Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Bringing Out The Best In Us? August 21, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — phrynefisher @ 5:49 pm

The Philosopher’s Annual website states that the Annual’s aim is “to select the ten best articles published in philosophy each year—an attempt as simple to state as it is admittedly impossible to fulfill”.

I’ve always found such Annual articles as I have read to be excellent, and I’m usually very interested in them. (The work selected for inclusion typically falls in areas close to my own research interests.) I’ve been involved in the selection process in the past, and I am grateful for the work that goes into putting the Annual together, which I think evinces expertise and insight.

However, I do agree with the Annual that its stated aim is impossible to fulfil. As seems to be acknowledged on all sides, there is no methodology which will find the “best” ten papers. So it is worth reflecting on what happens if we employ methods that do not select the best ten papers but then announce the papers thus selected as the best. Some of the upshots of doing this may be relatively harmless or uninteresting, but some of them warrant attention.

In an excellent post at Philosop-HerMeena Krishnamurthy points out that the Philosopher’s Annual has recognised papers in the philosophy of race only twice since 2000, and papers in feminist philosophy only three times. Krishnamurthy invites us to consider whether the methodology used for selection may be resulting in the exclusion of some areas and perspectives, since “[i]t cannot possibly be true that of the very best articles in philosophy since 2000 that only 5 of the best articles are in the area of race and gender”.

In fact, even the count of five inflates the real total: there were only four such articles selected. Sally Haslanger’s “Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them To Be?” was one of the two selected papers in the philosophy of race and one of the three selected papers in feminist philosophy.

I think it’s important for philosophers to consider this kind of question, and I am grateful to Krishnamurthy for raising it (and to the interlocutors she credits in her post for helping to start the conversation). It strikes me as particularly important for us to think about Krishnamurthy’s remarks in the context of philosophy’s current and ongoing work of reflection on possible reasons for the pervasive lack of diversity amongst its practitioners. And I suspect that the more it makes us feel uncomfortable, or reflexively defensive of the status quo [1], the more important it is.

As well as asking questions about which subject matters get represented in the selections, we can ask directly about which practitioners get represented. For example, by the lights of the Philosopher’s Annual selection process, 90% of this year’s best papers are by men. And this is not an unusual gender ratio for Annual volumes. Assuming it is not the case that 90% of the best philosophy in a typical year is by men, what happens when we accept and announce a 90%-male list as the best?

One immediate result is that of making it look as if the best philosophy is (acknowledged to be) mostly work done by men. This can contribute to stereotype threat, reinforce and strengthen implicit gender biases, and so on. Another result is that the kinds of prestige, job prospects, etc. that come along with recognition as best are inequitably distributed by gender. (And of course these things can interact and reinforce one another.)

I also think it’s important for us to recognise that these questions and concerns are not only applicable to the Philosopher’s Annual, although consideration of the Annual happens to have opened up a really useful conversation. Like magicalersatz, I think there are more general issues to consider about our various attempts to rank philosophy and philosophers so as to identify some as the best.

For what it’s worth, I remain unconvinced that there is a univocal notion of bestness in philosophy. Philosophy can be good in many—often conflicting—ways, and it strikes me as plausible that the result is usually massive incommensurability. I am concerned (again like magicalersatz) that, in our current attempts to identify univocal bestness, one thing we really do seem to be achieving is the reproduction and entrenchment of already well-entrenched patterns of bias and exclusion.

Is there some reason why the goal of finding out who and what is univocally best, despite being admittedly impossible to achieve and possibly incoherent, is so important that these kinds of negative consequences are justified? I am sceptical.

[1] It is particularly crucial that we be alert to the risks associated with the kinds of defensive reactions that invoke our own objectivity in such matters. Research indicates that we are especially susceptible to bias when primed with a sense of our own personal objectivity.


Parenting and careers in philosophy August 20, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — axiothea @ 8:52 am

At NewApps, Helen de Cruz has interviewed seven parents (six mothers and one fathers) who have tenured or permanent jobs in philosophy on various aspects of how parenting has and continues to affect their careers. Many of these stories are familiar – but it’s good to know that one is not alone!


Women’s representation in ethics August 19, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennysaul @ 12:32 pm

People frequently suggest, at least in conversation, that there are more women in ethics than in other fields; and even that the relatively dearth of women in other fields may be explained by their large numbers in ethics. We still don’t know whether either of these things are true.  But thanks to Kate Norlock’s excellent work with splendid Trent University student Cole Murdoch, we do know a bit more about how well represented women are in two leading ethics journals.


