Dialogues on Disability – Joshua Knobe

I’m really late posting this, so many readers will no doubt have already seen it. (I’ve been a bit preoccupied by current events of late..) But better late than never – Shelley’s latest installment in her series of interviews with disabled philosophers is out. This time, she chats to Joshua Knobe about experimental philosophy, the nature of the self, and more.

My guest today is Joshua Knobe. Josh is a professor of philosophy and cognitive science at Yale. Most of his research is in experimental philosophy. Though Josh tried his best in this interview to focus on more intellectual topics, what he is really most excited about these days is his five-year-old daughter Zoe.

You can read the complete interview here.

Gender-neutral on paper but not in effect

“The policies led to a 19 percentage-point rise in the probability that a male economist would earn tenure at his first job. In contrast, women’s chances of gaining tenure fell by 22 percentage points. …They found that men who took parental leave used the extra year to publish their research, amassing impressive publication records. But there was no parallel rise in the output of female economists.”

Read the whole story at the NYT.

Conference CFP

Email: barbara.clare@anu.edu.au

Website: http://genderinstitute.anu.edu.au/gess-home

Message: Dear Feminist Philosophers,

I’m writing on behalf of Fiona Jenkins to promote a CFP for a conference being hosted at Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.

A brief version of the call is below, and includes a link to the full call and submission details. Many thanks, for this and for everything you do!

Research Assistant, Gendered Excellence in the Social Sciences project, ANU.


Gendered Innovations in the Social Sciences
International symposium – call for papers

What impact does women’s limited presence in key fields of research have upon our capacity to grapple with social and political change? And if gender is ignored as an analytic category, can the social sciences make a meaningful contribution to understanding or resolving issues of gender inequality in society?

This conference will be held at the Australian National University, Canberra 7-9 November 2016. The conference aims to compare the status of gender analysis and feminist research in different social science disciplines.

Laurel Weldon, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Director of the Purdue Policy Research Institute at Purdue University
Paul Dalziel, Professor of Economics and Deputy Director of the Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit, Lincoln University, New Zealand
Catriona Mackenzie, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Macquarie University Research Centre for Agency, Values and Ethics.

Further keynotes to be advised.

Abstracts of approximately 200 words are to be submitted online by 21 July 2016 – access the full call for papers at .


Grad school experience: call for submissions

from Dr. Yarden Katz:

A couple of us started a new project, Letters from Grad School (lettersfromgradschool.org) – an anthology of graduate school experiences (see details below). Our goal is to represent alternative voices and perspectives on graduate school, from current and former graduate students, dealing with aspects of it that are often neglected – including sexism and racism in science. These stories will be published online and a subset will be selected for a book. (We respect the wishes of those who with to write anonymously.) We’re really appreciate it if you can share with your readers and on social media.

Thanks very much!

NOTE from ajj: the call refers to biology and biomedicine, but it was sent to a philosophy blog. Presumably they have a wide conception of relevance.

Call for submissions:

For every graduate student, graduate school is a different experience filled with ups, downs, failures, and successes. The goal of Letters from Graduate School is to build a collective of graduate school experiences from graduate students in the biomedical/biology PhD programs–your experience, in your own voice!

We are looking for graduate students who are interested in writing about their stories and experiences in graduate school–the good and the bad. We are creating a platform for sharing these stories to highlight the diversity of graduate school experiences. These stories will be shared through our web platform, and a selected set of entries will be compiled into a book.

We encourage your entry to be focused on a single topic that was formative in your graduate school experience. We have a few sample topics listed below, but don’t feel limited to our suggestions; we want to include as many unique perspectives as possible.

If you are interested in writing for us, please fill out the short form on our website lettersfromgradschool.org – and we will get back to you. All essays will be edited in collaboration with the author before publication. We will respect authors who wish to share their story anonymously.

For any questions, email us at editors@lettersfromgradschool.org

Looking forward to hearing from you,
Kayla Lee
Chiara Ricci-Tam
Yarden Katz

The example topics below are divided into four sections, corresponding to graduate school stages: “Early years”, “The grind”, “Final stretch” and “Post-PhD”. Submissions should be under 2,000 words.

