Using the writings of slaves and former slaves, as well as commentaries on slavery, Between Slavery and Freedom explores the American slave experience to gain a better understanding of six moral and political concepts -- oppression, paternalism, resistance, political obligation, citizenship, and forgiveness. The authors use analytical philosophy as well as other disciplines to gain insight into the thinking of a group of people prevented from participating in the social/political discourse of their times.
Between Slavery and Freedom rejects the notion that philosophers need not consider individual experience because philosophy is "impartial" and "universal." A philosopher should also take account of matters that are essentially perspectival, such as the slave experience. McGary and Lawson demonstrate the contribution of all human experience, including slave experiences, to the quest for human knowledge and understanding.
"Howard McGary and Bill Lawson have written a pioneering work. Never before has the African slave experience been the site of exploring the complex relation of philosophical reflection and historical interpretation. Challenging in its formulations and bold in its efforts to connect high theory to tragic reality, this text breaks new ground in an impressive manner." - Cornel West, author of Race Matters "In a book that instantly enriches undergraduate teaching options in the field of social philosophy, McGary and Lawson have made a worthy attempt at engaging a wide audience in a conversation of greatest concern to many African Americans- that is, a systematic discussion about American slavery as a particular set of influential practices and ideas." - Ethics