Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Women in philosophy

At the Central APA in April, I was part of a panel on women in philosophy ("Why are Women only 21% of Philosophy?"). The other panelists were Elizabeth Minnich, Sally Haslanger, and Abigail Stewart (who was unable to be there, so Sally read her paper). Berit Brogaard at Lemmings has blogged about this session here and a post on critical mass of women in executive positions at Feminist Philosophers reminds me of it tonight. Sally Haslanger's paper from that session is linked through this post as well and also can be found here along with other information about women in philosophy. For those who are interested in this topic, my paper is available here.

I would really like to recommend Haslanger's paper. It contains recommendations that I also endorse. Among these are suggestions for "disrupting bias". For instance, she recommends that established feminist philosophers submit work to "mainstream" journals, make reference to feminists in their work, and use the terms "feminism" and "feminist" in their work.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


I spent last Saturday at the annual Southern California SWIP. As frequently happens when I go to this spring meeting, I found myself thinking back to the first SWIP meeting I attended. It was at Ann Garry’s house in Pacific Palisades and it must have been an early one, though in the blur of graduate school memories, I am not really sure. It was probably 1976 or 1977. I remember that Nancy Cartwright was there and someone presented a paper on make-up. My friend from graduate school, Joanne Waugh, and I were the only women not dressed in denim and we felt very out of place. I think we were out of place pretty much everywhere in those days.

This weekend. what really struck me as I remembered that meeting was how SWIP had turned out to be an unexpected anchor in my life, even though it was 15 years before I went to another meeting. I thought that feminism and philosophy really had nothing to do with each other and I did not really understand what the point of the meeting was. I wasn’t going to do “feminist” philosophy just because I was a woman! I mean, I was a feminist in the sense that every sensible woman who came of age in the 60s was. But it took me those intervening 15 years to begin to understand the ways in which gender had played a role in my life as a philosopher and was absolutely relevant to my philosophical work. So that first meeting serves as a benchmark and gives me some insight into the ways in which we can be blind to the forces that shape our own lives.

This particular meeting was great though small. Sandra Harding hosted at UCLA and Libby Potter, Helen Longino, and Alison Wylie each presented papers on gender and science in the afternoon. Libby is working on practice theory and the idea that epistemic practices and moral practices could be “overlapping” practices might give us some insight into the dual role of the epistemic and moral in the sciences. Helen’s paper reviewed her idea that there might be feminist epistemic/pragmatic virtues that differed from the “standard” list (sometimes attributed to Kuhn, but mentioned by many). This was an illuminating update of this idea, which was spelled out in her 1995 “Gender, Politics, and the Theoretical Virtues” Synthese 104: 383-397. One of the most interesting aspects of her presentation was the focus on the ways in which each of these lists, the alternative feminist and the traditional virtues, are pragmatic, but at the same time epistemic virtues. Alison looked at the way interests in gender issues had emerged in archaeology in the 1980s and how, though not explicitly feminist in origins, interest in gender seems to have led to a more explicitly feminist archaeology. The developments in this particular discipline provide a case study for further investigating the role of standpoint in the sciences.

All in all, the meeting was a welcome respite from the madness of end of semester grading and a chance to talk with friends. Thanks to SWIP for providing one means through which the much-needed intellectual nurturing of women philosophers takes place.

Update: I just thought it would be nice to add pictures from the prior year P-SWIP. Also check on the P-SWIP webpages.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

SAF website change

The website for the Society for Analytical Feminism has moved its website to The SAF provides a forum for feminist philosophical research in the analytic tradition. (The "analytic tradition" being broadly construed, since feminism values inclusivity.) See the Call for Papers for the SAF's second conference, posted below.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Feminist Philosophy Blog

Hooray for a new blog dedicated to feminism and philosophy:

Feminist Philosophers: News feminist philosophers can use

A welcome addition to public discussion of feminist issues from a philosophical perspective!

Back to Blogging--again

How annoyed I am with on-again, off-again bloggers. Most of all myself!
But with encouragement from Sharon Crasnow (this blog) and from Helpychalk, I have a renewed sense of commitment for the summer, just when so many others are taking their vacations.
So, the blog now continues its mixed coverage of feminism & feminist philosophy and philosophy of science & ecology while in the non-virtual world I spend my summer writing about feminist epistemology and completing research on the presettlement vegetation of the Connecticut Tract in western New York.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

CFP: 2nd Conference Society for Analytical Feminism, April 4-6, 2008

University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY

Sponsored by

the University of Kentucky, Office of the Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

and the Vice President for Research

The Society of Analytical Feminism is sponsoring a conference in Lexington, KY, April 4-6, 2008. The Society invites the submission of papers that address feminist issues in any area of philosophy, including philosophy of language, philosophy of science, metaphysics, race theory, normative ethics, metaethics, Kantian ethics, social and political philosophy, philosophy of law, Ancient philosophy, rational choice theory, and epistemology. The general theme of the conference is an examination of the relationship between analytical feminism and these areas of philosophy, including contributions that analytic feminist philosophy has made to these areas and ways in which it may have changed approaches to problems in these areas.

Invited speakers are:

Louise Antony (U. Mass, Amherst)

Ann Cudd (U. Kansas)

Robin Dillon (Lehigh U.)

Julia Driver (Dartmouth College)

Ann Garry (Cal State, L.A.)

Sally Haslanger (MIT)

Miriam Solomon (Temple U.)

Mariam Thalos (U. Utah)

Charlotte Witt (U. New Hampshire)

Alison Wylie (U. Washington)

Papers should be about 20 minutes reading time, prepared for blind review, and submitted by email to the conference organizers Anita Superson ( or Sharon Crasnow ( by October 1, 2007. For further information, please contact Anita or Sharon.