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Debra Nails
Michigan State University
  1.  65
    Bad Luck to Take a Woman Aboard.Debra Nails - 2015 - In Debra Nails & Harold Tarrant (eds.), Second Sailing: Alternative Perspectives on Plato. Helsinki, Finland: Societas Scientiarum Fennica. pp. 73-90.
    Despite Diotima’s irresistible virtues and attractiveness across the millennia, she spells trouble for philosophy. It is not her fault that she has been misunderstood, nor is it Plato’s. Rather, I suspect, each era has made of Diotima what it desired her to be. Her malleability is related to the assumption that Plato invented her, that she is a mere literary fiction, licensing the imagination to do what it will. In the first part of my paper, I argue against three contemporary (...)
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  2.  32
    Two Dogmas of Platonism.Debra Nails - 2013 - Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium of Ancient Philosophy 28 (1):77-112.
    Contemporary platonism has been conditioned in large part by two dogmas. One is the belief in a fundamental cleavage between intelligible but invisible Platonic forms that are real and eternal, and perceptible objects whose confinement to spacetime constitutes an inferior existence and about which knowledge is impossible. The other dogma involves a kind of reductionism: the belief that Plato’s unhypothetical first principle of the all is identical to the form of the good. Both dogmas, I argue, are ill-founded.
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  3.  14
    Tragedy Off-Stage.Debra Nails - 2006 - In J. H. Lesher, Debra Nails & Frisbee C. C. Sheffield (eds.), Plato's Symposium: Issues in Interpretation and Reception. Harvard University Press.
    I argue that the tragedies envisioned by the Symposium are two, both of which are introduced in the dialogue: (i) within months of Agathon's victory, half the characters who celebrated with him suffer death or exile on charges of impiety; (ii) Socrates is executed weeks after the dramatic date of the frame. Thus the most defensible notion of tragedy across Plato's dialogues is a fundamentally epistemological one: if we do not know the good, we increase our risk of making mistakes (...)
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  4.  70
    Plato's Republic in Its Athenian Context.Debra Nails - 2012 - History of Political Thought 33 (1):1-23.
    Plato's Republic critiques Athenian democracy as practised during the Peloponnesian War years. The diseased city Socrates attempts to purge mirrors Athens in crucial particulars, and his proposals should be evaluated as counter-weights to existing institutions and practices, not as absolutes to be instantiated. Plato's assessment of the Athenian polity incorporates two strategies -- one rhetorical, the other argumentative -- both of which I address. Failure to consider Athens a catalyst for Socrates' arguments has led to the misconception that Plato was (...)
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  5.  27
    Social-Scientific Sexism: Gilligan's Mismeasure of Man.Debra Nails - 1983 - Social Research 50.
    I argue that Carol Gilligan's claims about female moral development reproduce and encourage the oppression of women. A comparison of her descriptions of abortion-decision study cases with those of Mary F. Belenky (whose dissertation recorded more data from the same interviews than did Gilligan's book), show troubling discrepancies. Gilligan's book is more literature than science, retelling women's stories in compelling--but misleading--ways.
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  6.  20
    Plato's Housing Policy: Then and Now.Debra Nails & Soula Proxenos - 2007 - The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 10:73-78.
    Plato put housing second only to a secure food supply in the order of business of an emerging polis [Republic 2.369d); we argue, without quibbling over rank, that adequate housing ought to have fundamental priority, with health and education, in civil societies' planning, budgets, and legislative agendas. Something made explicit in the Platonic Laws, and often reiterated by today's poor — but as often forgotten by bureaucrats— is that human wellbeing, eudaimonia, is impossible for the homeless. That is, adequate housing (...)
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  7.  10
    Five Platonic Characters.Debra Nails - 2015 - In Gabriele Cornelli (ed.), Plato's Styles and Characters: Between Literature and Philosophy. De Gruyter. pp. 297-316.
    As a way of arguing that Platonic characters' individual roles within familial, social, and religious structures could deepen our understanding of some philosophical issues--human nature, epistemology, justice and education in the polis, virtue--I present information about the characters Meno of Thessaly, Theaetetus of Sunium, Diotima of Mantinea, Phaenarete (wife of Sophroniscus and Chaeredemus), and [unnamed] of Athens (wife of Pericles and Hipponicus).
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