In my dissertation, I develop an account of what it is to understand others as fellow members of one’s political community through an interpretation of the antebellum political thought of Black American abolitionists Frederick Douglass and Martin Delany. On the account I defend, members of a political community acknowledge others as fellow members through responsiveness to their fellows’ enactment of the community’s political values. I acknowledge you as a fellow citizen in virtue of what you do, and my acknowledgement of you as a fellow citizen consists in action that responds to what you do. Understanding others as fellow members of one’s political community is, on this account, a form of practical knowledge. I argue that a political epistemology of acknowledgement and its corresponding picture of political membership offer a viable model for transforming political actors’ understanding of who their fellow citizens are, despite the influence of oppressive ideology.
I also have substantial interests in the value of political participation, the nature of moral and political standing, and the role of humility in political life.