REVISED deadline for SAF at Pacific APA: Sep.10

REVISED CFP: SAF Session at the Pacific Division APA 2017

Want to go to Seattle? Then speed something to us!

NEW Deadline for submissions: September 10, 2016.

Society for Analytical Feminism

Feminist Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition

CALL FOR PAPERS or Proposals

SAF Session at the Pacific Division APA, Westin Seattle, Seattle, Washington, April 12-15, 2017

The Society for Analytical Feminism invites submissions for a session at the 2017 Pacific Division APA meetings.

The Society seeks papers that examine feminist issues by methods broadly construed as analytic, or discuss the use of analytic philosophical methods as applied to feminist issues. Authors should submit an extended abstract, as detailed as possible (up to 1000 words) accompanied by a bibliography, outlining papers appropriate to a 20-minute presentation time. Please delete all self-identifying references from your submission to ensure anonymity.

If you are proposing a panel or author-meets-critics session, we will require the names of all participants in this panel (and titles and abstracts of panel presentations).

Send submissions as a word attachment to Kathryn Norlock with the subject line, SAF AT PACIFIC APA, to (kathrynnorlock at gmail dot com), on or before September 10, 2016.

Graduate students or underfunded professionals whose papers are accepted will be eligible for the Society’s $250 Travel Stipend. Please indicate in your email if you fall into one of these categories and wish to be considered for the stipend.


The Society for Analytical Feminism provides a forum where issues concerning analytical feminism may be openly discussed and examined. Its purpose is to promote the study of issues in feminism by methods broadly construed as analytic, to examine the use of analytic methods as applied to feminist issues, and to provide a means by which those interested in Analytical Feminism may meet and exchange ideas. The Society meets yearly at the Central Division meetings of the APA and frequently organizes sessions for the Eastern Division and Pacific Divisions.

Membership in the Society is open to all who are interested in and concerned with issues in Analytical Feminism. Annual dues are $25 for regularly employed members, $15 for students, unemployed, underemployed, and retired members. For more information about SAF, including membership form, please visit our website.

2nd order bias




Companies that named female CEOs who were showcased in the press found their stocks trading at a discount just after the announcement, while the stocks of companies that gave the top job to women quietly were more likely to receive a positive response. For men, the response was inverted: The announcement of a male CEO who got little attention in the press appeared to have no significant effect on the stock, while those that got showered with attention were linked with the stock going up….

Smith and his co-authors think what’s going on isn’t necessarily straight prejudice — though he won’t rule out that some investors may think that way. Yet if it was nothing but investors acting on their own gender biases, he says, then the results should be similar for men and women no matter how much media attention they receive.

Rather, he theorizes that what’s going on is something a little more meta. There’s a concept in sociology, variably known as “anticipatory bias,” “preemptive discrimination” or “second-order sense-making” which basically says we behave in a way that may look like we’re prejudiced. But what we’re really doing instead is acting in response to how we think others will behave. Investors may be doing the same thing in these instances. “It’s thinking about the way others are going to respond, and adjusting one’s response accordingly,” says Smith. “It’s the nature of speculative trading in markets of all kinds.”

Read on.


Thanks, S!

Great suggestions from diversifying philosophy

from Eric Schwitzgebel.

(1.) Encourage very-small-group discussion in the middle of class. (This sounds boring, but humor me for a few hundred words, because really it’s magic!)….

(2.) Choose one non-white philosophical tradition to learn enough about so that you truly appreciate the range of positions and arguments in that tradition.

Head over to his blog for details, reasons behind these suggestions, and discussion!



France and the Burkini



EDIT: As several readers have pointed out, it is not France but specific municipalities in France that have banned the burkini.

Some municipalities in France have decided to ban ‘burkinis’ on various beaches. This means that armed police can now, with the weight of the law behind them, stand over a woman lying on the beach and force her to remove her clothes, as can be seen in the picture above (taken from this Guardian article).

Notice that, as far as I can make out from the picture, this woman is not wearing a burkini. She is wearing a vest, leggings, tunic, and headscarf. Neither is she swimming, she is just lying on the beach. Thus, it seems the police can now force women wearing anything that looks vaguely Muslim on the beach to remove their clothes.

Indeed, the article linked to above tells of another woman:

[A] mother of two also told on Tuesday how she had been fined on the beach in nearby Cannes wearing leggings, a tunic and a headscarf.

Her ticket, seen by French news agency AFP, read that she was not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism”.

