The Psychology of Philosophy

In a comment on New Paper Rae draws our attention to a discussion of work by Carol Dweck at Stanford.  It reminded me for the nth time (where “n” is a large number) how impoverished philosophical discourse seems to be with regard to very important psychological factors.  These have to do with implicit biases, stereotype threat, how conceptions of talent influence performance, ways in which teachers express gender preferences in addressing students, how insiders react to remembering the contributions of outsiders, and so on. 

So how about collecting together some web papers on these and other topics?  Let me start with a few, I think most of which have been mentioned before on this blog.  So please!  Do mention some new topics and new readings!

Implicit Bias:  Jenny Saul’s paper.

Conceptions of talent and their influence on performance:  Carol Dweck’s paper mentioned above.

Stereotype threat:  A popular article by Claude Steele.

Ways one might reduce bias (about racism, but can apply to sexism), a paper from Dovidio’s group.

One of the things that started me thinking about the gap in psychological knowledge in our profession was a discussion on Leiter’s blog about whether the APA should allow job interviews in hotel rooms with beds.  Most of the male commentors seemed to think the problem was about sexual harassment.   This suggested to be a very thin grasp of the differences among men’s and women’s reactions to domestic scenes that can have to do with highly gendered roles.   We could try to do something about that too.

I just failed to find web versions of two papers, so let me suggest that it would be alright to provide an abstract to a paper that could be downloaded from a university database.

Open Positions at E-SWIP

Position 1: Coordinator of ESWIP Annual Spring Meeting
The Eastern Society for Women In Philosophy seeks a coordinator of the ESWIP Annual Spring Meeting.

Coordinator of the Annual Spring Meeting: Organize the ESWIP annual Spring meeting (usually occurs in March/April, but can be planned for anytime that suits the officers’ schedules). This includes establishing an ESWIP Program Committee (usually five members), distributing a call for papers, finding a conference location, finding a keynote speaker if applicable, collecting all of the submissions and passing them on to the program committee, and making local arrangements in regard to food, and audio-visual equipment.

Please contact lisarivera AT gmail for information or to nominate yourself or another person.

Position 2: ESWIP Junior Scholar and Graduate Support

Work with other SWIP divisions to get funding for a Junior Scholar Award. Each year ESWIP also runs a table for job candidates at the Eastern APA and asks senior scholars to volunteer to be there as support. Give this and other support for junior scholars and graduate students.

An advanced graduate student (dissertation writing stage) is eligible to fill this second position. Please consider nominating yourself or others (including your own graduate students). Please contact lisarivera AT gmail if you have questions or to nominate.

Men and the Normativity of Meaning

Wanna hear some men discuss the normativity of meaning? Well, you could be in luck, as the invited speakers for the Prague International Colloquium on the Normativity of Meaning are all blokes! The Colloquium is organized by the Department of Logic (part of the Institute of Philosophy) in the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. It takes place 25th-27th May 2011, in Villa Lanna, Prague, Czech Republic. The invited speakers (male) are:

  • Robert Brandom (Pittsburgh)
  • Michael Williams (Baltimore)
  • Christopher Gauker (Cincinnati)
  • James O’Shea (Dublin).

If you don’t understand this post, you might want to check out this page. Thanks to K.

Water on Oct. 15 for Blog Action Day

It’s almost time again for Blog Action Day, and this year, the topic, suggested by bloggers far more than any other, is Water.  Here at Feminist Philosophers I’ll be blogging about water and the disproportionate impact that the availability of water has on women worldwide.  Feel free to join our discussion or start your own on other blogs, especially those that don’t take part or seem aware of the lives of women!

Sometimes internet activity is just slacktivism, but other times, a number of people can accomplish a cultural shift in awareness.  Here’s hoping, anyway.

A top-ten female athlete of the year retires

We remarked when she made the Associated Press’s list of the top ten female athletes.  So,  despite the fact that she’s a horse, it seems appropriate to notice her change now.  From the official statement by her owner:

As a 3-year-old, she set standards and records that no filly before her ever achieved. And I suspect it will be quite a while before a 3-year-old filly ever equals or surpasses her achievements. Although her fans were thrilled by a series of spectacular victories, I believe they, as we, were simply awed time and again by her sheer beauty, courage and athleticism

Plus, she had a photo layout in Vogue:

If you are wondering how Vogue managed to abstract her image from the full horsey details, you might be interested in this video of the shoot.

Porn on the NHS?

There’s been some recent attention directed to the news that the NHS provides pornography to men at IVF clinics when they’re required to produce some sperm. I say “news” — I thought this had been happening for ages. But a recent report has highlighted the practice, and the Sun and Telegraph have both published stories following up.

The two newspapers concentrate on the waste-of-public-money angle. The original report uses this argument, and also briefly gives some general anti-porn arguments, and a couple concerning how the NHS particularly is morally obliged to refrain from exposing its staff and patients to pornography (the “report” is a short and easy read).

Against this, Ben Goldacre points out in the Guardian that the average amount spent on porn is £21.32 a year per NHS trust. More seriously, he argues that there’s a reasonable amount of evidence suggesting that providing porn increases the quality of sperm produced, and thus the chances of successful IVF, and that this might be more important than moral scruples.

And against Goldacre, Kat Banyard writes to the Guardian to argue that all pornography is harmful — indeed, “a public health crisis” — and shouldn’t be provided in clinics, no matter what the benefits. She cites a Ministry of Justice report as evidence. I’m not sure which MoJ report she’s referring to, but I’m guessing it’s this one (direct link to pdf — not a short and easy read), which is concerned with extreme pornography. So it’s not clear to me that it or the meta-analyses it contains can support her general conclusion about all pornography (though I can only identify two of the three meta-analyses she mentions; is there a different report that I’ve missed?).

Anyway, some engaging to-and-fro, and some interesting issues — I’d never considered a possible increase in the motibilty of sperm as an argument in favour of pornography.

Stuff that needs to be said

Frank Herbert on the Republican candidate for governor of NY:

One of the things that can happen in the news business is that some portion of a story becomes so vile, so offensive, it is virtually impossible to effectively recount or describe. Reporters keep their distance. Editors lunge for the delete button.

Such is the case with the images and videos forwarded by Mr. Paladino to a wide variety of people. The public should know about these mailings, and Mr. Paladino should give a full, thoughtful explanation of why he trafficked in such filth.

Example: A photo showing a group of black men trying to get out of the way of an airplane that is apparently moving across a field. The caption reads: “Run niggers, run.”

Example: A doctored photo of President and Mrs. Obama showing the president in a stereotypical pimp’s costume holding the hand of the first lady, who is dressed as a prostitute in a grotesquely revealing outfit…

Excellent news: Canada’s prostitution laws struck down

Canada’s prostitution laws are unconstitutional because they’re contributing to the danger faced by sex-trade workers, an Ontario court ruled Tuesday in striking down key provisions of the legislation. The Ontario Superior Court ruled that laws against keeping a common bawdy house, communicating for the purposes of prostitution and living on the avails of the trade “are not in accord with the principles of fundamental justice.”

“These laws, individually and together, force prostitutes to choose between their liberty interest and their right to security of the person as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Justice Susan Himel wrote her in decision.

Receiving payment for sexual services was not illegal in Canada.

Read the full story in Macleans here.