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ESSAYS ON SOCIAL NORMS AND THE MANY SIDES OF RACISM
My dissertation is divided into five relatively freestanding yet thematically linked essays, investigating a number of ways in which social norms and the question of racism are related. In these chapters, I aim to show the vital influence of social norms on our interpersonal relationships, going beyond the futile binary between individual (moral philosophy) and state (political philosophy), thereby affirming the primacy of the social over the political. Considering social norms can help us to see how individual agents are socially and culturally mediated, shaped, and distorted. In the dissertation, I discuss the racial contract (John Rawls and Charles Mills), racism as volitional states (Jorge Garcia), racism as ideology (Tommie Shelby and Sally Haslanger), and anti-racism through social movements (Elizabeth Anderson). By engaging them, I argue that racism as a socially harmful norm should be understood in the context of broader social environments. My thesis is that racism as a socially harmful norm should be understood as a manifestation in broad social environments where the mechanisms of social norms function structurally. In conclusion, I argue for the relevance of social critique instead of a narrow moral critique of racism. In this regard, my solution is not intended as a complete solution for the termination of all forms of racism, rather as certainly a needed viable approach both morally warranted and pragmatically efficacious.