More on the Hypatia conference

There have been a few suggestions that I could say more.  The thing is, any time I think of talking about one thing, I realize that I am leaving so much out.  But let me try some more observations.

– Perhaps most important:  the chief organizer, Alison Wylie, created a wonderful thing.  The intelligence with which the conference was organized seemed to me particularly reflected in the conversations that became possible as it progressed.  And it all worked much better than we could have expected.

– The presence of the rest of the world was more marked at this conference than any other philosophy conference I have been to.  Lorraine Code said at one point that we can’t talk about decentering the subject, since there isn’t any center any more.  Many conferees are very concerned about how our concepts have been marked by Western approaches, even postcolonial approaches.  Again Code is recommending a new scepticism.  One might see this as also related to the idea that we need to move beyond valuing knowledge.  Valuing knowledge, Libby Potter said (at least according to my notes) is part of a quest to escape anxiety.

– One of the nicest features of the conference for me was the ability to have a kind of extended conversation.  A talk by Claudia Card on evil had mentioned the effects of evil; evil can reduce its victims.  At a later very thoughtful talk on moral travel and  forgiveness, Heidi Maibom articulated a worry that was oddly close to what I was thinking:  Is  forgiveness really all that good?  Perhaps it simply increases the burden on the victim.  Or the demand for it is a way for the perpetrators to keep themselves at the center.  We later saw Claudia Card during a break and picked up again this topic.  One consequence of that is that I now have a copy of CC’s book on atrocities.  This topic resonates with me in an unfortunately personal way, and I did feel I could bring a greater understanding to some issues about forgiveness. 

– There was an equity lunch.  Alison Wylie described an initial meeting of the women’s task force that Sally Haslanger organized.  A number of the people there had been at the earlier meeting and we got an update on some initiatives on things like a mentoring initiative and plans to get data about women philosophers.  Someone can surely help  out in the comments by saying more.  One thing discussed here and elsewhere in the conference was getting men involved.  Feminists are rightly wary of being male-centered, and as a consequence, plans to relate to the rest of the profession bring up tensions.  In some  ways, the conference itself provided evidence for the possibility of flourishing with a kind of mild separatism.  In the last 25 years, with very little help from the rest of the profession, a whole area  of professional philosophy has really been defined.   At the same time, everyone realizes that there are very important concerns for feminist-identified scholars, particularly young scholars.

– The conference ended with a panel on new directions.  Some issues about what I think we can still call identity politics were raised.  Everyone there is aware that many of us are members of marginalizable groups.  We couldn’t but notice that the conference was very largely white, and so worries from women of color at the end were important.  One person on the last panel (and she will know who she is) addressed the fact that the founding mothers of Hypatia may be leaving in the foreseeable  future.  Lynn Nelson Hankinson’s “Oh thanks”  for these observations was very funny. 

– A last observation, for now at least:  I had no sense at all of being even near a battle zone, either during papers or in discussions.  This made it seem quite different from an APA  conference!

Prize for feminist philosophy of science: contributions needed

it’s pretty great to see feminists getting awards!  Please help  if you can!


The Philosophy of Science Association Women’s Caucus plans to offer a prize biennially for the best published book, article, or book chapter, in English, in the area of feminist philosophy of science. Nominations, including self-nominations, are encouraged but not required; the Prize Committee will endeavor to include all relevant work from the major journals and publishers in its deliberations. Nominations should be submitted to the Co-chairs of the PSA Women’s Caucus by May 1 of even numbered years. Publications more than five years old at the time of the award (November of even-numbered years) will not be considered. The prize will be a cash award of $500. The prize will be endowed by voluntary contributions from members of the PSA.

The endowment needed is approximately $7000. The Prize Committee will consist of the current co-chairs of the PSA Women’s Caucus, a representative from Philosophy of Science (the editor or a member of the editorial board designated by the editor) and a representative from Hypatia (the editor or a member of the editorial board designated by the editor). The prize will be awarded at the biennial meeting of PSA, at the same time as other PSA prizes (currently just before the Presidential Address).Contributions on behalf of the Philosophy of Science Association Women’s Caucus Prize are requested. Contributions (in the form of a check or money order) should be made out to the Philosophy of Science Association and mailed to Gary L. Hardcastle, PSA Treasurer, Department of Philosophy, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania,

Bloomsburg, PA 17815, USA. Please include ‘PSA Women’s Caucus Prize’ on the check. Contributions to the Philosophy of Science Association, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, are tax-deductible. Contributors who include a name and address will receive a donation receipt.

Thanks to hkandresen

Carbon emission cutback and laundry

The New Scientist reports on a research about how the US carbon emission could be reduced by changing household actions.

If only Americans would hang their laundry out to dry – and commit 16 other acts of environmental kindness – they could slash US carbon dioxide emissions by 7.4 per cent by 2019.

Well. They didn’t read the article exactly right because it doesn’t speak of 16 clear cut actions like car pooling and line drying, but it speaks of 17 categories of actions, but that’s not why I got irked.

Other actions included in the article make complete and utter practical sense, like insulating houses, minding stand-by functions of electrical applyances and such. They do not take a lot of time and they don’t even diminish comfort of living. And I do think it is absolutely defendable that it would be better to give up comfort for the future of the planet, to some degree.

However, I am sure that if we would all go back to not just line drying – and why not go back to doing the laundry by hand altogether? – that would save a lot on carbon emission, but effectively, who are going to be the ones to end up doing that? Rrrright.

Yes, social identity can affect ability to understand

as this example, sent to us by Bakka, beautifully shows:

The Senate was discussing requiring insurance companies to require pregnancy care. John Kyl (R, naturally) responded:

“I don’t need maternity care,” Kyl replied. “So requiring that on my insurance policy is something that I don’t need and will make the policy more expensive.”

Or maybe he understood perfectly, and it was just garden-variety selfishness.