Philosop-her on the Philosophers’ Annual August 18, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — magicalersatz @ 9:12 pm

Philosop-her has a great post up about trends in the Philosophers’ Annual:

Despite the fact that the Philosophers Annual (PA) is doing better on the political philosophy front, I have a few worries that were prompted by discussions on Facebook (thanks to J.D. and E.B. and others for bringing my attention to these issues). It seems that the PA has recognized papers in philosophy of race only twice since the year 2000: from the literature of 2001, Robert Bernasconi, “Who Invented the Concept of Race?”; and from the literature of 2000, Sally Haslanger, “Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them To Be?” Something similar seems to be true of feminist philosophy as well. There have been three papers recognized in the area of feminist philosophy since 2000: from the literature of 2007, Sally Haslanger, “Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them To Be?”; from the literature of 2001, Karen Jones, “The Politics of Credibility”; from the literature of 2000, Sally Haslanger, “Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them To Be?” Admittedly, I did a quick and incomplete survey (considering only up to the year 2000). If anyone has determined the exact numbers of entries in these two areas since the beginning of the PA, I would be grateful if you could share that information with me.

It cannot possibly be true that of the very best articles in philosophy since 2000 that only 5 of the best articles are in the area of race and gender. That we are led to this conclusion by the PA may suggest that there is something wrong with the methodology behind the PA.

We can and should have a conversation about the specifics of the PA methodology. But personally, I’m of the opinion that any attempt to rank and codify what is ‘best’ in our discipline is going to be subject to – and more worryingly, is going to reinforce – the sorts of oversights and biases our discipline is plagued by. 



Daily Nous has opened a thread inviting suggestions of great philosophy of race and philosophy of gender/feminist philosophy that have been written during the relevant time period (i.e., 2000-2013). 



Lego Academics August 17, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jender @ 7:00 pm


A Glasgow academic has become an online sensation after setting up a social media account using Lego’s new ‘Research Institute’ set.

Lego unveiled its first ever range of female scientists last week, with the popular sets selling out in just three days.

But when Glasgow scientist Donna Yates took receipt of her own box of mini boffins in the post, she managed to create an overnight Lego phenomenon.

“It was delivered in the middle of a terrible rainy day on Friday,” said the University of Glasgow archaeologist.

“My colleague and I were filling out our performance evaluations which we’d had to re-do and it was all so slow and frustrating,” Donna continues.

“We opened it up and started putting the pieces together.”


depression and suicide: an Addition August 16, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 4:20 pm

The following description of depression at WebMD is common:

When you have depression, it’s more than feeling sad. Intense feelings of sadness and other symptoms, like losing interest in things you enjoy, may last for a while. Depression is a medical illness, not a sign of weakness…

There is another side to some people’s depression. Suppose we think of depression as caused by a lack of something or things that make normal life mentally possible. For example, perhaps you are facing a boring day of meetings with people all too prone to complain and delay; still, you can get out of bed, have a reasonable breakfast, arrive at work well-groomed, and so on. When depression of the sort described above hits, all that becomes much more difficult, and maybe sometimes so close to impossible that you don’t do it.

It is important to know that for some people there is quite a bit more to depression. Something fills in the lack, and it is pretty horrible. Kay Jamison writes about this in today’s NY Times:

Suicidal depression involves a kind of pain and hopelessness that is impossible to describe — and I have tried. I teach in psychiatry and have written about my bipolar illness, but words struggle to do justice to it. How can you say what it feels like to go from being someone who loves life to wishing only to die?

Suicidal depression is a state of cold, agitated horror and relentless despair. The things that you most love in life leach away. Everything is an effort, all day and throughout the night. There is no hope, no point, no nothing.

Jamison emphasizes that depression even of this sort can be treated. But some people are treatment resistant, and for others the effects of the treatment may be too costly. Facing that relentless horror may drive one to drink or drugs. One may find it completely intolerable, and when faced with it again and again finally decide life is very literally not worth living.

There is a great deal we do not know about depression and suicide. Still more, much about Robin Williams is out of our ken. But it may help to know that most of us can’t imagine what he may have been going through, and those that do go through it may find it impossible to explain, as Jamison says it is for her.

