US Senate Passes Measure to Restore Affordable Birth Control

See the call for action at the end!

From Ms:

The US Senate passed a supplemental war spending bill on Thursday, which included a provision to restore government subsidies for birth control pills sold at university and low-income health centers. … For almost 20 years, pharmaceutical companies provided college health centers and clinics servicing low income women with birth control at deeply discounted prices. But the Deficit Reduction Act of 2006, which went into effect in January 2007, has eliminated these discounts for campus and low-income health centers.

The President, OF COURSE, is not happy about it, but he is not threatening a veto.

And another bit of good news from Ms: a key administration anti-contraception advocate has resigned:

Susan Orr, President Bush’s controversial appointee to head the Office of Population Affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), resigned this week after less than a year in the position. Orr’s appointment was criticized from the beginning by lawmakers and women’s rights groups because of Orr’s long history as an opponent of contraceptives.

Her position oversees the administration of title X.

You can use this opportunity to make sure Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt knows how you feel about preserving Title X funding for low-income women and men by sending him a letter hereRemember, Title X helps keep students able to stay in school.

And thanks to Reality Check for the link.


Trying to cross the analytic/continental divide

Many of us were at the SWIP UK Conference on Embodiment and Identity over the weekend in Hull. I’ll be blogging more about it later, and perhaps some of the rest of us will too! But here I just want to talk methodologies. Feminist philosophers often criticise more mainstream philosophers as not sufficiently open to new methodologies. But I think it’s important to talk a bit about how genuinely difficult it is to engage with methodologies that are not one’s own. I’m a very analytic philosopher, and the SWIP conference gave me quite an immersion in continental philosophy. It was really exciting– lots of great people, lots of fascinating stuff that was very new to me, lots of wonderful energy. But I also spent a lot of time feeling like I was in a different world, with a language I don’t know and a culture that is unfamiliar. Sometimes I couldn’t understand anything at all that was going on. Sometimes, usually when detailed examples were used, I got a lot out of it. But sometimes it was something in between– I kind of got what was going on, or thought I did. Then someone started talking about water having ‘agency’, and everyone in the room was nodding sagely. It was already several replies into a question, and the queue was long, so I decided not to query further. But it gave me a real sense of the difficulty of simply asking people to be more inclusive with regard to methodologies. It’s just HARD to engage with things when you really don’t understand what’s going on– and doubly so when some of the words are ones that you yourself use differently. (If it hadn’t been for that example, I might well not have realised that clearly something different was being meant by the familiar word ‘agency’.) Do others have thoughts, experiences, advice on the topic of crossing this divide?

What’s not to like about analytic philosophy?

I’m detaching the author’s name from a piece that’s been around on email a bit. I think the view is worth discussing and I hope you do too.

Haslanger’s article mentions the view that there’s something very masculine about the abstract, formal nature of philosophy that a lot of women don’t like. I think this view may be being misdescribed; that is, when people say that’s something they don’t like about philosophy, I think it may actually be something related but different. Studies in other disciplines – such as the study of the poor lot of women in computer science at Carnegie Mellon (which was subsequently vastly improved) – suggest that a lot of women are not particularly interested in highly narrowly focused problems. In fact, a number of women, other work suggests, are strongly attracted to interdisciplinary work. Much of philosophy is large and grand, but journals and conferences in philosophy do contain a lot of work that is, e.g., F’s criticism of A’s rejection of B’s third formulation of the problem for C’s revision of the D’s attempted refutation of E’s theory.

Haslanger also notes that men in philosophy are very often poorly socialized … and that philosophy departments are socially very difficult. I expect everyone … is aware of hypothesized connections between being very narrowly focused, being socially pretty disconnected and being male (as Baron-Cohen has made much of). So it’s possible that this is more what is behind a supposed dislike of the abstract and formalized.

I don’t want to endorse Baron-Cohen’s work, which we’ve criticized here and elsewhere, but perhaps part of the idea above is that analytic philosophy can too often turn grand questions into trivial disputes.

On thinking about this, I’m wondering whether the following is relevant: a lot of philosophy of perception is concernedwith the truth-maker for “S sees that P.” More and more, cognitive computational neuroscience is looking at questions about vision such as: how does vision work to enable a creature to move successful through its environment? I’m not sure the first pursuit tells us that much about vision. It’s philosophy of perception, but it is really about something more like the logic of perceptual statements and the ontology of vision (e.g., physicalism, reductionism, etc). But the points are essentially general and scarcely at all about vision itself.

NEH Summer grants for 2009: correction

This may seem early, but usually institutions require that grant application for this sort of award  be submitted to the research office a month in advance of the date due.  Note that staff and – in  fairly limited circumstances  – graduate students may apply. 

I can’t find any  mention of independent scholars.  If any one knows about their eligibility, I’d appreciate your letting us know.  It may be that they’re just omitted from this notice, which is for colleges  and universities. Thanks to Emeritus for pointing out that independent scholars are covered by “c” below.

2009 SUMMER STIPENDS AWARDS: $6,000  April, 2008   DEADLINE: October 1, 2008

SUBJECT:                   NEH Summer Stipends Program
           The National Endowment for the Humanities is again preparing for its Summer Stipends competition. The deadline is October 1, 2008. Over the past four years, NEH has awarded almost 350 Summer Stipends to allow faculty members to pursue their scholarship during the summer months. While the program remains consistent with previous years, I would like to call your attention to two important changes:

–An increased stipend. Last year NEH increased the amount of a Summer Stipends award to $6,000.

