Second Anniversary Installment of Dialogues on Disability

Shelley Tremain has just posted the second anniversary installment of her series Dialogues on Disability, and is joined in the retrospective by Jesse Prinz, Tommy Curry, and Audrey Yap, all previous interviewees. You can read the full discussion here:

CFA: Lorraine Code: Thinking Responsibly, Thinking Ecologically

Call for Abstracts
Lorraine Code: Thinking Responsibly, Thinking Ecologically
(Preliminary Title)

Edited by Nancy Arden McHugh and Andrea Doucet
Under Consideration with State University of New York Press

Since the publication of her book Epistemic Responsibility in 1987, feminist philosopher Lorraine Code has been at the forefront of linking epistemology, epistemic injustice and ethics to shape critical frameworks for responsible, situated knowing and practice.  Her work has been path breaking on many themes, issues and problematics, including:

  • epistemic virtues,
  • individual and institutional epistemic responsibilities,
  • the epistemic significance of the gender of the knower,
  • the politics of epistemic and physical locations,
  • critical epistemic frameworks, such as ecological thinking,
  • the epistemic salience of gossip,
  • subjectivities and narratives,
  • the politics of testimony,
  • feminist methodologies and epistemic practices,
  • human and non human entanglements,
  • relational ontologies

On all of these issues, Code’s work has provided a gateway for subsequent work in feminist epistemology and philosophy of science, as well as more generally in feminist theory and methodologies. Moreover, through her critical analysis of mainstream epistemologies, medicine, law, literature, politics, psychology, and ecology, Code also provides avenues for creating institutional and social change.

We invite abstract submissions of 500-750 words that engage with the work of Lorraine Code by utilizing and building upon her theoretical, epistemological, and methodological arguments developed over the course of her writing and research career and/or by applying her arguments to new frameworks, cases, or problems. Please note that although Lorraine Code’s work has been housed in philosophy, her approach is highly interdisciplinary. Thus, abstracts are welcome from an array of disciplines and approaches. 


Abstracts (500-750 words) and one-page CV due:
April 1, 2017

Abstract Acceptance notification:
May 20, 2017

Full papers of 6500-8000 words due:
January 31, 2018

Notification of Paper Acceptance:
May 20, 2018


Nancy McHugh
Professor and Chair of Philosophy
Wittenberg University
Springfield, OH 4551                                                                

 Andrea Doucet
Canada Research Chair in Gender, Work & Care
Professor of Sociology/ Women’s & Gender Studies
Brock University
St Catharines, On L2S 3A1

CFP: APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy

Call for Papers: APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy Spring 2017

Due Date: November 15, 2016

Feminism and Policing
Co-Edited with Julinna Oxley, Coastal Carolina University

The Spring 2017 issue of the APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy will focus on the issue of policing from a feminist perspective.

In recent years, scholars have focused their attention on different aspects of the criminal justice system and proposed reforms. Feminist scholars have examined racial bias in prosecution, the effects of poverty and class in the justice system, and the treatment of women in prison. However, the practice of policing has received less attention. What can feminist scholars contribute to the critique of current police practices? How might feminist scholarship enrich the debate over how to reform law enforcement training programs, practices, and protocols?

Philosophers are invited to submit short essays on the topic of policing. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Analyses of how stereotypical gender norms affect the dynamics of policing protocols and practice.
  • Critical intersectional approaches to how citizens and communities experience surveillance, including race, gender, social class, ethnic background, religious orientation, and other vectors of oppression.
  • Critical evaluations of how white masculinity and white supremacy function in the reporting of crimes, arrests, and other dimensions of law enforcement.
  • Proposed normative ethical approaches to policing, which may include feminist principles and methods
  • Examination of community-relations outreach initiatives that seek to build trust, cooperation and social harmony between citizens and law enforcement
  • Feminist proposals for how to improve mandatory police trainings or police protocols, such as threat assessment, traffic stops, stop and frisk, the use of deadly force, etc.
  • Feminist analysis of the police industrial complex, and the increasing militarization of police forces (including SWAT teams)
  • Critical discussions of the (personal) experience of female and/or LGBTQ police officers, in their training, treatment as law enforcement officers or their approach to policing.
  • Feminist approaches to curtailing abuses of power in an attempt to maintain social order.
  • Critical discussion of the gender imbalance in law enforcement.

Papers on any aspect of the topic are welcome. Papers on other topics related to feminism and philosophy will be considered as well. Because of the nature of the newsletter and the fact that it is only available in electronic form now, articles of any length are acceptable. All papers are peer-reviewed.