A witness to the scene, Mathilde Cousin, confirmed the incident. “The saddest thing was that people were shouting ‘go home’, some were applauding the police,” she said. “Her daughter was crying.”

Amongst the various ironies of this situation is the obvious comparison with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s religious police, who patrol the streets, cracking down on women who have failed to wear the correct clothing.

A tribunal in Nice upheld the ban on the burkini recently on the grounds that the garment might offend the religious or atheistic convictions of other beach-goers, and “be felt as a defiance or a provocation exacerbating tensions felt by the community”, in the wake of the recent Jihadi attacks in France – Nice being the location of the recent horrific truck massacre. The trouble is, of course, that banning the burkini will do nothing other than further alienate France’s Muslim population. To claim that someone’s sensibilities might be offended by seeing another person’s religious symbols implies that such a person might be offended by seeing that one is Muslim. One must hide one’s Islamic identity – not allow it to become visible because that is an act of defiance or provocation. And to say that such sensibilities must be protected in the wake of the Jihadi attacks is surely to imply that Muslims as a group bear responsibility for those attacks.

The justification for the burkini ban is no longer about ‘liberating’ women, as the above quote makes clear, but Arundhati Roy’s remarks about France’s earlier ban on the burka are still apt:

When, as happened recently in France, an attempt is made to coerce women out of the burka rather than creating a situation in which a woman can choose what she wishes to do, it’s not about liberating her but about unclothing her. It becomes an act of humiliation and cultural imperialism. Coercing a woman out of her burka is as bad as coercing her into one. It’s not about the burka. It’s about the coercion.

Arundhati Roy Capitalism: A Ghost Story, p. 37.

Armed police forcing women to remove their clothes on the beach is nothing other than an act of humiliation – humiliating women to punish a minority group for the actions of a few individuals.

Shame on you, burkini-banning-cities.

Reading literary fiction and understanding other minds

from the Guardian:

Literary fiction by the likes of Salman Rushdie, Harper Lee and Toni Morrison helps improve readers’ understanding of other people’s emotions, according to new research – but genre writing, from authors including Danielle Steel and Clive Cussler, does not

The article discussed is [Kidd, D., & Castano, E. (2016, August 8). Different Stories: How Levels of Familiarity With Literary and Genre Fiction Relate to Mentalizing. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. Advance online publication.

Here’s the abstract (my stress):

Our ability to infer and understand others’ thoughts and feelings, known as theory of mind (ToM), has important consequences across the life span, supporting empathy, pro-social behavior, and coordination in groups. Socialization practices and interpersonal interactions help develop this capacity, and so does engaging with fiction. Research suggests that lifetime exposure to fiction predicts performance on ToM tests, but little evidence speaks to the type of fiction most responsible for this effect. We draw from literary theory and empirical work to propose that literary fiction is more likely than genre fiction to foster ToM, describe the development of a new method for assessing exposure to literary and popular genre fiction, and report findings from 3 samples testing the specificity of the relation between exposure to literary fiction and ToM. Results indicate that exposure to literary but not genre fiction positively predicts performance on a test of ToM, even when accounting for demographic variables including age, gender, educational attainment, under-graduate major (in 2 samples), and self-reported empathy (in 1 sample). These findings offer further evidence that habitual engagement with others’ minds, even fictional ones, may improve the psychological processes supporting intersubjectivity. We discuss their implications for understanding the impacts of fiction, and for models of culture more generally.

The idea that human beings function with a theory of mind is actually problematic from several points of view. (1) Is our ability to have reasonable knowledge of what’s going on with others really a matter of having a theory? and (2) Is there only one such ability or perhaps several kinds of abilities here?  (3) Do some people lack the ability to understand others because they lack a theory of mind?  And so on.  So it is worth looking at what the authors say about the possession of a ToM in their experiments:

Theory of mind was assessed using the
Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET; Baron-Cohen et al.,
2001). Designed and validated as a measure of advanced ToM, the
RMET includes 36 trials in which black and white images of only
the eye regions of the faces of actors are shown. Participants
respond by selecting which of four complex emotion terms (e.g.,
contemplative, cautious, concerned, irritated) best matches the
emotion expressed in each image. Unlike many tests of ToM,
which have largely been designed for use with children or people
with social difficulties, the RMET is sufficiently difficult to reveal
variability among ordinary adult participants (Baron-Cohen et al.,
2001; Vellante et al., 2013). The RMET is also distinct from more
simple tests of emotion perception because the mental states depicted
are complex, often blending affective and cognitive features
(e.g., contemplative), and thus require advanced ToM in order to
be understood …

(You’ll find a version of the test here; you can get it scored.)


