Famous Violinists, Intuitions, and Experimental Philosophy

Over at the Experimental Philosophy blog, Jeanine Weekes Schroer and Alexandra Bradner have just posted the results of (what they believe is) the first experimental philosophy study on Thomson’s famous violinist case. They would love some feedback from feminist philosophers. In their study they use care ethics and set out to see if it makes a difference to one’s intuitions about the morality of disconnecting if the sick, needy person connected to you is either a) a famous violinist you don’t know or b)a half sibling. They also alternate the scenarios between the first and third person. You can read their post here and find out their results. What do you think of experimental philosophy as a resource for feminist work in ethics?

The headaches of ableism and sexism

Wow. I never thought I’d write a post defending Michelle Bachmann.

The NY Times is reporting that one of Bachmann’s staffers has publicized Bachman’s severe, sometimes debilitating migraines. The staffer’s comments have lead some of Bachman’s critics to question her fitness for the presidency. This criticism of her fitness (mostly from political bloggers) appears to be both deeply ableist and deeply sexist.

Being an hysterical female, Bachmann cannot handle the stress of political life – that’s why she suffers from migraines! (Migraines, the thought goes, are more common in women than men and sometimes triggered by stress; therefore the women who have migraines are women who can’t handle stress; a lot of women can’t handle stress, which is why a lot of women have migraines.) Moreover, being a person with a health impairment, she obviously would not be able to function adequately as President. You can’t be a capable president if you have any sort of serious disability or chronic illness, as everyone knows (unless you’re JFK, FDR, or Woodrow Wilson. . .).

This criticism is as needless as it is upsetting. Michelle Bachmann is clearly unfit to be president. But she’s unfit because she’s batshit crazy and defends policies which are downright hateful, not because she has migraines.

Open letter regarding climate guide

A group of Rutgers women graduate students have written an open letter regarding the Pluralists’ Guide’s recommendations regarding climate for women in philosophy. You can read it over at Leiter. Here’s how it starts:

We, female graduate students at Rutgers, were surprised and disappointed to see Rutgers singled out in your assessment of department climates for women as one of only four philosophy departments initially classified as “Need Improvement”, and one of only three remaining on the list. While every department has room for improvement–for example we would love to see a higher percentage of female faculty–we think that this special treatment is unwarranted.