Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

A question for philosophy and its teaching February 4, 2015

Filed under: academia,academic job market,Uncategorized,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 7:26 pm

I found the following video through a link to an issue of Nautilus on beauty and creativity on Daily Nous. It has long worried me that philosophy classes so often value the polished analytic answer, while creativity might not direct us there at first, or perhaps ever.

One example of the sort of thing that worries me. In some reading group, I think at Rutgers, someone said that Quine’s Two Dogmas of Empiricism contained no good arguments. I think most people agreed, though one would be hard put to deny that it is full of important and highly influential ideas. Do we manage to teach, and to convey, that in philosophy ideas may be at least as important as good arguments and perhaps even more so? I wondered this just recently as I saw a group of young philosophers espousing working all the time on philosophy.

Anjan Chatterjee, the speaker in the video below, has recently published The Aesthetic Brain He holds a degree in philosophy, but he is head of Neurology at the U of Pennsylvania’s Hospital.

Anyway, see what you think:

 

“Angry white men” A challenge

The challenge: Discuss the following civilly. Most readers will not really find it at all difficult to meet the challenge. I hope all can do it.

Some of our readers may have noticed that a number of recent venues, purporting to provide opportunities to discuss the philosophy profession, end up containing expressions of anger, even rage, that is unusual compared to the sort of academic discourse most of us are used to. And a very favorite topic centers on “the” feminists, and their supposed quest for world professional domination.

Angry White Men by a distinguished sociologist, Michael Kimmel, offers an explanation for the kind of the anger we see. Since anonymous comments on blogs may express anger and rage in all sorts of context, we might think his explanation is just partial. But we can still consider whether his account offers a good explanation of an anger that in fact targets women in the philosophy profession. With few exceptions, we would seem to most people, I think, as fairly tame game. But in some contexts we (or at least those on this blog) have recently been called ‘moral monsters’ quite a few times.  Kimmel offers the following as the background. It is precisely the loss of this high privilege that he take to be fueling the anger:

Yet the truth is that white men are the beneficiaries of the single greatest affirmative action program in world history. It’s called “world history.” White men so stacked the deck that everyone else was pretty much excluded from playing at all. When those others did begin to play, the field was so uneven that white men got a massive head start, and everyone else had to play with enormous handicaps. Maybe actually having to play evenly matched, on a level playing field, is too frightening for a gender that stakes its entire identity on making sure it wins every time.

He then looks at what is happening as we are reaching the end of patriarchy:

Angry White Men tells the story of the other side of the American Dream: the futility, the dashed hopes, the despair, and the rage. It tells the story of the rich and famous wannabes, the ones who thought they could invent themselves, reinvent themselves, be even more successful than their fathers. It tells the story of how white American men came to believe that power and authority were what they were entitled to, by birth, and how that birthright is now eroding. Economic and social changes that are bewilderingly fast and dramatic are experienced as the general “wimpification” of American men— castrated by taxation, crowded out by newcomers who have rules bent for them, white men in America often feel like they are presiding over the destruction of their species.

Discuss, please!

 

What can philosophy learn from the climate in economics? January 7, 2015

Filed under: academia,bias,gender,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 6:06 pm

The journal Quartz recently published the article, “How big is the sexism problem in economics? This article’s co-author is anonymous because of it”.

The article starts off noting:

The Economist’s recent list of the 25 most influential economists did not include a single woman. Many male former central bankers and regional Federal Reserve Bank governors were included on the list, but the Economist gave itself a special rule to exclude active central bankers, which meant that Janet Yellen—arguably the world’s most influential economist—didn’t make the list.

Much of what the article catalogues will be very familiar to women philosophers, and to some other philosophers from underrepresented groups: Seeming constant microagressions and macro ones too. Lower pay, power imbalances, the impermissibility of assertive (=bitchy) behavior for women, having a family, a harder time getting outside offers, and so on.

The article raises another issue which is starting to receive a lot of attention in philosophy: the diversity of methods and content:

One final step that would make economics less forbidding for women is for each economist to become open to a wider range of scientific approaches and topics. Statistically, men and women are not drawn to the same fields within economics. And even within a field, women are drawn to a different balance between immediate real-world relevance and theoretical elegance. It is natural for each economist (and for each academic in general) to construct a narrative for why his or her approach to economics is the best. But since men in senior ranks in economics are more numerous than women, the narratives that men construct for why their individual approaches to economics are better usually win out in hiring and promotion decisions over the narratives that women construct for why their individual approaches are better.

Gosh, sounds like what a lot of us call home.

h/t justin weinberg

 

Mellon Foundation Grant to the APA for diversity initiatives! January 6, 2015

Fantastic news!

The American Philosophical Association (APA) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a major grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grant will provide $600,000 over three years to support undergraduate diversity institutes in philosophy, including the expansion of the Philosophy in an Inclusive Key Summer Institute (PIKSI) program and the development of infrastructure to support it and other undergraduate diversity institutes.

 

The Guardian on philosophy’s maleness and whiteness January 5, 2015

Filed under: minorities in philosophy,women in philosophy — jennysaul @ 1:23 pm

Many voices from British philosophy here!