One question this passage raises is how reading about people increases our ability to assess what’s behind their eyes.  One theory about our mind-reading abilities has to do with our having the ability to put ourselves in other’s places.  How reading would enhance our ability to do this with pictures of eyes is unclear.  It is not impossible.  One  view is that we imitate others’ expressions, which causes emotions in us, and then we attribute these emotions to the people we are imitating.  The question remains, however, of how reading fits in here.  Perhaps in reading we also practice emotions we are reading about and so are just able to have a wider range of emotions to draw on.

Another question for me concerns what the effects of a diet of philosophical texts on one’s ability to understand others.  History, literature and presumably some social sciences will expand one’s understanding of others.  Is philosophy similarly beneficial?  Or are our classes more likely to produce emotional clods?

What do you think?

Judgments of risk to children and parental culpability

It’s not that risks to children have increased, provoking an increase in moral outrage when children are left unattended. Instead, it could be that moral attitudes toward parenting have changed, such that leaving children unsupervised is now judged morally wrong. And because it’s judged morally wrong, people overestimate the risk.

This may seem to get things the wrong way around, but it’s supported by new research available Monday in the open access journal Collabra. In a series of clever experiments, authors Ashley Thomas, Kyle Stanford and Barbara Sarnecka find evidence that shifting people’s moral attitudes toward a parent influences the perceived risk to that parent’s unattended child.

Read on, for a fascinating collaboration between philosophers and psychologists.

Ryan Lochte, false reports, and believing the women

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted on social media that they had been robbed. Immediately, messages of concern and support started to pour in. Oh my God, I’m so sorry. Are you okay? Are you hurt? Is there anything I can do? Etc, etc.

A similar thing happened on a much larger scale when US Olympian Ryan Lochte claimed he had been mugged in Rio. But leaving aside the legal fine points of whether what happened to Lochte should technically count as robbery, it’s become clear since his initial report that Lochte lied about the incident and painted himself as a victim when he wasn’t one.

‘Believe victims’ is a common refrain among feminist and anti-rape activists. And it’s one that’s commonly misinterpreted, mostly by critics but occasionally by well-meaning allies as well. When anti-rape activists say that we should believe victims, they’re effectively saying that our attitude toward reports of rape shouldn’t be different than our attitude to self-reports of other crimes: the default should be belief, rather than skepticism.

When my friend said they were robbed, they were met with messages of support and condolence and offers of assistance. So was Lochte. Women who say they were raped are often met with questions about whether they are sure it wasn’t consensual, whether they’re remembering things correctly, whether they might’ve been sending mixed messages. The default is very often suspicion.

When anti-rape activists say that our default should be belief, it doesn’t mean that they think we should continue to believe any and all accusations of rape, come what may. The default was to believe Ryan Locthe, but when evidence emerged that he was lying, people revised that belief. ‘Believe victims’ isn’t asking us to confer special epistemic status on people who say they were raped – to treat that testimony as completely unquestionable or inviolable. It’s instead asking us precisely not to confer special epistemic status. Don’t treat an accusation of rape differently than most any other self-report of a crime.* Give the alleged victim the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re telling the truth.

We have good reason to suppose that false accusations of rape are rare. We also have very good reason to think that there’s massive disincentive against making a false accusation. But we also know that false accusations do happen, and that sometimes people act irrationally. Ryan Locthe had a lot of reasons not to make up an action movie story about getting robbed in Rio, but it still happened. ‘Believe victims’ doesn’t mandate that we ignore the possibility of false accusations; it just treats false accusations as the outlying exception rather than the rule, just as false accusations of robbery are the exception rather than the rule.

But the difference in the cases, of course, is that people will take this one very high profile instance of a false accusation of robbery and remember it as ‘Ryan Lochte lied about robbery’. That Ryan Lochte lied about being mugged in Rio won’t make me any less likely to believe a friend the next time they post about being robbed on social media. We won’t suddenly become suspicious of swimmers generally, or of white men with badly died hair. Ryan Lochte isn’t seen as a representative of anything systematic – he’s just Ryan Lochte. In contrast, we remember high profile instances of false accusations of rape, not as ‘Jane lied about rape’ or ‘Anna lied about rape’ but as ‘women lie about rape’.

*Caveat: we might have good reasons to approach the testimony of rape victims differently, even if we don’t – in epistemic terms – treat their testimony differently. Asking a victim of rape to recount their story over and over and probing that story for details can be extremely traumatizing for a rape victim in a way that it might not be for a robbery victim.

