Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Yale’s Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore on the decision to maintain the name ‘Calhoun College’ April 30, 2016

Filed under: academia,activism,race — philodaria @ 3:41 am

From the New York Times:

The decision to keep Calhoun’s name overestimates his value for Yale students. Yale’s president, Peter Salovey, argues that “removing Calhoun’s name obscures the legacy of slavery rather than addressing it,” and living in Calhoun’s shadow will make students “better prepared to rise to the challenges of the present and the future.”

But Pauli Murray has more to teach Yale students, 55 percent of whom wanted to change the name of Calhoun College and who will demonstrate on campus once again.

In 1938, she applied to graduate school at the University of North Carolina, in her home state, only to be rejected because “members of your race are not admitted to the university.” In 1940, she went to jail in Virginia after she refused to move to the back of a Greyhound bus. During World War II, she served as head of the nonviolent protest committee in A. Philip Randolph’s March on Washington Movement. In 1943, she organized sit-ins to desegregate restaurants in Washington. A year later, as valedictorian of Howard Law School, she applied to Harvard Law School to do graduate work. It was customary for Harvard to accept the Howard valedictorian, but Harvard told Murray, “You are not of the sex entitled to be admitted to Harvard Law School.”

Instead, after three decades of civil rights leadership, Anna Pauline Murray earned the degree of doctor of juridical science from Yale Law School in 1965. While at Yale, Murray was an author of the pioneering article “Jane Crow and the Law: Sex Discrimination and Title VII,” which argued that sex discrimination resembled race discrimination and may be prohibited by the 14th Amendment.

Murray never gave up her fight for the values that sprang from her lifelong Episcopalian faith. In a moment of despair after her 1940 arrest, she wrote in her diary that it was “dangerous” to dwell on her “weaknesses.” “The great secret,” she told herself, “is not to think of yourself, of your courage, or of your despair” but of “Him for whom you journey.”

In 1973, she entered New York’s General Theological Seminary to prepare for the priesthood, a job from which she knew she would be excluded because of her gender. But in 1976, the Episcopal Church conference voted that “no one shall be denied access” to the priesthood on account of sex. In 1977, Murray became the first black woman ordained as an Episcopal priest. The Episcopal Church made her a saint in 2012.

As Murray looked back on her activism in a 1976 interview, she recalled: “In not a single one of these little campaigns was I victorious. In other words, in each case, I personally failed, but I have lived to see the thesis upon which I was operating vindicated. And what I very often say is that I’ve lived to see my lost causes found.”

Some may argue that it is impossible to bind all of slavery’s wounds; after all, there are other residential colleges at Yale named for slaveholders such as George Berkeley, Timothy Dwight and Ezra Stiles. But John C. Calhoun is the only one whose fame came from his guiding role in a racial regime that enslaved people, inspired secession and formed the specious legal foundation for a century of discrimination.

Yale students of color, especially those who live in Calhoun College, and the thousands who protested last fall do not need any more teachable moments on the injustices he wrought. They feel the legacy of those injustices every day.

So did Murray.

There’s another article on this at CNN by John McWhorter, and coverage of student protests at Yale Daily News.

 

Reflections on philosophical rudeness April 28, 2016

Filed under: academia,bias,civility,gender,women in philosophy — jennysaul @ 5:36 pm

Nomy Arpaly has recently initiated a really interesting discussion on this topic.  After an excellent discussion of the problems of philosophical rudeness (read it!), she ties the issue to gender.

I would like to add the following. I think the state of women in philosophy can be improved significantly simply through the elimination of rudeness in philosophical discourse. One can have many views about things we could or couldn’t do, should or shouldn’t do, to improve the state of women in philosophy, but before we settle those issues, why not start by doing what we already know that we have excellent reasons to do – utilitarian, Kantian, virtue-oriented, and commonsensical reasons, independent of any special feminist theory – and reduce our rudeness?

Here is how I think it will help. First, if everyone is rude, women are judged unfairly (as potential colleagues, for example) because rude women are treated more harshly than rude men, by everyone, due to implicit bias. Implicit bias is notoriously hard to change, but thankfully it is not as hard to change behavior – such as rudeness. I am not saying that we should not try to change implicit bias – of course we should – nor am I saying that changing behavior is easy (I have plenty of experience to the contrary), but you get my drift.

Second, in the actual world, polite women are also judged harshly when they respond to the rudeness of others. In a job interview, for example, a woman who faces a rude interviewer has the choice between responding assertively (and thus facing the notorious “shrill voice” bias) and responding gently. A woman who responds in a gentle, conciliatory manner to a rude interview question, or who looks too insecure and intimidated in response to the rude question, is often perceived by the some people in the room as not having enough to say. This whole painful catch-22 does not occur if the interviewer is not rude in the first place. Again, changing behavior is much easier than changing implicit bias.

