A Genealogy of Emancipatory Values

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 1 (2020)
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Analytic moral philosophers have generally failed to engage in any substantial way with the cultural history of morality. This is a shame, because a genealogy of morals can help us accomplish two important tasks. First, a genealogy can form the basis of an epistemological project, one that seeks to establish the epistemic status of our beliefs or values. Second, a genealogy can provide us with functional understanding, since a history of our beliefs, values or institutions can reveal some inherent dynamic or pattern which may be problematically obscured from our view. In this paper, I try to make good on these claims by offering a sketchy genealogy of emancipatory values, or values which call for the liberation of persons from systems of dominance and oppression. The real history of these values, I argue, is both epistemologically vindicatory and functionally enlightening.

Author's Profile

Nick Smyth
Fordham University


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