CFP: Bias

A CFP, and an announcement of a new series of workshops that will be of interest to FP readers…







25 – 26th August 2011, Berlin


Louise Antony (University of Massachusetts, Amherts, USA)

Jennifer Saul (University of Sheffield, UK)

The concept of bias has played a key role in shaping feminist epistemology and philosophy of science. It is not, however, an uncontested concept. Feminist philosophers disagree amongst themselves on how the concept should be understood, and whether bias is inevitable. They further disagree on how feminists should respond to and deal with bias. For instance, are biases always detrimental to our knowledge seeking activities? Or, can certain explicit biases (like feminist and anti-racist ones) make our epistemic practices more robustly truth-seeking?

More recently, political and ethical discussions have started making use of the concept of bias. Both philosophers and psychologists alike have begun examining certain sorts of widespread implicit biases about members of stigmatised social groups. The holders of these biases are generally unaware of them, and often have sincere and explicit egalitarian beliefs. On one understanding, implicit biases are unconscious prejudices that unduly affect our ways of both positively and negatively perceiving, evaluating, and interacting with others. The recognition and analysis of such biases has wide-ranging consequences for feminist philosophy and politics, as well as for every other movement seeking social justice. Implicit biases may explain why members of particular groups still find it hard to ‘make it’, despite the lack of overt obstacles to positions of power and authority.

Given its centrality to a number of feminist debates, this conference examines the notion of bias (broadly conceived). We invite submissions on the following suggested topics:

* How should we understand bias, both explicit and implicit? Should these phenomena both be called ‘biases’ or should a clearer conceptual distinction be drawn?
* What is the upshot and impact of implicit biases on feminist epistemological analyses? Does the existence of bias (in general) suggest that feminists should naturalise epistemology? What political benefits (if any) would such naturalised approaches have?
* Is implicit bias ubiquitous and does it always unduly affect our evaluations of others? Can implicit biases help us get things right? How should feminists respond to implicit biases?
* How does the existence of implicit bias affect other politically and morally important notions like those of justice, collective action and responsibility? If implicit bias is ubiquitous and ineradicable, can we hold people morally responsible for their views and/or conduct?

Our discussion is not, however, limited to these topics. Furthermore, although the focus of the event is on bias relevant to specifically feminist analyses, we welcome philosophical work on bias that is relevant to other analyses as well.

This conference also serves as the inaugural event for the new Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Symposium Series Feminist Philosophy and…. It will be followed by bi-annual further events on topics relevant and of interest to feminist philosophers and all philosophers working on issues to do with social justice. Planned future topics include Feminist Philosophy and: Gender, Pornography, Race, Sex Work.

Please email FULL PAPERS suitable for anonymous review of around 3,500 words (to be delivered in 30 min followed by 15-20 min of discussion) by 31st MARCH 2011 to Mari Mikkola ( with the subject title ‘BIAS SUBMISSION’. (PDF submissions are preferred.) Notification of acceptance will be send around 31st of May 2011. We hope to be able to provide postgraduate and unwaged travel bursaries for accepted papers.