I’ve worried over the last day or so that I’ve put something up for discussion that in effect I’ve maintained only the (very unfortunate) cognoscenti know about. One result might be to denigrate the more ordinary thorough misery of a deep digression that does not involve this mysterious horror. That would be very unfortunate.  Or it might just leave people not believing in that horror as a phenomenon. I think that would be a shame since I expect it is a clue for why some people find suicide is a reasonable option. So I looked up “the horror of depression” and found that sometimes when it occurs the depression is called psychotic depression. William Styron’s description of his depression might help one see the label as appropriate:

For as Styron discovered, true depression swallows its victims entirely, devours them in one huge gulp, then spirits them to an otherwise unknowable nadir.

“To most of those who have experienced it,” Styron writes in “Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness,” a slim volume Random House is publishing this month, “the horror of depression is so overwhelming as to be quite beyond expression.”

But if there were a single designation for this disorder, a word or a phrase, Styron believes it would be something like brainstorm , meaning not some burst of intellectual inspiration, but “a veritable howling tempest in the brain.”

That is how it felt to William Styron, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Lie Down in Darkness,” “The Confessions of Nat Turner,” “Sophie’s Choice” and other books and plays. At his year-round home in Roxbury, Conn., five years ago, Styron’s family watched helplessly while he moaned and shouted from his bed.

“My head is exploding!” Styron cried. “My head is exploding!”

The next day, he entered the psychiatric unit of Yale-New Haven Hospital for the treatment he believes saved his life.


For Vegans and vegetarians whose minds are filled with coming semester demands August 14, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 5:41 pm

Using this site you can find hundreds of recipes, the NY Times says, and you can search by key ingredient. In my experience, the recipes are relatively easy, slightly unusual, and healthy.

Those who don’t have a subscription might be able to find online access through your library.

(From a user of the Oxford comma.)


Contested Terrains: Women of Color, Feminisms, and Geopolitics

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sam B @ 2:17 pm

October 1-4, 2015, Sheraton Sand Key Resort, Clearwater Beach, Florida

Submission deadline: February 27, 2015

Keynote speakers:

Kimberlé Crenshaw, Distinguished Professor of Law at UCLA and Columbia and founder of the African-American Policy Forum. An international activist, Crenshaw is well known for her foundational scholarly work on intersectionality and critical race theory. Professor Crenshaw’s publications include Critical Race Theory (edited by Crenshaw, et al., 1995) and Words that Wound: Critical Race Theory, Assaultive Speech and the First Amendment (with Matsuda, et al., 1993). Her work on race and gender was influential in drafting the equality clause in the South African Constitution and she helped facilitate the inclusion of gender in the U.N. World Conference on Racism Declaration. In the U.S., she served as a member of the National Science Foundation’s committee to research violence against women and assisted the legal team representing Anita Hill.

Sunera Thobani, Associate Professor at the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia. A founding member of RACE (Researchers and Academics of Colour for Equity) and a past President of Canada’s National Action Committee on the status of Women, Thobani’s research focuses on critical race, postcolonial and feminist theory, globalization, citizenship, migration, Muslim women, the War on Terror and media. Professor Thobani is the author of Exalted Subjects: Studies in the Making of Race and Nation in Canada (University of Toronto Press, 2007) and numerous other works. As a public intellectual, Thobani is well known for her vocal opposition to Canadian support of the U.S. led invasion into Afghanistan.

Invited Sessions:
• Invited Panel honoring the work of María Lugones
• Invited Panel on U.S. Wars/Imperialism and the Women Within

FEAST encourages submissions related to this year’s theme. However, papers on all topics within the areas of feminist ethics and social theory are welcome.

Description of this year’s theme:

Engaging in feminist theory in the 21st century requires placing emphasis on the ‘where’ of its production. Such an emphasis includes considering the situated perspectives and geopolitical locations out of which a given theory is produced. Another equally important part of contemporary engagement in feminist theory concerns appreciating the ways that theory travels and changes through the traveling. The notion of contested terrains is invoked to refer to the many junctures of perspective, location and travel with which feminist theory must contend in an era of multinational reception.

For example, it is at the juncture of perspective, location, and travel that one finds the often contested political identifier “women of color.” The term is contested not only because there is no singular “woman of color” perspective and/or location, but also because of the diversity of possible stories of travel in and out of ‘women of color’ spaces. As Jacqui Alexander explains, one is not born but becomes a woman of color. That “becoming” is by no means a given and, for many, ‘woman of color’ is not a personal identifier. The term is contested, and its meaning is continually recreated through the contesting.

