What are you thinking about?

Are you up for tenure and/or promotion?  Dare we ask how that is going?

Maybe you are finishing your dissertation and/or going on the job market?  How are job prospects looking to you?  Is your department enough of a help?

Or:  What do you think about the relation (or lack thereof) between feminist philosophy and analytic metaphysics and epistemology?  Are women doing analytic philosophy of mind following the mainstream mode?

And books!  Any gripping you right now?  Or conferences?  New sorts of classes?

Let us know!

17 thoughts on “What are you thinking about?

  1. I’m up for tenure this year. There is a timetable for these things, and it’s being followed; my body of work is in a folder for my colleagues to peruse this week, for example, and the department vote is next week. How is it going? I’m not up nights worrying, if that’s what you’re asking. I have gotten good guidance and feedback throughout the process.

  2. Actually, what I was just musing about was, suppose that if human females conceive before a certain age, say, 20, the chances would be that they would bear a daughter would rise to 98%.
    What a difference that would make for child marriages and child pregnancies in the world, don’t you think?

    Don’t want to think about the job situation. The realisation that I will be unemployed soon has a paralysing effect on me. Lalalala I am not thinking about it.

  3. And good luck on the tenure thing, P.D.!
    I got a pile of books I ordered in the mail today, and one is
    half the sky. I am currently doing a course in contemporary political philosophy, main theme global justice, and I need to write an essay for that and I thought I might get some inspiration from this.
    I will have so much time as from January first to finish this degree :). Lalalala.

  4. I’m working on putting together an edited collection of new essays. Given many of the comments on here earlier about the lack of gender equity in the discipline and to make sure that i’m not unintentionally part of the problem as well, I’m trying to make sure that the volume contains as many papers by qualified women scholars as I can. But this is difficult, in part part because there are more male scholars, but also because (so far) any female scholar approached is >2 times more likely to turn down my invitation than are male scholars.

  5. as a feminist, a pit-bull owner, and an ethics bowl coach, i’ve been thinking a lot about the following issue (which is also an EB case for this year):

    in discussing michael vick’s return to the NFL, many commentators and media outlets have compared – or at least suggested the comparison – between vick’s violence against animals and other athletes’ violence against women. for example, there’s this article from the root:


    the article begins with a description of kobe bryant’s “comeback” from his rape trail, and notes that bryant is now the NBA’s most popular (or at least most jersey-selling) player. Then, thomas (the author) claims:

    “All the women’s organizations in the world apparently can’t muster up the deafening outrage that flows out of PETA”

    why? why is the American public so eager to protect pit bulls (a breed it otherwise wants to exterminate (literally) and/or eliminate through breed-specific legislation), but not to protect women? if adams is right that the oppression of women is tied into the oppression of animals, why this incongruity between the public’s regard for animal cruelty and its regard for violence against women? and how do we address the gender issues here in a way that doesn’t further demonize an already hated breed that really needs protection (pitties don’t need MORE enemies)? is the race of bryant’s alleged victim relevant here? would the public react differently if athletes were victimizing white women? does it really boil down to, as bikini kill said, “eat meat, hate blacks, beat your f*cking wife, it’s all the same thing”? is it really the *same* thing? if not, how are race, gender, and “humanism” interrelated here?

    i dunno, thoughts?

  6. Putting together sessions for a major conference. Asked (male) speakers to suggest possible commentators for their work. In both cases, got back all male names. Politely suggested that I’d be interested in seeing some female names on the list. Got back the same two female names in both cases, even though the two speakers were speaking on vastly different topics (w/in the same general subfield of philosophy). Produced, on my own, a list of suitable female names for each session. Response in each case (paraphrased) “Oh yes, good idea, don’t know why I didn’t think of her.” So, what am I thinking: Why the &*^% didn’t they think of these women? And how can we stop this from happening again and again?

  7. I’m thinking about how when I (–I am a woman,btw) decided to become a philosophy professor I had this vision of inspiring women students, of fostering women with an interest in the discipline, of seeing more women pursue philosophy and embrace feminism, of being the mentor I never had. My experience after nearly a decade of teaching is that despite all my efforts to teach feminist texts, to include women philosophers prominently on every syllabus, to discuss feminist issues related to non-feminist texts, to model rigorous argument conducted respectfully in class discussions, to give women students fair time in class discussion, to reach out to them in ways that are encouraging and challenging, etc., –after all of that, my experience is that few women students see me as a mentor. I have mentored some undergrad women, but none of the women grad students in my department ask me to serve on their committees or direct their dissertations, while several male students do. I have gone out of my way for many students, male and female, to give them professional advice and opportunities, but among grad students, only male students seek my direction. I am sorely disappointed by this. I suspect I’m not the only one with this experience/problem.