–A new method of applying. Beginning last year, just as with NEH Fellowships, Summer Stipends will be accepting applications online only through
Because of these changes, potential applicants and grants administrators are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves early with the new application instructions and guidelines posted on the NEH website at 


The act that established the NEH in 1965 says: “The term `humanities’ includes, but is not limited to, the study of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, theory and criticism of the arts; those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life.”

NOTE: This long post has now been edited (May 27). Please follow the web link for more details.

The Best of the Booker

The Booker is an extremely prestigious prize. I’ve no idea why voting for the best of the booker is open to the public, but it is. You vote on this page, where the information below can also be found. A third of the candidates are women, which beats just about anything in philosophy.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Booker Prize, six authors are in the running to win a one-off award and be titled The Best of the Booker.

The six authors with the opportunity to be called Best of the Booker are Pat Barker, Peter Carey, JM Coetzee, JG Farrell, Nadine Gordimer and Salman Rushdie.

Closing date for the Best of the Booker Prize vote is 12 noon 8 July 2008.
Voting is open to residents worldwide and there is only one vote per person. Please feel free to read the website privacy policy before voting or supplying your email address.

“Where the Girls Are”

The American Association  of University Women released its report on Tues that tells us more about where boys and girls are in education.  The report seeks to  ‘debunk the myth of a boys’ crisis…’   According to the NY Times, the report maintains that the idea that there is a boys’ crisis is really a distractor that disguises the more fundamental sources of inequity, race and economic class. 

There is a very informative executive summary; if you are involved in the issues, either on belalf of a student or as an educator or advocate, there is a lot to be learned.  Here’s one statement that definitely goes against a lot of the claims we hear, and indeed that we’ve seen in comments here:

High school and college graduation rates present a similar story.

Women are attending and graduating from high school and college at

a higher rate than are their male peers, but these gains have not come

at men’s expense. Indeed, the proportion of young men graduating

from high school and earning college degrees today is at an all-time

high. Women have made more rapid gains in earning college degrees,

especially among older students, where women outnumber men by a

ratio of almost 2-to-1. The gender gap in college attendance is almost

absent among those entering college directly after graduating from

high school, however, and both women and men are more likely to

graduate from college today than ever before.

Reproductive Justice Victories in the UK

Good news all round today, as the BBC tells us that the 24-week limit on abortion has been upheld (despite moves to lower it to 22 or or even 12 weeks); and that fertility clinics are no longer being required to consider the need for “a mother and father” when deciding whether to offer treatment. Instead, they will be required to consider the need for “a loving family”.

US readers may experience a bit of culture shock when they learn that the Tory leading the charge against the latter move said the following about lesbian parents: “I hope, like everybody else, we would want any such relationship to prosper and the child would benefit.” There certainly is homophobia over here, plenty of it– but totally blatant expressions of it are far less socially acceptable than in the US.

Femmostroppo Awards

From Cara, I’ve learned of the Femmostroppo Awards, for best 40 feminist blog posts of the year. So far, I’ve only read one, from La Lubu, and I’m still haunted by her description of giving birth to a premature baby; losing her job for taking time off from work to be at the hospital; and losing her health insurance. And by the fact that all the other parents of very ill children that she met had also lost at least one job due to their child’s illness. And by the lifetime caps on coverage which are apparently standard for health insurance in the US. It really brings home to me how fortunate those of us in countries with national health insurance are. And how desperately bad it is to be in a country without that.

CFP: Transformations

The School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast is seeking paper proposals for a two-day conference [28th-29th November 2008] on the subject of

Transformation and the Dynamics of (Radical) Change
Insights from Political Theory and Philosophy

Transformation is a seemingly ubiquitous concept within the field of political theory and philosophy. Whilst some idealize transformation as a source for progress and the improvement of the human condition, others frame it as a disruptive and unsettling process which can damage the social, political and natural elements of our world.

Paper  proposals should include a tentative title, an abstract (200-300 words) and details of the author’s institutional affiliation and contact information. Proposals should address any of the following issues/topics:
•       Factors and actors in transformation: Pluralism, nationalism, individualism, collectivism, recognition, complexity.
•       Forces of transformation: Globalization, economic change, social change, processes, transformation of conflict.
•       Objects and subjects of transformation: ideas; norms; values; ideology; the concept of transformation itself; state and sovereignty; government; governance; social structures and  processes; environment and nature; human beings, including the self.
•       Evaluations of transformation: theories, approaches, critiques and the possibility of a broader discourse on transformation.
All papers should make an explicit contribution to the establishment of a broader discourse on transformation and the dynamics of (radical) change.
The organizing committee welcomes papers from scholars in all fields and also encourages submission from early-stage academics, as well as from postgraduate students.
The deadline for submissions is JUNE 15th 2008.
Please send your submission to: transformations(at)
For further information, please visit:

Fabian Schuppert
On behalf of the Conference Organizing Committee
‘Transformation and the Dynamics of (Radical) Change: Insights from Political Theory and Philosophy’
Hosted by the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast