Author Archives: Tom Vinci

A Dilemma for Oppression theorists

A Dilemma for the Oppression Theorist

Oppression Theory is the theory that differences between groups of people in wealth, power, influence – generally, the good things in life – are due to one group of people oppressing another. Marxists, Feminists, Critical Race-Theorists tend to be Oppression theorists in this sense. An alternative view is what I would call “Eclecticism”. This is the view that differences in the good things in life among different groups can be due to various causes, not excluding oppression of course. For example, we have a society in which the good things in life are not in abundance because the members of that society spend too much time playing golf rather than making things or healing the sick. Let’s call this group “the Golfers”. Now in saying this about the Golfers I am saying that they are to a large extent the authors of their own misfortune. This, of course, is a criticism. Enter the Oppression Theorist. She will reason as follows: criticizing a less-well-off group is harming that group; harming a less-well-off group is oppressing that group, preventing people from oppressing people is a good thing. So, she concludes, preventing someone from voicing the opinion about the Golfers just mentioned is a good thing. Generalizing from this, she concludes that preventing Eclecticism from being voiced at all is a good thing. And, voila, you have the phenomenon known as “Political Correctness”. It is just one step from there to Middlebury College.

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Religious Clothing and the Secular State

In this article I propose to make two arguments and express one main claim. One argument argues that if you are a Kantian about all-in ethical obligation, you should choose not to wear religious clothing in public. I call this the Kantian Argument. (Purists might wish me to call this the Kantianish Argument.) The other argument argues that I have a right to make the first argument. I call this the Uniform Argument. The main claim is this: even if you do not accept these arguments, it is desirable for people who have strong religious convictions, and who express those convictions in their dress, to undertake symbolic ways to show respect for the secular state. I call this the Respect Claim.

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