Lori Watson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of San Diego, and affiliate faculty in the School of Law. Presently, she is Chair of the Philosophy Department as well. She works on political philosophy, feminism, and philosophy of law, including the intersection of all three. She has several forthcoming books with Oxford University Press, Equal Citizenship and Public Reason: A Feminist Political Liberalism (with Christie Hartley), Debating Sex Work (with Jessica Flannigan), and Debating Pornography (with Andrew Altman).
What is your favorite thing that you’ve written?
My contribution to the Debating Sex Work book with Jessica Flannigan, forthcoming. The original piece I wrote on this topic is “Why Sex Work Isn’t Work,” in Logos, and I really like that article. It is a reductio on the claim that sex work is work just like any other form of work. The book expands on some of the themes there, but also develops a set of new arguments. I think it is among the most original things I have written. The article that inspired the longer book length project has made some real world impact, as least insofar as activists and legislators have read it. I am hopeful the book does the same.
What are you working on right now?
Having just finished these three books, I am working on working less! But, I have two articles promised in the near future. One of those is for an edited volume called, Caring for Liberalism edited by Amy Beahr and Asha Bandry. I am working on a chapter for them on “Dependency and Domination” with Christie Hartley, my long time co-author, which aims to trace the ways in which the fact of human dependency has been construed as a threat to either freedom or equality within some strands of the liberal tradition and defend a version of relational egalitarianism as superior for its treatment of dependency. Contrary to some liberal accounts of dependency, dependency is not always a threat to equality; in fact, relational equality requires the recognition of dependency and appropriate care. Thus, refocusing liberal theory on relational equality, understood properly, brings the fact of dependency into the center of the view rather than an obstacle to be overcome.
What is your favorite sound in the world?
What is your favorite book of all time?
Must go with Crime and Punishment, for fiction at least. It is so well-written, so captivating, and obviously philosophical. Everything to love in a novel!
What are you reading right now? Would you recommend it?
I am reading a collection of books on the French Revolution, the Glorious Revolution, and the Russian Revolution. I am thinking of working on the concept of revolution. Presently, I am reading Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution, and yes I would recommend it! Incredible reading.
Which books have changed your life? In what ways?
Toward a Feminist Theory of the State has to be my number one life changing book. It gives an analysis and a vocabulary to understand sexist domination and oppression, phenomena that always occupied my thoughts and experience. Reading it for the first time was like coming into the light and learning that there were words for what I had known, but not myself been able to say.
What three items would you take to a desert island other than food and water?
Assuming ‘Library’ is not an item, and items are singular, individual physical things, I would take: Kant’s First Critique, a guitar, and I guess some kind of adult “onesie.” As to the onesie, not because I am into that, but because presumably shorts and a shirt are two items, I can’t waste two items on clothing. But, also in the question, it doesn’t specify that clothing is among the things I might have. It just says “food and water,” so I want clothing, as I imagine sunburn is likely to be a serious hazard on this island. I chose the First Critique, not because I think it is the best book in all of philosophy, but I don’t know how long I am going to be on this island, so I want a book I can read over and over and over and still find it worth reading again. I imagine the First Critique could sustain 30 years or so. As to guitar, I can’t read ALL the time.
If you could only use one condiment for the rest of your life, which condiment would you pick and why?
Hot sauce, preferably Cholula, but would accept Franks. Why? Because I like it? There is no proper defense to be given of condiment preferences.
What would you like your last meal to be?
A vegetarian Indian feast. Must have: Channa Masala, Dal, and Baingan Bartha (Eggplant dish).
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