UPDATE: A friend send me a link to this editorial from Anna Rhodes making basically the same point.

CFP: Yale Journal of Law & Humanities

Special Issue Call for Papers:
Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities: Philosophy’s Practical Turn

Deadline: December 31, 2016

The Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities (YJLH) is seeking full submissions for a symposium section of the Spring 2017 issue. The journal seeks submissions that employ methods of philosophy (broadly construed) to investigate practical legal issues. We hope to publish articles representative of an array of philosophical traditions and contemporary issues. The special section aims to exemplify how philosophical approaches and insights provide distinctive and significant contributions to practical legal debates.

Example topics include:
Bioethics, biolaw, and technology
Feminist philosophy of law
Law and philosophy of race, gender, sexuality
Mass incarceration and prisons
Neuroscience, law, and philosophy
Philosophical analyses of legal evidence or standards of proof
Philosophy of disability and the law
Practical just war theory and philosophy of war
Topics in practical ethics (e.g. abortion, capital punishment) with a legal-philosophical angle

Please submit papers prepared for anonymous review to yjlh at by December 31, 2016. If it would be useful to receive informal feedback on the appropriateness of a proposed topic, feel free to email kevin.tobia at

We also aim to accept and publish standard submissions for Volume 29(2) (in addition to articles chosen for the special section of the issue). Please send regular submissions to yjlh at

CFP: SWIP Ireland

Society for Women in Philosophy, Ireland
5th Annual Conference and General Meeting
Conference dates: 2-4 December 2016, NUI Galway, Ireland

CFP deadline:  September 10, 2016

Conference Theme: Feminist Ethics in Theory and Practice: Challenging practices in contested domains

Recent decades have seen increasing interest in feminist perspectives in ethics. Alternative approaches to ethical theory and practical moral concerns have led to the questioning of traditional approaches and have enriched the landscape of ethical reflection in both established and emerging areas of interest.

The Society for Women in Philosophy Ireland is inviting contributions to a conference on the topic of “Challenging practices in contested domains: feminist ethics in theory and practice”, December 2-4, 2016. Papers might address, but are not limited to, feminist considerations with regard to the following topics:

– Care ethics and relational ethics
– Narrative Ethics
– Moral imagination
– ethics and vulnerability
– ethics and philosophy of literature
– The ethics of empowerment and marginalisation
– Ethical concerns with regard to disability, reproduction, genetics, information technologies, the environment, animals, biology

Professor Alice Crary (New School for Social Research) will be a keynote speaker at the conference. Papers related to any aspect of her work are also welcome. Other invited speakers will be announced soon.

The focus of the conference is primarily philosophical, however, interdisciplinary papers combining philosophy with, among others, healthcare perspectives, sociology, gender studies, cultural studies, politics, or medical humanities are welcome. People of all genders are welcome to contribute!

The most recent conferences in the SWIP Ireland conference series addressed “Ways of Knowing: Feminist epistemology and philosophy of science” (2015) and “Women’s Bodies” (2014). For further information on SWIP Ireland, see here. Galway is a university town in the West of Ireland with good travel connections from Dublin and Shannon.

Presentations will be 20 minutes plus discussion. There is the possibility of submissions for shorter panel presentations.

Abstract submission: September 10, 2016, to heike.felzmann at, with the header “CFA SWIP Ireland conference”

Individual abstracts: Please submit an anonymised abstract of 250-400 words and provide separate contact details.

Panel submissions: Please submit an anonymised panel description of 400-600 words, including the proposed individual contributions on the panel theme. List the proposed contributors and the corresponding author’s contact details separately.

Notification of acceptance: October 2, 2016

Trump’s reboots VS Clinton’s flip-flops

More great points from Susan Bordo.

With Trump, the media inhabits the postmodern world of performance and image, in which the relevant question is rarely “is what he’s saying true or false?” but “how is it playing?” In this world, there is no “real” Trump—or more precisely, few people seem to care to distinguish the “real” from the “image.” There are only a series of performances, “reboots,” “resets,” and “pivots” which will be sustainable or not, will do the trick or not, will win the election or not…

For other politicians—Hillary most notably—“complete reversals” are called “flip-flops.” “Showing” is contrasted to “being transparent” or “authentic.” And a pledge such as the one Donald made in his restyled speech—“I promise you this: I will always tell you the truth”—would be met with laughter, derision, and disbelief. (He then went on to tell several lies—or what, in the criteria applied to Hillary, would be described as lies—including reference to her “illegal email server.”)