PHIL 473.001 – American Political Philosophy

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Instructor: Bernard Boxill. This course meets W 4:00 – 6:30 p.m. in CW 213.

The topics will be on race, racism, reparation and aesthetics. Starting with race we begin with W.E.B. DuBois’s “The Conservation of Races,” and continue with some of the large literature that it has prompted. A must would be Anthony Appiah’s “Uncompleted Argument…” and then on to some of the responses to it as well as several contemporary treatments. Among these will be essays by Taylor, Jeffries, Haslanger, Glasgow and others. On racism I’d like to start with the debate between Jorge Garcia with his “The Heart of Racism,” and Charles Mills’s “Heart Attack..” Then on to some different treatments. Perhaps at this point we should look at the relations between racism and sexism and here certainly we would read the work of Charles Mills and Carole Pateman among others.  On reparation we would begin with Boris Bitteker’s oddly titled The Case for Black Reparations and then on to a selection on the enormous literature on the topic. Essays by Jeremy Waldron, Janna Thompson, George Sher, Bernard Boxill, Andrew Cohen and others would be taken up here. I think Chapter 13 (On Conquest) in Locke’s Second Treatise would also be a useful read at this point.  On aesthetics we should begin with DuBois’s essay “The Sorrow Songs,” comparing it with what Frederick Douglass had to say about slave singing in his Narrative and reprinted in My Bondage and My Freedom. A later essay by DuBois “Criteria of Negro Art” is also essential. I have found that John Stuart Mill’s essays on poetry and Shelly’s writings on poetry are very stimulating on the issues, especially since they seem to provide support for Douglass’s interest in soliloquy; which is evident in his novella The Heroic Slave for example.  Finally we should find time to discuss the significance of the embarrassing things some of the great Western philosophers mainly Hume and Kant have said about race. Here we can read Popkin, Garrett, Louden, Mills, Pauline Kliengeld, and Boxill and Hill.

Recommended prerequisite: 1 PHIL course other than PHIL 155.