“Universal Logic”

This came across my desk today:

2nd World Congress on the Square of Opposition
Corte, Corsica,  June 17-20, 2010
An interdisciplinary gathering around the square

Among invited speakers:
Alain Badiou, Pierre Cartier, Jaakko Hintikka, Saul Kripke, Stephen Read

Extended deadline for contributed talks: January 31st 2010

Now, as the webpage says, this will be a very interdisciplinary conference with the very best speakers:

The square will be considered in its various aspects. There will be talks by the best specialists of the square and this will be an interdisciplinary event gathering people from various fields : logic, philosophy, mathematics, psychology, linguistics, anthropology, semiotics.

So I clicked around to see who else would be asked:


Alain Badiou (Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France)

Pierre Cartier (Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques, Bures-sur-Yvette, France)

Jaakko Hintikka (Dpt of Philosophy, Boston University, USA)

Jan C. Joerden (Chair of Criminal Law, European University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder, Germany)

Saul Kripke (Dpt of Philosophy, City University of New York, USA)

Jacques-Alain Miller (Dpt of Psychoanalysis, University of Paris 8, France)

Damian Niwinski (Institute of Informatics, Warsaw University, Poland)

Jean Petitot (CREA, Polytechnical School, Paris, France)

Stephen Read (School of Philosophical and Anthropological Studies, University of Saint-Andrews, Scotland)

Hartley Slater (Dpt of Philosophy, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia )

O dear, o dear! I guess women can’t do logic, don’t think about it, can’t trace it back to Aristotle, etc, etc. Or perhaps they just aren’t among the best. Or perhaps someone just isn’t thinking? Or…

Are the effects of pornography negligible?

Yes, according to a very-widely reported piece of research by “Simon Louis Lajeunesse, a postdoctoral student and professor at the School of Social Work”, who was conducting the study with funding from the University of Montreal’s ‘Interdisciplinary Research Center on Family Violence and Violence Against Women’.

That said, AFP reports that the sample size was only 20 men. So perhaps suggesting the debate over pornography’s potential ill effects is now over might involve just a smidge of hyperbole..?

Why Men Use Prostitutes [sic]

There is a disturbing piece in the ‘most read’ column of the Guardian website today (at no. 2 in fact). It concerns some research conducted by Eaves, a London-based charity that supports vulnerable women. They interviewed 103 men in London about their ‘use’ of prostitutes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it makes harrowing reading in places, for example…

…another of the interviewees left me feeling concerned. Darren was young, good-looking and bright; I asked him how often he thought the women he paid enjoyed the sex. “I don’t want them to get any pleasure,” he told me. “I am paying for it and it is her job to give me pleasure. If she enjoys it I would feel cheated.” I asked if he felt prostitutes were different to other women. “The fact that they’re prepared to do that job where others won’t, even when they’re skint, means there’s some capability inside them that permits them to do it and not be disgusted,” he said. He seemed full of a festering, potentially explosive misogyny.

When asked what would end prostitution, one interviewee laughed and said, “Kill all the girls.” Paul told me that it would take “all the men to be locked up”

Perhaps the most interesting aspect from a philosophical point of view is captured in this passage…

many believed men would “need” to rape if they could not pay for sex on demand. One told me, “Sometimes you might rape someone: you can go to a prostitute instead.” Another put it like this: “A desperate man who wants sex so bad, he needs sex to be relieved. He might rape.” I concluded from this that it’s not feminists such as Andrea Dworkin and myself who are responsible for the idea that all men are potential rapists – it’s sometimes men themselves.

Note that the full report is also accessible here.

Sexual Objectification and Silencing: Empirical Evidence

Vishal sent us this article about a fascinating study which is highly relevant to the recent explosion in feminist work on silencing (in this case, locutionary):

[Saguy] recruited 207 students, 114 of whom were women, on the pretence of studying how people communicate using expressions, gestures and vocal cues. Each one sat alone in a room with a recorder and video camera. They had two minutes to introduce themselves to a male or female partner, using a list of topics such as “plans for the future” or “four things you like doing the most”. The partner was supposedly sat in the next room and either watching the speaker from the neck up, watching from the neck down, or just listening on audio. The camera was tilted or blocked accordingly.

Saguy found that women talked about themselves for less time than men, but only if they thought they were being visually inspected by a man, and particularly if they thought their bodies were being checked out. They used the full two minutes if they were describing themselves to another woman (no matter where the camera was pointing) or if they were speaking to a man who could hear but not see them. But if their partner was a man watching their bodies, they spoke for just under one-and-a-half minutes. You can see these differences in the graph below (although note that the y-axis starts at 60, a practice I don’t particularly like).

Men had no such qualms. They used the full two minutes regardless of whether they were being watched or listened to, and no matter the gender of their partner. The fact that men didn’t react in the same way is important. For a start, it shows that it’s a man’s gaze and not just any downward glance that affects a woman’s behaviour. It also puts paid to the false equivalence arguments that are often put forward when discussing gender issues (i.e. “women look at male bodies too”).

Jon Stewart has a point about Massachusetts

If this lady loses, the health care reform bill that the beloved late
senator considered his legacy, will die. And the reason it will die… is
because if Coakley loses, Democrats will only have an 18 vote majority in
the Senate, which is more than George W. Bush ever had in the Senate when
did whatever the fuck he wanted to.

Sigh. Thanks, Mr Jender.

Angry Pretty Women Thrived in the Caves

or so goes one explanation for this study, which seems to show that women who rate themselves as pretty are more likely to “respond angrily” in disputes. They are also more likely to have higher expectations of what they deserve. Another explanation might be that higher self-esteem is a common cause for self-attributions of attractiveness and believing oneself to deserve good stuff. And that the latter will make one more prone to “respond angrily”. (The study also seemed to show that others agree with the women’s self-attributions of attractiveness. But that doesn’t undermine the alternative explanation, since that might well contribute to the higher self-esteem.)

thanks Jender-Parents and Vishal!