When all criticism is gender criticism

There’s a really interesting Ought Experiment column at Daily Nous today, on an issue I’m sure many of our readers have encountered before. What do you do when a student who has experienced discrimination in the past begins to interpret all criticism of their work as further discrimination? How do you respect the harms that the student has endured while still trying to get them to accept critical feedback on their work so that they can become a better philosopher?

As Louie Generis points out, this is an incredibly difficult issue (and it highlights one of the many ways in which there are downstream harms of discrimination). I hope our readers can weigh in with thoughts.

Reasonableness and the Killing of Tamir Rice

Last week, a group of legal experts ruled the November 2014 police shooting of 12-year old Tamir Rice “objectively reasonable.” Rice was shot as he sat in a local park, near the recreation center where he frequently played, holding a pellet gun. When officers responded to 911 calls that a “guy was sitting in the park pointing a gun at people,” they did not know that 195-pound Tamir Rice was only 12. But there were exactly four seconds between the time that the police cruiser pulls into the frame of the surveillance camera that recorded this incident and the time that Tamir Rice drops to the ground. There are less than two seconds between the time the police make contact with Tamir and the time he falls to the ground. That means there was almost no time for the officers to communicate any set of instructions to the boy about what they wanted or what they needed him to do. They drove up and started shooting.

This is unreasonable.

A 12-year old Black boy is dead for playing with a toy gun in a park in his community. But his family and community are told by the experts that while his death is “tragic” it is also “objectively reasonable.” Black communities have long known that they should question official and legal standards of “expertise,” “objectivity,” and “reason.”

Read on.

Medieval Women Philosophers

Really wonderful blogpost by Christina Van Dyke on the difficulties and rewards of adding medieval women philosophers to one’s courses.

As I rolled up my sleeves and went to work, I discovered that although female contemplatives in the Middle Ages might not have thought of themselves as engaging in philosophy per se–and although what they wrote often tends not to fit neatly into our contemporary conceptions of even just philosophical theologyif you take a step back and think of philosophy as the love of wisdom, perennially addressing the issues that human beings have wondered about “Since the dawn of time,” it turns out that medieval women have a wealth of things to say about classic philosophical debates involving, say, self-knowledge, love, human nature, ethics, God, and the meaning of life.

These women weren’t writing in a vacuum, either: they engaged with and influenced intellectual, theological, and cultural movements across (what’s now modern-day) Europe. We’re not just talking Heloise (who, of course, is best known for her affair with Abelard)–Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Sienna, and Julian of Norwich are just a few of the female contemplatives whose advice and counsel were actively sought out by the leading intellectual and ecclesiastical figures of their day…

I will grant you right now that this is going to take some work, and probably some anxiety that this isn’t philosophy. Just remember–Anselm’s Ontological Argument is part of a prayer, for heaven’s sake. The list of people we consider medieval philosophers is already a pretty motley crew by modern standards. That fact is, as far as I’m concerned, one of our subfield’s greatest strengths. Broadening the scope of who gets included in that crew gives us more to talk about with people in different fields, as well as deepening our knowledge of the full range of medieval perspectives on philosophical issues.