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Julie Maybee

Thanks for another terrific interview, Shelley and Ladelle. I love your book, Ladelle, Racism and Sexual Oppression in Anglo-America: A Genealogy, and now look forward to your next book. Exploring conceptions outside of personhood--or, perhaps, outside of current, dominant notions of personhood in Anglo-American society--is a wonderful topic. There is also some terrific work in Africana philosophy and anthropology on that topic. Would you be willing to say a bit more about the conception of personhood that you are tracing in your new book, and about the connection between that notion of personhood and autonomy?

Ladelle McWhorter

Thank you, Julie. I've only begun looking at autonomy's genealogical relation to personhood. I have worked this summer on the relation between personhood and sovereignty. But from the autonomy literature that I have read so far, I would say that that area is a total mess. Many ethicists who use the term seem utterly unaware of its history, even (surprisingly enough) of its very particular use in Kant's analysis. Clinicians seem often to use it as a way of isolating decisions and actions from their contexts so that the political and economic forces at work are obscured. To top things off, it plays quite different roles in political theory versus ethical theory. It is going to be a very interesting study, I think, because the power relations shaping institutional practices where the term operates are right out in the open. Having said all that, however, I need to say again that I have only just begun to piece together genealogical relationships between personhood and autonomy, whereas I have some solid scholarship on the relationships between personhood and accountability. If you or others have ideas about this area, please let me know. Thank you again for your comment.

Julie Maybee

It does sound like a fascinating study. Thanks so much, Ladelle.

Alison Jaggar

I really enjoyed this interview and appreciated the reading recommendations. This is a wonderful series, Shelley. Thank you for doing it and for this interview, Ladelle.


Julie, thanks for you for your kind remarks about the interview, as well as for your own fabulous work in the areas that you mentioned. I will take the opportunity to note that you have a fascinating article on these topics in the special issue of Journal of Social Philosophy that I guest edited whose theme is "Reshaping the Polis: Toward a Political Conception of Disability." The issue should appear online in a few weeks!

Alison, thank you also for your generous remarks about the interview and the series. It was a pleasure to read these words of appreciation. I'm delighted that you enjoy the series and find it a useful resource.

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