Early years
Why go to graduate school?
How to choose a lab?
Making friends in graduate school
Managing graduate school with a family
Rotations: getting the most out of them

The grind (mid-graduate school)
Intra-lab conflicts
On paper writing and publishing
Scooping: the threats, reality and recovery
Finance and graduate school
Depression and anxiety in graduate school
Switching labs
Deciding to quit graduate school
Being a minority in science
Sexism, racism, and classism in science

Final stretch (writing thesis)
Writing the thesis
Leaving things behind
Keeping in touch

Post-PhD (transitioning out of graduate school, finding next step)
Asking (and writing) your letters of recommendation
Finding a postdoc
Finding alternative (non-academic) paths
Learning from the graduate school experience

Guest post: A woman of colour on Pogge letter

By A Woman Philosopher of Color

I am genuinely grateful for and impressed by the critical discussions that have taken place across the blogosphere and on Facebook (and otherwise) about Thomas Pogge’s harmful behavior. That said, I am worried that many of the voices that are being heard about this matter are those of white women (and men). With the exception of a few, such as the courageous Fernanda Lopez, women of color have largely remained quiet. This is for good reason. Given their precarious position in the discipline, it makes sense that women of color are reluctant to discuss the matter. Fear of further exclusion from the discipline runs high. When some women of color have managed to talk about the matter, they have done so only to make clear that they were not victimized by Pogge. It is unfortunate that women of color in philosophy feel the need to do this. However, it is an appropriate response in the context of some of the dialogue that is taking place.

For example, consider the letter written by Professor Melissa Williams indicting Pogge for his harmful behavior and his weak response to the allegations against him. At the end of the first page, Williams asks Pogge (to whom the letter is addressed) to engage in a thought experiment:

You do not seem to grasp how damaging your conduct has been. Imagine, for a moment, that you are a woman of color who worked with Thomas Pogge on this or that project over the years. Imagine the topic of Thomas Pogge’s conduct coming up in conversation, and eyes turning to you with the implicit question, “You too?” Imagine further that Thomas Pogge’s letter of reference for you was important in securing your current job, so that you are constantly wondering whether colleagues believe you got the job only because you slept with Thomas Pogge. I know you to be capable of imagining yourself in another’s position, and you must have imagined scenarios like this.

Williams uses this thought experiment to criticize Pogge for trying “to discredit” his accuser in his response to the initial BuzzFeed article. Though the connection to the above thought experiment is left unclear, Williams is right to call Pogge out for his poor response to the allegations. It is wrongheaded for many reasons, some of which are also discussed here. My main worry with Willilams’s argument is that it does not go far enough in its support for women of color in philosophy. After making the point about “reference letters”, Williams should have taken this opportunity to make clear that the women who do succeed in the profession are very good and that whether they did or did not get a letter from Pogge is really not a basis to evaluate them on. If this simple fact remains unacknowledged, then women of color who work in global justice are left in the position of having to prove that they were not victims or that they didn’t receive letters or jobs on the basis of letters from Pogge.

Professor Ingrid Robeyns’s post on “Why we should sign the Thomas Pogge open letter” makes other important mistakes. Roebyns argues that in deciding whether to sign the letter or not, what matters is whether one regards oneself to be a member of the relevant academic community. In Pogge’s case, the relevant academic overlapping communities are (at least): academic philosophy/political theory; the community of people working on global justice; and the universities where Pogge works or has worked, and organisations to which he is affiliated. If one is a member of any of those overlapping communities, then knowing about the Open Letter yet not signing can reasonabl[y] be seen as a statement that one believes that this is none of one’s business since (i) this is merely a matter of a person’s sexual preferences, which is a private matter; and/or (ii) the legal institutions will do their work, and we must let them do their work; and/or (iii) we don’t have all the relevant information and hence shouldn’t judge.

Robeyns goes on to convincingly argue that these are not good reasons for failing to sign the letter. However, contrary to what Robeyns suggests here, there are other reasons for not signing the open letter that should not be understood as an expression of believing that “this is none of one’s business.” Some of these reasons apply broadly, but seem especially relevant in the case of women of color in philosophy.

First, in the United States, many decisions about tenure are based on external letters. For junior professors who work in global justice and who may have little choice over who is asked to write a letter on their behalf, there is the risk that Pogge himself or some of his ardent supporters may be asked to weigh in on one’s tenure case. Pogge and/or his supporters could hold one’s signing of the letter against her (or him). This seems especially worrisome for women of color who have worked with Pogge or in global justice and where his letter or his supporters’ letters may seem natural to include.

Second, Robeyns’s post ignores the general fact that it may be especially hard for women of color – let alone junior women of color – to sign the statement, given their precarious position in the discipline. Again, the worry about negative repercussions or further exclusion runs high. There is also the worry that women of color have historically been lumped into the group of “repeat players with a track record of reckless accusations who will sign anything, regardless of the merits”.[1] Because of this history, women of color are likely to be very leery of signing an open letter of this type.

Third, there are other ways to express support of the women who have been harmed and to condemn Pogge’s actions. For example, there are many women of color and otherwise who have been working behind the scenes to, among other things, help with writing the open letter and to provide relevant information for the civil rights case. Especially when one is doing these other things, not signing the letter does not necessarily imply that one does not share in the attitudes expressed in the open letter or that one does not condemn Pogge’s actions.