 

Just one small sample, from Meena Dhanda:

The thorn of racism is so deep in the flesh of philosophy that it is no longer visible from the surface. It hurts. We need more black philosophers, women philosophers – adventurers and heretics, unruly, rigorous and untiring thinkers, committed to making philosophy respond to the world we inhabit.

 

 

Wisdom for the New Year from a philosopher! January 4, 2015

Filed under: autonomy,moral psychology,self-esteem,women in philosophy — annejjacobson @ 3:27 pm

Ruth Chang argues that many choices we make should be seen as decisions about the sort of person we want to be:

Many of the choices we face in the new year will be between alternatives that are on a par. Our task then is to reflect on what kind of person we can commit to being when making those choices. Can we commit to forgoing a much-needed new car and give the money to charity instead? Can we commit to staying in a secure 9-to-5 job rather than starting the business we’ve always dreamed of? Can we commit to having a parent with Alzheimer’s move in with us, rather than paying to put her in a nursing home?

So in this new year, let’s not do the same old, same old; let’s not resolve to work harder at being the selves that we already are. Instead, let’s resolve to make ourselves into the selves that we can commit to being.

 

2014 and our profession January 3, 2015

There is, obviously, a lot that still needs to be done to make our profession the place we’d like it to be. And I find it’s far too easy to let negative stuff dominate my consciousness.  So over the last few days I’ve been asking people to send me lists of good things that have happened in our profession in the last year. Here’s a start. Please add more in comments!

 

What I’m thankful for December 26, 2014

It’s been a tough year for the profession in a lot of ways. Lawsuits, lawsuits, and more lawsuits. Public scandals. Fighting over public scandals. Other scandals not public. Online harassment, bullying, and prejudice manifest. One could easily begin to feel despair. I know there are times when I have–and I know there are others who are grappling with how these issues have affected them, and the painful personal and professional costs that have been imposed on them as a result. In the hopes of spreading a bit of cheer amidst the less sanguine, I wanted to take a moment to say a bit about what I’m thankful for (this is not a complete list, of course, just the first few things that came to mind).

I am thankful for those of you who have courageously worked to make the discipline a more welcoming and inclusive place. Whether it’s been through addressing inequity, discrimination, harassment, or assault, working to create a culture where these things are less acceptable, being willing to listen to the voices of those who have been marginalized and oppressed, standing up for yourself, or providing support to others who have been unjustly harmed on account of their social identity.

I am thankful for those of you who are deepening your own understanding of the complexity of disciplinary boundaries and the ways in which they are sometimes used for exclusionary purposes, or pushing those boundaries with your own work.

I am thankful for the exciting and brilliant work that’s being done in feminist philosophy, critical race theory, and philosophy of disability. It’s been a joy to read, and though it is not this work that first spurred my love of philosophy it is the work that reminds me of it, and gives me the greatest hope for our future as a discipline.

I am thankful for my fellow bloggers here at Feminist Philosophers. You have been an inspiration to me.

What are you thankful for?

(Note: Comments in the spirit of this post welcome–i.e., spreading a bit of cheer–comments in another spirit are not, but the internet is a big place and I am sure you can find another platform to host other discussions)

 

Post from Former Colorado Chair December 21, 2014

Filed under: academia,hostile workplace,sexual harassment,women in philosophy — jennysaul @ 2:14 pm

David Boonin, former Colorado Philosophy chair, writes:

there were indeed a number of complaints about certain members of the Department of the sort their statement identifies, the Department on its own was in fact unable to satisfactorily address them, and while the process by which the Department came to have an external chair and to be on the receiving end of some quite harsh treatment by the administration has most certainly been painful, the Department has just as certainly benefited from some of the strong and decisive actions to which my colleagues refer.

For the full text of his comment, go here.

 

Statement on CU-Boulder December 20, 2014

H/T Daily Nous, Carol Cleland, Alison Jaggar, Mi-Kyoung Lee, Claudia Mills, from CU Boulder have published a statement in the Daily Camera:

We are the tenured women professors, and a professor emerita, in the philosophy department at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Over the years, students and faculty in our department, mostly but not only women, have made numerous complaints about unprofessional behavior by certain members of the department.

Many of the complaints focused on sexual misconduct, but others included violations of harassment policy, including its anti-retaliation clause, and violations of the amorous relations policy. On its own, the department was unable to deal with these complaints — many of which were not formally reported because of fears of retaliation; in any case, by university and state regulations, professors are prohibited from undertaking investigations and sanctions on their own.

For this reason, we, and many of our colleagues, are grateful both to Andy Cowell, our external chair, as well as to the CU-Boulder administration, for taking strong and decisive action to investigate wrongdoing, for committing significant resources to punish those found in violation of university regulations, and for investing in the future of our department. Although the process has been and continues to be painful, we believe that the outcome will be positive.

We are in the process of stopping behavior that was harmful, especially to the women students and faculty in our department, and we are taking steps to make sure that in the future, such problems either will be prevented or, if they occur, will be addressed quickly and effectively. Although these measures may have temporarily damaged the reputation of our department in some quarters, we are confident that we can rebuild on stronger foundations.

We intend to repudiate a secret culture of misbehavior and to win back the confidence of prospective students and faculty on the basis of hard-won achievements with respect to the climate as well as the commitment of a solid core of faculty members to an inclusive and welcoming work environment for all.

//

 

 
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