Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Female Filosophers

I've had a long-time quest to include women authors among the readings for each of the classes I teach. (As have others: here's Brian Weatherson's.)

And I've said how it drives me bonkers to find textbooks that include only token women--especially when represented as speaking for women rather than just being a philosopher doing good philosophy.

Yes, we women write feminist theory, and it's good that we do. But it's not ALL that we do!

So it's with strong hopes for the future that I point you to a work in progress:
Women's Works, hosted by the Australasian Association of Philosophy and collected by philosophers at Macquarrie University. The site makes recommendations for articles written by women which would be appropriate for undergraduate classes, containing citation info and an abstract.

The AAP has done incredible work collecting data on women's participation in the profession, and, knowing this commitment, I suspect the Women's Work site will improve with time.

As it stands....oh, I hate to's such a great idea...every project starts somewhere...but only three recommendations for women writing epistemology? Really? I have more than that in a 10-week course! And only one in philosophy of science? And only 20 authors total? (OK, I'll admit that there may appear to be 21, but I refuse to count an anti-feminist work by Janet Radcliffe Richards.) At first I thought that maybe the list was limited to Australians...but no...

In addition to a realistic expansion, the other thing that would improve the site would be some specific information about how these articles work for undergrads. I can easily go through a database and pick out female authors, but it's more difficult to sift through them for a writing style that doesn't require a lot of background. I raised this particular problem last spring when I was looking for articles in philosophy of physics by women and found that so many of the eligible articles by Laura Ruetsche, Doreen Fraser, Alisa Bokulich and others are models of rigorous, technical, scientific writing that would not be appropriate for my non-science undergraduate students. Given what it can take to establish that even though you're a woman, you do have chops, perhaps it's not surprising to find dense, technical theorizing among the best papers.

I'm wondering if book chapters can be listed, too, since some good writing for the undergraduate level appears in that format rather than as journal articles.

Anyway, here are some articles that I included in my courses in the last couple of years and which worked extremely well. I'll pass these on to the Women's Works site, and if you leave any in comments, I'll pass those on, too. Or you can do it yourself. Let's support this project so that it can be useful--and maybe be a source of ideas for textbook editors, too.

In a course on philosophy of biology and its social implications:

Lisa Gannett, “The biological reiļ¬cation of race,” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (2004): 323 – 345.

Inma de Melo Martin, “Genetic research and reduction of health disparities,” New Genetics and Society 27 (March 2008): 57 – 68.

In a course called "Physics and Metaphysics":

Helen Beebee, “The Non-Governing Conception of Laws of Nature, " Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 61 (2000): 571-594.

Susan Schneider, "What Is the Significance of the Intuition that Laws Govern?" Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (2007): 307-324. (This is a response to Beebee.)

In a course on philosophy of science, with an emphasis on the issue of pluralism:

Nancy Cartwright, “Fundamentalism vs. the Patchwork of Laws,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 94 (1994): 279-292.

Lorraine Daston, “Objectivity and the Escape from Perspective,” Social Studies of Science22 (1992): 597-618.

Susan Haack, “Trial and error: The Supreme Court’s Philosophy of Science,” American Journal of Public Health 95 (2005): S66-S73.

Elisabeth A. Lloyd, “Feyerabend, Mill, and Pluralism,” Philosophy of Science 64 (1997): S396-S407.

Wendy S. Parker, "Understanding Pluralism in Climate Modeling," Foundations of Science 11 (2006): 349-368.

1 comment:

Greg Frost-Arnold said...

Thanks for this -- some stuff I wasn't aware of will definitely be helpful as I put together my syllabus for next year.