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Race and the Responsibility to Abide by the Norms of Unchosen and Unjust Social Roles

Kisolo-Ssonko, Joseph



© The Author(s), 2019. Charles Mills claims that there are specific "civic and political duties" which individuals have a responsibility to fulfil because of the racial social roles they occupy. However, even those generally sympathetic to Role Ethics resist the idea that such nonvoluntary and morally problematic roles could ground genuine normativity. I argue that we should take the felt normativity of nonideal social roles seriously. Further, I argue that we should agree with Mills that one's race constitutes a social role with normative force. However, I claim that Mills is wrong to seek to ground this normativity in an actual social contract (the "racial contract") and I argue instead that Margaret Gilbert's account of joint commitment, and its accompanying notion of collective intentionality, can be developed so as to provide a more promising proposal. I conclude that the responsibility to abide by the norms in question is better understood as grounded in the individual role holder's involvement in the collective intentionality of the relevant racial class.


Kisolo-Ssonko, J. (2019). Race and the Responsibility to Abide by the Norms of Unchosen and Unjust Social Roles. Monist, 102(2), 172-186.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Sep 14, 2018
Online Publication Date Mar 9, 2019
Publication Date Apr 1, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 23, 2019
Publicly Available Date Mar 10, 2021
Journal Monist
Print ISSN 0026-9662
Electronic ISSN 2153-3601
Publisher Hegeler Institute
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 102
Issue 2
Pages 172-186
Public URL
Publisher URL


Kisolo-Ssonko - Race And Respon Normative Force Of Unjust Social Roles (208 Kb)

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