Charles mills racial contract sparknotes

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charles mills racial contract sparknotes

The Racial Contract by Charles W. Mills

The Racial Contract puts classic Western social contract theory, deadpan, to extraordinary radical use. With a sweeping look at the European expansionism and racism of the last five hundred years, Charles W. Mills demonstrates how this peculiar and unacknowledged contract has shaped a system of global European domination: how it brings into existence whites and non-whites, full persons and sub-persons, how it influences white moral theory and moral psychology; and how this system is imposed on non-whites through ideological conditioning and violence. The Racial Contract argues that the society we live in is a continuing white supremacist state. Holding up a mirror to mainstream philosophy, this provocative book explains the evolving outline of the racial contract from the time of the New World conquest and subsequent colonialism to the written slavery contract, to the separate but equal system of segregation in the United States. According to Mills, the contract has provided the theoretical architecture justifying an entire history of European atrocity against non-whites, from David Humes and Immanuel Kants claims that blacks had inferior cognitive power, to the Holocaust, to the kind of imperialism in Asia that was demonstrated by the Vietnam War. Mills suggests that the ghettoization of philosophical work on race is no accident. This work challenges the assumption that mainstream theory is itself raceless. Just as feminist theory has revealed orthodox political philosophys invisible white male bias, Millss explication of the racial contract exposes its racial underpinnings.
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The Racial Contract By Charles Mills Analysis ( Bryan H. & Tyron A. )

Mills suggests that the Social Contract is in fact the Racial Contract, charting the enlightenment theorists who formulated the theory of the Social Contract and exposing the manifest racialised thinking that marred the foundations of their thought.
Charles W. Mills

The Racial Contract

The framing question of Mills' important and thought-provoking paper is whether there is reason for political progressives and radicals to employ the notion of a social contract for either descriptive or normative purposes. The political progressives and radicals he is addressing are those who are not only undertaking normative inquiry into how society ought to be structured, but also provide descriptive models for understanding how societies are actually structured. On their accounts, the central fact to be modeled is the "reality of group domination" p. In the contemporary context, white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, are the core phenomena through which societies are to be understood, and in response to which normative political philosophy has its point. The task, taken broadly, is to understand how group domination "arises out of social processes" p. Simply showing that a particular model meets a set of criteria we endorse doesn't by itself show that it warrants our acceptance, for there might well be better models available. But Mills argues that there are two specific benefits to progressives in employing a version of contractarianism.

This is a video of Charles Mills talking about if race exists. Obviously I know no one really has time to read the entire book but it was incredibly interesting and challenges the philosophy of racial inequality in society. Since this idea has become so deeply and almost intangibly rooted into the nature of society much of this underlining racism has become the norm. Mills describes how the social, economic, and political contract sets expectations in society, which dictate social norms in general. People look to these norms in order to know how to act both on a local and global scale.

One thought on “The Racial Contract”

Mills in which he attempts to show that, although it is conventional to represent the social contract moral and political theories of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Kant as neutral with respect to race and ethnicity, in actuality the philosophers understood them to regulate only relations between whites; in relation to non-whites, these philosophers helped to create a "racial contract," which in both formal and informal ways permitted whites to oppress and exploit non-whites and violate their own moral ideals in dealing with non-whites. Mills proposes to develop a non-ideal theory "to explain and expose the inequities of the actual nonideal policy and to help us see through the theories and moral justifications offered in defense of them.

In a sense, it could be viewed as a theory of history, but it is clear that the racial policies and established by the institution of white supremacy in history carry on to the present day in one form or another. Mills breaks his theory of the racial contract into several sub-sections, which help to further define the racial contract as a theoretical concept. What is the racial contract, you may ask? First, we need to take a step back and talk about a much older philosophical concept, namely the social contract. In brief, the social contract is the concept that governments, are founded upon a fundamental agreement between the government and the governed.


  1. Columbo V. says:

    The Racial Contract is an essay by Jamaican-American philosopher Charles W. Mills in which he attempts to show that, although it is conventional to represent.

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