  8. Really interesting stuff here. Doctaj: I do have one thought about your question. In America, it seems that attitudes toward animal cruelty are strongly divorced from attitudes toward eating animals, factory farming, animals in zoos, animals as entertainment, etc. Also, attitudes toward pet animals are very different from attitudes toward non-pets. So, most people are capable of being very anti-dog-and-cat-cruelty without having to question any of their own actions (like eating meat, etc.). I’ll go out on a limb and say that most people don’t want to actively beat animals (especially dogs and cats), so it’s easy for them to feel outrage at such actions; there’s no cost for them. Violence toward women, on the other hand, is much more linked in our minds with other actions toward women: discrimination, harassment, insults, objectification, pornography, etc. To feel outrage about violence toward women, and to speak out against it, seems to lead automatically (in our minds) to questions about gender disparities in general, which leads to questions about our own day-to-day actions, which makes people very uncomfortable. I’m not saying that *logically*, animal cruelty is less tied to other actions toward animals than violence toward women is tied to other actions toward women. Rather, our internal cognitive frames seem to work that way, for some reason. Most people can yell or cry about Michael Vick’s actions, then go home and eat a hamburger, with no cogntive dissonance at all. But to get angry about the ways women are treated as objects instead of persons immediately leads to very uncomfortable thoughts about our own behavior.

    I don’t know. It’s just a hypothesis that I don’t have any concrete evidence for.

  9. Hey Tomatoes,

    Dont sweat it ! Back in the old days when I was an undergrad looking for an advisor, I met with several men/women and my final choice had a lot more to do with ancillary factors than the core interest.
    Might be interested if there is a systematic gender bias in advisor selection, any stats on that ?


  10. There have been such great comments here! Congrats (I anticipate) to PD. Someone who isn’t worried has probably done a great deal.
    Hippocampa, you know where my feelings are on this!

    There are so many interesting issues, but let me pick up on tomatoes. Rosabeth Kantor (I hope I have her name right) suggested a long time ago that women in organizations can behave very like more obviously beleaguered minorities and become very cautious in their choices. I wouldn’t be surprised if this weren’t a factor. They’ve gotten a message about women in philosophy and they do not think anything that might stress gender identification to others is a good thing.

    Anyway, one possibility.

  11. Thanks Laurent and jj. The point about women students being fearful of professional-death-by-association by choosing a female diss director is plausible to me.

  12. On a much lighter note, I’m thinking about when we’re going to see some great new J-Bro web finds. Aren’t we about due for a new installment?

  13. I’m wondering if there is an online resource where a person can solicit information on a particular philosophical topic or theme. Not an encyclopedia, but an active network.

    Not unrelated, I’m mending from one of those classroom-type indignities that I experience when a student asks a question to which I fear, but am not sure, I SHOULD have an answer. I am wracked by uncertainty about what perhaps I should have learned as a graduate student that I didn’t (which I fear is much). Ideas on what to say in such a case are welcome.

    On that note, the primary/secondary quality distinction appealed to by Descartes–is that related to essence/accident? In what ways have philosophers challenged the primary/secondary quality distinction (in particular the idea that primary qualities are independent of sensory perception and adhere instead to the objects themselves), and how, theoretically, or historically, does this relate, if at all, to the biological essentialism appealed to in questions of gender and sexuality, etc.?

    Are there any sources where philosophers have drawn out the historical progression of thought specific to this theme?

  14. @WorkPlaySleep– this isn’t quite what you’re looking for, but you could try askphilosophers.org

  15. WPS, questions like yours tend to get good answers on the swip-l list.

    I googled “‘secondary qualities’ gender” and found p. 169 of Christopher Norris’s Truth Matters. Since I then ordered the book, I hope it isn’t awful of me to say that you can read page 169 of the book either on Amazon.com or through Google Books. Searching under “Wedgwood” would get you there, and also tell you that there’s a 1998 article by Wedgwood on some of this.

    A starting point, put very simply, would be this: there are ways of thinking of both secondary qualities and gender as mind dependent. Further, we might want essential qualities to be mind independent. If we agree on these two things, it looks like we could make a case for a putting sec. quals and gender together and against essential qualities.

    However, there details are matters of huge debate. There’s arguably a contrast in that the perception of color depends on the world and our senses but not on social conventions. But that can be disputed; some have argued that the conventions of a language influence color perception. Gender does seems to be a matter of optional social conventions, though of course some have denied that too. Finally, others have disputed whether there are essential mind-independent qualities at all. Kant argued that the classic secondary qualities are mind-dependent, for example.

  16. Wow, so much great stuff here! Really, really interesting to hear about the efforts to include women– both the barriers and the successes. Please keep sharing these anecdotes: they help us to build up a picture of what’s going on. AK… Just wait.

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