Her first monograph, Beyond Moral Judgment, discusses how literature and feminism help us to reframe our moral presuppositions.
Crary's Inside Ethics argues that our ability to think through ethical problems 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 the affective responses of literature and art. She offers a picture of objectivity that is within rather than outside of ethical thought.
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. According to Crary, 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, including from "ethically-loaded perspectives". 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.
Crary is a leading figure of what is often called the "therapeutic" or "resolute" 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. Since then, she has cultivated a distinctive reading of Wittgenstein and contributed to numerous collections of Wittgenstein scholarship, including Emotions and Understanding and interpretations of Wittgenstein's On Certainty. Recently, she has argued that critical theory and Wittgensteinian ethical analysis can fruitfully work together toward the aim of liberating social thought.
Crary frequently participates in and organizes events for public discussion, such as public debates on the treatment of animals and the cognitively disabled,. She has also written for the New York Times.
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, and the Kritische Theorie in Berlin Critical Theory Summer School (Progress, Regression, and Social Change) in Berlin, Germany, which she co-organized with Rahel Jaeggi.
Beyond Moral Judgment (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2007). (Reviewed in Analytic Philosophy, Choice, The European Journal of Philosophy, Ethics (twice), Hypatia, Metapsychology Online Reviews, Mind, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, Philo, and The Pluralist and discussed at a 2008 "Author Meets Critics" session at the Eastern Division Meeting of the APA.)
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)).
^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.
^Alice Crary, introduction to The New Wittgenstein, ed. Alice Crary and Rupert Read (New York: Routledge, 2000), p. 1.
^Silver Bronzo, "The Resolute Reading and Its Critics: An Introduction to the Literature," Wittgenstein-Studien 3 (2012), p. 46.