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.