Third, it has been said many times that women are put off by the idea of entering philosophy because girls are not taught to handle confrontational, adversarial situations, or situations where one’s abilities are judged harshly. Some think philosophy should change here – either through what I called “pacifism” earlier or through changing the way we evaluate people, or otherwise. Some, on the other hand, say that though the education of girls should change, philosophy shouldn’t. After all, girls and women play sports nowadays, and compete in athletics, and the ones who do most definitely don’t ask for the rules of rugby to be changed to make it kinder and gentler, or for boxing be made non-adversarial, or for the cruelty of publishing players’ stats to be stopped.

Me? All I want to do here is suggest that we try to eliminate what we already regard as foul play, what we already know we shouldn’t do but do anyway. It won’t solve everything, but if we reduce rudeness, I solemnly promise that more women will want to do philosophy. I hereby conjecture with confidence that the simple words “sorry, but you were saying-?”, can make a critical difference, consciously or not, to some young women’s readiness to do philosophy. It might sound silly, especially if one forgets how susceptible all humans are to seemingly insignificant factors, but it is not silly, but rather tragic, if we have lost some wonderful potential contributions to the field just because we couldn’t wait for someone to finish talking. It would show the wrong priorities if we continue to lose such wonderful contributions in the name of some supposed sacred right to be as obnoxious as we’ve always been.

For further reflections on philosophy and rudeness, inspired by Arpaly, check out Kieran Healy.

 

APA Blog on Diversifying Syllabi April 26, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennysaul @ 1:43 pm

Jesi Taylor, a current undergraduate, writes:

Even a slight change can make a huge difference. Sometimes just dipping your toes into the lake of diversity can make your transformative space, the classroom, a more inviting environment that can, to some students, feel emancipatory. Many conversations with fellow students have made it clear to me that students feel inspired to learn and compelled to engage with the text when they see or feel a bit of themselves in the syllabus. At Brooklyn College I was thrilled to read Fanon and Beauvoir in my Existentialism and Phenomenology course and Mary AstellElisabeth of Bohemia, and Anne Conway in my Modern Philosophy course.  We even read a piece by Eileen O’Neill entitled “Disappearing Ink: Early Modern Women Philosophers and Their Fate in History”. With those texts as the topic of discussion, we were able to discuss issues related to race and gender as they relate to ancient and contemporary issues in Philosophy.

For the whole post, go here.

 

 

CFR: Global Justice, Birmingham

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennysaul @ 11:35 am

The conference is interested in the ethics and politics of public policies that aim to enhance individual agency by shaping personal decision making and changing individual behaviours. Recent years have seen a proliferation of academic research and public programming aimed at improving individual and social outcomes through overt and covert efforts to change the decisions and behaviors of individual agents.  These policies raise deep ethical questions about the proper role of government, the circumstances of justice, the nature and importance of individual agency, and the role of social norms in shaping preferences and actions.

 Programme 26 May 2016

  • 9:00-10:00 Serena Parekh (Northeastern)-Taking Seriously the Agency of Refugees
  • 10:15-11:45 Grad Panel 1:
    • Jorge Fabra Zamora (McMaster)- Making Justice Real: The Challenges of Global Law
    • Blair Peruniak (Oxford)-Displacement, Responsibility, and Massively Shared Agency
    • Andrew Molas (York)- Defending the CRPD: Dignity, Flourishing, and the Universal Right to Mental Health
  • 11:45-13:00 Lunch
  • 13:00-14:15 Invited Keynote: Clare Chambers (Cambridge) – Regulating Religious Marriage
  • 14:15-15:15 Jennifer Morton (City College of NY)- Can Education Undermine Representation?
  • 15:30-16:30 Alison Jaggar (Colorado/Birmingham) and Corwin Aragon (Concordia) – Agency, Complicity, and Global Ethics: Social Power and the Responsibility to Remedy Structural Injustice
  • 16:45-18:15 Public Lecture: Carl Hart (Columbia) How Pot (and other recreational drugs) Can Cure Racism
  • 19:00-21:00 Conference Dinner

Programme 27 May 2016

  • 9:00-10:00 Invited Keynote: Serene Khader (Brooklyn College)- Do Muslim Women Really Need Freedom?
  • 10:30-12:00 Grad Panel 2:
    • Stephanie Sheintul (Wisconsin)- Moral Status and Paternalism;
    • Ji Young Lee (Bristol) A Millian Perspective on Paternalism;
    • Nicolas Brando (KU Leuven) Cultivating the Potential Self: Children and Agency in the Contractarian and Capability Theory
  • 12:00-13:00 Lunch
  • 13:00-14:15 Invited Keynote: Kimberley Brownlee—Global Issues of Sociability
  • 14:15-15:15 Steve Weidmer (Arkansas State)- Adaptive Preferences and Respect for Agency
  • 15:30-16:30 Heather Widdows (Birmingham)-The Demands of Beauty: Choice, Coercion, and Exploitation

For more, go here.

