Monday, June 23 from 1:00pm-3:00pm  at the UAA Campus Bookstore "Slavery" Revisited UAA Faculty William Jamison (Philosophy), Ryan Harrod (Anthropology), Nancy Nix ( Public Health Sciences) and  April Wilson (Political Science/ CAS Academic Advisor) come together to discuss  the meaning and  use of the term  "slavery" .  Everyone is encouraged to attend.

Slavery Revisited


To Be Presented on June 23, 2014

1:00 PM Monday at the

UAA Bookstore

By William S Jamison


(These are some of my notes. Please check the other panelists for their notes if they offer them.)

In philosophy we should use what might be called (is called by some) second level discourse to discuss first level discourse. The way the word “slave” is used in many contexts would be considered first level discourse. In second level discourse we might use the word to discuss what many of the uses of the word in first level discourse might have in common. Plato did this in trying to discover what an idea was thinking there was something extraordinary that all uses of a word had in common. We might call that the definition – but a good dictionary would not be Platonic since it would give many different meanings all attached to different contexts.
So what are some of the contexts? One is to think of slavery as using a person as a commodity. There are lots of historical definitions and linguistic contexts where the word means this.

Memoirs of Hadrian “I doubt if all the philosophy in the world can succeed in suppressing slavery; it will, at most, change the name.
There are other uses of the word that carry less emotional baggage than this. I might say I am slaving over my homework, or a hot stove.
Being a slave to a union might be considered a mixed metaphor. Since there are elements of both. In this sense a politician may be speaking very naturally when making such a critique of unions but then get trounced by critics who are appalled at his lack of feeling for his own ancestors who were treated as indentured slaves to the British, say, or to those who were enslaved by the economic system in the past. We have contemporary examples of entertainment that take advantage of this – such as the movie Twelve Years a Slave which won best picture in the Academy awards this year.

Alaska Dispatch
Jun 19 2014 - 10:00pm
NAACP criticizes Sullivan's slavery remarks
Nathaniel Herz
May 7, 2014

He responded by saying that he supports the legislation, adding, “Nobody should ever have to basically pay a fee to someone else to get a job in this state. We ended slavery a long time ago.”
He told reporters afterwards that he viewed mandatory payment of dues as “economic slavery.”
At a press conference Wednesday, Sullivan was asked to respond to the NAACP’s request. 
“I don’t think an apology is necessary, considering that the remark was made in terms of economic slavery,” he said. “Economically, if you have to pay somebody else that you don’t want to associate with just to have a job, that’s a form of economic slavery. I realize that some people think that’s a hot-button term, but it has meaning beyond just what its historical context might have been for a particular group in America.”



Human rights are brandished, criticized, and debated on streets and in seminars the world over. To some, human rights promise a firm foundation for healthy and equitable societies; to others, they imperil age-old values at the cores of people's identities. To give just one example, Malaysia's prime minister recently worried about "human rightism," which he characterized as a new religion that posed a major threat to the Islamic faith (Malay Mail Online, May 14, 2014).

Letter from a slave to his former master
Text Box: White Slavery The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 4
The ongoing debate at the UN regarding human rights

White Cargo



This page is maintained by William S. Jamison. It was last updated July 11, 2016. All links on these pages are either to open source or public domain materials or they are marked with the appropriate copyright information. I frequently check the links I have made to other web sites but each source is responsible for their own content.