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Book Roundtable

Discussion text: Chin, C. 2018. The Practice of Political Theory: Rorty and Continental Thought.

Lasse Thomassen, Joe Hoover, David Owen, Paul Patton, and Clayton Chin

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Olusegun Steven Samuel and Ademola Kazeem Fayemi

Abstract

This article is a critique of Thaddeus Metz's modal relational approach to moral status in African ethics (AE). According to moral relationalism (MR), a being has moral status if it exhibits the capacity for communal relationship as either a subject or an object. While Metz defends a prima facie plausibility of MR as an African account of moral status, this article provides a fresh perspective to the debate on moral status in environmental and ethical discourse. It raises two objections against MR: (1) the capability criterion inherent in MR is not only exogenous to African thought but also undermines the viability of MR; and (2) MR cannot account for the standing of species populations. Both objections have severe implications for biodiversity conservation efforts in Africa and beyond.

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Cross-Generational Abuse

Priests, Parishioners, and the Catholic Church in New Spain

Zeb Tortorici

Abstract

This article analyzes the influence of confessional manuals on Catholic priests who solicited sexual favors from parishioners during confession throughout colonial New Spain. It proposes that we think about centuries of sexual encounters between priests and parishioners through the concept of cross-generational abuse, which describes intersecting forms of priestly exploitation based on chronological age differentials, allegorical power relations based on the rhetoric of spiritual kinship, and priests’ own abilities to profess redemption years after conviction and thereby regain positions of authority over parishioners. The plurality of these forms of abuse move beyond the usual associations of cross-generational sex solely with the question of age. It opens up the category of cross-generational sex and enlarges its potential to be a topic for historical reflection.

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Nicholas L. Syrett

Abstract

The introduction situates the historiography on queer intergenerational sex in the realm of scholarship on queer history, the history of childhood, and the literature on the significance of chronological age. It lays out three broad schemas that have organized queer intergenerational sex—looking at it as a phallic economy where boys submitted to older men in ways that were akin to women; as a function of pederastic or pedophilic desires; and as abuse—and also explores the overlap and permutations among these categories. It then introduces the six articles in this forum, elucidating their central arguments and the contributions that they make to this dynamic field.

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Vittorio Bufacchi

Abstract

The principle of non-maleficence, primum non nocere, has deep roots in the history of moral philosophy, being endorsed by John Stuart Mill, W. D. Ross, H. L. A. Hart, Karl Popper and Bernard Gert. And yet, this principle is virtually absent from current debates on social justice. This article suggests that non-maleficence is more than a moral principle; it is also a principle of social justice. Part I looks at the origins of non-maleficence as a principle of ethics, and medical ethics in particular. Part II introduces the idea of non-maleficence as a principle of social justice. Parts III and IV define the principle of justice as non-maleficence in terms of its scope and coherence, while Part V argues that the motivation of not doing harm makes this principle an alternative to two well-established paradigms in the literature on social justice: justice as mutual advantage (David Gauthier) and justice as impartiality (Brian Barry).

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Learning to Judge Politics

Professor John Dunn (Interviewed by Professor Lawrence Hamilton)

John Dunn and Lawrence Hamilton

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Neither Shadow nor Spectre

Populism as the Ideological Embodiment of the Democratic Paradox

Anthony Lawrence Borja

Abstract

The beating heart of democratic politics is a set of paradoxes revolving around the issues of popular identity and sovereignty. Populist ideology appeals to the sovereign people, consequently engaging the democratic paradox in a manner akin to either moving an immoveable object or catching something in constant flux. Marginal consideration has been given by scholars to populism's relationship with the democratic paradox, with current notions of the former seeing it more as a result of the latter. Thus, by recasting the democratic paradox as a question and analysing its relationship with populist ideology, this article seeks to clarify the supposedly ambiguous relationship between populism and democracy. In analysing the transformative processes within populism by using early Peronism and Italian Fascism as case studies, it argues that as the ideological embodiment of the democratic paradox populist ideology preserves and expresses the paradox in the public sphere.

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The Problem of Modern Pederasty in Queer History

A Case Study of Norman Douglas

Rachel Hope Cleves

Abstract

Intergenerational sex between children or youth and adults was historically common, but it is understudied within the historiography of sexuality. There are three reasons that historians of sexuality should pay greater attention to intergenerational sex. First, it was common; second, discourse around intergenerational sex has been a critical site for the production of power; and third, studying intergenerational sex illuminates how sexuality is historically constructed. However, studying intergenerational sex also raises thorny methodological problems around definitions of childhood and consent, the treatment of children's agency, and how to contextualize a practice that was once considered ordinary but is now taboo. Using examples from my research on the writer and notorious pederast Norman Douglas, I address each of these methodological concerns and suggest productive approaches.

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Amanda H. Littauer

Abstract

Drawing on letters and writings by teenage girls and oral history interviews, this article aims to open a scholarly conversation about the existence and significance of intergenerational sexual relationships between minor girls and adult women in the years leading up to and encompassing the lesbian feminist movement of the 1970s. Lesbian history and culture say very little about sexual connections between youth and adults, sweeping them under the rug in gender-inflected ways that differ from the suppression of speech in gay male history and culture about intergenerational sex between boys and men. Nonetheless, my research suggests that, despite lesbian feminists’ caution and even negativity toward teen girls, erotic and sexual relationships with adult women provided girls access to support, pleasure, mentorship, and community.

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Solicitor Brown and His Boy

Love, Sex, and Scandal in Twentieth-Century Ireland

Averill Earls

Abstract

In 1941, State Solicitor for Kildare Ronald Brown was charged with fourteen counts of gross indecency. The court records and his unusual life before and after the trial suggest that there is a story worth examining. In independent Ireland, the state was particularly concerned with adult same-sex desiring men corrupting teen boys. Brown's government position, his lover's age, and their intergenerational relationship all shaped the outcomes of this case. Although gross indecency cases ruined the lives of the implicated, including Solicitor Brown and his alleged lover Leslie Price, a close reading of the case material reveals a deep affection between a late adolescent boy and an adult man that would otherwise be invisible in a forcibly closeted mid-century Ireland.