It is unfortunate but understandable that women of color are reticent to speak about the Thomas Pogge matter. Because of the dynamics of this case and of those in the discipline of philosophy, this is unlikely to change for the near future. I hope that those who do have the privilege of being able to speak will work harder to take the considerations of women of color in philosophy more seriously.

[1] Note that Professor Leiter does not seem to have women of color in mind here. There is, however, a history of identifying women of color as being out to get white men (especially through false accusations of sexual harassment).

Ingrid Robeyns on the Pogge Letter

A powerful statement:

Many have said that the Pogge case illustrates that there has been a culture of silence, or a culture of brushing sexually offensive behaviour under the carpet. This petition is about Pogge, but not only about Pogge. Let’s gather the courage to speak up about other cases of sexual harassment that we know about. Let’s strengthen the social norms that it is not OK to abuse your hierarchical position to receive sexual favours. Let’s demolish the social norms that if everyone else is turning a blind eye, it is fine for us to also turn a blind eye. Let’s address these problems by both institutional change and a change in culture and social norms in the profession.

Read the whole post to get her responses to common objections to signing.

Dan Sperber’s response to an invitation from Pogge

Dan Sperber has sent us this to share:

The letter below that I just sent in response to an invitation by Profs. Pogge and Meldolesi (and that I posted on Facebook) may be relevant:
Dear Prof. Meldolesi,

I am very surprised by this invitation to a conference on on Albert Hirschman’s Legacy that you co-organise with Professor Thomas Pogge from Yale. Even if he were, implausibly, to think he is unjustly accused (see https://sites.google.com/site/thomaspoggeopenletter/), Professor Pogge should not, until he has cleared his name (if he can), even think of organising an academic conference: asking people to participate to a conference of which he is a co-organizer is tantamount to asking them to pretend that Prof. Pogge’s moral authority is not at issue, that, for instance, the academic benefit conferred by such an invitation couldn’t be used by him as what he might consider an aid to seduction and what might be better described as a tool of sexual harassment. To accept such an invitation is, in fact, to give him tacit support. When, moreover, the conference involved is intended to honor the legacy of a man of such moral integrity as Albert Hirschman, this is just sick.

This is a serious matter. I will post this letter on Facebook and other web venues.


Dan Sperber

SAF at Central APA 2017, CFP

Society for Analytical Feminism

Feminist Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition


SAF Session at the Central Division APA, Sheraton Kansas City at Crown Center, Kansas City, MO, March 1-4, 2017

The Society for Analytical Feminism invites submissions for a session at the 2017 Central Division APA meetings.

Deadline for submissions: August 8, 2016.

The Society seeks papers that examine feminist issues by methods broadly construed as analytic, or discuss the use of analytic philosophical methods as applied to feminist issues. Authors should submit full papers of a length appropriate to a 20-minute presentation time. Please delete all self-identifying references from your submission to ensure anonymity.

Send submissions as a word attachment to Kathryn Norlock

(kathrynnorlock at gmail dot com).

Graduate students or underfunded professionals whose papers are accepted will be eligible for the Society’s $250 Travel Stipend. Please indicate in your email if you fall into one of these categories and wish to be considered for the stipend.


The Society for Analytical Feminism provides a forum where issues concerning analytical feminism may be openly discussed and examined. Its purpose is to promote the study of issues in feminism by methods broadly construed as analytic, to examine the use of analytic methods as applied to feminist issues, and to provide a means by which those interested in Analytical Feminism may meet and exchange ideas. The Society meets yearly at the Central Division meetings of the APA and frequently organizes sessions for the Eastern Division and Pacific Divisions.

Membership in the Society is open to all who are interested in and concerned with issues in Analytical Feminism. Annual dues are $25 for regularly employed members, $15 for students, unemployed, underemployed, and retired members. For more information about SAF, including membership form, please visit our website.

Jo Cox

Readers will no doubt have heard this on the news already, but I am moved to mark this event here. British MP, Jo Cox, was brutally murdered last Thursday, in what seems to have been a terrorist attack by a right-wing extremist. Jo Cox was elected very recently. She did a lot of work to try and improve things for refugees. Such work was apparently the motive for her assassination.

There is so much more that I could write, but I will leave you with just this – the statement made by her husband, Brendan Cox:

Today is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. More difficult, more painful, less joyful, less full of love. I and Jo’s friends and family are going to work every moment of our lives to love and nurture our kids and to fight against the hate that killed Jo.

She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.

There are a great number of articles about this online right now if you want to know more. Here is one from Aljazeera.