APA statement on bullying and abuse

The APA has released a statement of their opposition to bullying and abuse.  As I note in my comment here, it’s a remarkable reflection of the state of our profession that this is controversial.

From Inside Higher Ed:

As for the APA statement, [George Yancy] said that the association “is encouraging philosophers (and nonphilosophers) not to engage in threatening discourse, nasty putdowns, racist and sexist insults. It is seeking forms of discourse that are critical, but not filled with hatred or derogatory personal attacks or insults. In my case, after viewing many of the messages that I received in response to ‘Dear White America,’ I think that the APA wisely took this as an important opportunity to speak out against what was/is clearly unacceptable violent and racist discourse and to show support for members who engage in various forms of public philosophy, especially forms that challenge crucial issues of our contemporary moment. There is so much more work that needs to be done as the APA rethinks its identity, but it is on the right track and I am thankful for that.”


Stop coddling Brian

A glorious article: “If our free speech isn’t in jeopardy, why won’t my TA let me spend all of class yelling “FUCK BRIAN” at Brian?

So why was it that this Tuesday my voice was silenced? Why was it that when I tried to speak my mind by swearing at Brian for the entirety of an Organic Chemistry lecture, I was told by my TA, a representative of this university, “Maybe you could not say that, because it is entirely irrelevant to our discussion of the Robinson Annulation, and it also made Brian feel threatened”?

Excuse me? Why are we coddling Brian by not allowing his education to be disrupted for fifty minutes as I repeatedly yell “FUCK BRIAN” while standing on a table and waving my hands in the air?

I came to Yale for the late night dorm room conversations, for the free discourse and the distribution of ideas. But what happens when that “idea” is that Brian sucks? Apparently in that case, the ideals on which our university was founded are simply thrown to the wayside.

A case we need to start disussing.

Charged with 36 offenses including sexual battery, forcible oral sodomy, stalking, and rape, ex-officer Holtzclaw allegedly targeted 13 women during his three-year tenure with the Oklahoma City Police Department. His victims reportedly ranged in age from 17 to late 50s, but the unifying thread of his accusers is race. Holtzclaw targeted African-American women…

The lack of mass media coverage of the investigation of and trial for Holtzclaw emerges from the unique intersection of racism and sexism in the lives of black women. Historically and contemporarily, the victimization of black women in the U.S. through sexual and other forms of violence does not incite a widespread call to action. With the notable exception of black women bloggers, journalists, and scholars documenting the investigation and the trial as well as a handful of news outlets covering the basic details of the case, there has been a deafening silence around a demand for justice for the black women who came forward. There is no nationally trending hashtag conveying the gravity of crimes allegedly committed by Holtzclaw while on duty. This is, however, “A Justice For Daniel Holtzclaw” Facebook page that attracts new likes and followers every day. Where is the uproar?

For more go here.

On being a black philosopher

Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò:

Ferguson is out of the news cycle.  In its place are controversies at Yale and Missouri.  I suspect that, as with Ferguson, these will largely fail to be so much as a subject of conversation at the kind of gatherings we have in my department, much less (hey now, let’s not get crazy) organizing.  If the next wine and cheese reception fits this description, I will not be mad because I think that a fine Merlot must always be paired with banter about white supremacy.  But if that absence seems an instance of a larger, unfolding pattern of the larger intellectual and material exclusion of Black thoughts and bodies from philosophical spaces – then, well, niggas might feel some type of way about that.

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.

Janet Stemwedel on the Marcy case

Philosopher Janet Stemwedel has written an excellent piece for Forbes on the Marcy sexual harassment case.  She explores the interesting fact that the astronomy community seems more responsive to victims’ needs than his university is.

You might think a university would recognize itself as something like a community, and that it would prioritize protecting vulnerable individuals within the community (like students) from harm. Maybe a university’s institutional policies are even intended to protect students, but in their operation they seem not to work that way. In this case, a professor found to have violated a university policy is essentially told not to do it again — because if he does, maybe the university will suspend or fire him.

This doesn’t seem to do a lot to protect current and future students from the same kind of harm from the same professor.

CFP: International Association of Women Philosophers

Monash: 2016 Symposium of the International Association of Women Philosophers

Abstracts of no more than 300 words, accompanied by a biographical note of 100 words, should be emailed to us by 30 September 2015.

The address for all correspondence is: iaph-symposium@monash.edu

Please choose at least one descriptor from those provided below, and include your choice(s) with your abstract.

  1. History of Philosophy (Ancient, Medieval, Early Modern, Enlightenment, Nineteenth-century, Twentieth-century, Other)
  2. Feminist Theory and/or Philosophy (European, Asian, African, American, Australasian, Other)
  3. Value Theory (Meta-ethics, Ethics, Bioethics, Environmental Ethics, Political Philosophy, Aesthetics, Other)
  4. Epistemology (including Philosophy of Science)
  5. Metaphysics (including Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Religion)
  6. Philosophy of Language (including Logic, Philosophical Logic)

Suggestions for panels (with three speakers per panel) are also welcome.

For more: