Conference: Equality, Diversity and the Ethics of Philosophy

Oxford, 23 May

The conference will feature talks by a number of leading philosophers who have contributed to recents discussions of issues of gender diversity in professional philosophy. In addition to the speakers, a number of other philosophers will be in attendance as invited participants. The aims of the conference are to listen and learn about equality and diversity issues in academic philosophy (with a focus on gender equality and diversity), take stock of the current situation and engage in dialogue about the future.

Helen Beebee (Manchester):
“Introduction to the BPA/SWIP Good Practice Scheme”

Fiona Jenkins (ANU):
“Judging Excellence in Philosophy.”

Sally Haslanger (MIT):
“Increasing Diversity by Thinking Differently?  Reflections on Philosophical Method.”

Jenny Saul (Sheffield):
“Equality and Diversity in Hiring and Graduate Student Recruitment.”

Daniela Dover (UCLA):
“Philosophical Conversation.”

Helen Beebee (Manchester):
“Staff-student Relationships: Inside and Outside the classroom”

Space is limited, so register soon.  More here.

16 thoughts on “Conference: Equality, Diversity and the Ethics of Philosophy

  1. May I ask why there are only women speakers? How is equality supposed to be achieved if we hear about it only from a female standpoint? I mean this is not just the “normal” women-only conference but it very much touches issues especially men have been involved in (see the topic of Professor Beebee’s second talk). For a conference about equality and diversity I would expect more men, people of colour and people of more than just the typical institutions. Is it that nobody else is interested or that this is the equivalent of the boys network?

  2. White women are not the only “philosophers who have contributed to recent discussions of issues of gender diversity in professional philosophy.”

    The time has come to consider an Uncolored Conference Campaign (UCC) — closely modeled on the Gendered Conference Campaign:

    “The [Uncolored] Conference Campaign aims to raise awareness of the prevalence of all-[white]* conferences…, of the harm that they do. We make no claims whatsoever about the causes of such conferences: our focus is on their existence and effects. We are therefore not in the business of blaming conference organisers, and not interested (here, anyway) in discussions of blameworthiness. Instead, we are interested in drawing attention to this systematic phenomenon….”

    “* By ‘all-[white]’ we mean all-[white] lists of invited speakers.”

    “Want to avoid [an uncolored] conference, but not sure what to do? Try the suggestions here.”
    [Substitute terms accordingly.]

  3. I’d like to ask that future commenters take the approach of anon’ above, and focus on forward-looking efforts to diversify rather than on bashing this conference.

  4. This is a super amazing conference! However, I too am concerned about the lack of philosophers of colour. I think that the UCC is a great idea. Anon – if you wouldn’t mind contacting me via email (, I would like to talk about ways to move forward on this.

  5. […] Feminist Philosophers points to a conference on “Equality, Diversity And The Ethics Of Philosophy” which will focus on recent discussions of issues of gender diversity in professional philosophy. The conference looks amazing! However – and this is emphatically not meant as bashing of the conference, the organizers, or participants – one must wonder, where are the philosophers of colour? As Anon says in the comments, “White women are not the only ‘philosophers who have contributed to recent discussions of issues of gender diversity in professional philosophy.'” Anon goes on to suggest that the time has come to consider an “Uncolored Conference Campaign (UCC)” — which would be closely modelled on the Gendered Conference Campaign. […]

  6. One thought might be for future conference organizers to treat consultation with the APA’s UP Directory as part of the standard routine for thinking about invitations. The Directory can be found here:
    Let me use this opportunity to encourage those who haven’t signed up yet to do so! This has the potential to be an invaluable tool for conference and volume organizers, but its value relies on a good number of folks signing up.

  7. There are many unrepresented people. There have been many concerns about people who are ‘disabled people.’ Recently, concerns have been expressed about class elitism; those who have English as a second language can be discriminated. I’m worried that a focus on color at this point is too narrow.

