The APA is raising money for their initiatives, and they’d like to urge you to donate to this cause in honour of International Women’s Day.
There’s a new kid on the virtual block, DailyNous.
It’s very early days for this new blog, but its comments policy is already a welcome contribution to the philosophy blogosphere:
9. Is there a comments policy? Yes. The comments policy is this: before you comment, imagine the following. You are seated in a comfortable chair at a table with all of the other commentators. You have gathered to discuss an issue of mutual concern, and you are aiming to learn something from the conversation. Take off your shoes if you’d like. Wriggle your toes. Appreciate the wonders of everyday life in the twenty-first century. On the table in front of you is your favorite beverage. Through the window is your favorite view. And seated next to you is a child, who you brought with you for a lesson on how to discuss controversial issues with strangers. Are you imagining all of that? Okay, now try commenting.
I might just make this the policy for the next grad seminar I teach too. It’s kind of awesome.
And again, from Melih Gökcek, the Mayor of Ankara, speaking at a Women’s Day even yesterday:
Thanking women because “at home, you pick up after us”.
The United Arab Emirates isn’t best known for its efforts to uphold women’s rights. So it’s no real surprise that they have just passed another oppressive law – women are now legally required to breastfeed for two years. They can be sued by their husbands for failing to do so. You can read more here.
UPDATE: It turns out that reports of the situation by many news sources are inaccurate. The law has not been passed. The legislation was drafted, but reaction to it has meant that it has not gone through. Thanks to Ned Block for clarifying the situation.
Petition for a Professional Code of Conduct March 7, 2014
There’s a petition up calling for the APA to write a professional code of conduct for philosophers. This will hopefully lend support to all the excellent recent efforts from the APA.
A Petition to the APA through its Board of Officers
As teachers, mentors and colleagues, we, professional philosophers, take our tasks of teaching, research, and service to the profession very seriously. We want to create a supportive environment where fellow faculty members and students feel safe and where their concerns are heard and addressed.
In light of recent events at more than one university, we the undersigned hereby petition the Board of Officers of the American Philosophical Association to produce, by one means or another, a code of conduct and a statement of professional ethics for the academic discipline of philosophy. We particularly urge past presidents of each division of the APA to sign this petition.
To sign, go here.
Feminism, Embodiment and Technology
UWE Graduate Philosophy Conference 2014 – Sponsored by the Royal Institute of Philosophy
4 April 2014, UWE, Bristol
Keynote Speaker: Prof. Margrit Shildrick, Linköping University, Sweden.
The aim of this conference to explore, through feminist perspectives, the philosophical, political and sociological impact of technology’s relationship to the body.
Some of the most innovative and interesting work on technology’s relationship to the body has emerged in the latter half of the 20th century, through feminist discourses. We therefore want to address questions such as but not exclusive to: is technology gendered? Is our technological age underpinned by biopolitics? And can technology have an emancipatory affect vis-à-vis sexual and gender relations, or is the contemporary structure of technology complicit in forms and systems of domination?
We hope to bring together scholars and postgraduate students working in the contemporary domains of feminism, philosophy of embodiment and the philosophy of science & technology. Possible topics for presentation include but are not limited to:
• Feminist confrontation with technology
• Technologies of gender and sexuality
• Feminism and cognitive science
• Phenomenological critiques of technology
• Technology, nature and art
• Biotechnological politics
Please register (registration is free) by emailing uwegraduateconference2014 AT gmail.com
The graduate students of the Department of Philosophy at Northwestern University, have by a majority vote, adopted the following statement:
We find the alleged behavior of gross professional misconduct recently leveled against a faculty member in our department to be deplorable. Further, we judge that the university has failed our community in the way that they have handled these allegations of gross professional misconduct. In addition, we stand in solidarity with the victim of the aforementioned misconduct, with victims of sexual harassment and violence globally, as well as with their advocates (whom we do not consider to be vigilantes). As students, and educators, we take seriously the wellness of every member of our community. The members of our philosophy department have been genuinely dedicated to promoting inclusiveness at Northwestern, as well as within the broader philosophical community. It is among our highest priorities that we create and sustain a safe environment for all members of our community. In the spirit of these affirmations, we are deeply saddened that a member of our department has been found to be in violation of these moral and professional obligations.
We feel, however, that it bears saying that the behavior outlined in the recent lawsuit leveled against Northwestern is not representative of our sense of the prevailing culture in our department. The overwhelming majority of our community — both professors and graduate students, male and female — are engaged jointly in a project of inclusiveness and mutual support.
Since 2011 our department has maintained a committee to promote and sustain inclusiveness among the graduate student community. Among their duties, the Climate Committee hosts the Annual Inclusiveness Lecture on implicit bias and other issues affecting underrepresented and marginalized groups in the discipline. That same year we also founded an initiative geared towards fostering female undergraduate majors: WiPhi is a female-only group of members of the philosophical community at Northwestern at all levels (undergraduate, graduate, and professors) who regularly meet. WiPhi also hosts the Annual Gertrude Bussey Lecture, in honor of the first woman to receive a PhD in philosophy from Northwestern. Additionally, our course listings represent our shared commitment to exploring issues of diversity and underrepresentation in the field, and in the broader community at large: Our department makes it a priority to regularly teach courses with substantial feminist philosophy content, as well as substantial focus on issues of race. We, the graduate students, feel that our community is home to several upstanding, vocally feminist, junior and senior faculty members. Our community is committed to fighting the sexism that has long been rampant in the broader philosophical community. And while we jointly feel compelled to express our deep sadness in response to the alleged behavior of a faculty member in our department, we also feel compelled to express our commitment to our community.
