah and Amy Gutmann, two eminent moral and political philosophers, seek to clear the ground for a discussion of the place of race in politics and in our moral lives. Provocative and insightful, their essays tackle different aspects of the question of racial justice; together they provide a compelling response to our nation's most vexing problem.
Appiah begins by establishing the problematic nature of the idea of race. He draws on the scholarly consensus that "race" has no legitimate biological basis, exploring the history of its invention as a social category and showing how the concept has been used to explain differences among groups of people by mistakenly attributing various "essences" to them. Appiah argues that, while people of color may still need to gather together, in the face of racism, under the banner of race, they need also to balance carefully the calls of race against the many other dimensions of individual identity; and he suggests, finally, what this might mean for our political life.
Gutmann examines alternative political responses to racial injustice. She argues that American politics cannot be fair to all citizens by being color blind because American society is not color blind. Fairness, not color blindness, is a fundamental principle of justice. Whether policies should be color-conscious, class conscious, or both in particular situations, depends on an open-minded assessment of their fairness. Exploring timely issues of university admissions, corporate hiring, and political representation, Gutmann develops a moral perspective that supports a commitment to constitutional democracy.
Appiah and Gutmann write candidly and carefully, presenting many-faceted interpretations of a host of controversial issues. Rather than supplying simple answers to complex questions, they offer to citizens of every color principled starting points for the ongoing national discussions about race.
The Struggle for Meaning is a landmark publication by one of African philosophy's leading figures, Paulin J. Hountondji, best known for his critique of ethnophilosophy in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In this volume, he responds with autobiographical and philosophical reflection to the dialogue and controversy he has provoked. He discusses the ideas, rooted in the work of such thinkers as Husserl and Hountondji's former teachers Derrida, Althusser, and Ricoeur, that helped shape his critique. Applying his philosophical ideas to the critical issues of democracy, culture, and development in Africa today, he addresses three crucial topics: the nexus between scientific extraversion and economic dependence; the nature of endogenous traditions of thought and their relationship with modern science; and the implicationsófor political pluralism and democracyóof the emergence of ìphilosophies of subjectî in Africa. While the book's immediate concern is with Africa, the densely theoretical nature of its analyses, and its bearing on current postmodern theories of the ìother,î will make this timely and elegant translation of great interest to many disciplines, especially ethnic, gender, and multicultural studies.
History, Experience, Trauma
Whereas historical determinacy conceives the past as a complex and unstable network of causalities, this book asks how history can be related to a more radical future. To pose that question, it does not reject determinacy outright but rather seeks to explore how it works. In examining what it means to be "determined" by history, it also asks what kind of openings there might be in our encounters with history for interruptions, re-readings, and re-writings. Engaging texts spanning multiple genres and several centuries from John Locke to Maurice Blanchot, from Hegel to Benjamin Clift looks at experiences of time that exceed the historical narration of experiences said to have occurred in time. She focuses on the co-existence of multiple temporalities and opens up the quintessentially modern notion of historical succession to other possibilities. The alternatives she draws out include the mediations of language and narration, temporal leaps, oscillations and blockages, and the role played by contingency in representation. She argues that such alternatives compel us to reassess the ways we understand history and identity in a traumatic, or indeed in a post-traumatic, age.
essays in political philosophy and on Catholic social teaching
The Common Good of Constitutional Democracy offers a rich collection of essays in political philosophy by Swiss philosopher Martin Rhonheimer. Like his other books in both ethical theory and applied ethics, which have recently been published in English, the essays included are distinguished by the philosophical rigor and meticulous attention to the primary and secondary literature of the various topics discussed
In Complicity and Moral Accountability, Gregory Mellema presents a philosophical approach to the moral issues involved in complicity. Starting with a taxonomy of Thomas Aquinas, according to whom there are nine ways for one to become complicit in the wrongdoing of another, Mellema analyzes each kind of complicity and examines the moral status of someone complicit in each of these ways. Mellema’s central argument is that one must perform a contributing action to qualify as an accomplice, and that it is always morally blameworthy to perform such an action. Additionally, he argues that an accomplice frequently bears moral responsibility for the outcome of the other’s wrongdoing, but he distinguishes this case from cases in which the accomplice is tainted by the wrongdoing of the principal actor. He further distinguishes between enabling, facilitating, and condoning harm, and introduces the concept of indirect complicity. Mellema tackles issues that are clearly important to any case of collective and shared responsibility, yet rarely discussed in depth, always presenting his arguments clearly, concisely, and engagingly. His account of the nonmoral as well as moral qualities of complicity in wrongdoing—especially of the many and varied ways in which principles and accomplices can interact—is highly illuminating. Liberally sprinkled with helpful and nuanced examples, Complicity and Moral Accountability vividly illustrates the many ways in which one may be complicit in wrongdoing.
This book compares the role of a sense of justice in the ethical and political thought of Confucius and John Rawls. Erin Cline demonstrates that the Analects (the most influential record of Confucius' thought) and Rawls's work intersect in an emphasis on the importance of developing a sense of justice. Despite deep and important differences between the two accounts, this intersection is a source of significant philosophical agreement.The study does not simply compare and contrast two views by examining their similarities and differences; it also offers a larger argument concerning the reasons why comparative work is worthwhile, the distinctive challenges comparative studies face, and how comparative work can accomplish distinctive and significant ends.Not only can a comparative study of the capacity for a sense of justice in Confucius and Rawls help us better understand each of their views, but it also can help us to see new ways in which to apply their insights, especially with respect to the contemporary relevance of their accounts.
Moral Pluralism and Tragic Conflicts
In developing a new theory of political and moral community, J. Donald Moon takes questions of cultural pluralism and difference more seriously than do many other liberal thinkers of our era: Moon is willing to confront the problem of how community can be created among those who have very different views about the proper ends of human life. Experiencing such profound disagreement, can we live together in a society under norms we all accept? In recent years, traditional ways of looking at this query have come under attack by post-modernists, feminists, and thinkers concerned with pluralism. Respectfully engaging their critiques, Moon proposes a reformulated liberalism that is intended to overcome the problems they have identified.