Alice Crary

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).

Alice Crary
Alice Crary, Berlin, 2017
Alma materAB, Philosophy, Harvard University, 1990; PhD, Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh, 1999[2]
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Doctoral advisorJohn McDowell
Other academic advisorsStanley Cavell, Hilary Putnam
Main interests
Moral philosophy, philosophy and literature, epistemology, feminist philosophy, feminist epistemology, conceptualism, animal ethics, disability studies, The Frankfurt School, objectivity
Notable ideas
All human beings and animals are inside ethics
  • Amia Srinivasan

Philosophical work

Crary works in the fields of moral philosophy, feminism, and Wittgenstein scholarship. She has written about cognitive disability,[4] critical theory,[5] propaganda,[6] nonhuman animal cognition,[7] and the philosophy of literature and narrative.[8] Her work is especially influenced by Cora Diamond,[9] John McDowell, Stanley Cavell,[10] Hilary Putnam, bell hooks,[11] Kimberlé Crenshaw,[11] Charles W. Mills, and Peter Winch.

Ethics and moral philosophy

Crary's first monograph, Beyond Moral Judgment,[12] discusses how literature and feminism help to reframe moral presuppositions. Her Inside Ethics[13] argues that ethics in disability studies and animal studies is stunted by a lack of moral imagination, caused by a narrow understanding of rationality and by a philosophy severed from literature and art.[14][15][16]


Crary's work on feminism is critical of standard views of objectivity in analytic philosophy and post-structuralism. In her view, both traditions mistakenly conceive of objectivity as value-neutral, and thus incompatible with ethical and political perspectives.[11] According to Crary, these "ethically-loaded perspectives" invite both cognitive and ethical appreciation for the lives of women, in ways that count as objective knowledge.[17] Like her moral philosophy, her feminist conception of objectivity is informed by Wittgenstein, who she understands as proposing a "wide" view of objectivity: one in which affective responses are not merely non-cognitive persuasive manipulations but reveal real forms of suffering that give us a more objective understanding of the world.[18]


Crary is associated with the so-called "therapeutic"[19] or "resolute"[20] reading of Wittgenstein. In her 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.[21] Since then, she has contributed to numerous collections of Wittgenstein scholarship, including Emotions and Understanding[22] and interpretations of Wittgenstein's On Certainty.[23]

Public philosophy

Crary frequently participates in and organizes events for public discussion,[24][25][26] such as public debates on the treatment of animals and the cognitively disabled,[27][28][29]. She has also written for the New York Times.[30][31]

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,[32] and the Kritische Theorie in Berlin Critical Theory Summer School (Progress, Regression, and Social Change) in Berlin, Germany,[33] which she co-organized with Rahel Jaeggi.

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.[34] 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

  • Wittgenstein and the Moral Life: Essays in Honor of Cora Diamond (Cambridge, MIT Press, 2007).
  • Reading Cavell (New York, Routledge, 2006 (co-edited with Sanford Shieh)).
  • The New Wittgenstein (New York, Routledge, 2000 (co-edited with Rupert Read)).

See also


  1. "Crary, Alice 1967- (Alice Marguerite Crary) |".
  2. "Alice Crary - Professor of Philosophy". Retrieved 2017-09-01.
  3. Bauer, Nancy; Beckwith, Sarah; Crary, Alice; Laugier, Sandra; Moi, Toril; Zerilli, Linda (February 25, 2015). "Introduction". New Literary History. 46 (2): v–xiii. doi:10.1353/nlh.2015.0012 via Project MUSE.
  4. Cureton, Adam; Wasserman, David T, eds. (2018). The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Disability. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190622879.001.0001. ISBN 9780190622879.
  5. Crary, Alice (June 2018). "Wittgenstein Goes to Frankfurt (and Finds Something Useful to Say)". Nordic Wittgenstein Review. 7 (1).
  6. Crary, Alice (October 1, 2017). "Putnam and Propaganda". Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal. 38 (2): 385–398. doi:10.5840/gfpj201738220.
  7. Crary, Alice (April 14, 2012). "Dogs and Concepts". Philosophy. 87 (2): 215–237. doi:10.1017/S0031819112000010. S2CID 170697605.
  8. 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.
  9. Press, The MIT. "Wittgenstein and the Moral Life". The MIT Press.
  10. "Reading Cavell". Routledge & CRC Press.
  11. Crary, Alice (2018). "Alice Crary: The methodological is political / Radical Philosophy". Radical Philosophy (202): 47–60.
  12. "Beyond Moral Judgment — Alice Crary".
  13. "Inside Ethics — Alice Crary".
  14. "Alice Crary On Her Newest Book, Inside Ethics". September 7, 2016.
  15. Cleary, Skye (November 2, 2016). "Why Philosophy Needs Literature: Interview with Alice Crary".
  16. "Inside Ethics | Syndicate".
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Alice Crary, introduction to The New Wittgenstein, ed. Alice Crary and Rupert Read (New York: Routledge, 2000), p. 1.
  20. Silver Bronzo, "The Resolute Reading and Its Critics: An Introduction to the Literature," Wittgenstein-Studien 3 (2012), p. 46.
  21. 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.
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. "Five Questions". Anchor FM.
  26. "Social Visibility". Social Visibility.
  27. Petrou, Michael; Crary, Alice (January 24, 2018). "Can trophy hunting ever be justified?". Prospect magazine.
  28. "Comparisons Between Cognitively Disabled Human Beings and Non-human Animals: Do They Have a Role in Ethics?". University Center for Human Values.
  29. "How Much Should We Care About Animals? with Alice Crary, Elizabeth Harman, Dale Jamieson, and Shelly Kagan". The Academy for Teachers. Archived from the original on 2021-04-11.
  30. Bauer, Nancy; Crary, Alice; Laugier, Sandra (July 2, 2018). "Opinion | Stanley Cavell and the American Contradiction". The New York Times.
  31. Crary, Alice; Wilson, W. Stephen (June 16, 2013). "The Faulty Logic of the 'Math Wars'".
  32. "Transregional Center for Democratic Studies". Transregional Center for Democratic Studies.
  33. "Progress, Regression and Social Change".
  34. "Alice CRARY".
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