THE COLOR OF OUR SHAME: RACE AND JUSTICE IN OUR TIME (BOOK)
How can we explain the persistence of racial inequality in an era of formal equality and in the absence of widespread explicit racism? Why are theories of justice that focus on distribution inadequate? In this manuscript I suggest that racial inequality persists on account of our society possessing bad national character - we fail to live by ideals we affirm when confronted with race. This is a cause for shame. In response, I offer a perfectionist theory of justice designed to respond to the fundamental problem of racial inequality - the problem of social valuation: blacks do not occupy an equal place in our scheme of normative attention and concern that serves to underwrite who is owed or deserves public goods. The brand of perfectionism I argue for seeks to realign our institutional and personal dispositions with principles that otherwise speak against the presence of racial inequality by calling for various measures meant to socially re-educate us with respect to race and shared political ethos.
This manuscript is completely drafted and is ready for submission. Attached below is a working draft of the introduction as well as an excerpt from a working draft of the first chapter - this excerpt is the opening of Chapter 1.
The Color of Our Shame: Race and Justice in Our Time - Introduction
From A Human Point of View: Rescuing the Egalitarian Ideal (BOOK)
'Equality' as both a term and an ideal is in danger of losing its normative force. This is important because so many demand it, and so few seem to have it. But what does the idea come to? In this manuscript I argue for a return to a concept that has somewhat lost currency but which captures what it is people really want when they demand equality: an egalitarian society. In such a society, persons are genuinely treated as moral equals which underwrites all other forms of social, economic, and political treatment. This claim has been misrepresented in contemporary thought by reducing that claim to one assessing who holds various goods as compared to assessing relational standing and valuation. My claim extends even to those egalitarian theorists who use this formulation. Following Bernard Williams, I press the claim that equality must be assess "from a human point of view" - considering in the broadest manner possible the meaning of life-projects and social place to the marginalized. To do so, I press Williams' claim again a range of theorists from John Rawls to Elizabeth Anderson. I then shift gears and take Williams' injunction to have methodological force as well - thus, i try and cull a human point of view of equality from a cross-section of literature wherein the human experience of poverty, racism, and misogyny is conveyed. These two moves invite further reflection on the kinds of social practices that undercut equality. While justice is an important idea, I argue that a number of typically overlooked ideas, including blame, are actually more relevant for pursuing an egalitarian society than justice.
This project is in its earliest stages. Below you will find a paper on the role of blame in perpetuating an inegalitarian society.