Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Bill Lawson

Committee Member

Robert Bernasconi

Committee Member

Sarah Clark Miller

Committee Member

Remy Debes


Persons with multiracial identity are now the fastest growing minority group in both the United States and Britain. As the push to acknowledge, express and celebrate multiracial identities intensifies, the ontological status, meaning of multiracial identities and their relationship to monoracial identities is of increasing importance to our understanding of race relations in both countries. The dilemma that philosophers of race are confronted with is how to identify those persons impacted by racisms without reifying the concept of race and/or falling foul of presenting essentialized group categories. Models that seek to grapple with these ethical problems are typically, if not surprisingly, undergirded by an unencumbered liberal framework that prioritises freedom and equality. The unencumbered conception of the self is historically, socially and morally disconnected such that one’s identity can be separated from one’s values. However, I argue that there is a racial consciousness that constitutes social reality in the United States and Britain and impacts the lived experience. This renders unencumbered models of moral reasoning untenable. Rejecting the unencumbered self, I consider multiracial identity from an encumbered ontological perspective, which posits the evaluation and articulation of identity as constitutive of the self and social reality. This model requires us to address the moral content of racial identities imbedded in the racial consciousness and allows us to consider racial identities, not as proxies for moral commitments but rather as part of a multi-layered process in which a person’s racial identity is both a reflection of and a significant factor in shaping a person’s moral commitments. In light of this, I explore a selection of models of collective responsibility. I claim that in a society with racial consciousness, collective responsibility is best described and understood within the framework of an encumbered conception of the self. Ultimately, I contend that if we are to tackle racial injustice, we must revisit our understanding of moral reasoning as rational, objective and fundamentally unencumbered.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.