Conference in remembrance of Pamela Sue Anderson

Faculty of Philosophy; Faculty of Theology and Religion

University of Oxford

Love and Vulnerability:

In Memory of Pamela Sue Anderson

2:15 pm Friday 16th March to 1:00 pm Sunday 18th March 2018
Mansfield & Regent’s Park Colleges, Oxford

Attendance Free

This conference focuses on Pamela Anderson’s wonderful, but largely unpublished, late work on love and vulnerability but also includes reflections on her earlier writings. The event is interdisciplinary and international, reflecting Pamela’s achievements in British and European Philosophy, Theology and Feminism and her influence in Europe, North America and China. Speakers include her teachers, colleagues and former students. While focusing on love and vulnerability, participants will explore connections with related themes drawn from her work, such as forgiveness and its limits; dialogue; epistemic injustice; self-confidence; nonsensicality; ineffability; and vulnerability in relation to invulnerability, violence, human and divine affectivity, narrative, friendship, thoughtfulness, resilience, belonging, and enhancing life. Her engagement with Kant, Wittgenstein and the French philosophers, Henri Bergson, Paul Ricoeur, Simone de Beauvoir, Emmanuel Lévinas and Michèle Le Doeuff, will also be represented. The portrait of Pamela’s passionate commitment to making sense of what it is to be human will be shared through a special issue of Angelaki: journal of the theoretical humanities.

Conference Programme

FRIDAY 16th March

Mansfield College

2.15 pm Conference Opening & Welcome

2.30 pm Associate Professor Laurie Anderson Sathe, Saint Catherine, Minneapolis:
A Place at the Table for Love and Vulnerability
Read More »

Happy Persons Day Canada

“They’ve been called visionaries, feminists, trailblazers and Canadian heroes- Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby and Nellie McClung changed the Canadian political landscape forever. They fought to be recognized as persons under the law. On October 18th, 1929, after an arduous legal and political battle the British Privy Council recognized women as persons under the BNA Act.”

Persons Day is an annual celebration in Canada, held on October 18 each year. The day commemorates the celebrated case.

Was the Sunday Cat a public service?

As many of our readers know, we used to have a Sunday cat video. It started as an attempt to distract people from an argument. It was surprising effective, and it turns out hat that may not have been accidental.

From a report from Indiana University:

Of the participants in the study, about 36 percent described themselves as a “cat person,” while about 60 percent said they liked both cats and dogs.

Participants in Myrick’s study reported:

* They were more energetic and felt more positive after watching cat-related online media than before.
* They had fewer negative emotions, such as anxiety, annoyance and sadness, after watching cat-related online media than before.
* They often view Internet cats at work or during studying.
* The pleasure they got from watching cat videos outweighed any guilt they felt about procrastinating.

Cat owners and people with certain personality traits, such as agreeableness and shyness, were more likely to watch cat videos. About 25 percent of the cat videos they watched were ones they sought out; the rest were ones they happened upon. They were familiar with many so-called “celebrity cats,” such as Nala Cat and Henri, Le Chat Noir.

Overall, the response to watching cat videos was largely positive.

To see past videos, try putting “Sunday Cat” into the search engine.

Survey of Philosophers’ normative intuitions

This request is up at Experimental Philosophy:

Dear Colleagues,

In collaboration with Joe Henrich and Taylor Davis at the University of British Columbia, I’m conducting a study on philosophers’ views about normative judgments.  Joe, Taylor and I would be very grateful if you would participate in our study.

Participation should take 30 minutes or less, and it involves responding to a 20-item questionnaire.  In developing the questionnaire, we found that many respondents find consideration of the issues involved interesting and engaging.  The research has been approved by UBC’s Behavioral Research Ethics Board and is open to all faculty and graduate students in philosophy.

Here’s a link to the test: 

We encourage you to forward this notice to other philosophers you think might be interested. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at or Taylor Davis at

Many thanks for whatever assistance you can provide.

With best wishes,

Stephen Stich

Board of Governors Professor of Philosophy & Cognitive Science Rutgers University


Joe Henrich: Canada Research Chair in Culture, Cognition & Evolution, Departments of Psychology & Economics, University of British Columbia

Taylor Davis: Department of Philosophy, University of British Columbia

*Here is the link to the official letter/invitation.

Cross-cultural universals? that’s WEIRD!

I think we can recover from the article linked to below an interesting and possibly new fallacy.  It’s the fallacy of inferring that a trait is universal from the  fact that it is found in college studients in WEIRD (western, educated, industrialized, rich) societies.  We can call it the Weird fallacy.

An article forthcoming in Brains and Behavioral Sciences:

“The Weirdest People in the World?”

Joseph Henrich, Steven J. Heine and Ara Norenzayan

Abstract (short):  Broad claims about human psychology and behavior based on narrow samples from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic (WEIRD) societies are regularly published in leading journals.  Are such species-generalizing claims justified?  This review suggests not only that substantial variability in experimental results emerges across populations in basic domains, but that WEIRD subjects are in fact rather unusual compared with the rest of the species-frequent outliers.  The domains reviewed include visual perception, fairness, categorization, spatial cognition, memory, moral reasoning and self-concepts.  This review (1) indicates caution in addressing questions of human nature based on this thin slice of humanity, and (2) suggests that understanding human psychology will require tapping broader subject pools.  We close by proposing ways to address these challenges.

Here’s the article; you might find the authors claim there are more universals than you want, but it is still interesting. 

If you’ve followed discussions of modularity and vision, you might want to know that the news about early vision is less of a surprise than the article appears to suggest.  Hard-wired settings may be post-natal and depend on the environment.  On the other hand, things they agree are found in most human beings – e.g., passing the false belief test – have much more age variability than I at least had heard of.  And the experimental work on  fairness – very recently presented  in the  NY Times as culturally invariant – show a lot of cross-cultural variation.  And there’s more.

See what you think!

When the bubbly runs out and no one reorders

That’s when you know you are in a really bad recession.  Wall Street Journal trivia:

Stanislas Henriot, president of his family’s esteemed champagne house, Henriot, says the appellation will survive, but also admits, “It’s been brutal.” According to one of the biggest distributors in the United States, sales are off 50 percent for the basic stuff , and down 85 percent for the fancy.

Wow.  It really is bad all  over!