Hey, what about WOMEN’S intuition? With Update

Another one for the Gendered Conference Campaign. Sigh. (Thanks, FEAST-L!)

Conference Announcement
Intuition, theory, and anti-theory in ethics
Edinburgh, July 3-4 2010

Registrations are now open for this conference. Our speakers are:

Talbot Brewer (University of Virginia)
John Cottingham (University of Reading)
Jonathan Dancy (University of Reading/ Texas)
Brad Hooker (University of Reading)
Edward Harcourt (Keble College, Oxford)
James Lenman (University of Sheffield)
Tim Mulgan (University of St Andrews)
Michael Ridge (University of Edinburgh) & Sean McKeever (Davidson College, NC, USA)
Tom Sorell (University of Birmingham)
Sergio Tenenbaum (University of Toronto)
Alan Thomas (University of Kent)

UPDATE: Apparently Amelie Rorty has just agreed to speak at the conference.

Tech Support Barbie


The new doll is decked out in black spangled leggings and a lime-green fitted tunic patterned with binary code, worn under a slinky waistcoat, with saddle-stitching detail. The ensemble is topped off with the requisite hot-pink accessories: glasses, watch and shoes. To emphasise her innate “techiness” she carries a pink laptop and sports a Bluetooth headset.

No word yet on where the rest of us can get lime-green fitted tunics patterned with binary code. So disappointed.

Protect Academic Free Speech

Alexander Bird writes to Philos-L:

You may be aware that Simon Singh is being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association and that the consultant cardiologist Peter Wilmshurst is likewise being sued by American firm NMT Medical for publishing trial results and comments on a product they manufacture. In addition there are other cases, in other academic fields, where publishers (including Cambridge University Press) have pulped books or withdrawn publications as a result of the threat of libel, the expense of which means that it is too costly even to defend indisputably well-evidenced research. (One immediately thinks of Mill’s argument for free speech in this context and the cost both to academia and to the health of individuals of restricting critical comment.)

The threat to academic freedom and to free speech more generally is clear. The issue is all the more important when we, in the UK at least, are being pressured into ensuring that our research has economic and social impact. That such impact will be rewarded in the distribution of QR (research-related university funding) provides a clear incentive to universities to produce research that will be helpful to industry and government, and, correspondingly, to avoid research that is critical of those potential partners in ‘impact’.

Please consider signing this petition. (It’s open to non-UK folks as well.)

Inequality: Our brains don’t like it

So says a recent study.

the team found that the reward centers in the human brain respond more strongly when a poor person receives a financial reward than when a rich person does. The surprising thing? This activity pattern holds true even if the brain being looked at is in the rich person’s head, rather than the poor person’s…
“In the experiment, people who started out rich had a stronger reaction to other people getting money than to themselves getting money,” Camerer explains. “In other words, their brains liked it when others got money more than they liked it when they themselves got money.”

I find myself wondering: if this is right, why is it that societies in fact work out the way that they do? There are clearly a huge range of factors that play out in the real world which aren’t present in the experimental setting. Does anyone out there know more about this research?

Childhood mental illness

This sounds fascinating and important. And the quote below offers a good critical thinking exercise too!

A hundred years ago it was rarely diagnosed in children. In the intervening timespan the number and type of diagnoses have exploded. Moreover, the number and type of treatments have also exploded. The favored treatment usually involves powerful medications with serious side effects. Big Pharma has made a fortune from these medications and is constantly searching for new variations to patent and sell.

I’m talking about childhood cancer, but I bet you thought I was talking about childhood mental illness. After all, everyone in contemporary society knows that childhood mental illness is over-diagnosed, that drugging children is the preferred method for dealing with the normal problems of childhood, and that normal children are being treated with powerful psychotropic medications simply because they are quirky and authentic.

That’s what Judith Warner (author of “Perfect Madness”) thought, too, when she sold a proposal back in 2004 for a book that would explore the over-diagnosis of mental illness and over-treatment of children with psychiatric medication…[S]he came to write a book that is 180 degrees opposite of what she initially intended. It happened because she talked to parents and psychiatrists and looked at what the medical literature actually shows.