Nancy potter on defiance & the social imaginary

The lecture looks fascinating. I’ve just ordered two of her books.

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Reminder: Royal Institute of Philosophy Public Lecture at the University of Kent

1 March 2017, 3 pm – 5 pm
‘“Difficult people”: A theory of defiance and the role of the social imaginary’
Nancy Potter, Louisville

Abstract: Difficult and defiant people present problems to social cohesion, to law enforcement, to education, to psychiatry, and to the juridical system. But whose problems are these, and who bears the burden of responsibility to understand and address this problem? For example, Black children are suspended, referred to law enforcement or psychiatry, physically restrained, and expelled from school at a disproportionately higher rate than whites are. They may get diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Although some defiant people have gone down in history as heroes, most defiant people are vulnerable to being interpreted as criminals, as dangerous to the social fabric of society, or having a personality disorder such as Antisocial Personality Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder. In order correctly to interpret defiant behaviour, we need a theory of defiance. This paper gives a short version of that theory, focusing on the role that oppressive norms and the social imaginary play in conceptualizing certain people as exhibiting ‘mad or bad’ defiance. I argue that sometimes defiance is good and, as such, requires that teachers, law enforcement, social workers, and psychiatrists need to grapple with the difficult social imaginary. Understanding the social imaginary as both historically given and as contingent allows those in authoritative positions to work collaboratively in creative, engaged change. One ingredient in a shift toward creating an instituting, rather than instituted, social imaginary is to give uptake to those who exhibit—or seem to exhibit—defiant behaviour. I present cases to illustrate these ideas.

All are welcome to attend. The lecture will be held at Keynes Lecture Theatre 2:
https://www.kent.ac.uk/maps/location/campus/building/room/KLT2

Funding generously provided by the Royal Institute of Philosophy.

Questions about the series can be directed to: Camillia Kong, c.e.h.kong@kent.ac.uk

Milo and Tribal Politics

Jonah Goldberg, of the National Review, writes on the Milo/CPAC dust-up:

We are in a particularly tribal moment in American politics in which “the enemy of my enemy is my ally” is the most powerful argument around.

Evolutionary psychologist John Tooby recently wrote that if he could explain one scientific concept to the public, it would be the “coalitional instinct.” In our natural habitat, to be alone was to be vulnerable. If “you had no coalition, you were nakedly at the mercy of everyone else, so the instinct to belong to a coalition has urgency, pre-existing and superseding any policy-driven basis for membership,” Tooby wrote on Edge.org. “This is why group beliefs are free to be so weird.”

We overlook the hypocrisies and shortcomings within our coalition out of a desire to protect ourselves from our enemies.

. . . Countless conservatives defend Yiannopoulos (who admits he’s not a conservative) in much the same way Democrats defended the anti-Semitic “radio priest” Charles Coughlin as long as he supported the New Deal as “Christ’s Deal.” Conservatives cling to rationalizations to defend their champion. They say he “distanced” himself from the alt-right. Yiannopoulos did, cynically — only after “Daddy” (his term for Donald Trump) was elected. They credit Yiannopoulos’s claim that he can say anti-Semitic things because his grandmother was (supposedly) Jewish, and he can say racist things because he sleeps with black men.

These are the kinds of arguments a coalition accepts when it has lost its moral moorings and cares only about “winning.” Free expression was never the issue. If it were, he’d be at CPAC (and Breitbart), perhaps restating his case for ephebophilia. Apparently, conservatives still draw the line there, but not at anti-Semitism or racism. The tent, sad to say, is big enough for that.

The full piece is here.

 

Philosophy in the Public Good: Yes!

A recent article (see below) analyses 52,000 questionaire responses from men and women of varying sexual orientation. The focus was on the frequency of orgasm during sex. There were some disturbing results. Some were no surprise; for example, heterosexual women having sex with a male partner have the lowest rate of orgasms. In contrast were results about what increases the rate of orgasm in women, and the mistaken beliefs a significant number of men have (From the Guardian):

“About 30% of men actually think that intercourse is the best way for women to have orgasm, and that is sort of a tragic figure because it couldn’t be more incorrect,” said co-author of the research Elisabeth Lloyd, a professor of biology at Indiana University and author of The Case of the Female Orgasm.

According to the research, only 35% of heterosexual women always or usually orgasm during vaginal sex alone, with 44% saying they rarely or never did. By contrast, 80% of heterosexual women and 91% of lesbians always or usually orgasm with a combination of genital stimulation, deep kissing and oral sex – but without vaginal sex. “To say that there needs to be some education I think is an understatement,” said Lloyd.

Elisabeth Lloyd is also a very distinguished philosopher.

“Differences in Orgasm Frequency Among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Men and Women in a U.S. National Sample,” David A. FrederickEmail authorH. Kate St. JohnJustin R. GarciaElisabeth A. Lloyd, archives of Sexual Behavior, 2017.

The Work or a bit of work

Eric Schliesser has lovely post ruminating on how to orient oneself toward research, writing, and scholarly production. It is happily not a work/life balance post – I at least tire of these since they inevitably make me feel like achieving a work/life balance is, well, one more bit of work I’m meant to do. Instead, Schliesser creates a taxonomy regarding the ways people orient themselves toward academic work, describing 3 types and focusing on the last:

A: It pays the bills; work is work.

