Robin Dembroff, Yale
Abstract: Who can justly demand recognition as a woman? as disabled? as black? All sides often assume that answers to these and similar questions will turn on who in fact has membership in the relevant category. As a result, attempts to answer these questions quickly become debates over metaphysical questions such as What makes someone a woman? or Is obesity really a disability? In this talk, I argue that such debates are orthogonal to the question of who can justly demand recognition in a socially significant category, such as woman or disabled. These categories can be unjust with respect to the grounds for category membership. Call these 'oppressive categories'. Oppressive categories show that what features ought to determine category membership can come apart from the features that do determine membership. After developing a framework for understanding oppressive categories, I argue from this framework to the possibility that persons who do not belong to a socially significant category can nevertheless justly demand recognition as category members.