Book Reviews

I welcome reviewers for the books listed below. I am looking for reviewers with specific expertise on the subject of the text. Please keep in mind that book reviews are not the same as book reports. They should engage with the subject of the text in the context of other texts on the subject.

If you are interested in reviewing one of these texts, or wish to review a text not included here, please email me at with an attached C.V. and an explanation of your particular interest in and qualifications for reviewing the chosen text. If you do not own the book, I will request a copy from the publisher. Deadlines for reviews are negotiable.

Ahmed, Sara. The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Routledge 2014.

Barthold, Lauren Swayne. A Hermeneutic Approach to Gender and Other Social Identities. Palgrave MacMillan, 2016.

Bianchi, Emanuela. The Feminist Symptom: Aleatory Matter in the Aristotelian Cosmos. Fordham University Press, 2014.

Brake, Elizabeth, ed. After Marriage: Rethinking Martial Relationships. Oxford University Press 2015.

Butler, Judith. Senses of the Subject. Fordham University Press, 2015.

David, Miriam E. Feminism, Gender and Universities-Politics, Passion and Pedagogies. Institute of Education, University of London, UK, 2014.

Dea, Shannon. Beyond the Binary: Thinking about Sex and Gender. Broadview Press, 2016.

Harbin, Ami. Disorientation and Moral Life. Oxford University Press, 2016.

Nussbaum, Martha. Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice. Oxford University Press, 2016.

Meyers, Diana. Victims’ Stories and the Advancement of Human Rights. Oxford Univeristy Press, 2016.

Oksala. Johanna. Feminist Experiences: Foucauldian and Phenomenological Investigations. Northwestern University Press, 2016,

Potter, Nancy. The Virtue of Defiance and Psychiatric Engagement. Oxford University Press, 2016.

Shrage, Laurie and Stewart, Robert. Philosophizing about Sex. Broadview Press, 2015.

Sowaal, Alice and Weiss Penny A. Feminist Interpretations of Mary Astell. Penn State University Press, 2016.

Tarver, Erin and Sullivan, Shannon. Feminist Interpretations of William James. Penn State University Press, 2015.

The format for submissions of papers and book reviews is in previous issues of the Newsletter, available on the APA website:

Send submissions to:
Serena Parekh
Editor, APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy Northeastern University, Department of Philosophy and Religion

Yale English Students Call for Changes to Foundational Courses

Yale English students are calling on their departments to focus on more than just white, mostly wealthy, male writers.

[Students] want the university to abolish the major English poets requirement, and to refocus the course’s pre-1800/1900 requirements “to deliberately include literatures relating to gender, race, sexuality, ableism, and ethnicity”.

The petition says that “a year spent around a seminar table where the literary contributions of women, people of colour, and queer folk are absent actively harms all students, regardless of their identity”, and that the course “creates a culture that is especially hostile to students of colour”.

The article also mentions that part of the university’s intention in choosing the major authors for its foundational course,

“is to provide all students with a generous introduction to the abiding formal and thematic concerns of the English literary tradition”. The poems the students read, it adds, “take up questions and problems that resonate throughout the whole of English literature: the status of vernacular language, the moral promise and perils of fiction, the relationships between men and women, the nature of heroism, the riches of tradition and the yearning to make something new”.

It’s nice to know that, while relationships between men and women are an important theme that resonates throughout English literature, it doesn’t seem especially pressing to read what women poets have to say about them. Or, say, heroism, tradition, etc, etc.

Full article here.

Also hoping that with initiatives for diversifying Philosophy syllabi, it’s going to become increasingly more difficult to graduate with a Philosophy degree having read almost exclusively the works of well-off white men.

Ghomeshi Trial Verdict

The verdict has been read in the high-profile sexual assault trial of former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi. The Ontario Court judge acquitted Ghomeshi on four counts of sexual assault and one count of choking. The judge’s verdict was based on his finding the women who accused Ghomeshi not to be credible witnesses. A heartbreaking excerpt from his full verdict:

The success of this prosecution depended entirely on the Court being able to accept each complainant as a sincere, honest and accurate witness. Each complainant was revealed at trial to be lacking in these important attributes. The evidence of each complainant suffered not just from inconsistencies and questionable behaviour, but was tainted by outright deception.

I think that for many of us who were following the proceedings, it was not Ghomeshi on trial, but the women. Ghomeshi himself did not testify in the trial, so his behaviour was not similarly scrutinized.

This is troubling, because despite his acknowledgement that there is no single way in which sexual assault survivors behave, many of the judge’s issues with the complainants’ credibility had to do with a lack of “harmony” between Ghomeshi’s having assaulted them and their behaviour. For example, Judge Horkin did not seem to think that DeCoutere’s post-assault contact with Ghomeshi could be properly explained as an attempt to normalize their relationship. Further, even her involvement with sexual assault advocacy seemed to be portrayed in the verdict as an attempt to get attention.

