On loving non-sequiturs

From the darkside (which wordpress calls “the dashboard”) comes this refreshing piece on avoiding gendered conferences:

Thanks for the concepts you have discussed here. Additionally, I believe there are several factors that really keep your car insurance policy premium decrease. One is, to think about buying autos that are within the good listing of car insurance providers. Cars which might be expensive….

Liberal Academics and the Conservative Agenda:Cronon and Leiter

Paul Krugman’s Op-Ed piece today is about William Cronon, a historian who teaches at the University of Wisconsin.  Not only has he written in his blog against conservative policies, but he also wrote a column for the NY Times criticizing the governor of the state! 

So the GOP has now filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get access to all his university email that has one or more  of a large number of words in it, including the names of some state officials.  Krugman notes:

If this action strikes you as no big deal, you’re missing the point. The hard right — which these days is more or less synonymous with the Republican Party — has a modus operandi when it comes to scholars expressing views it dislikes: never mind the substance, go for the smear. And that demand for copies of e-mails is obviously motivated by no more than a hope that it will provide something, anything, that can be used to subject Mr. Cronon to the usual treatment.

You might think that the moral of this story is, If you don’t have tenure, don’t write political attacks in the NY Times.  (Cronon does, but even with his security, he could be worried about what those who control the university through funding decisions might do next.)  But that’s not quite right.  You had better skip attacks in  blogs too, or so we should learn from the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto, who  took on Brian Leiter’s reproaches to those involved in attacking collective bargaining rights.

Leiter’s own cautionary tale is here.  It involves threats against the President!  More happily, there have also been  apologies or retractions from those doing the smearing.  The moral here might be:  don’t take on a philosopher!  Just remember, though, Leiter’s relatively secure, despite what could be read as a particularly nasty reference in the WSJ about where money for professors comes from.

So am I joking about being careful if you don’t have tenure?  Of course.  Nonetheless, it is a sad that some university administrators are really not keen on having moneyed and/or powerful members of the public angry with the university.

Sexual Harassment in Philosophy: What is to be done?

There’s a powerful and important post up at NewAPPS, asking what should be done about sexual harassment in philosophy.

Sexual harassment in the philosophy profession is intolerable, yet all-too-common, as we can see from the important collection of stories at Being a Woman in Philosophy.

Moreover, there are many important figures in the profession whom their colleagues and students know to have engaged in various forms of sexual harassment on multiple occasions. Many of us have heard first-hand accounts of harassment from those who have been harassed; almost all of us have heard second-hand accounts from those who know the harassers or the harassed. In the case of some of these figures accused of harassment, the allegations come from a wide range of sources, sources who are more than willing to discuss the issue privately.

Institutional mechanisms provide little in the way of redress to the victims of such figures. Those who have been harassed, or worse, come forward in many cases, put themselves through a long and painful process, and if the figure is prominent it is very unlikely that any meaningful action will be taken. Given this systematic failure of formal mechanisms, it should not come us a surprise that many women get discouraged and drop out of the discipline along the way.

Thus the natural question is what, if anything, we can do informally.

We believe there are informal sanctions that could make a difference. The Feminist Philosophers blog recently suggested not inviting serial harassers to conferences. One could easily extend this to not inviting them to publish, not conversing with them at conferences, advising students to avoid their graduate program, etc. We can hope that such informal shunning would have a significant effect. Of course, without a naming and shaming mechanism this approach will be limited to folk somehow in the know.

By and large, however, philosophers have, to date, seemed unwilling to engage in such informal social sanctions. Of course there are some good reasons for this. One might not be convinced that the person in question actually did what they are said to have done. One might be in a vulnerable position and not want to risk reprisal But these explanations for inaction only go so far. There are many cases in which the behavior is well known to a wide range of people who are tenured and of substantial standing in their own right, and thus immune to immediate job threats.

So in light of this, we ask, what is to be done? It is impermissible to stand by while women – and occasionally men – in our profession are subjected to intolerable behavior. If the only thing standing in the way of acting is a desire to avoid confrontation, or the intellectual enjoyment of engaging with a smart colleague who is nonetheless a serial harasser, then the individual excuses for not engaging in informal sanctions do not outweigh the benefits to the profession. Moreover, if we do not get our house in order, the societies we inhabit will increasingly question our privileges.

So let us collectively consider what might be the best ways to confront this situation.

I urge you to go and join in the discussion. I’m really pleased to see this sort of issue getting wider attention, and I’m esp. pleased to see men in philosophy raising it, rather than just leaving it to the women.

