COMING SOON: Hypatia Special Issue and Online Symposium!

Special Issue: A Hypatia special issue on “Animal Others” has now gone live which brings together leading feminist animal studies scholars, Lori Gruen (author of Ethics and Animals: An Introduction) and Kari Weil (author of Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now), and presents exciting new work on the intersections of sex, race, gender, and species.

Online Symposium:As co-editors of the special issue, Gruen and Weil have recruited six scholars to reflect on some of the lively debates occurring within this burgeoning new field of scholarship. The symposium will start officially on Monday 9th July.

A full list of authors and topics can be seen below, and you are encouraged to join the discussion and engage with the editors and discussants.

Symposium articles: Continue reading “COMING SOON: Hypatia Special Issue and Online Symposium!”

New Feminist Philosophy Section for Philosophy Compass

We are delighted to announce that we have launched a new Feminist Philosophy section of Philosophy Compass. This new section will be headed up by Alia Al-Saji (bio below), who is currently commissioning articles to be published in 2013.  In the meantime, the section homepage will feature previously-published Philosophy Compass articles that touch on aspects of feminist philosophy. Welcome aboard, Alia!

Section Editor Bio: Alia Al-Saji

Alia Al-Saji is Associate Professor of Philosophy at McGill University.  Her research brings together and critically engages 20th century phenomenology and French philosophy, on the one hand, and contemporary critical race and feminist theories, on the other.  She has published articles and chapters in such venues as Continental Philosophy Review, Philosophy and Social Criticism, Research in Phenomenology, Southern Journal of Philosophy, and the Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, as well as in anthologies in German, French and English.  Alia is currently a co-editor of the Symposia on Gender, Race and Philosophy, and she is completing a term as member-at-large on the executive committee of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy.

Feminist Philosophy section homepage

Alia’s faculty profile

The Philosophical Quarterly: From past to present

The Philosophical QuarterlyThe first issue of The Philosophical Quarterly was published in October 1950. In the sixty years since, the PQ has established itself as one of the world’s leading general philosophy journals. The journal continues to publish across the full spectrum of academic philosophy, and welcomes original research in all areas of philosophy and its history.

The editorial board have recently compiled this virtual issue to produce a representative sample of the last sixty years. Limiting themselves to two articles for each decade, they sought to give readers a taste of the variety of topics discussed in the journal, and the range of philosophical approaches taken to those issues. As the team find every week, when deciding which articles to publish today, the final choice was not easy. Many wonderful articles missed out. They could, of course, have included more, but wanted the virtual issue to be as close as possible to a real issue. The PQ hope  that their selection will whet your appetites – encouraging you to search back through the PQ archive and discover hidden riches for yourselves.

The virtual issue opens with the editor’s introduction from the first issue, and with a brief piece by Malcolm Knox.

The Virtual Issue

Front Matter
Volume 1: Issue 1, 1950

A Passage in Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Right’
T. M. Knox
Volume 1: Issue 1, 1950

Feelings
Gilbert Ryle
Volume 1: Issue 3, 1951

Direct Perception
Norman Malcolm
Volume 3: Issue 13, 1953

Aristotle on the Good: A Formal Sketch
Bernard Williams
Volume 12: Issue 49, 1962

Plato’s “Third Man” Argument (PARM. 132A1-B2): Text and Logic
Gregory Vlastos
Volume 19: Issue 77, 1969

The ideas of Power and Substance in Locke’s Philosophy
Michael R. Ayers
Volume 25: Issue 98, 1975

Common Knowledge
Jane Heal
Volume 28: Issue 111, 1978

Epiphenomenal Qualia
Frank Jackson
Volume 32: Issue 127, 1982

What does a concept script do?
Cora Diamond
Volume 34: Issue 136, 1984

A Furry Tile About Mental Representation
Deborah Brown
Volume 36: Issue 185, 1996

Finkish Dispositions
David Lewis
Volume 47: Issue 187, 1997

How to Reid Moore
John Greco
Volume 52: Issue 209, 2002

Kant’s second thoughts on race
Pauline Kleingeld
Volume 57: Issue 229, 2007

The Philosophical Quarterly

Personal identity and race in Avatar

James Cameron’s Avatar is a cousin of some famous thought experiments from the philosophy of personal identity. For example, here’s a product of Daniel Dennett’s imagination circa 1978:

Several years ago I was approached by Pentagon officials who asked me to volunteer for a highly dangerous and secret mission. [They] had succeeded in lodging a warhead about a mile deep under Tulsa, Oklahoma, and they wanted me to retrieve it for them. … The difficulty that brought the Pentagon to my door was that the device I’d been asked to recover was fiercely radioactive, in a new way. According to monitoring instruments, something about the nature of the device and its complex interactions with pockets of material deep in the earth had produced radiation that could cause severe abnormalities in certain tissues of the brain. No way had been found to shield the brain from these deadly rays, which were apparently harmless to other tissues and organs of the body. So it had been decided that the person sent to recover the device should leave his brain behind. It would be kept in a safe place as there it could execute its normal control functions by elaborate radio links. Would I submit to a surgical procedure that would completely remove my brain, which would then be placed in a life-support system at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston? Each input and output pathway, as it was severed, would be restored by a pair of microminiaturized radio transceivers, one attached precisely to the brain, the other to the nerve stumps in the empty cranium. No information would be lost, all the connectivity would be preserved.

Sounds pretty Avatar-like to me! Even the plot devices are similar: In Avatar, one reason why the hero needs to remotely control an alien body is that the alien planet’s atmosphere is toxic to humans but not aliens; in Dennett’s thought experiment, the hero needs to remotely control his own body in order to avoid exposure to toxic radiation. (Of course, there are some differences. Dennett’s essay has a cooler ending whereas Avatar has more dragons.)

Anyway, it looks like Avatar’s implications about race have gotten a little more attention than anything it might have to say about personal identity. I was especially interested by this widely-linked io9 piece by Annalee Newitz accusing Cameron of being motivated by “white guilt,” as if that’s a bad thing. I’ll put a few spoiler-ridden thoughts on this below the fold.

Continue reading “Personal identity and race in Avatar”

Punking the BNP

Scientific_racism_irishK-Punk (aka writer Mark Fisher) writes about possible responses to the BNP on his blog:

“Much of the BNP’s appeal derives from its granting of legitimacy to those feelings of resentment and aggrievement – yes, it says, you’re right to feel angry and betrayed…Here, class emerges…But this brief flash of class antagonism is immediately subsumed by race-logic”.

Later on he notes that any effective response to the BNP cannot simply argue with the BNP within the current framework, but seek to undermine the framework itself, this thing that sublimates class differences into racial differences. He describes this process using a particularly philosophically-loaded term: Narrative.

Narrative is that which gives structure to everyday human existence – it is historical, social. In After Virtue, Alasdair Macintyre argues that the self is a “narrative self” (as opposed to an “emotive self”) – identity is constructed by the myriad roles an individual plays in multiple systems. The good for an individual must therefore be “the good for one who inhabits these roles” (AV, 220). If Macintyre’s argument holds water, this means that social critiques – such as the one detailed in the previous paragraph – have not only political implications, but moral ones.

Related articles:

Contemporary virtue ethics
By Karen Stohr, Georgetown University
(Vol. 1, February 2006)
Philosophy Compass

Race, Colorblindness, and Continental Philosophy
By Michael J. Monahan , Marquette University
(Vol. 1, September 2006)
Philosophy Compass