It may be entirely natural for a victim of abuse to become involved in an advocacy group. However, the manner in which Ms. DeCoutere embraced and cultivated her role as an advocate for the cause of victims of sexual violence may explain some of her questionable conduct as a witness in these proceedings.

This of course is perfectly in line with the stereotype that of women who fabricate false sexual assault claims in order to get attention. Never mind, of course, that the very reason there might have had to be an #ibelievelucy hashtag was the default perspective that she was not, in fact, to be believed.

For many survivors, the fear of disbelief is precisely a reason not to come forward. Survivors continue to have their stories doubted – and even in cases where the stories are believed – to be blamed for the things which were done. So it is very sad in this case for these women to be found lacking in credibility, while the defendant’s credibility was not even called into question on the stand. But something also disturbing with far-reaching implications is Horkin’s claim that the presumption of truthfulness is equally dangerous as false stereotypes of expected victim behaviour.

Courts must guard against applying false stereotypes concerning the expected conduct of complainants. I have a firm understanding that the reasonableness of reactive human behaviour in the dynamics of a relationship can be variable and unpredictable. However, the twists and turns of the complainants’ evidence in this trial, illustrate the need to be vigilant in avoiding the equally dangerous false assumption that sexual assault complainants are always truthful.

While it might be true that not all sexual assault complaints are truthful, the function of this claim seems to be to dissuade us from believing survivors. At least nine women had come forward claiming that Ghomeshi had harassed or assaulted them in some way. Three went to trial and we were told that their testimony was not only unreliable, but also tainted by deception.

It doesn’t seem to me as though believing too many women is one of the pressing problems facing our justice system.

From the editors of Philosophia Mathematica

In light of a recent incident we discussed here, the editors of the journal Philosophia Mathematica have issued this brief statement:

In the recent review of Nick Haverkamp’s Intuitionism vs. Classicism: A Mathematical Attack on Classical Logic in Philosophia Mathematica, published online on October 27th 2015, a paragraph was included that did not meet the standards for which we aim in the journal. We apologise for this. The review has now been retracted and procedures have been established to prevent similar episodes in the future.

Homophobic and Sexist Rant in Synthese

Edited to include a response from the editorial board at Synthese.

Thanks to one of my graduate school friends for pointing me to this article in Synthese, written by Jean-Yves Beziau, the logic subject editor of the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The article title is “The relativity and universality of logic” and is intended, I believe, to argue in favour of the author’s universal logic project.

I find the article worth criticizing on several philosophical grounds, but a more egregious problem is its inclusion of this rant against political correctness that manages to compare homosexuality to dictatorship, and logical pluralism to a sexy young woman whose attractiveness will eventually fade. Really.

“Logical pluralism” is linked in another way to sexuality: it is connected to homosexuality. The flag of homosexuality is the rainbow seen as a general symbol of pluralism opposed to the black and white dichotomy. It is a bit weird to promote plurality through a sexual activity between people of the same sex. It would be similar to promote democracy through dictatorship saying that democrats are open to every politicians including dictators. However supporting homosexuality is politically correct.
To be pluralist is a politically correct way of being. The expression politically correct has progressively flourished during the last 30 years. It is now being used to characterize what is correct or not in the same sense than morally correct was used before. Moralism now looks quite old-fashion, but politically correct is just a new skin for the old ceremony. What is correct or not has changed but the correctness mood is the same: political correctness shares with the old-fashioned moralism the same blind normative aspect. One has to think or behave in a way without really understanding why and if one disobeys she (to use a politically correct way of speaking, contrasting somewhat with the sexism of using “sexy expressions”) is considered as an eccentric or/and a dangerous female. And political correctness like the old moralism is full of absurdity and hypocrisy: for example, it is not politically correct to eat dogs; at the same time it is politically correct to eat cows; although it is politically correct to recognize the plurality of religions, the fact that for Hindus eating cows is not good.
Logical pluralism is fashionable and fashion is ephemeral and superficial, like a sexy young woman that 1 day will be a not so attractive old lady. To claim that logical pluralism is a fashionable nonsense would be more aggressive in the line of Sokal and Bricmont, and it is not necessary to go on up to this point. Nevertheless logical pluralism can be said to lack of meaning because it is not an articulated theory of logical systems.

It seems fairly inexplicable that this was published in a journal as prestigious as Synthese, though as was pointed out in a recent pronoun tantrum post, there may be some real problems with editorial processes these days that they allow these rants such a forum.

