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Kant and Racism - Munich Workshop with Lucy Allais (UC San Diego/Wits University)

20th of June 2018 | LMU München | Munich Center for Ethics | room M210

Kant is considered to be one of the paradigmatic philosophers of enlightenment, moral rationalism and human dignity. However, in some of his lesser known works, he also develops a theory of race, according to which the white race comes out on top and "[t]he yellow Indians do have a meager talent. The Negroes are far below them, and at the lowest point are a part of the American people". Many of his lecture notes are abundant with racist remarks and in his Groundwork he complains about South Sea Islanders who supposedly all let their talents rust (IV:423.9-10).
Kant was not simply a child of his time who could not have known any better. His views on race were challenged by alternative and at least less racist approaches, but Kant saw it necessary (and thought it was possible) to stick to his own theory of race. In his 1788 article On the use of teleological principles in philosophy, Kant reacted critically to Georg Forster's non-hierarchical account of race. Moreover, while people like Forster became active in fighting racism and slavery, Kant until very late in his life, failed to even condemn the practice of slavery in his writings.
There is now a lively scholarly debate on Kant's racism and on how Kant contributed to specifically modern and (pseudo-)scientistic forms of racism. Whilst some scholars point out that there is evidence that Kant renounced his earlier views on race in the 1790s, others argue that Kant did not change his racist views even in the light of his developed conception of moral equality and autonomy. Most recently, Lucy Allais has proposed that Kant's views on race are instructive objects of study for a deeper understanding of the structure of racism.

We invite anonymized abstracts of 500 words for presentation at a one-day workshop with Lucy Allais on Kant and racism. The presentations can address exegetical questions, discuss systematic implications of Kant's views on race for his philosophy as well as discuss whether and how Kant's philosophy can help us understand racism. Deadline is April 15th.

Additionally confirmed speakers:

Alice Pinheiro Walla (Bayreuth)
Ansgar Lyssy (LMU Munich)

We are unfortunately unable to cover travel or accommodation for speakers. For further inquiries, please contact andre.grahle@lmu.de. Please use the same address for the submission of abstracts.



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