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Alice Crary
Alice Crary, Berlin, 2017
Alma materAB, Philosophy, Harvard University, 1990; PhD, Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh, 1999[2]
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Main interests
Moral philosophy, philosophy and literature, epistemology, feminist philosophy, disability studies
Notable ideas
All human beings and animals are inside ethics

Alice Crary (/ˈkrɛəri/; born 1967) is an American philosopher who currently holds the positions of University Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Faculty, The New School for Social Research in New York City and Visiting Fellow at Regent's Park College, University of Oxford, U.K. (where she was Professor of Philosophy 2018–19). Crary was named one of the three "most inspirational" professors at The New School, above all for "path-breaking Chair to bring about greater inclusiveness among populations traditionally under-represented in philosophy."[3]

Crary has contributed to international educational activities focusing on the intersection of philosophy with critical theory and political philosophy. These include summer philosophy workshops at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany, the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies/New School for Social Research Europe Democracy and Diversity Institute in Wroclaw, Poland,[4] and the Kritische Theorie in Berlin Critical Theory Summer School (Progress, Regression, and Social Change) in Berlin, Germany,[5] which she co-organized with Rahel Jaeggi.

Philosophical work

Crary's contributions to philosophy center on moral philosophy, feminism, and Wittgenstein scholarship. However, she has specifically written about such topics as cognitive disability,[6] critical theory,[7] propaganda,[8] nonhuman animal cognition,[9] and the philosophy of literature and narrative.[10] Her thought is especially influenced by Cora Diamond,[11] John McDowell, Stanley Cavell,[12] Hilary Putnam, bell hooks,[13] Kimberlé Crenshaw,[13] Charles W. Mills, and Peter Winch.

Ethics and moral philosophy

Crary's most recent book, Inside Ethics,[14] argues for an ethically non-neutral conception of reality that embraces the resources of literature and art to reorient our experiences of other human beings and animals. In her view, our ability to think through ethical problems in disability studies and animal studies in particular is stunted by a lack of moral imagination that is partly caused by a narrow understanding of rationality and partly by the poverty of philosophy severed from the affective responses derived from other areas in the humanities.[15] She offers a picture of objectivity that is within rather than outside of ethical thought and a Wittgensteinian account of how seeing aspects of the world supplements our moral objectivism.[16]

Her first monograph, Beyond Moral Judgment,[17] discusses why and lays out this program of how to broaden discussions of moral concepts and objectivity, illustrating in particular how literature and feminism help us to reframe our moral presuppositions.

Crary has with increasing frequency written about ethics in regard to cognitive disability and animal life.[18]


Crary's work on feminism exemplifies her engagement with continental philosophy as a critique of standard views of objectivity in analytic philosophy that shy away from the radical, non-neutral methodology and political standpoint that distinguishes her objective moralism.[13] In her view, language in all of its forms invites us to both cognitively and ethically appreciate the lives of women in new ways that count as objective knowledge.[19] As is the case with her moral philosophy, her view of a feminist conception of objectivity is informed by her interpretation of Wittgenstein, who she understands as proposing a "wide" view of objectivity in which affective responses are not merely non-cognitive persuasive manipulations but also reveal real forms of suffering that give us a more objective understanding of the world.[20]


Crary is a leading figure of what is often called the "therapeutic"[21] or "resolute"[22] reading of Wittgenstein. In her influential, co-edited collection of essays of such readings, The New Wittgenstein, her own contribution argues against the standard use-theory readings of Wittgenstein that often render his thought as politically conservative and implausible.[23] Since then, she has cultivated a distinctive reading of Wittgenstein and contributed to numerous collections of Wittgenstein scholarship, including Emotions and Understanding[24] and interpretations of Wittgenstein's On Certainty.[25] Recently, she has argued that critical theory and Wittgensteinian ethical analysis can fruitfully work together toward the aim of liberating social thought.[7]

Public philosophy

Crary frequently participates in and organizes events for public discussion.[26][27][28] She also writes for and participates in discussions and debates for the public at large, such as a commemorative article about her former mentor Stanley Cavell in the New York Times (with Nancy Bauer and Sandra Laugier),[29] a BBC radio interview about the life and philosophy of Stanley Cavell (with Stephen Mulhall),[30] public debates on the treatment of animals and the cognitively disabled,[31] and an essay for The Stone in the New York Times on the "math wars" in American education (with Stephen Wilson).[32]

Personal life

Crary was a 1983-4 exchange student with Youth for Understanding in the southern German town of Achern. She was also a national champion rower at the Lakeside School (Seattle) in Seattle, Washington and placed 6th in the Junior Women's Eight at the 1985 World Rowing Junior Championships in Brandenburg, Germany.[33] In the 1980s, after studying liberation theology with Harvey Cox at Harvard Divinity School, Crary researched Christian base communities in southern Mexico and Guatemala. In the early 1990s, she was a teacher at the Collegio Americano in Quito, Ecuador.


