CFA: Philosophers on the Movement for Black Lives

Call for abstracts: Philosophers on the Movement for Black Lives

Black Lives Matter and other grassroots organizations constituting the Movement for Black Lives (MBL) have quickly gained worldwide visibility as a broad social justice movement. MBL rose to prominence in no small part thanks to its protests against police brutality and misconduct directed at Black Americans. However, its concerns are far broader, calling for a wide range of economic, political, legal, and cultural measure to address not only what it terms a “war against Black people” but also as part of a “shared struggle with all oppressed people.” MBL is also distinguished by its decentralized, non-hierarchal modes of organization.

 

We welcome abstracts that engage philosophically with MBL’s aims, concerns, or strategies. Abstracts may address questions such as the following:

– What are the philosophical underpinnings of MBL, and how do these compare or contrast with the underpinnings of other social justice, anti-racist, or Black liberation movements?

– How is MBL situated in relation to thinkers or traditions (philosophical, religious, etc.) important in the history of such movements?

– What distinguishes the MBL positions and arguments

regarding criminal justice, including policing, mass incarceration, privatization, surveillance, bail, capital punishment, decriminalization, etc.;

regarding reparative economic justice, including education, community investment, reparations, and guaranteed income;

regarding economic policy, including health care, climate change, taxation, employment, unionization, trade, and the environment;

and regarding political and civic participation, including voting rights, election financing, free speech, etc.?

– How has MBL influenced or shaped wider sociopolitical culture, including other social justice movements, both in the US and elsewhere?

– Can the meaning and importance of MBL’s political speech acts (e.g., the slogan “Black Lives Matter”) or the discursive responses to those speech acts be illuminated by philosophical investigation into semantics, pragmatics, and interpretation?

be illuminated by philosophical investigation into semantics, pragmatics, and interpretation?

– What is distinctive about MBL’s approaches to political mobilization, activism, and organization?

 

The volume’s editors are Michael Cholbi, Brandon Hogan, Alex Madva, and Benjamin Yost. We currently have commitments from philosophers including Myisha Cherry, Tommy Curry, Mark Lance, Colleen Murphy, Olufemi Taiwo, and Vanessa Wills.

 

Abstracts should be no more than 750 words in length and should indicate perspicuously the scope, methodology, and primary conclusions of the research. Abstracts should be submitted by July 1.

 

Please submit two versions of the abstract, one anonymized (and with “anonymous” in the filename), and one with author information. Email submissions to byost1 [at] providence.edu.

Against Capital Punishment – contract signed

I’m really happy to report that my book, Against Capital Punishment, is under contract with Oxford University Press. It should be out late 2018.

Super short description:

Against Capital Punishment offers a comprehensive, innovative proceduralist argument against the death penalty. Worries about procedural injustice have recently taken center stage in the abolitionist movement, and are frequently invoked in Supreme Court cases, newspaper editorials, opinion pieces, and philosophy and law review articles. Philosophers and legal theorists are attracted to procedural abolitionism because it sidesteps the controversial question of whether murderers morally deserve death. Following in this path, my contention is not that the act of execution is immoral; in fact, I grant the appropriateness of execution for some first-degree murderers. Rather, I argue that, due to the possibility of irrevocable mistakes, the death penalty cannot be administered in a morally permissible fashion.

Real life leveling down

It is fairly obvious that a punishment is unjust if it falls more heavily on one racial group than another. It is less clear what ought to be done in such situations. Many philosophers advocate for “leveling down,” i.e., imposing lesser penalties on the marginalized group for a given crime (especially in capital contexts) to level things out. But some argue that this response is unmotivated, and that “leveling up” is an equally legitimate strategy. I always thought this debate was more or less academic, but a judge recently overruled a jury, sentencing a white man to death just so that he could not be accused of sentencing only black men to death.

Read more here

“Kant’s Theory of Motivation,” forthcoming!

“Kant’s Theory of Motivation: A Hybrid Approach” is forthcoming in Review of Metaphysics.

To vindicate morality against skeptical doubts, Kant must show how that thought ‘I ought to act morally’ can move one to act morally. ‘Affectivist’ interpretations of Kant hold that agents are moved to act by feelings, while ‘intellectualists’ appeal to cognition alone. To overcome the significant objections besetting each view, I develop a hybrid theory of motivation. My central claim is that Kant is a special kind of motivational internalist: agents, he believes, are moved to act by a feeling of intellectual pleasure that originates in acts of free choice. This account improves the prospects of Kant’s justification of morality.