Moral Equality and Natural Inferiority

Thomas, Laurence (2004) Moral Equality and Natural Inferiority. [Preprint]

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This essay is a commentary upon "Race and Kant" by Thomas Hill, Jr and Bernard Boxill. They argue that although Kant in his anthropological writings took blacks to be inferior, his moral theory requires that they be shown the proper moral respect since blacks are persons nonetheless. I argue that this argument is sound, because the conception of inferiority that Kant attributed to blacks does not permit showing them the proper moral respect. Imagine a defective Mercedes Benz and a Ford Pinto. These two cars are not inferior in the same sort of way. For Kant, I argue, the inferiority of blacks is more akin to that of a Ford Pinto; for he undoubtedly took blacks to be perpetual children. Chilren are persons, too; however, no one has ever supposed that moral theory applies to children in the full way that it applies to adults.

Item Type:Preprint
Keywords:Kant, J. S. Mill, Thomas Jefferson, conceptions of inferiority
Subjects:Philosophy > Ethics
ID Code:4011
Deposited By: Thomas, Professor Laurence
Deposited On:30 Dec 2004
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:55

References in Article

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Marcia Baron in “Reading Kant Selectively,” in Dieter Schönecker and Thomas Zwenger (eds.) Kant Verstehen / Understanding Kant. Über die Interpretation Philosophischer Texte (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2001).

Allen Wood, “What Dead Philosophers Mean,” in the Dieter Schönecker and Thomas Zwenger volume.

Pierre-Andreee Tuguieff, “Invention et réinvention du mythe des ‘Sages de Sion’,” Revue d’Histoire de la Shoah, no. 180 (January-June 2004).

J. L. A. Garcia “Three Sites for Racism: Social Structures, Valuing, and Vice,” in Michael Levin and Tamas Pataki (eds.), Race and Mind (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003).

Charles Mills, The Racial Contract (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997).

Shaun E. Marmon (ed.), Slavery in the Islamic Middle East (Princeton, NJ: Mark Weiner Publishers, 1999).


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