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Colloquium (Julia Jorati, Massachusetts Amherst)
Thursday October 19, 2023, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
As speaker for our second Fall 2023 colloquium, the department is delighted to welcome Julia Jorati, a professor of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The main focus of Dr. Jorati’s research is the history of early modern philosophy. At present, she has a particular interest in philosophical debates about slavery and race in the 17th and 18th centuries. She has also published extensively on the philosophy of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.
The Effects of Slavery on Enslaved People and Eighteenth-Century Antislavery Arguments
In the eighteenth century, many authors who write about slavery contend that enslavement degrades the human mind and causes enslaved people to exhibit inferior moral or intellectual abilities. Antislavery authors often use this contention to combat the racist claim that Black people are naturally inferior, insisting instead that if there is an inferiority, it’s simply an effect of enslavement. After examining this argumentative strategy and what makes it appealing, I investigate the extent to which it’s nevertheless problematic. First, this strategy was sometimes used to oppose immediate abolition: some eighteenth-century authors argued that many enslaved people have become incapable of living good lives outside of slavery and that freeing them would therefore be a mistake. Moreover, this strategy is racist according to some philosophers of race, it may further marginalize an already oppressed group, and it can (seem to) blame enslaved people for their condition. I will end with some reflections on whether the strategy might nevertheless be useful for liberatory purposes.SHARE