 

Philosophy suggestions for teenage girl? April 24, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennysaul @ 6:43 pm

A reader writes:

I have a 13 year old niece who is showing an (unprovoked, honest!) interest in

philosophy. She refuses to read Sophie’s World and I want to send her something

for her birthday that will provide a good route into philosophical thinking for a

teenage girl. Could you advise?

Your thoughts?

 

Faculty Hiring and “profound social inequality” April 23, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — annejjacobson @ 6:30 pm

Below is an abstract from a paper by Aaron Clauset.  He uses network theory to bring out inequalities in gender that are less visible with some other methods.

(The paper: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/1/e1400005.full)

The three disciplines in his study are business, computer science, and history.

The faculty job market plays a fundamental role in shaping research priorities, educational outcomes, and career trajectories among scientists and institutions. However, a quantitative understanding of faculty hiring as a system is lacking. Using a simple technique to extract the institutional prestige ranking that best explains an observed faculty hiring network—who hires whose graduates as faculty—we present and analyze comprehensive placement data on nearly 19,000 regular faculty in three disparate disciplines. Across disciplines, we find that faculty hiring follows a common and steeply hierarchical structure that reflects profound social inequality. Furthermore, doctoral prestige alone better predicts ultimate placement than a U.S. News & World Report rank, women generally place worse than men, and increased institutional prestige leads to increased faculty production, better faculty placement, and a more influential position within the discipline. These results advance our ability to quantify the influence of prestige in academia and shed new light on the academic system.  (My stress.)

The finding, though in some ways obvious, that increased institutional prestige leads to increased productivity is quite depressing when linked to the idea that women in general get less prestigious positions.

 

 

Mother-friendly conference organising: an experiment April 21, 2016

To see how far we could get with small fixes — improving the aspects of academic conferences that are pretty easy to change — I organized an experimental conference along with June Gruber, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Colorado Boulder (and a fellow academic mom). The conference, held at the University of California Berkeley earlier this month, brought together an outstanding group of speakers using the latest psychological work to challenge misconceptions about the mind — from the idea that pursuing happiness is a good way to achieve it, to the idea that babies are born racist. We called the conference the Misconceptions of the Mind Conference: MoMiCon 2016. And we didn’t just invite the mommies: We invited the babies.

For more, go here.

 

CFR: Philosophy of Iris Murdoch, Oxford

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennysaul @ 2:37 pm

This one day event will consider a number of different themes from the philosophical writings of Iris Murdoch.

This page will be updated with the schedule closer to the time, but the list of talks is as follows:

Justin Broackes: “Reading On ‘God’ & ‘Good’.”‘

Edward Harcourt: “The Last and Secret Name of All the Virtues?”

Mark Hopwood: “Murdoch, Moral Language, and the Universality of Moral Reasons.”

Sabina Lovibond: “Iris Murdoch and the Quality of Consciousness.”

 

For more information, go here.

 

Dialogues on Disability – Bryce Huebner

Filed under: Uncategorized — Monkey @ 11:24 am

Time to celebrate: yesterday was the first year anniversary of Shelley’s excellent series of interviews with disabled philosophers! For this month’s special instalment, she invited her first guest, Bryce Huebner, to reflect on the insights provided by the series so far, and the issues surrounding disability and philosophy more generally. As always, it’s an important and thought-provoking read.

During the past year, I conducted landmark interviews for Dialogues on Disability with twelve disabled philosophers who are variously situated with respect to disability, race, gender, institutional status, age, culture, nationality, and sexuality, and whose philosophical work covers a wide range of areas of specialization and research interests. This first-anniversary installment of the series is designed to highlight insights and lessons that each of the twelve philosophers offered the philosophical community and to reflect upon the implications of these contributions to philosophy. Bryce Huebner, who was my first interviewee of the series and who has generously provided technical support over the course of the year, has returned today to assist me in this celebratory retrospective installment of the series.

You can read the full interview and join in the discussion here.

 

Sexist attacks on Clinton April 20, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennysaul @ 7:06 pm

Feminist philosopher Kate Manne:

“Ditch the witch,” and “Burn the witch,” Gillard’s opponents cried in her time, and their wish was soon granted. Now some of Sanders’ supporters are chanting, “Bern the witch,” in turn – unwittingly echoing misogynistic cries once heard across the Pacific ocean. There are many valid criticisms of Clinton, and legitimate reasons to vote for Sanders instead, whose political goals happen to be more in line with my own. But justifying such means in terms of these ends doesn’t survive moral scrutiny.

 

Read the rest!

 

 
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