B: It’s a fun and challenging way to earn a decent salary, but there is more to living.

C: It’s the best form of escapism from the rest of reality (recall here) and (let’s stipulate), luckily, it is also justified by way of the best available argument.

I think it would be consistent with what Schliesser offers to understand C with a little broader latitude and include not just escapism but perhaps what he intimates later in the piece, deriving (some significant measure of) well-being via one’s contributions to scholarly conversations one finds meaningful and valuable. Maybe what matters most for my purposes is that Schliesser’s C is what I think of as the “all in” attitude, the orientation we take when, on the whole if not every day, we identify scholarly work as an enormously prominent life priority or life-governing project.

Schliesser’s post is largely concerned with what sorts of strategies can bring a C-orientation together with other important life goods and projects. I don’t want to summarize what he offers – please do go read it! Instead, I want to make what I think sometimes gets treated as a shameful confession: I’m a B person. Rather, I have over time become a B person. And I suspect there are other B people out there who, like me, feel a bit sheepish about it. The sheepishness is why I’m writing this post, since I circumspectly think it unwarranted and wish it were a more commonplace admission (assuming there are in fact other B people out there).Read More »

And the years just fell away

Two events last week seemed to come at me from the past. They could have occurred five years ago, or even 10 or 20 years ago. I did not, however, feel a burst of youth. Rather, I felt a real sadness for all of us who had once found such things common.

One was a lecture at the Jowett Society at Oxford and the other an emailed notice. The lecture itself itself was given by Jennifer Lackey. It was terrific. In fact, I wanted to raise an issue. Indeed, I put my hand up. And then someone else was called on. When that discussion was over, I put my hand up again. And then again. For 50 min my arm was straight up whenever there was a pause for a question. I was incredulous.  I might as well have been invisible.  I finally spoke out.

The other event was earlier. The other event was the CFP for this conference.

SCIENTISM AND CONSCIOUSNESS
A Conference at Keele University, UK, 27-28th June 2017

Keynote Speakers
Philip Goff • John Cottingham • James Tartaglia • Keith Frankish • Christopher Norris

Five male speakers and no female speakers. I was incredulous, and indeed kept rereading the list to spot my mistake.

Well, one good thing: Jennifer Lackey’s sterling performance was a great example of why and how we benefit when women can speak.

Social Class, Gender, and Bias

A new study on law school internship hiring has yielded interesting and dismaying results regarding the influence of both social class and gender on hiring. A c.v. study found that call back rates for men track class indicators, with men having c.v.s indicating lower class origins markedly disfavored relative to men with markers for higher class origins. The beneficial effects of higher class origins disappear for women, however, and women with markers for higher class origins received the lower callback rates than their lower class peers. A follow up study suggests that these women were perceived as the greatest “flight risk”:

Attorneys cited “family” as a primary reason these women would leave. Parenting strategies vary between social classes, and the intensive style of mothering that is more popular among the affluent was seen as conflicting with the “all or nothing” nature of work as a Big Law associate. One female attorney we interviewed described this negative view of higher-class women, which she observed while working on her firm’s hiring committee. The perception, she said, was that higher-class women do not need a job because they “have enough money,” are “married to somebody rich,” or are “going to end up being a helicopter mom.” This commitment penalty that higher-class women faced negated any advantages they received on account of their social class.

The study itself is disturbing in multiple ways, not least because the class penalties emerge in response to what would otherwise be laudatory information (e.g., working as a peer-mentor for first generation college students) or benign information (e.g., liking country music or sports with low cost). Moreover, the benefits accrued to higher class men relative to both women and their lower class male peers were dramatic: The higher class man “had a callback rate more than four times of other applicants and received more invitations to interview than all other applicants in our study combined.”

 

Reminder: Mentoring Programme

REMINDER: Applications for the 2017 Mentoring Workshop for Early-Career Women in Philosophy are due Deadline for applications is March 1. For application instructions, and complete information about the Mentoring Program, visit our website: http://www.bu.edu/philo/people/faculty/mentoring-project/

The Mentoring Program is co-directed by Louise Antony (UMass), Juliet Floyd and Susanne Sreedhar (Boston U).  Supported by the Marc Sanders Foundation; the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Philosophy, Boston University; the Department of Philosophy and the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, U Mass; and the Society for Philosophy and Psychology.

Social Philosophy: Extension of CFP deadline

Thirty-Fourth International Social Philosophy Conference

Sponsored by the North American Society for Social Philosophy

with the Department of Philosophy, Loyola University, Chicago

July 13-15, 2017

Scholars maintaining boycotts of travel to the USA who had planned on submitting are being encouraged to submit their abstracts (we are extending our deadline by one week to February 22nd).  In the event of your submission’s acceptance, we are exploring the possibility of a limited number of off-site presentation slots (e.g., by Skype) being made available for those honoring the boycott.

Please submit a 300 word abstract at: http://www.northamericansocietyforsocialphilosophy.org/call-for-abstracts/

Proposals in all areas of social philosophy are welcome, but special attention will be devoted to:

Justice: Social, Criminal, Juvenile

Some possible paper topics include:

Read More »