Updated Jan 21st – The editorial board at Synthese has written to us with the following message:

We are truly sorry about any offense caused by the special issue article published in Synthese. We are strongly committed to feminist and LTGB values. We take full responsibility for every article of published in Synthese, and are committed to learning lessons from every problem that arises. We are now looking into the problem, and although we would like to react as soon as possible, we also want to do a thorough investigation and discuss this with all concerned.

Thank you very much for your concern and patience.

Gila, Otavio, and Wiebe

Congratulations! Your All Male Panel is Statistically Unlikely

The issue of conferences in which all the invited speakers are male is probably well known to blog readers, and is the target of campaigns such as the Gendered Conference Campaign and the hilarious Tumblr Congrats, You Have An All Male Panel. Recently, Greg Martin, a mathematician at UBC, gave an interview with the Atlantic with a nice mathematical argument showing that most all-male panels are in fact statistically quite unlikely. This nicely undercuts an all-too-common response among conference organizers that their all-male panel “just happened” or was simply the result of chance.

If conference speakers were being chosen by a system that treated gender fairly (which is to say, gender was never a factor at all), then in any conference with over 10 speakers, say, it would be extremely rare to have no female speakers at all—less than 5 percent chance, depending on one’s assumption about the percentage of women in mathematics as a whole.

Turning that statement around, we conclude that any such conference without any female speakers must have come into being in a system that does not treat gender fairly.

Martin’s interview also links to a Conference Diversity Calculator that lets you play around with calculating the likelihoods of various demographic distributions among conference speakers, given their representation among the pool of available speakers.

Open Letter about Conservative Party Politics in Canada

The Canadian Federal Election is coming up on October 19th, and the Conservative Party, under current PM Stephen Harper, has been using some extremely questionable tactics (to put it mildly), perhaps with the guidance of his new political consultant, Lynton Crosby. Crosby is an Australian political strategist who has worked for years for conservative parties there, as well as for David Cameron’s Tories. Regardless of the source of Conservative tactics, many of them have capitalized on divisive anti-immigrant sentiments.

Earlier this year, Bill C-24 came into effect, which many have criticized as creating a two-tiered citizenship system. Under this bill, it becomes possible to strip dual citizens and naturalized Canadians of citizenship if they are convicted of serious crimes in Canada or abroad. Canadians who become citizens under Bill C-24 can also lose citizenship if they fail to display sufficient intent to reside in Canada. However, the government’s interpretation of dual citizenship has proved itself to be extremely broad, given their revocation of Saad Gaya’s citizenship. Despite his having been born in Canada to parents who are Canadian citizens (having given up their Pakistani citizenship), none of whom have applied (or re-applied) for that citizenship, the onus is upon him to prove that he is not a Pakistani citizen.

A phrase used by Harper more recently, during the Globe and Mail debate in September, has also been seen as an instance of dog whistle politics. In discussing whether or not his government had taken health care away from immigrants and refugees, Harper said, “We do not offer them a better health plan than the ordinary Canadian can receive. That’s something new and existing and old stock Canadians agree with.” The phrase “old stock Canadian” was something for which he was quickly called out by the Liberal Party on Twitter. When asked to clarify later, Harper suggested that he was referring to Canadians who have been the descendants of immigrants for one or more generations. (Though given the appalling treatment of indigenous people by the Canadian government, and Harper’s own dismissal of missing and murdered indigenous women, this clarification seems to make the whole thing even worse.)

There has also been a Conservative attempt to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that women are allowed to wear face coverings such as niqabs at citizenship ceremonies. This has been centred around the case of Zunera Ishaq, who successfully fought for the right to wear her niqab during her citizenship oath, just in time to vote in the upcoming election. But just on the heels of the Conservative loss in this case came a statement saying that the Conservatives would seek to establish an RCMP tip line for the reporting of “barbaric cultural practices.” The cultural practices in this case are acts such as child marriage and honour killings, which are already illegal under Canadian law. While this idea has gathered some satirical responses, it does have plenty of support in the Conservatives’ base.

As a response to the current tactics being used by the Harper government, an open letter drafted by four Canadian academics, but signed by almost six hundred more, was published in the Ottawa Citizen and has been picked up other mainstream news sources, such as the CBC.

Stories from students with low income and/or minority backgrounds

Jennifer Morton, currently professor at City College of New York and research fellow at Princeton, is working on a book project about the challenges faced by students from low-income and/or minority backgrounds. Please help her with this by sharing stories of these challenges with her, or encouraging others to share their stories. She and many of her CCNY students fit this profile, but she would like to hear from more people.

You can find more information about her project at her website.