Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Critical thinking webpage, input welcome July 26, 2012

Filed under: critical thinking — KateNorlock @ 4:46 pm
From Cate Hundleby:
I have just launched a critical thinking webpage with the express purpose of guiding instructors in their choice of textbooks, but with larger pedagogical and liberatory purposes in mind.  The implicit feminist approach and the express goals of helping novice instructors in the field may make this site useful for women and feminist philosophers.  If women tend to do the part-time and temporary work they are likely also to be assigned to the (inappropriately) low-prestige work of teaching critical thinking at the first and second year levels.
I welcome input. (Note: I hope to expand the “feminist and liberatory” discussion. ) Feel free to email:

The Orvillecoptor June 6, 2012

Filed under: cats,critical thinking,Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 3:43 pm

Here’s the story, from the Guardian:

After his cat Orville died, Dutch artist Bart Jansen decided to give him a new lease of life … by having him stuffed, attaching propellers to him and flying him around as a radio controlled helicopter. He’s now on show at an art festival.

Apparently Orville was hit by a car and killed. After feeling sad for a few days, as he says in a video, the artist arrived at the current idea/use.

Here’s a picture:


For his birthday, Orville will get even bigger propellers.

Please let us know what you think about the project. You might was to distinguish between your initial and your more considered reactions.


This video may help you decide



Nice juxtaposition June 1, 2012

Filed under: academia,bias,critical thinking,science,Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 1:42 am

1.  Larry Summers, who certainly encountered problems after he conjectured about innate limitations on women’s ability to excel in science, supports free speech. From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Lawrence H. Summers, the former president of Harvard University, has joined the Board of Advisors to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the free-speech advocacy group announced today. Mr. Summers certainly knows a thing or two about controversial speech: He stepped down from Harvard’s presidency in 2006, shortly after making much-criticized comments about women’s intrinsic abilities in the sciences.

2. The New York Times announces the winners of the prestigious Kavli Prize, decided by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters; 7 winners, five of them women:

Mildred S. Dresselhaus, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, won the nanoscience prize for her research on carbon nanotubes…

Cornelia Isabella Bargmann of Rockefeller University, Winfried Denk of the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, Germany, and Ann M. Graybiel of M.I.T. will split the neuroscience prize for work aimed at elucidating how the brain processes information from the environment.

The winners of the astrophysics prize … David C. Jewitt of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Jane X. Luu of M.I.T.’s Lincoln Laboratory discovered the Kuiper Belt in the form of a slow-moving (meaning it was very far away) object in 1992.

The third winner of the astrophysics prize, Michael E. Brown of the California Institute of Technology…


critical thinking class assignment: Left tolerant of misogyny? May 28, 2012

Filed under: critical thinking,fallacy — annejjacobson @ 5:57 pm

(Thanks to EM for alerting us to the Slate blog post.)

Evaluate the following argument from a slate blog:

Conclusion:  the left is showing that it’s just fine with misogyny and violence against women as long as the women in question aren’t card-carrying liberal feminists.

Premise One: Donna Dewitt, the outgoing president of AFL-CIO South Carolina, bashed a piñata bearing a photograph of Gov. Nikki Haley, while men and women in the crowd shouted “Whack her harder” and “hit her again.” Dewitt continues to smack the piñata long after it’s knocked down, which is a nice touch.

(See the video below for a idea of the size of the crowd urging Dewill on.)

Premise Two: Elsewhere, Hustler has published an image—“a composite fantasy” in the magazine’s description—of conservative commentator S.E. Cupp with a phallus in her mouth.

Premise 3: … incidents like this happen with such frequency and casualness that it’s clear people think there won’t be any pushback if they attack a conservative woman.

With regard to the first premise, note Dewitt and the crowd:

With regard to the third premise, consider this from The Nation:

Feminists: Time to Stand With S.E. Cupp
Katha Pollitt on May 25, 2012 – 10:34 AM ET
Earlier this spring, Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut” for arguing that contraception should be covered by health insurance. This week, Larry Flynt PhotoShopped a picture of conservative pundit S.E. Cupp to look like she had a penis in her mouth and published it in Hustler as “satire’—Cupp wants to defund Planned Parenthood, you see. No? I didn’t either. This degrading image has nothing to do with political satire and everything to do with wanting to put an outspoken woman in her place—on her knees with a dick in her mouth to shut her up. It’s a pornographic version of “Iron my shirt” and “Make me a sammich.”

Hustler may not be a beacon of the liberal media, as conservatives are gleefully claiming—but it’s all too maddeningly true that misogyny can be found all over the political spectrum, and needs to be denounced, by both men and women, wherever it appears. When it comes to women exercising their right to participate in public debate, we are all Sandra Fluke, and we are all S.E. Cupp as well.

What you can do:

Sign The Women’s Media Center statement of solidarity with Cupp, e-mail it to your friends, and post it on your Facebook page.

Tweet your support at #IStandWithSECupp.

Let the media—left, right, center—know that the crude sexualization of women who voice their opinions in public is not “satire.” It’s misogyny.


“Reading between the Lines” May 7, 2012

Filed under: academia,critical thinking — annejjacobson @ 5:52 pm

Games with Words is a web-based laboratory run by a grad student at Harvard. With some of the games one gets feedback, and with some not. I’ve just taken one, The Communication Game. One is told:

Words are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding what someone says. Much is left unsaid.

