CFP: Under-represented Groups in Philosophy

Under-represented Groups in Philosophy
November 26th 2010
Cardiff University

A SWIP-UK/ BPA conference
Supported by: The Mind Association, The Aristotelian Society

Keynote speakers
Professor Helen Beebee (Birmingham University, UK)

Professor Louise Antony (UMass, Amherst, USA)

Organisers: Dr Jules Holroyd, Dr Alessandra Tanesini

Papers that address any aspect of the problem of under-representation within the profession, or strategies for responding to these problems and their philosophical underpinnings, or suitably related issues are invited for submission.

Abstracts or short papers of up to 3000 words should be sent to: HolroydJ[at] suitably prepared for anonymous refereeing.

The deadline for submission is August 10th 2010. Decisions will be made as promptly as possible.

This conference aims to focus attention on the following topics;

a)identifying the specific problems that minorities in philosophy encounter, especially those that may perpetuate or sustain that minority status;

b)articulating the philosophical concepts and frameworks that may be of use in thinking about these problems;

c)identifying strategies that might be employed in attempting address gender imbalances and the underrepresentation of disabled people and individuals of minority racial or ethnic identities

d)exploring the philosophical underpinnings of these strategies, and critically assessing them.
Read More »

Middlesex: It’s getting worse.

From the Save Middlesex Philosophy Blog:

Some Middlesex University Philosophy students, along with Philosophy professors Peter Osborne, Peter Hallward, and Christian Kerslake, were suspended from the University this afternoon. Hallward and Osborne were issued with letters announcing their suspension from the University with immediate effect, pending investigation into their involvement in the recent campus occupations. The suspension notice blocks them from entering University premises or contacting in any way University students and employees without the permission of Dean Ed Esche ( or a member of the University’s Executive.

As John Protevi writes:

Administrators at other universities are carefully monitoring this situation and due to a ratcheting effect, if these suspensions are not overturned by international protest, they will become common practice. We must prevent this administrative bullying of our colleagues, who were doing nothing but attempting to present their side of the case to public opinion.

What can you do?

Please forward this information to colleagues and to any listservs you may belong to.

Please sign the online petition at: Please include your institutional affiliation and location.

Please write a letter of protest by email, and in hard copy, concerning the original decision, the suspensions, or both. If you have already written in protest of the original decision, please consider writing again to protest the suspensions, which are in some sense an even more serious matter, as they strike at the very heart of academic freedom itself.

a. Examples of previous letters are here:

b. Email addresses of the Board of Governors of Middlesex University are here:;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

c. Please follow your email with a hard copy letter on departmental letterhead. The postal address is:

Board of Governors
Middlesex University in London
The Burroughs
London NW4 4BT England

d. Personal letters are great; departmental letters are even better.

e. If you agree to have your letter published on the Save Middlesex Philosophy website, you should BCC

f. If you have a blog, please make a post on the situation and link to

Do antelopes lie to get sex?

The NY Times reports on those tricky antelopes:

This is a story about deception and sex in the wild plains of Kenya.  

Antelope deception, that is, for the purposes of sex.  

During mating season, a male topi antelope will try to keep females in heat from leaving his territory by pretending that a predator might be in the area, according to a study that will appear in the July issue of The American Naturalist.When a female appears to be leaving, the male will run in front of her, freeze in place, stare in the direction that she is going and snort loudly. Typically, that snort means that a predatory lion or cheetah was spotted, but in this case the male is faking it.

 Anthropomorphizing can be cute, but one could worry this goes too far.  However, the original article provides a definition of deceiving that can help a bit:  

“acts from the normal repertoire of the agent, deployed such that another individual is likely to misinterpret what the acts signify, to the advantage of the agent” 

Still, one wonders why the “other individual” is misinterpreting, and what the misinterpretation amounts to.  Presumably, the female  antelope’s reaction  is appropriate as a reaction to an alarm signal.  Perhaps the idea is that she misinterprets his intentions.  However, this suggests that she sees other antelopes as minded creatures having intentions, which attributes fairly heavy cognitive machinery to her.  Further, since male topi antelopes apparently do this quite a bit, one suspects she will not be surprised at the outcome.

 The journal article is free and it contains a number of examples of lies misleading actions by members of various species.

A Discussion You May Want to Join

Josh Glasgow writes:

I wanted to alert you to a discussion we’re going to have next week at PEA Soup. In our partnership with the journal, Ethics, an e-copy of Elizabeth Brake’s new article, “The Case for Minimal Marriage: What Political Liberalism Implies for Marriage Law,” is being made available for free to our readers. PEA Soup will then host a discussion of the article, introduced by Cheshire Calhoun, beginning Tuesday, June 1. We thought that your readers might be interested, in case you wanted to announce it on your blog. More information can be found here.

This sounds like an excellent thing. I hope lots of us go and join in!

‘Abortion Advert’ controversy in the UK

There’s some controversy in the UK about an advert (which you can watch here) from Marie Stopes (which is a sexual health charity), which is to air on television.

I don’t know about you, but it seems hard, upon watching, to see this as anything other than an attempt to inform about available services. In fact, it has been the advert was in part motivated by the finding that many women did not know what resources might be available, or how to access them, in the case of unwanted pregnancy.

All the more baffling, then, to see opponents of these describe them as portraying abortion as ‘just another consumer service’. That claim seems to rely on the following false assumption: that all television adverts market consumer services. But of course many television adverts are not of this kind: public health broadcasts (to which these adverts are surely most analogous), party political broadcasts, are but some of the counter-examples.

There’s another tirade against the adverts here. I haven’t picked apart all the fallacious arguments in it yet, but feel free to do so. It might be useful for critical thinking classes.