Legal Philosophy Workshop (25-26 June 2020)
I am a member of the Organizing Committee for the annual LPW which will take place at University of Southern California in 2020. We are currently accepting submissions of abstracts. Please fill out this form to sign up to be on our mailing list, volunteer to comment, and/or submit an abstract.
We are heavily influenced by social factors in myriad ways. Moreover, many kinds of socialisation are normatively problematic. To the extent that we are socialised to adopt, internalise, or even endorse problematic, oppressive norms, it becomes challenging to find autonomy in actual human agents. Hence, one desideratum of an adequate account of autonomy is that our autonomy may be undermined by oppressive socialisation. I argue that this desideratum means that we should accept a substantive account of autonomy (and reject a procedural account) and that what counts as autonomy-undermining social factors is a purely substantive normative issue.
We distinguish between autonomy and agency. I also argue that our notion of agency should take seriously the fact of our socialisation. Hence I argue that we should understand our agency as located in the exercise of our ability to negotiate between different features, some of some of which will be causally influenced by social factors (including many of our desires) and some of which will be constituted by social factors (gender, race, etc.). One negotiates between different features by considering them, feeling conflicted by them, endorsing some, and rejecting others as well as feeling ambivalent about some. Importantly, one can negotiate between conflicting features without resolving that conflict. Hence, on this view, I exercise my agency when I act on my desire to conform to a gendered norm (to shave my legs, for instance) even when I feel conflicted about this desire.On my view, exercising our agency involves exercising our skill of negotiating with the world. This notion of agency is related to (substantive) autonomy because exercising agentic skills is instrumental for achieving autonomy.
My social account of agency, coupled with a substantive account of autonomy, can satisfy the desideratum that oppressive socialisation undermines autonomy. Since one’s ability to negotiate between different features depends on being clear-eyed about those features, my account can accommodate the fact that learning about the fact of oppressive socialisation can boost one's agency. Moreover, those who are in privileged positions may have less agency than those who are marginalised but are (more) aware of socialisation.
I argue for a substantive account of agency and a social account of agency. I take as desiderata the following two claims: (i) Oppression undermines autonomy; and (ii) Learning about oppression can boost one’s agency.
You can read the long abstract for my paper “Autonomy and Agency: Lessons from Marginalised Identities” on my Research page.
Just Philosophy 3
For most of the history of Philosophy, members of several social groups including women, members of racial and ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities, have been actively excluded from the discipline or forced to operate on its margins. This annual workshop is motivated by the thought that in order for the present-day practice of Philosophy to be truly just, we, as members of the discipline, must confront this discriminatory past and actively work to overcome its continuing effects, which include the under-representation of women, racial and ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities (among others) at all levels. Sessions will focus on practical efforts to address this issue and we hope to provide an opportunity to discuss challenges, share strategies, and think about avenues for further investigation.
public Discussion on Racism
I organised and participated in a public panel discussion on race and racism at an art gallery, Nottingham Contemporary, with Panya Banjoko, Yassmin and Kristy Warren on 26 July 2018.
social metaphysics Conference (10-12 July 2018)
I co-presented a talk on "Disability, Impairment, and Marginalised Functioning" with Katharine Jenkins at the University of Nottingham
[Organised by Mark Jago and Katharine Jenkins]
Shame and Racism
I presented on shame and racism at the 4th Barcelona Conference on Gender, Race, and Sexuality.