Identities and Affinities (PHI4109.01)

Catherine McKeen

Each of us has multiple social identities. We belong to different social groups and are categorized along various social dimensions. What is involved in being a member of a race, gender, class, nation, sexual affinity, ethnic, or religious group? Are these groups somehow “natural” or objectively real? Are these groups “social constructs”? What, ultimately, is the social world made of? Furthermore, do we have specific obligations based on our social identities? In this course, we will undertake a philosophical investigation of these and other questions regarding social identities. The course will have two main parts: (1) ontological – an inquiry into social reality and social kinds (2) ethical/political – an inquiry into the obligations that attach to social identities. We will use the methods of philosophical analysis, argument, and close reading. Likely course readings include works by: Linda Alcoff, Anthony Appiah, Gloria Anzaldúa, W.E.B du Bois, Jorge Gracia, Cressida Heyes, Ian Hacking, Sally Haslanger, Charles Mills, Ron Mallon, and Naomi Zack. 

Prerequisites: At least two previous classes in SCT and/or permission of the instructor. Email instructor at by 11/21 to indicate interest in course, other SCT courses taken, how relevant to plan, and class year.
Credits: 4
M/Th 1:40-3:30
Maximum Enrollment: 16
Course Frequency: One time only
This course is categorized as All courses, Philosophy.