Social and Political Philosophy: A Contemporary Introduction

By John Christman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6

Race, gender, and the politics of identity
Ideal theory and ongoing injustice
Critical race theory
Gender, sex, and the challenge of feminism
Identity, injustice, and democracy
Chapter summary
Case to consider
Notes on further reading

In this chapter and the next, we consider movements in political philosophy that demand not only new content in political theory, but radically new methods as well. And as with many other issues covered in this book, the topics examined here each deserve much fuller treatment than merely a portion of a chapter; indeed, many of these subjects plausibly call for a restructuring of political thought so as to make that subject a centerpiece of it, rather than simply one more topic on a list to be considered.

Here we examine the challenges to the liberal model of political theory raised by considerations of race and racism and gender and sexism. These foci of discussion represent some of the most trenchant and tumultuous challenges to traditional political philosophy (indeed, philosophy generally) that have been raised in recent decades. Together, these topics will also lead us to once again take a closer look at the liberal conception of the person and to reconsider the particular social, psychological, and metaphysical assumptions made there in constructing normative principles applicable to contemporary societies. First, we will consider a challenge to the general methodology of liberal theorizing motivated by considerations of race and gender (and other aspects of social identity), namely the claim that political theory must attend to historical and ongoing injustice in constructing theories of (among other things) justice. We then move to considerations of race and racism and then to feminism. Many themes touched upon here will return in slightly different form in

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