This is a call for papers for a special issue of Feminist Philosophy Quarterly on feminist approaches to moral responsibility.
Feminist philosophy provides unique insight into the ontology, epistemology, psychology, pragmatics, and politics of responsibility. Unlike mainstream philosophy, feminist philosophy “originated in feminist politics and… included from the start discussion of feminist political issues and positions” (Garry, Khader, & Stone 2017: 52). Early feminist philosophers sought to “expose sexist biases running through the various branches of philosophy” (ibid.) and identify their sources in patriarchal culture. Today, feminist theory aims to be more intersectional by diagnosing a range of interlocking oppressions, including capitalism, cisheteropatriarchy, racism, ableism, and speciesism – oppressions that must be understood if we are to properly understand patriarchy. These systems of oppression structure our responsibility practices (of resenting, blaming, protesting, etc.) in a multitude of ways. For example, they enforce what Marilyn Frye (1983) refers to as double binds that reduce the options available to members of oppressed groups, making them vulnerable to censure and hostility no matter what they do.
If a woman has sex then she’s a ‘whore,’ but if she doesn’t then she’s ‘frigid.’ If a Black male embraces his masculinity then he’s seen as a rapist and criminal, but if he doesn’t then he’s looked down on as a “degraded and deficient” man (Curry 2017: 3). Disabled people are stereotyped as not-fully-responsible agents, but when they defy this stereotype, they’re accused of being “big mouths” and “bullies” (Tremain 2021). As Frye observed, these double binds are policed and enforced by the reactive attitudes, which act as ‘soft’ forms of social control.
Historically, philosophers have approached the topic of responsibility from the perspective of what Charles Mills calls ‘ideal theory,’ which abstracts away from conditions of oppression to construct an ideal model of a target concept such as responsibility. This approach (or ideology) obfuscates the role of oppression in structuring social practices, relationships, and emotions. In conditions of oppression, ordinary social practices don’t respond to people’s quality of will or agency, but tend to track negative stereotypes about a person’s social group or identity. When we use the reactive attitudes to challenge the logics of oppression, we are using them in a counterhegemonic and resistant way, which could be seen as a form of political activism.
This special issue will explore the political dimensions of moral responsibility, with an emphasis on the relationship between responsibility and intersections of oppression such as misogyny, classism, racism, ableism, sanism, and speciesism. Questions of particular interest are:
– How are moral practices or capacities influenced by the logics of oppression?
– How does prejudice inform our emotions, judgments, and ascriptions of responsibility?
– How has the history of philosophy contributed to a distorted, depoliticizing, or naturalizing understanding of responsibility?
– What can we do to make our responsibility practices more objective, fair, and equitable?
– How can we apply non-ideal, ameliorative, or decolonial methods to responsibility?
Confirmed contributors to this issue include Kristin Andrews, Tommy Curry, August Gorman, Kate Manne, Shyam Ranganathan, and Shelley Tremain.
We have room for three or four more contributors, depending on the length of submissions. The limit is 9000 words but shorter submissions are welcome. Please send submissions to Michelle Ciurria at email@example.com with the subject line Feminist Moral Responsibility.
The deadline is April 30, 2023.