UPDirectory Highlighted Philosopher of June 2016: Ruth Chang

Ruth Chang

Professor of Philosophy

Rutgers University

hsafmovingshotchangAOS: Ethics, Meta-Ethics, Moral Psychology, Normative Ethics, Philosophy of Action, Philosophy of Law, Practical Reason

My current philosophical interests center on the nature of value, practical reasons, normativity and agency. One of my main concerns has been to understand the structure of practical normativity. Take, for instance, value. It is commonly assumed that every value can normatively relate two items in only one of three ways, by one being better than, worse than, or as good as the other. I have argued that this assumption, which underwrites normative work in ethics, rational and social choice theory, politics, law, health care and business studies, and so on, should be rejected. Items can be normatively related not only by being better than, worse than, or as good as one another but also by being on a par. I suggest that thinkers have overlooked parity because they have unreflectively assimilate the normative to the nonnormative: lengths and weights are non-normatively related by ‘more’, ‘less’, and ‘equal’, which are the analogoues of ‘better’, ‘worse’, and ‘equal’. But we shouldn’t assume that value and reasons have the same structure as non-normative considerations like length and weight.

The structure of practical normativity is important because it opens up a novel way of thinking about practical agency. The slogan, ‘recognize and respond to reasons,’ as summarizing the job description of a rational agent, is too impoverished to allow agency itself – that is you, yourself, sometimes called your ‘will’ – to play any significant role in determining what it is rational for you to do. My current work explores alternative views both about the structure of normativity – practical and theoretical – and about what it is to be a rational agent that take seriously the possibility that the normative is fundamentally different in structure from the nonnormative and that we, ourselves, our very agency per se, can play a direct role in determining what we should do.

Other current projects include work on issues in population ethics, the nature of indeterminacy, both semantic and metaphysical, and the philosophy of law, in particular, how the law evolves through legal adjudication. I’ve also worked on issues concerning value pluralism, the incommensurability of values, the nature of practical reasons, social choice, and some issues in metaethics.

UPDirectory Highlighted Philosopher of May 2016: Tina Botts

Tina Botts

Assistant Professor of Philosophy

California State University, Fresno

profile4AOS: Philosophy of Law, Applied Ethics, Hermeneutics, Philosophy of Race, Feminist Philosophy, Social and Political Philosophy

I have a law degree from Rutgers University Law School, Camden and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Memphis.

The general theme of my research is to philosophically interrogate existing legal, moral, and socio-political paradigms, and their underlying metaphysical and epistemological assumptions, to determine the extent to which these paradigms facilitate positive outcomes for the marginalized, oppressed, and subjugated.  Where a given paradigm is found lacking, I advocate alternative approaches or paradigm shifts designed to more fully protect these populations.

My publications include an edited anthology, Philosophy and the Mixed Race Experience,  Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield, 2016; a philosophy journal article, “Legal Hermeneutics,” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2015;  three book chapters: (1) “Women of Color Feminisms,” written with Rosemarie Tong in the 4th edition of Feminist Thought, Westview Press, 2013, (2) “Hermeneutics, Race, and Gender,” in The Routledge Companion to Hermeneutics,  Jeff Malpas, editor, 2014, and (3) “Multiracial Americans and Racial Discrimination,” in Race Policy and Multiracial Americans, Kathleen Korgen, editor, Polity Press, 2016; a law review article, “Antidiscrimination Law and the Multiracial Experience,” Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal,  Summer 2013; and two book reviews:  on Albert Atkin’s The Philosophy of Race, Acumen Publishing, 2012, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 2013; and on Goswami and O’Donovan’s Why Race and Gender Still Matter, Pickering and Chatto, 2014, Hypatia Online Reviews, 2015.

I am currently at work on a monograph on the role of Aristotelian equality in equal protection law, The Concept of Race, Aristotle’s Proportional Equality, and Equal Protection Law, under contract with Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield; a textbook on feminist philosophy with Rosemarie Tong, Feminist Thought, 5th edition, for Westview Press; a book chapter, “The Concept of Intersectionality” for The Routledge Companion to Feminist Philosophy, Ann Garry, et al., editors; and three philosophy journal articles:  (1) “Boylan’s Agency Justification for Natural Human Rights and Group Rights,”  for The Journal of Applied Ethics and Philosophy, (2) “Natural Law Theory or Legal Interpretivism: The Mature Frederick Douglass’s Method of Constitutional Interpretation,” for Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, and (3) “The Myth of Content of Neutrality: Hate Speech and Social Harm” for Ratio Juris.

UPDirectory Highlighted Philosopher of April 2016: Elizabeth Anderson

Elizabeth Anderson

John Dewey Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

AOS: Applied Ethics, Epistemology, Ethics, Feminist Philosophy, GRIDS+, Meta-Ethics, Moral Psychology, Normative Ethics, Philosophy of Education, Philosophy of Law, Philosophy of Race, Philosophy of Social Science, Pragmatism, Social and Political Philosophy

My main areas of research are in moral, political, and legal philosophy, feminist epistemology and philosophy of science, social epistemology, pragmatism, and the philosophy of social science. My book, Value in Ethics and Economics (Harvard UP, 1993), developed a pluralist theory of value and applied it to problems of commodification and the ethical limitations of the market, with special reference to markets in women’s reproductive labor and the use of cost-benefit analysis to value environmental goods. I have written a series of articles exploring the intersection of facts and values in social scientific research, and developing feminist and pragmatist arguments in defense of value-laden social science. I also work on the intersection of democratic theory and social epistemology, stressing the epistemic roles of inclusion, democratic culture, and democratic contestation in improving public policy and moral understanding, from a feminist and pragmatist point of view. Another branch of my research focuses on egalitarianism. My article, “What is the Point of Equality?” argues against luck egalitarianism and its narrow distributive agenda, and in favor of conceiving of equality in relational terms, as types of relationship opposed to social hierarchy. I have subsequently developed the theory of relational egalitarianism in a series of articles, including papers on affirmative action, sexual harassment, and antidiscrimination law. My book, The Imperative of Integration (Princeton UP, 2010) argues that social hierarchy is caused by the self-segregation of privileged groups, demonstrates its oppressive effects in the case of blacks in the United States, and argues that racial integration is needed to overcome racial injustice.

My current research is devoted to three projects. One advances and updates pragmatist moral epistemology, taking the abolition of slavery as its central case study. Another is on the history of egalitarianism from the Levellers to the early years of the Industrial Revolution. (In a subsequent volume, I intend to extend the history through the 19th and early 20th centuries.) Finally, I am working on questions of workplace governance, workers’ rights, and what a just constitution of the workplace would look like.