Video on Body Image and Media

A nice little video, with some rather horrifying facts that would be useful for teaching. (Also some issues that might spark interesting discussion of a more critical sort– e.g. the use of BMI, of which there are some very good criticisms; issues concerning what teenagers are thinking about when asked what they fear most– is it what would be worst, or what they think is more likely?)

From here.

Pornography and Objectifiction: Aesthetics and the Erotic

What a fabulous idea for a workshop!

The Edinburgh Women in Philosophy Group is hosting a workshop titled
“Pornography and Objectification; Aesthetics and the Erotic”.

Workshop date and time: Monday, the 30th of May 2011, from 10.30am – 5pm.

Workshop Location: University of Edinburgh Philosophy Department,
Dugald Stewart Building, room 1.17.

Speakers include: Rae Langton (keynote, Professor, MIT), Mahlet Zimeta
(Lecturer, Roehampton, UK), Hans Maes (Lecturer, Kent, UK)

Workshop proposal:

The workshop will bring together scholars in aesthetics, ethics and
feminism to explore the nature of the relationship between
pornography, eroticism and sexuality, and objectivity, aesthetics and
ethics. The workshop will build on debates in aesthetics related to
art and pornography, sexuality and eroticism and feminist concerns
about these issues. It will develop discussion addressing the
complexity of human sexuality and the erotic as it relates to art,
pornography and the objectification of the human person, in
particular, the female person. It will encourage interest in how
feminist concerns fit into these issues and takes place at a time when
discussions on art and pornography have come to the fore in, for
example, the 2009 conference at the University of Kent, “Art,
Aesthetics and the Sexual” and the upcoming conference at the
Institute of Philosophy in London titled “Aesthetics, Art and
Pornography”. The Edinburgh Women in Philosophy Group wishes not only
to shed feminist light on these issues, but to bring the discussion to
Scotland, where we hope to attract feminist theorists, philosophers,
sociologists and art historians.

Here is the link to find out more about the event.

And here is the link to register.

A modest registration fee of £15 or £5 concession is being charged to cover
administration and catering costs.

The workshop has been generously supported by the University of
Edinburgh Philosophy Department and the Scots Philosophical Association.

What sort of distribution of wealth/gender should there be? Should we do some stirring?

I think one of the first new expressions I heard on my first trip to Newcastle-upon-Tyne went something like, “O aye, he’s a stirrer that one is.”  So this sober post has a bit of mischief-making behind it. 

According to the abstrat below, many Americans are unaware of how great income inequality in American is.  And even conservatives want something better than what we have got.  The authors say that they wanted to insert the desires of ordinary Americans into debates about optimal income distribution.   But they must realize that the relationship between what people say they want in judging income distribution and what they will vote for are hardly securely connected.

Anyone who has worked on implicit biases knows that people who are, e.g.,  trying very hard to be fair to all their students may nonetheless produce biased grades.  And that’s just one example.  Desire and action can fall apart.   One thing in the political sphere that has interrupted the connection between desire and actual voting behavior in the case of income distribution is the persuasive leadership of conservative factions.  Or, ironically, the desire leads to votes for candidates who think the government’s doing nothing is the best state of affairs.  Let trickle down work; do not indulge the “laziness” of the welfare recipients, and so on.  (Note:  this views are being reported, but are not endorsed!)**

In the political sphere one hope is that we get a leadership who can make vivid the effects of doing nothing, and actually help to change behavior.  We may not have such a leader, as we once thought we did.  But in any case, that raises the question of whether leadership in academia could be more effective.  So far the APA has hardly been a help.  Perhaps we should try to energize deans or department chairs. 

Should we try a petition and a set of action guidelines to be sent around to chairs?  What sort of petition might stir things up?  What sort of guidelines could there be?  Should the guidelines come monthly, with perhaps different areas for different months?

Building a Better America—One Wealth Quintile at a Time,  by Michael I. Norton and Dan Ariely2.

Disagreements about the optimal level of wealth inequality underlie policy debates ranging from taxation to welfare. We attempt to insert the desires of “regular” Americans into these debates, by asking a nationally representative online panel to estimate the current distribution of wealth in the United States and to “build a better America” by constructing distributions with their ideal level of inequality. First, respondents dramatically underestimated the current level of wealth inequality. Second, respondents constructed ideal wealth distributions that were far more equitable than even their erroneously low estimates of the actual distribution. Most important from a policy perspective, we observed a surprising level of consensus: All demographic groups—even those not usually associated with wealth redistribution such as Republicans and the wealthy—desired a more equal distribution of wealth than the status quo.

**This may be a chaitable interpretation.  That is, one might be willing to say on a poll that one would prefer a more just society where there’s less violence, for example.  At the same time, one might want one’s privileged life most of all, so the disconnect between desire for equality and voting behavior looks more like plain selfishness.

So you want to be a professor?

And ad for this book came across my inbox today. It’s for a new book by two professors emeritus from the University of Toronto, sharing their wisdom with their target audience of graduate students and junior faculty members.  The most egregious thing about this presumptuous book (as if two old guys’ experience can tell the young all they need to know to navigate the world of academia) is the photo on the cover. So you want to be a professor? For starters, it helps a whole heck of a lot if you’re a nerdy-looking white guy (with a bow tie, tweed optional).  Can we please stop perpetuating this ridiculous stereotype of who can be a professor?

SGRP Symposium on Autonomy

Catriona Mackenzie and Jacqui Poltera, 2010. “Narrative Integration, Fragmented Selves and Autonomy.” Hypatia 25(1): 31-54, and

Andrea C. Westlund, 2009. “Rethinking Relational Autonomy.” Hypatia 24(4): 26-49.

Commentaries are by: Paul Benson (University of Dayton); John Christman (Pennsylvania State University); James Rocha (Louisiana State University); and Natalie Stoljar (McGill University), with replies by Mackenzie and Poltera, and Westlund.

Have a look, and join in the discussion! (Longtime readers like me might be confused by the fact that the link goes to the SGRP blog. But that’s where it should go– all symposia are now on the blog.)