AuthorSilvermint, Daniel Mark
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractIf we want to take the agency of the oppressed seriously, we need to think about their normative situation. We need to understand what oppression does to victims, and what victims ought to do as a result. The first half of my dissertation develops a new account of oppression, one that identifies cases not by the wrongs that oppressors embody but by the burdens that victims suffer. The second half questions what kinds of moral and political actors victims can and should be. According to the prevailing "group relationship" of model of oppression, the members of a social group are oppressed when they're subordinated, marginalized, constrained, or displaced in a way that benefits the members of a different social group. In place of this prevailing view, I propose a new, effects-centered model: a person is oppressed when their autonomy or their life prospects are systematically and wrongfully burdened. I then use this account to understand the moral and political agency of the oppressed. I argue that victims have a self-regarding moral obligation to resist their oppression, grounded in considerations of objective well-being. And I develop Aristotle's account of political virtue to apply across ideal and oppressive circumstances alike, adapting it as a defense of nonviolent civil disobedience. This dissertation is the beginning of a larger research project concerned with the nature of victimhood, how injustice affects agency, and how obligations can be grounded in the absence of just institutions.
Degree ProgramGraduate College