Conf Announcement: SWIP UK at Joint Sessions 2009


Of interest to readers I hope! Get submitting!




CALL FOR PAPERS At the 2009 Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association, there will be a SWIP organised session of papers devoted to topics in any area of interest to women in philosophy.

We solicit full papers (2,500 words), suitable to be delivered in no more than 20 minutes with a further 10-15 minutes for discussion. We encourage submissions from graduate students (As with all the open sessions, papers accepted for this session will not be published in the Supplementary Volume of the Aristotelian Society.) The closing date for submissions is *25TH MARCH 2009*.

We expect to make decisions on whether papers have been accepted by the end of April 2009. Please make sure that your submission is suitable for anonymous reviewing attaching a separate sheet with your name and contact details.

Email submissions are preferred; please send your full paper, with an abstract, as either .doc or .pdf attachment to: Dawn Phillips, at or send a hard copy to: Dr Dawn Phillips, Department of Philosophy, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK.

For further information, please contact Jules Holroyd at

Science and sex objects

A group of psychologists have discovered that when men (or perhaps I should say, the men involved in the experiment) look at pictures of scantily clad women, the pre-motor cortex lights up. This region of the brain has a role to play in action and lit up when the men looked at DIY tools. After looking at the pictures, some of the men had less activity in the pre-frontal cortex and other regions of the brain responsible for empathy and understanding others. Psychologists suggest that one explanation of the findings is that the men saw the women in the pictures as things to be immediately acted on, and that the pictures had an impact – for some of the men – on how they saw women afterwards. Rather than seeing them as humans to interact with, they were more inclined to see them as objects. This is pretty interesting stuff, but I have lots of questions about it. The first thing that strikes me is that the ‘mirror system’, which some theorists have suggested is what underlies our capacity to understand others’ behaviour is identifiable with/located in the pre-motor cortex. Neurons fire in the mirror system whether someone is preparing to act oneself, or watching another acting. The pre-motor cortex is thus – as I understand it – implicated in the functioning of at least certain forms of empathy. It is involved in seeing others as agents. The pre-motor cortex fires when people look at tools because they are objects for action. But the fact that it also fires when looking at people doesn’t in itself show that the perceiver also sees them as objects for action. The perceiver may be seeing them as an agent. Also, looking at a photo of a woman is not the same as looking at a woman. A photo is an image, it is not alive, it is not sentient, and one cannot interact with it. Even if the studies show that the men were reacting to the photos as objects for action – rather than people – this doesn’t show that they then view real live women in that way. But what do you think? Read the Guardian report here. Via Feministing.