In Memoriam: Anita Silvers (1940-2019)

We report with sadness the death of Professor Anita Silvers of San Francisco State University on Thursday, March 14, 2019. She was known for her work in aesthetics, bioethics, feminism, philosophy of justice, philosophy of disability, philosophy of law, and social and political philosophy. Dr. Silvers was the author of dozens of articles and author and editor of several books, including Disability, Difference, Discrimination: Perspectives on Justice in Bioethics and Public Policy with David Wasserman and Mary B. Mahowald (Rowman & Littlefield, 1998); Americans with Disabilities: Exploring Implications of the Law for Individuals and Institutions, co-edited with Leslie Francis (Routledge, 2000); and Puzzles About Art co-authored with Margaret Battin, John Fisher, and Ron Moore (St. Martin’s Press, 1989).

In addition to her groundbreaking scholarship, Professor Silvers was a disability rights activist with a storied history of service to the profession. She was longstanding Secretary-Treasurer of the American Philosophical Association (APA) Pacific Division (1982 to 2008), and she chaired the APA Committee on Inclusiveness in the Profession (2010-2013). She was the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2009 APA Quinn Prize for Service to the Profession, the 2013 APA and Phi Beta Kappa Lebowitz Prize for Philosophical Achievement and Contribution, the 2017 California State University (CSU) Wang Family Excellence Award for extraordinary contributions to the CSU system, and the inaugural California Faculty Human Rights Award.

I’ve been at a loss for words since I first learned of Anita’s passing. It was unexpected; she was currently working on several projects with me and also with many others. She was first my advocate, then mentor, then colleague and friend. Feminist Philosophers has a tradition of featuring a passage from the work of the philosopher we memorialize. Anita’s work on disability justice was grounded in her experience as a disabled person and her activism on behalf of people with disabilities. She was a fierce advocate and a brilliant strategist of disability accommodations. I leave you with these words, the conclusion from her essay “Formal Justice”.

Listening to the voices of people with disabilities in their own words quoted throughout this essay, we cannot help but have observed that, foremost, they desire a public sphere that embraces their presence. For them, equality means taking their places as competent contributors to well-ordered cooperative social and cultural transactions. For them, justice must offer, first, the visibility of full participatory citizenship, not a spotlight that targets them as needing more than others do. (Disability, Difference, Discrimination; p. 145)

Information about a memorial service for Professor Silvers will be posted later.

Anita Hill on the new allegations: thank you!

from CNN:

Anita Hill called on the federal government to implement a “fair and neutral” way to investigate sexual misconduct complaints after allegations surfaced against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh this week.

Hill, who accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of workplace sexual harassment during his confirmation hearing back in 1991, said she has seen “firsthand what happens when such a process is weaponized against an accuser and no one should have to endure that again.”
Then a law professor at the University of Oklahoma, Hill testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that she had been sexually harassed by Thomas when she worked with him at the Education Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Thomas denied the allegations and he was confirmed to the bench.
is it possible that the guys/politicians will even have the sense that they’re just doing the same thing again?

Interview with Anita Allen

George Yancy interviews incoming Eastern APA President Anita Allen. It’s a wonderful interview– optimistic in places, but also scathing where it needs to be. Here is one of the appalling bits.

Is the denigration of black women philosophers a thing of decades past? Are we beyond being asked to fetch coffee for department chairs and worse? Regrettably, no. In October 2017 a very senior Harvard-educated white male philosopher, whose wife is also an academic, wrote to me seeking feedback on an op-ed he hoped to submit to The New York Times or The Washington Post. He did not like my feedback. He ended an email lamenting his failure to get anything more than “duncical shit” as feedback on his work by letting me know that he had recently imagined seeing my face in the photographs he used in masturbation! Incredible, right? I wrote back to explain why I was offended and to sever ties. I assume that if such a thing could happen to me, some very, very serious harassment and racism must be happening to young women in the field.

Read more.

Interview with Anita Allen

Another great one from Clifford Sosis.

In this interview, Anita Allen, Vice Provost for Faculty, Chair of the Provost’s Arts Advisory Council, and Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, talks about growing up in Fort Benning, the Vietnam war, Christianity, Sinatra, being protected from harsh truths, the Cuban Missile Crisis, unique challenges being a first-generation college student, New College, working with Bryan Norton and Brian Loar, exploring Europe, ballet, University of Michigan, inappropriate advances, Richard Brandt, Carnegie-Mellon, being told she was an affirmative action hire, the philosophy smoker, learning to teach, being admitted to Harvard Law, being a TA forDworkin, Nozick, Sandel and Bok, turning down marriage proposals left and right, creating a field (the philosophy of privacy), struggling with medical issues, working for a law firm, advice to young scholars, her philosophical weaknesses, Sarah Silverman, Kevin Hart, and Steve Martin, election night 2008 versus election night 2016, what she would do if she were queen of the world, and black walnut ice cream…

Read it!

Melissa Harris-Perry interviews Anita Hill

I really don’t need to say more than that, do I?  But if you want a teaser…

HARRIS-PERRY: How did race and gender affect how you were heard -during your testimony?
HILL: Those members of Congress had never even considered that Black women had our own political voice. They assumed that Black men spoke for us. For an African-American woman to have her own political voice and own political position, and to believe that our perspective should be added to the conversation, was just something they hadn’t even considered. I think that’s why, politically, things changed. I think that’s why women -became so agitated and so energized to make change on this important issue. And for Black women, it was like, Okay, we have to make sure we are speaking for ourselves.


For the rest, go here.

Terroristic threats against Utah State University regarding feminist Anita Sarkeesian

An email sent to Utah State University officials threatens to terrorize the school with a deadly shooting over a talk to be delivered by feminist critic and Tropes vs. Women in Video Games creator Anita Sarkeesian, Polygon confirmed with the school’s Center for Women and Gender Studies. . .

“If you do not cancel her talk, a Montreal Massacre style attack will be carried out against the attendees, as well as students and staff at the nearby Women’s Center,” the message reads. “I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs.”

The Montreal Massacre, also known as the École Polytechnique Massacre, took place in 1989 in Canada. Marc Lépine, who the email references, killed 14 women, injured 10 and killed four men in the name of “fighting feminism” before committing suicide.

The sender claims to be a student at the school, and adds “you will never find me, but you may all soon know my name.”

This latest threat marks yet another in a growing history for Sarkeesian herself and women in the video game industry at large. In August, following the release of another episode of her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series, Sarkeesian fled her home after receiving “some very scary threats” against her and her family. During GeekGirlCon, which took place this past weekend, officials confirmed to Polygon that a threat was made over her appearance there.

More on the story here. 

Anita Allen: Lifetime Acheivement Award

We are pleased to that note that the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) will be honoring our colleague Anita Allen with its Lifetime Achievement Award. EPIC, describing Anita as “the nation’s leading privacy scholar,” will confer the award at an event in Washington on Monday, June 2. EPIC is an independent non-profit research center that works to protect privacy, freedom of expression, democratic values, and to promote the public voice in decisions concerning the future of the internet. You can access information about the event at

Please join us in congratulating Anita on her receipt of this distinction.