OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS

Stain Removal: Ethics and Race

ISBN : 9780190280970

Price(incl.tax): 
¥12,012
Author: 
J Reid Miller
Pages
216 Pages
Format
Hardcover
Size
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Feb 2017
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Martin Luther King, Jr. famously expressed his dream that his children would "one day not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." In his vision, a person's ethical qualities would be understood in spite of his or her body rather than through it. In general, we think that a person's actions should not be judged according to their physical features, such as race. In fact, we see evaluations based on a subject's race or other bodily traits as illegitimate. But Stain Removal argues that our perception of a person's actions always entails judgments of the body. It therefore challenges modern moral theory's premise that a subject's deeds and not its bodily traits count as primary objects of evaluation. Drawing on modern and pre-modern accounts of how ethical knowledge originates, from the Biblical story of Ham, to Socrates, Immanuel Kant, Alain Locke, Frantz Fanon, Langston Hughes, Onora O'Neill, and Louis Althusser, the book suggests that our recognition of both a person and that person's deeds demands an evaluative context. From this it proposes that all perception is "evaluative perception." Through the metaphor of the stain, J. Reid Miller traces the long history of thought suggesting that embodiments like race can and do signify ethical qualities. He argues that these qualities do not "attach" to subjects from the outside - like a stain on innocent and unraced beings - but are instead what allow us to see people as distinct ethical individuals. The objective of ethics, he shows, is not to determine whether race is good or bad but to illustrate how our "unique" personal traits emerge through our multiple relations to others. The consequence is that, contrary to King's vision, it is only through judgments of "skin" and other bodily features that the ethical "content" of subjects can be recognized.

Index: 

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Setting the Stain
Chapter 1: Ethics and Race
Chapter 2: The Everlasting Stain
Chapter 3: The Secret of the Mark
Chapter 4: Cursed Inheritance
Chapter 5: Criminal Suspicions
Conclusion: Dreams and Nightmares

Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the author: 

J. Reid Miller is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Haverford College.

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