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Toward a Philosophical Unison: Mary Parker Follett’s Relational Ontology

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Linda Martín Alcoff argues that the “demographic challenge” faced by the discipline of philosophy is the result of “what we [philosophers] do” and of what philosophers determine constitutes philosophy. In this paper, I argue that American philosopher Mary Parker Follett’s commitment to a relational ontology and non-coercive “power-with” is valuable for thinking critically about the discipline’s demographic challenge and theorizing new philosophical practices that would allow marginalized positions to partake in legitimate philosophical dialogue and meaning production—to achieve what I will call a unison. More precisely, Follett’s analysis of “power-over” allows us to see that the “adversary paradigm” (Janice Moulton) is mistaken because it is intrinsically hegemonic; the mainstream exercises an illegitimate form of “domination” that excludes and oppresses the margins by depriving them of their power of judgment and criticism of the mainstream.


Martina Ferrari    
University of Oregon
United States


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