Please, don’t be demoralized, ‘current student’. Please don’t let threats of lawsuits (even if not directed at you personally) intimidate you. Don’t let the cowardly silence emanating from the distinguished named Chairs in the field scare you away from professional philosophy. Don’t let any ‘representative of the elite’ give you a false image of your possible contribution to philosophy.
Let me explain.
By speaking up, you are, in fact, developing, in part, your philosophical voice and contributing to the development of philosophy. We exist — as a community — to develop concepts that make experiences visible and by these (concepts) to improve the possible experiences of others and ourselves. Our shared practice can only develop faithfully and with integrity if we hear the voices that call us to our weaknesses and expose the norms by which we force a flattening conformity or rule of power, however petty, on each other.
- See more at: http://digressionsnimpressions.typepad.com/digressionsimpressions/2014/03/please-dont-be-demoralized.html#sthash.gkjkSzn5.dpuf
Also, here is a link to a Facebook event for the original walkout. It shows 500+ students “attending”, which I am guessing is a mixture of people who were planning on going and people who wanted to show support for the endeavor. You can read a statement of their protest there.
From that protest statement:
“We are upset that the University allows a professor who has been found in violation of this policy to i) continue his employment at Northwestern and ii) be in contact with undergraduate students, graduate students, and TAs.”
You can compare that to this quote from the Daily Northwestern article:
“[The administration] understood why people would be uncomfortable taking classes with Professor Ludlow,” Stephens [a student] said. “But they were also saying that’s not the view of all students. Some students want to take this particular class.”
Contra the viewpoint of the administration as expressed by Stephens in the quote above, this walk-out does not seem to be about individual students feeling “uncomfortable” taking a class with Ludlow. Rather, as they put it in their protest statement, students are upset that the university’s would choose to have Ludlow retain his full teaching and mentoring duties with students even after he was found in violation of the sexual harassment policy.
With that in mind, I would venture that, as to the assessment of this walk-out, the good that comes from a large handful of students (let’s say 500) expressing that they want to feel safe with their teachers and mentors might outweigh, in the grand scheme of things, the good that comes from other students getting to take a really cool-sounding class that they are interested in. Framing this as some students who didn’t want to take the class preventing all students from taking it, is, if not false, at least not the whole truth. The students walking out don’t need to represent the judgment of all students. They represent enough students who seriously doubt whether their university is acceptably prioritizing their safety and well-being.
I want to stress this point, because I think it can be somewhat easy to dismiss this reaction from students as them being overly sensitive or going overboard. I myself am still a student, so I can say with very fresh memory—being a student, while one of the best experiences of my life, it is also one of the most vulnerable experiences of my life. That applies to both graduate and undergraduate education, though differently in some aspects. In both, I am putting my academic self-concept, my personal growth, and a whole lot of intellectual and interpersonal trust in my teachers and my mentors. I am giving over parts of myself to them in the hope that I will emerge a better, wiser, and more knowledgeable person. The realization that I cannot trust a particular teacher or mentor to have my well-being in mind—to realize that they might not care whether I emerge from our interactions as a better, wiser, or more knowledgeable person—to worry whether they might use my eagerness and my trust for some end that I do not endorse—is a rather devastating experience. That has happened to me three times in my career as a student, and I can recall each incident from high school onwards with vivid clarity. (And none of them ever reached the level of fearing sexual advances.) Perhaps I was hit extra hard by these experiences because I so highly value my academic self-concept; but, I would imagine that in a university setting, I am probably not so much of an outlier.
I find it weird and worrisome that philosophy discusses the ethics of being a doctor, a businessperson, a scientist, and an engineer, but not the ethics of being a teacher. For a group of people who so highly value reflection and introspection, who are perfectly fine using “I” in our papers, we philosophers bizarrely do not seem that collectively interested in looking at ourselves as teachers and what it means to be an intellectual mentor to someone—which is sort of the backbone of our profession, yes?
*I may have to close comments later today, as I will be traveling, but I will leave them open as long as I can find the time to moderate.
Moderators’ note: We lost track of this comment thread. We apologize for that. It is important to us that our readers regard Feminist Philosophers as a safe place to read and comment. Our principal tool in maintaining that safe space is our “be nice” rule. That rule was unfortunately violated in this comment thread, and we didn’t catch it in time. We have closed comments, and they will remain closed. However, we have decided not to delete the thread because we have received feedback that many of our readers have found the discussion there useful. We hope this is the right decision. Moderating is difficult; we are doing our best. We renew our determination to apply the “be nice” rule in future so that FP remains, as far as possible, a safe space for discussion.