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The Movement for Black Lives

Philosophical Perspectives

Edited by Brandon Hogan, Michael Cholbi, Alex Madva, and Benjamin S. Yost

Publication Date - 15 October 2021

ISBN: 9780197507780

320 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock


The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) has gained worldwide visibility as a grassroots social justice movement distinguished by a decentralized, non-hierarchal mode of organization, and in 2020 Black Lives Matter protests across the country shook America's moral conscience to its core. M4BL rose to prominence in part thanks to its protests against police brutality and misconduct directed at Black Americans. However, its animating concerns are far broader, calling for a wide range of economic, political, legal, and cultural measures to address what it terms a "war against Black people," as well as the "shared struggle with all oppressed people." Yet despite the significance of the social, political, and economic goals of M4BL, as well as the innovative organizational leadership strategies it employs, M4BL has so far received little sustained philosophical attention.

The Movement for Black Lives: Philosophical Perspectives brings philosophical analysis to bear on the aims, strategies, policy positions, and intellectual-historical context of M4BL. Leading scholars tackle such themes as: "Black Lives Matter" as a political speech act, M4BL's conception of the value of Black lives, the gender dynamics of the Movement, the relation of M4BL to other Black liberation movements and transitional justice movements, the Movement's new forms of leadership and organization, and the impact of racism on the normative assessment of the criminal justice system.

The volume broaches a wide range of pressing issues in the philosophy of language, social and political philosophy, philosophy of race, philosophy of gender, and the philosophy of punishment. It is vital reading for students and scholars in the humanities and social sciences interested in race, inequality, and social justice movements.


  • Uses a diverse range of philosophical methods and approaches to understand one of the most important social justice movements of the last half century
  • Complements philosophical work on race and social inequality by analysing efforts to combat racial injustice
  • Serves as a crucial resource for philosophers who want to incorporate race and social justice issues into their research and pedagogy

About the Author(s)

Brandon Hogan is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Howard University. His work has appeared in Contemporary Pragmatism, The Journal of Pan African Studies, and the Berkeley Journal of African American Law and Policy. He earned a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh under the supervision of Robert Brandom and a JD from Harvard Law School.

Michael Cholbi is Chair in Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. His books include Suicide: The Philosophical Dimensions (Broadview, 2011), Understanding Kant's Ethics (Cambridge University Press, 2016), and Grief: A Philosophical Guide (Princeton University Press, expected 2021). He is the editor of several scholarly collections, including Immortality and the Philosophy of Death (Rowman and Littlefield, 2015); Procreation, Parenthood, and Educational Rights (Routledge, 2017); and The Future of Work, Technology, and Basic Income (Routledge, 2019). He is the the co-editor of the textbook Exploring the Philosophy of Death and Dying: Classic and Contemporary Perspectives (Routledge, forthcoming 2020). In recent years, he has been an academic visitor at Australian National University, the University of Turku (Finland), and the Hastings Center. He is the founder of the International Association for the Philosophy of Death and Dying.

Alex Madva is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of the California Center for Ethics and Policy at Cal Poly Pomona. He co-edited An Introduction to Implicit Bias: Knowledge, Justice, and the Social Mind (Routledge 2020), and his work has appeared in journals including Noûs, Ethics, The Journal of Applied Philosophy, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, Ergo, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews (WIREs): Cognitive Science, and the International Journal of STEM Education. He has run numerous workshops and training sessions on bias, stereotype threat, and impostor syndrome for schools, courts, and wider audiences.

Benjamin S. Yost is Professor of Philosophy, Adjunct at Cornell University. He was previously Professor of Philosophy at Providence College. His book, Against Capital Punishment, was published with Oxford University Press in 2019. Other published work appears in journals such as Utilitas, Journal of the American Philosophical Association, Kantian Review, and Continental Philosophy Review.


"For scholars and laity in the fields of race studies or philosophy, this book offers an important examination of the theoretical foundations and issues of social and political philosophy. The uniqueness of this book is that the essays offer both support for and critiques of the foundational assumptions and arguments underlying different scholarly/activist positions. The volume also provides a theoretical discussion of how to move away from leadership--oriented activism/scholarship and toward democratic/cooperative-oriented activism/scholarship. Though clearly rooted in philosophy, chapters are accessible to readers of all levels. This would be an excellent book for class discussion and student research." -- L. L. Lovern, Valdosta State University, CHOICE

Table of Contents


    Part I - The Value of Black Lives
    1. What "Black Lives Matter" Should Mean, Brandon Hogan
    2. "And He Ate Jim Crow": Racist Ideology as False Consciousness, Vanessa Wills
    3. He Never Mattered: Poor Black Males and the Dark Logic of Intersectional Invisibility, Tommy J. Curry

    Part II - Theorizing Racial Justice
    4. Reconsidering Reparations: The Movement for Black Lives and Self-Determination, Olúfemi O. Táíwò
    5. The Movement for Black Lives and Transitional Justice, Colleen Murphy

    Part III - The Language of M4BL
    6. Positive Propaganda and the Pragmatics of Protest, Michael Randall Barnes
    7. Value-Based Protest Slogans: An Argument for Reorientation, Myisha Cherry
    8. The Movement for Black Lives and the Language of Liberation, Ian Olasov

    Part IV -M4BL, Anti-Black Racism, and Punishment
    9. Can Capital Punishment Survive if Black Lives Matter?, Michael Cholbi and Alex Madva
    10. Sentencing Leniency for Black Offenders, Benjamin S. Yost

    Part V - Strategy and Solidarity
    11. The Violence of Leadership in Black Lives Matter, Dana Francisco Miranda
    12. Speaking For, Speaking With, and Shutting Up: Models of Solidarity and the Pragmatics of Truth Telling, Mark Norris Lance
    13. Sky's the Limit: A Case-Study in Envisioning Real Anti-Racist Utopias, Keyvan Shafiei