Neuroscience and Pragmatism, for men

Neuroscience and Pragmatism: Productive Prospects

Since active and practicing scientists are less concerned with the history and philosophy of their field (and especially the history of the philosophy of their special discipline), it comes as no surprise that many cognitive neuroscientists are unaware of the contributions of pragmatism. This conference brings together pragmatist philosophers interested in neuroscience and neuroscientists interested in pragmatism. Developments in cognitive neuroscience offer fresh perspectives on philosophical and ethical problems concerning embodiment, agency, intelligence, knowledge, socialization, and ethics. Perhaps a neurophilosophical coalition of mutual interests around the label of “neuropragmatism” can be forged from these kinds of conversations.

Speaker Information

William Casebeer
Cognitive science
US Air Force

Anthony Chemero
Franklin and Marshall College

David Franks
Virginia Commonwealth University

James Giordano
Neuroscience and neuroethics
Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, University of Oxford

Teed Rockwell
Cognitive science
Sonoma State University

Jay Schulkin
Department of Neuroscience, Center for Brain Basis of Cognition
Georgetown University

John Shook
Neuroethics and pragmatism
George Mason University

Tibor Solymosi
Southern Illinois University

Another one for the list.

Thanks, S!

CFP: Advancing Publicly Engaged Philosophy

Call for Proposals – Conference: “Advancing Publicly Engaged Philosophy”
October, 6-8 2011, Washington Plaza Hotel, Washington, D.C.
Hosted by the Public Philosophy Network
The Public Philosophy Network invites proposals for a Fall 2011 meeting on Advancing Publicly Engaged Philosophy. The conference will include a mix of formal and informal sessions on various issues in practical philosophy, including concrete projects and political problems as well as discussions of larger philosophical questions about how to engage in philosophical activity outside the academy.
Please submit formal proposals (350-500 words) or informal suggestions for any one of the following formats by April 30, 2011.
Workshops. These sessions will be held the first full day of the conference and will include a mix of presentations and discussion on either substantive policy issues (for example, climate change, gay marriage, housing policy, welfare, etc.) or practical matters and best practices in public philosophy (for example, tenure hurdles for publicly engaged work, collaborative work, outreach programs in prisons, sources and methods for funding, etc.). Proposals should explain the nature of the interest area of the participant and how it is of concern to philosophy or public life. Identification of community-based practitioners who might be interested and able to participate in particular workshops is welcomed.
Table Sessions. These more informal, round table sessions will occur over lunch during the conference and are intended for discussion of issues that are less developed. To propose a table session that you would help organize or lead, send a succinct statement of the problem and some ways in which philosophers could engage it. Again, suggestions for community-based practitioners who might be interested and able to participate in particular workshops are welcomed. The organizers will select a range of these sessions and assign tables for the conference; participants will also have the option of organizing table discussions during the conference.
Paper Presentation. Proposals are welcome for presentations on any area of philosophy relevant to public policy, advocacy, or activism, presentations which document past and ongoing projects in publicly engaged philosophy, or take up more theoretical questions on how to do publicly engaged work.
Organized Panels. Panels may be proposed on any number of themes: Book sessions, philosophical issues in public philosophy, or policy problems and how philosophers may engage them. These sessions could include a traditional set of three papers followed by discussion or more informal brief panelist remarks followed by interactive discussion among panelists and the audience. Proposals should include names and affiliations of proposed panelists, the proposed format, and an abstract of what will be addressed.

In addition to taking up pressing political problems, conference-wide sessions will address larger questions in public philosophy: In what ways is philosophy, when engaged with various publics, transformative, i.e., how can or does philosophy improve public life? In what ways is philosophy transformed when engaged with various publics, i.e., how can public engagement inform philosophical concepts and understanding or alter disciplinary boundaries? And, if public philosophy is valuable—then how might we promote and sustain its practice?
To submit a proposal, go here. The deadline is April 30, 2011.
Also welcomed are informal suggestions for possible workshops and table sessions. Participants may submit proposals for participation in workshops as well as either paper or panel sessions.
Volunteers to chair sessions or serve as discussants are also welcome.

Please notify us if you require accommodation for disability.

Public Philosophy Network Executive Committee
Andrew Light, George Mason University, Program Co-Chair
Noelle McAfee, Emory University, Program Co-Chair
Sharon Meagher, University of Scranton
Paul Thompson, Michigan State University
Nancy Tuana, Pennsylvania State University

For information about the Public Philosophy Network, go here.
The conference is co-sponsored by the American Philosophical Association, George Mason University’s Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, Michigan State University’s Kellogg Chair of Agricultural Ethics, and Pennsylvania State’s Rock Ethics Institute.
Questions? Please e-mail us at publicpn AT gmail.com

Reader Query: research on psychotherapists and gender?

I was trying to find something about male psychotherapists working with female clients/patients and couldn’t find anything.
Is there something that addresses some of the issues related to this? I know that since the famous Broverman study showing a bias among male therapists who prefer working with attractive, verbal females there has been important research, i.e. Sandra Bem, Carol Gilligan,etc.

Anyone know of something?