Feminism is practiced and theorized within contested terrains in a transnational world. Understanding the connections and disputes created by borders, castes, classes, and other boundaries is at the heart of geopolitics. Feminist geopolitical analyses concern the spaces, places, relations of power, and interchange among feminists in local, regional and global contexts, paying careful attention to the locations out of which we theorize and practice feminism(s).

This year’s FEAST conference invites submissions that take up this notion of contested terrains in relation to women of color, feminism, and geopolitics. We welcome papers that take both theoretical and practical approaches to these issues and related issues in feminist ethics, epistemology, political and social theory more broadly construed.

Topics to consider may include, but are not limited to:

• Situated knowledges, including the racialized terrains of knowledge production
• Intersectional theories of space and place
• “Women of color,” “third world women,” “women of the global South,” “postcolonial women” and other descriptors as contested identifications
• Tensions between White/US feminism, women of color feminisms, third world feminisms, and transnational feminisms
• Women’s agency and autonomy as contested feminist assumptions
• Contested conceptions of home and homelands
• The different social locations and embodied experiences of racism
• Perspectives on trauma and violence, terrorism and conspiracy, security and danger
• The geopolitics of mobility and immobility, including tourism, migration, detention and deportation
• Gatekeeping geographies, technologies of surveillance and border patrols
• The geopolitics of intimacy, including the racialized affective labor of mail order brides, transracially and transnationally adopted children and migrant domestic workers
• Geopolitical analyses of neo-liberalism, global capitalism and militarism, including their effects on women of color
• Ecofeminisms and resource conflicts
• Solidarity movements among diverse groups of women of color and white feminists

Call for abstracts: Difficult Conversations

A signature event of FEAST conferences is a lunch-time “Difficult Conversation” that focuses on an important, challenging, and under-theorized topic related to feminist ethics or social theory.

In keeping with this year’s theme of Contested Terrains, this year our topic for the difficult conversation panel is Damage by Allies. This conversation hopes to provide an environment conducive to dialogue for and among women of color and white academics concerning the harm that can be done by well-meaning feminist allies who, despite possible commonalities of values, can sometimes undermine the viewpoints and work of women of color. We hope that women of color will be able to bring to light both subtle and obvious experiences of damage done by allies and open a discussion about how this might be avoided or dealt with effectively in the future.

We are soliciting abstracts (see below) that address, in both North American and transnational contexts: concrete experiences of the sorts of hardship that academics and activists of color experience at the hands of allies; well-intentioned but misplaced pedagogical and political strategies; strategies for being a better ally to marginalized peoples in academia and elsewhere; strategies for women of color to respond to misplaced attempts at solidarity; and effective transnational activism that does not undermine the agency of its intended beneficiaries.

Submission Guidelines

Please send your submission, in one document (a Word file, please, so that abstracts can be posted), to FEAST2015submissions@ucf.edu by February 27, 2015. In the body of the email message, please include: your paper or panel title, name, institutional affiliation, e-mail address, surface mail address, and phone number. All submissions will be anonymously reviewed.

Individual Papers
Please submit a completed paper of no more than 3000 words, along with an abstract of 100-250 words, for anonymous review. Your document must include: paper title, abstract of 100-250 words, and your paper, with no identifying information. The word count (max. 3000) should appear on the top of the first page of your paper.

Please clearly mark your submission as a panel submission both in the body of the e-mail and on the submission itself. Your submission should include the panel title and all three abstracts and papers in one document, along with word counts (no more than 3000 for each paper).

Difficult Conversations and other non-paper submissions (e.g., workshops, discussions, etc.)
Please submit an abstract with a detailed description (500-750 words).
Please clearly indicate the type of submission (Difficult Conversation, workshop, roundtable discussion, etc.) both in the body of your e-mail and on the submission itself.

For more information on FEAST or to see programs from previous conferences, go to: http://www.afeast.org

Questions on this conference or the submission process may be directed to the Program Chairs, Ranjoo Herr (rherr@bentley.edu) and/or Shelley Park (Shelley.Park@ucf.edu).


Mistreatment of women in the workplace

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennysaul @ 10:59 am

This looks like a super-interesting issue of Sex Roles.  Damn, I wish I had time right now to read it.


Feminist philosophers in Nature: Don’t blame the mothers August 13, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sam B @ 7:58 pm

“Careless discussion of epigenetic research on how early life affects health across generations could harm women, warn Sarah S. Richardson and colleagues.”




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