Read sentences and try to figure out what they mean. How good are you at reading between the lines?.

It is very short, and the results are interesting. You may even want to write to the experimenter to comment. In any case, I suspect a gaggle of philosophers will change the statistics some.

Do try it. Considering telling us your score. And I’d love to know what you think “the well known theory” referred to at the end is. Do you think you were reading between the lines?


Meat-Eating and Male Critics May 5, 2012

As many of you know, the Sunday Times has had a contest to write the best essay defending meet eating. It came to a conclusion this weekend, and the winners are announced.

We mentioned before its all-male panel of judges. And in fact the ethicist recognizes concerns about diversity, in a rather odd context:

Reader Responses

The contest is sexist and racist

The panel [of judges] consists of all white men. . . . And so the cycle of prejudice continues in which white male elite perspectives dominate the production of social facts. LORI GRUEN, A. BREEZE HARPER, CAROL J. ADAMS

The contest is harmless

This is a panel of five, for heaven’s sake, for a meaningless contest. How diverse can it be? Why should anyone care how diverse it is? ETHICSALARMS.COM

So we decided to go to the Gruen, Harper and Adams piece to see why they thought diversity would be an improvement.

One fact is that one is starting out from a biased position with all-men panel, since our culture identifies men with meat-eating. Secondly, A group of white western men are going to bring partial and fairly shared perspective to what is in fact a global problem. Third, when one picks for fame – as the ethicist said she was doing – one tend to create a circle which the men close.

Interesting reasons, hardly meant to be inclusiveexhaustive (thanks, SH). What do you think?


“Sh*t white girls say to black girls.” January 11, 2012

Filed under: critical thinking,race — annejjacobson @ 5:33 pm

Don’t worry, white viewers.  If you’re at this blog and not a troll, you probably haven’t said these.  But we might have thought some.  I certainly have heard a lot on, e.g., calls-in to radio programs.


The actress and author of this film, the wonderful Franchesa Ramsey, suggests the following sites for those who think this video is racist:




Huffington Post


Village Voice article


Here we go again: Should toys be gendered? December 31, 2011

Filed under: critical thinking,fallacy,gendered products — annejjacobson @ 8:06 pm

In the NY Times, Peggy Orenstein asks, “Should the World of Toys Be Gender-Free?”After at least one non-sequitur:

Hamleys, which is London’s 251-year-old version of F.A.O. Schwarz, recently dismantled its pink “girls” and blue “boys” sections in favor of a gender-neutral store with red-and-white signage. Rather than floors dedicated to Barbie dolls and action figures, merchandise is now organized by types (Soft Toys) and interests (Outdoor).

That free-to-be gesture was offset by Lego, whose Friends collection, aimed at girls, will hit stores this month with the goal of becoming a holiday must-have by the fall. … the line features new, pastel-colored, blocks that allow a budding Kardashian, among other things, to build herself a cafe or a beauty salon. ….

So who has it right? Should gender be systematically expunged from playthings? Or is Lego merely being realistic, earnestly meeting girls halfway in an attempt to stoke their interest in engineering?

And at least one citation of very questionable science as fact (see our post here):

Toy choice among young children is the Big Kahuna of sex differences, one of the largest across the life span. It transcends not only culture but species: in two separate studies of primates, in 2002 and 2008, researchers found that males gravitated toward stereotypically masculine toys (like cars and balls) while females went ape for dolls.

She makes some interesting points:

Preschoolers may be the self-appointed chiefs of the gender police, eager to enforce and embrace the most rigid views… [And]Traditionally, toys were intended to communicate parental values and expectations, to train children for their future adult roles. Today’s boys and girls will eventually be one another’s professional peers, employers, employees, romantic partners, co-parents. How can they develop skills for such collaborations from toys that increasingly emphasize, reinforce, or even create, gender differences? What do girls learn about who they should be from Lego kits with beauty parlors or the flood of “girl friendly” science kits that run the gamut from “beauty spa lab” to “perfume factory”?

So: children’s adherence to certain types of toys may be a product of policing done by children, presumably children keen on adult approval, and the traditional gendered toys can be seen as tools for training children for traditional roles, which is of questionable benefit.


“First come to grips with your own mediocrity” December 15, 2011

Filed under: critical thinking,moral psychology,race — Jender @ 11:51 am

If you really want to understand slaves, slave masters, poor black kids, poor white kids, rich people of colors, whoever, it is essential that you first come to grips with the disturbing facts of your own mediocrity. The first rule is this–You are not extraordinary. It’s all fine and good to declare that you would have freed your slaves. But it’s much more interesting to assume that you wouldn’t and then ask “Why?”

An excellent article from Ta-Nehisi Coates. One that reminds me of one of my first teaching experience, teaching political philosophy at an Ivy League school. To a man (and they were all men), my 20 students insisted that Nozick was right about everything. I asked what they would do if born into Nozick’s perfect society, to a family with no food on the table in a society with no state schools, etc etc. “I could do it” was the reply. I followed up, “Ok, you also have no arms and no legs and there is no health care for you.” No change: “I could do it”.


How does biology explain the low number of women in computer science? November 22, 2011

Filed under: critical thinking,science — Jender @ 11:06 am

A lovely powerpoint by a mathematician turned computer scientist. (Thanks, J and L!)
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