Dark Ghettos

Injustice, Dissent, and Reform

Dark Ghettos

Why do American ghettos persist? Scholars and commentators often identify some factor—such as single motherhood, joblessness, or violent street crime—as the key to solving the problem and recommend policies accordingly. But, Tommie Shelby argues, these attempts to “fix” ghettos or “help” their poor inhabitants ignore fundamental questions of justice and fail to see the urban poor as moral agents responding to injustice. “Provocative...[Shelby] doesn’t lay out a jobs program or a housing initiative. Indeed, as he freely admits, he offers ‘no new political strategies or policy proposals.’ What he aims to do instead is both more abstract and more radical: to challenge the assumption, common to liberals and conservatives alike, that ghettos are ‘problems’ best addressed with narrowly targeted government programs or civic interventions. For Shelby, ghettos are something more troubling and less tractable: symptoms of the ‘systemic injustice’ of the United States. They represent not aberrant dysfunction but the natural workings of a deeply unfair scheme. The only real solution, in this way of thinking, is the ‘fundamental reform of the basic structure of our society.’” —James Ryerson, New York Times Book Review

Strategies of Justice

Aboriginal Peoples, Persistent Injustice, and the Ethics of Political Action

Strategies of Justice

Political theorists often imagine themselves as political architects, asking what an ideal set of laws or social structures might look like. Yet persistent injustices can endure for decades or even centuries despite such ideal theorizing. In circumstances of this kind, it is essential for political theorists to think carefully about the political choices available to those who directly face such injustices and seek to change them. This book focuses on the claims of Aboriginal peoples to better treatment from the United States and Canada. Though other groups face similarly persistent injustices (e.g. African Americans in the United States), the specific details of injustice matter a great deal for its analysis. The book focuses on two intertwined issues: the kinds of moral permissions that those facing persistent injustice have when they act politically, and the kinds of transformations that political action may bring about in those who undertake it. The book argues for normative permissions to speak untruth to power; to circumvent or nullify existing law; to give primary attention to protecting one's own community first; and to engage in political experimentation that reshapes future generations. When carefully used, the book argues, these permissions may help political actors to avoid co-optation and self-delusion. At the same time, divisions of labor between those who grapple most closely with state institutions and those who keep their distance may be necessary to facilitate escape from persistent injustice over the long term. Oxford Political Theory presents the best new work in contemporary political theory. It is intended to be broad in scope, including original contributions to political philosophy, and also work in applied political theory. The series will contain works of outstanding quality with no restriction as to approach or subject matter. Series Editors: Will Kymlicka and David Miller.

A Duty to Resist

When Disobedience Should Be Uncivil

A Duty to Resist

What are our responsibilities in the face of injustice? How far should we go to fight it? Many would argue that as long as a state is nearly just, citizens have a moral duty to obey the law. Proponents of civil disobedience generally hold that, given this moral duty, a person needs a solid justification to break the law. But activists from Henry David Thoreau and Mohandas Gandhi to the Movement for Black Lives have long recognized that there are times when, rather than having a duty to obey the law, we have a duty to disobey it. Taking seriously the history of this activism, A Duty to Resist wrestles with the problem of political obligation in real world societies that harbor injustice. Candice Delmas argues that the duty of justice, the principle of fairness, the Samaritan duty, and political association impose responsibility to resist under conditions of injustice. We must expand political obligation to include a duty to resist unjust laws and social conditions even in legitimate states. For Delmas, this duty to resist demands principled disobedience, and such disobedience need not always be civil. At times, covert, violent, evasive, or offensive acts of lawbreaking can be justified, even required. Delmas defends the viability and necessity of illegal assistance to undocumented migrants, leaks of classified information, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, sabotage, armed self-defense, guerrilla art, and other modes of resistance. There are limits: principle alone does not justify law breaking. But uncivil disobedience can sometimes be not only permissible but required in the effort to resist injustice.

Rethinking Racial Justice

Rethinking Racial Justice

The racial injustice that continues to plague the United States couldn't be a clearer challenge to the country's idea of itself as a liberal and democratic society, where all citizens have a chance at a decent life. Moreover, it raises deep questions about the adequacy of our political ideas, particularly liberal political theory, to guide us out of the quagmire of inequality. So what does justice demand in response? What must a liberal society do to address the legacies of its past, and how should we aim to reconceive liberalism in order to do so? In this book, Andrew Valls considers two solutions, one posed from the political right and one from the left. From the right is the idea that norms of equal treatment require that race be treated as irrelevant--in other words, that public policy and political institutions be race-blind. From the left is the idea that race-conscious policies are temporary, and are justifiable insofar as they promote diversity. This book takes issue with both of these sets of views, and therefore with the constricted ways in which racial justice is debated in the United States today. Valls argues that liberal theory permits, and in some cases requires, race-conscious policies and institutional arrangements in the pursuit of racial equality. In doing so, he aims to do two things: first, to reorient the terms of racial justice and, secondly, to make liberal theory confront its tendency to ignore race in favor of an underspecified commitment to multiculturalism. He argues that the insistence that race-conscious policies be temporary is harmful to the cause of racial justice, defends black-dominated institutions and communities as a viable alternative to integration, and argues against the tendency to subsume claims for racial justice, particularly as they regard African Americans, under more general arguments for diversity.

Playing Fair

Political Obligation and the Problems of Punishment

Playing Fair

While much has been written on both political obligation and the justification of punishment, there has been little sustained effort to link the two. In Playing Fair, Richard Dagger aims to fill this gap and provide a unified theory of political obligation and the justification of punishment that takes its bearings from the principle of fair play. To do this, he first establishes the principle of fair play-the idea that people in a cooperative venture have obligations to one another to shoulder a fair share of the burdens because they receive a fair share of the benefits of cooperation-as the basis of political obligation. Dagger then argues that the members of a reasonably just polity have an obligation to obey its laws because they have an obligation of reciprocity, or fair play, to one another. This theory of political obligation provides answers to fundamental and still debated questions about how to justify punishment, who has the right to carry it out, and how much to punish. Playing Fair brings two long-standing concerns of political and legal philosophy together to rebut those who deny the possibility of a general obligation to obey the law, to defend the link between political authority and obligation, and to establish the proper scope of criminal law.

Congressional Record

Proceedings and Debates of the ... Congress

Congressional Record


A History of the Human Community

Prehistory to the Present

A History of the Human Community

An intellectually and stylistically unified overview of world history, this text draws a global portrait of the human past – showing how each part of the world fits into the overall balance in each successive age.