Books – monographs

Books – edited volumes

See also


  1. ^ "Crary, Alice 1967- (Alice Marguerite Crary) |".
  2. ^ "Alice Crary - Professor of Philosophy". Retrieved 2017-09-01.
  3. ^ Ryan Gustafson, quoted in McCall M. 10 of The Most Inspirational Professors at The New School. College Magazine, December 5, 2016. URL:
  4. ^ "Transregional Center for Democratic Studies". Transregional Center for Democratic Studies.
  5. ^ "Progress, Regression and Social Change".
  6. ^ Cureton, Adam; Wasserman, David T, eds. (2018). The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Disability. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190622879.001.0001. ISBN 9780190622879.
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ Crary, Alice (October 1, 2017). "Putnam and Propaganda". Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal. 38 (2): 385–398. doi:10.5840/gfpj201738220.
  9. ^ Crary, Alice (April 14, 2012). "Dogs and Concepts". Philosophy. 87 (2): 215–237. doi:10.1017/S0031819112000010. S2CID 170697605.
  10. ^ Crary, Alice (2012). "W.G. Sebald and the Ethics of Narrative". Constellations. 19 (3): 494–508. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8675.2012.00691.x.
  11. ^ Press, The MIT. "Wittgenstein and the Moral Life". The MIT Press.
  12. ^ "Reading Cavell". Routledge & CRC Press.
  13. ^ a b c Crary, Alice. "Alice Crary: The methodological is political / Radical Philosophy".
  14. ^ "Inside Ethics — Alice Crary".
  15. ^;
  16. ^ "Inside Ethics | Syndicate".
  17. ^ "Beyond Moral Judgment — Alice Crary".
  18. ^ "11. J. M. Coetzee, Moral Thinker: Philosophical Perspectives on Literature". ResearchGate.
  19. ^ Crary, Alice (August 24, 2015). "Feminist Thought and Rational Authority: Getting Things in Perspective". New Literary History. 46 (2): 287–308. doi:10.1353/nlh.2015.0010. S2CID 143046249.
  20. ^ See "What Do Feminists Want in an Epistemology?," in Feminist Interpretations of Ludwig Wittgenstein, ed. Naomi Scheman and Peg O'Connor (University Park, PA: University of Pennsylvania, 2002), pp. 112–113.
  21. ^ Alice Crary, introduction to The New Wittgenstein, ed. Alice Crary and Rupert Read (New York: Routledge, 2000), p. 1.
  22. ^ Silver Bronzo, "The Resolute Reading and Its Critics: An Introduction to the Literature," Wittgenstein-Studien 3 (2012), p. 46.
  23. ^ Crary, Alice (August 9, 2000). Crary, Alice; Read, Rupert J. (eds.). Wittgenstein's Philosophy in Relation to Political Thought. Routledge. pp. 118–145 – via PhilPapers.
  24. ^ Gustafsson, Ylva; Kronqvist, Camilla; McEachrane, Michael, eds. (2009). Emotions and Understanding - Wittgensteinian Perspectives | Y. Gustafsson | Palgrave Macmillan. Palgrave Macmillan UK. doi:10.1057/9780230584464. ISBN 978-1-349-29958-4 – via
  25. ^ Moyal-Sharrock, D.; Brenner, W., eds. (August 9, 2005). Readings of Wittgenstein's On Certainty. Palgrave Macmillan UK. doi:10.1057/9780230505346. ISBN 978-0-230-53552-7 – via
  26. ^ "Five Questions". Five Questions by Kieran Setiya.
  27. ^ "3:16". 3:16.
  28. ^ "Social Visibility". Social Visibility.
  29. ^ Bauer, Nancy; Crary, Alice; Laugier, Sandra (July 2, 2018). "Opinion | Stanley Cavell and the American Contradiction". The New York Times.
  30. ^ "BBC Radio 3 - Free Thinking, The Working Lunch and Food in History". BBC.
  31. ^,,
  32. ^ Crary, Alice; Wilson, W. Stephen (June 16, 2013). "The Faulty Logic of the 'Math Wars'".
  33. ^ "Alice CRARY".