I just realized that a paper I wrote and published a year ago is now publicly available online (pdf). The paper is called “Atomistic Individualism and the Hermeneutics of Racist Philosophy” and is published in Volume 11, Number 1 of “Philosophy and the Black Experience.” It starts on page 28. The editors introduce the paper this way:
Matthew Bruenig’s “Atomistic Individualism and the Hermeneutics of Racist Philosophy” is our sixth essay in this issue. Bruenig argues that “racism within the social contract tradition and other Enlightenment philosophy has ignited a dispute among race scholars about how to interpret the racially exclusive works of past philosophers. Scholars like Thomas Hill and Bernard Boxill argue that it is logically possible to separate past theories from their initial racist intentions, and consequently non-problematic to use nominally sanitized versions of them within contemporary prescriptive debates. Other scholars, like Charles Mills and Robert Bernasconi, counter that this kind of separation is inconsistent with typical interpretative methods, and that it does not account for racialized theoretical principles that remain racialized even when applied in universalist ways.” Bruenig proposes “that atomistic individualism, an ontological description and methodological approach prevalent in Western ethical and political philosophy, is precisely such a racialized principle: that is, even if the principle of atomistic individualism is nominally non-racialized or is presented in a theory that is non-racialized, the principle remains racialized because it generalizes from a white experience and differentially privileges the justice needs of white people by making group-based justice claims impossible.”
This is a bit afield from the subject matter I usually talk about on this blog, but maybe some of you will be interested in it. If you do read it, be kind: I wrote this as an undergraduate. I still think it is a good paper, but it is probably not as polished at it could be.