  8. Worries of the type “a focus on color…is too narrow” are as old as the postbellum hills. Such worries predictably come in reaction to raising specific concern about the conspicuous absence of color. They implicitly suppress recognition of persistent connections between racial subjugation, racial stigma, intellectual hierarchy, and normalization of uncolored venues.

    Yet, somehow, a de facto focus on the circumstances or perspectives of white women is not supposed to be too narrow.

    Laurence Thomas takes the philosophy profession as a case study: “The question that I am posing is how might we move beyond the stigma of intellectual inferiority that so forcefully applies to blacks; and I do not see a good answer to that question. What I have noted is that there [is] a deep awareness about hiring women and affirming women that does not apply to so-called suspect minority groups. And as I have said the racial stigma has endured way beyond anything that can plausibly make sense.”

  9. Anon, i m puzled by your description of my views:

    Worries of the type “a focus on color…is too narrow” are as old as the postbellum hills. Such worries predictably come in reaction to raising specific concern about the conspicuous absence of color…
    Yet, somehow, a de facto focus on the circumstances or perspectives of white women is not supposed to be too narrow

    Of course a focus on white women is too narrow. We’ve been very concerned on this blog by the invidious range of inequalities. I would really like to see something like the ‘Campaign for equitable conferences.’ I think a play on the name ‘GCC’ which does not address inequalities more fully could have unfortunate consequences.

  10. I admit to having no idea how “a play on the name ‘GCC'” — especially given that the GCC itself (reasonably, in my view) was never supposed to “address inequalities more fully” — “could have unfortunate consequences” or even what those consequences might be.

    I was commenting about worries of a type that in effect would suppress recognition of the distinctiveness, depth, and breadth of a conspicuous absence of color — namely, in the context of thoroughly racialized societies. My comments weren’t personal.

  11. This is a serious question: does the GCC apply to all-women conferences as well? I.e., is there some presumptive problem with having a conference whose keynotes are all women? I’d appreciate the clarification.

  12. While a focus on non-white participation may seem ‘too narrow’ in some theoretical, end-game sense, given how far we are from that, it’s not much of an objection to thinking seriously about avoiding all-white conferences and invited speakers. How would–and have!–we responded to similar objections to the GCC? This isn’t a *it has to be perfect or we shouldn’t do anything* approach (yes I’m oversimplifying a lot, and being slightly uncharitable). My concern, and quite possibly anon’s too, is that saying that we should focus on *all the things* rather than piecemeal including intersectional approaches to race and gender will just result in the status quo. Yes we need to think about other issues of inclusion, including disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, and so on…but we have to start somewhere. We’ve done good work starting with gender, now it’s time to meaningfully branch out. Race is an obvious easy next step.

  13. Where are our Black Athena Swans?

    They have, justifiably, taken flight . . .

    ‘The reasons for BME academics leaving, or considering leaving UK HE are not new. The lack of permanent contracts and financial security, the lack of transparency in recruitment and promotions, the lack of informal and formal support and mentoring, and lack of black studies departments in the UK are all contributing factors.

    ***There is a systematic perception that race equality is not being prioritised within the sector,***

    which is representative of the culture that is pushing BME academics away, and preventing them from returning. Ensuring that race equality is prioritised within the sector in a meaningful way is not easy, but is the first step to instigating systemic, long-term culture change’.

  14. I think that there are at least three important aspects to the GCC and others that may follow. The first is, of course, its actual aims. The second is audience uptake. We need people in positions of power to act. The third, related issue concerns the enthusiasm generated. There’s tons relatively powerless phils can do. E.g., someone told me a publisher was soliciting suggestions from young philosophers about what’s cutting edge. Reccomendations from people still insecure in the profession can be powerful.

    What will be the effect on two and three if we add one or more XCCs? One thing for me is that I think a disableist push should also be made. Ditto for Non-traditional genders/sexualities. And others.

    will we splinter interests and energies? I have to go tend to family right now, but let me say I am much more optimistic about about joining a push for equity that brings groups together.

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