Introduction to Philosophy by way of Some Terrible, but Philosophically Interesting, Phenomena around Race, Class, and Gender

Andrew Egan (Philosophy)

There are a lot of terrible phenomena around race, class, gender, and
sexuality. Looking hard at those phenomena can be helpful, obviously, in
figuring out how to address them. And there are some resources in the
toolkit of contemporary philosophy that are useful for getting a handle on
exactly what’s going on, and what’s going wrong, in a number of these
phenomena. Perhaps less obviously, it’s also true that looking hard at these
phenomena can help us to gain traction on some interesting philosophical
questions. We will engage in this sort of back and forth process - applying
some philosophical tools to questions about difficult social issues, and then
applying insights gained from thinking about the social issues back to the
philosophical questions. For example, the phenomenon of implicit bias—
negative attitudes about various groups that, while we explicitly disavow
them, still manifest themselves in various subtle aspects of our behavior—
can be helpful in drawing our attention to some difficult questions in the
philosophy of mind, and perhaps the resolution of some of those questions
can be helpful in shedding light on possible responses to the phenomenon
of implicit bias. Another example: one way that racism, sexism, and negative
attitudes around class manifest themselves is in linguistic phenomena such
as racial and ethnic slurs, and the exclusion or marginalization of certain
actors, perspectives, or assertions from conversations of various kinds.
These phenomena draw attention to difficult and interesting questions
in the philosophy of language, and perhaps careful attention to the
philosophy of language can help us to better understand (and, hopefully,
do something about) these problematic phenomena.

Course Number: 
01:090:101 section 32 index 07049