Philosophy, Depression, and Mental Health at Daily Nous

Over at Daily Nous you can read Peter Railton’s C-APA Dewey lecture, as well as join in an open thread on philosophy and depression. DN also links to an earlier post from PhDisabled on the same topic.

From PhDisabled:

“We are not beyond a society that sees mental illness as a stain within one’s soul, some present-age demons who continue to torment mortals. Mental illness still stands as something to be ashamed of because we want to believe in karma or something similar. We want to believe that the ills that we suffer are somehow dependent upon something we deserve.

“Those of us who are more scientifically inclined want to believe that we can redeem and fix mental illness, as if it were machinery. If we could only figure out the brain, then we believe that we could “normalize” it, or better, “cure” it.”

“I think it should be the job for philosophy to demand that society’s discourse regarding mental health gets less awful. Good philosophy should offer alternatives for social problems, or at the very least scold the often careless ideologies that cause social problems.

“But first, academic philosophy itself needs to turn its gaze to depression and how it is treated within its own ranks. We treat it with silence. No one finds it polite to speak on it, unless talking about the personal lives of the dead or as a dry systematic theory. We philosophers prefer to hold depression at arm’s length, even though it often lives so close within our chests as a tightening knot limiting our actions.”

And the prize for worst anti-harassment measures goes to:

… the vice-principle of a Turkish high school who decided that the best way to stop boys harassing girls who wear short skirts was to ask the boys to harass them! Here is the story in English, but the Turkish article gives more detail, including a report that the vice principle said girls who wear short skirts ‘deserve’ to be harassed, and the detail of the two step prevention program: 1) a group of boys is detailed to warn specific girls that they should not wear short skirts, and 2) if the girls persist, they should harass them in any way they can.

My first reaction was that my complaints about my own daughter’s school’s sexist dress code (short skirts and shorts not allowed) paled in comparison – and it does! But the underlying attitudes and sentiments are the same – that girls who are on the receiving end of harassment somehow ‘provoked’ it both in the sense that they asked for it and that they caused the harassers to become bad and misbehave – and as long as we allow this sort of discrimination to go on in schools we keep the door open for more criminal behaviour on the part of teachers and students.

BPA/SWIP Good Practice Scheme

Readers may recall that the BPA and SWIP jointly rolled out a set of good practice guidelines for women in philosophy.  Departments were invited to consider signing up for them in full or in part.  I’m very pleased to say that Helen Beebee has just posted an initial list of departments that have signed up to the guidelines so far!  A few of these have links to their own pages on how they have implemented the policies.  More links are coming soon, as they are sent to us.  And anecdotally I’ve heard great reports of really productive discussions taking place across the country as the guidelines are being considered.

CFA: Nonhuman Animals, Birmingham

CONFERENCE and FINAL Call for Abstracts (extended deadline)

This is an updated reminder for he call for abstracts and registration for the two-day international conference – ‘Ethics and/or Politics: Approaching the Issues Concerning Nonhuman Animals’ – to be held at the University of Birmingham on the 9th and 10th of April, 2015.

The conference is in association with, and supported by: the Society for Applied Philosophy, the Mind Association, the Aristotelian Society, Minding Animals International, and the University of Birmingham College of Arts and Law.

Guest speakers include:

*   Gary Steiner                 (Bucknell University)
*   Elisa Aaltola                  (University of Turku/University of Eastern Finland)
*   Robert Garner              (University of Leicester)
*   Tony Milligan                (University of Hertfordshire)
*   Alasdair Cochrane         (University of Sheffield)
*   Tatjana Visak               (Saarland University)
*   Oscar Horta                 (University of Santiago de Compostela)
*   Steve Cooke                (University of Sheffield)
*   Kay Peggs                   (University of Portsmouth)

Read More »

Stonewall to campaign for trans people

Stonewall is a charity that campaigns for rights for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. It announced yesterday that it will now extend its remit to cover trans people.

The historic move follows extensive consultation with over 700 trans people and will see the charity use its platform and experience to help create real change for them.

Stonewall will expand its current campaigns and programmes to include and involve trans people and also develop new work on issues that specifically affect them. Over the next 18 months, the charity will take steps to make sure that trans expertise is reflected in its board of trustees as well as recruiting experts to work with Stonewall staff. Stonewall will also work in partnership with trans organisations to avoid replicating work and focus on new projects so that all lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people can be themselves.

After apologising for previous mistakes, Stonewall started the consultation with trans people by looking at the most effective ways of working in the future.

The full press release can be read here.

UCU Anti-Casualisation Committee

As many UK readers will know, the UCU is campaigning to end the abuse of casual contracts in tertiary education. The annual meeting for staff on casualised contracts took place on Friday 13th February, and that seemed like a good excuse to remind folks about the campaign. Here is a link to the campaign material page. And here is a link to the campaign blog.