Diversity Reading List: Combating under-representation in Philosophy

Sandrine Berges:

There is a section for the History of Philosophy that needs filling up – so please send your suggestions on the Contribute page.

Originally posted on Feminist Philosophers:

The Diversity Reading List  is a great new resource for introducing texts by women and non-white authors in philosophy courses. It is still very new so please contribute to help it grow.

The issue of under-representation of women and non-white persons in philosophy is now more widely known, and students are asking explicitly “why is my curriculum white?” Many faculty members are aware that one way to combat this under-representation is to include work from under-represented groups in their syllabi as it directly challenges the stereotype of the white male philosopher. However, locating a good number of suitable texts can be difficult and time consuming, and this is why we have created the Diversity Reading List which enables teachers to quickly locate high-quality texts from under-represented groups that are directly relevant to their teaching. Currently, the list focuses on ethics, but in the near future it will be…

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CFP:Women in Early Analytical Philosophy

CFP: Women in Early Analytical Philosophy
5 October, 2015, Ghent University, in collaboration with the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy.
Invited Keynote Speakers: Julia Driver (WashU, St. Louis) & Anna Brozek (Cracow)

We invite abstracts (500 words) for papers to be presented at a workshop on any topic pertaining to women in early analytical philosophy. By ‘early’ we mean roughly through 1950.
The main aim is of the workshop is to better understand the extent and substance of women’s neglected contribution to analytical philosophy. We welcome papers on, for example, individual women and groups of women; we also welcome papers on the role of gender & sexuality in early analytical philosophy.
PhD students and early career scholars are especially encouraged to apply.
We hope to publish a selection of papers in the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy.
Conference hosts: Maria Van der Schaar (Leiden) & Eric Schliesser (Gent/Amsterdam)
Please send an abstract to Eric Schliesser <nescio2@yahoo.com> by 28 July, 2015.
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Turkish-European Network for the study of women in the history of philosophy

It is with great pleasure that I would like to inform you of the creation of a Turkish-European Network for the study of women in the history of philosophy.

The purpose of this informal network is to encourage greater exchange between scholars working in Turkey and other European countries on women philosophers at any period in history, and to enable them to join in with the great debates currently taking place in the rest of the world. We will build on existing connections between Yeditepe in Istanbul and Paderborn in Germany and exchange news and ideas about workshops, conferences, resources, publication projects and grant proposals.

We hope that this will encourage researchers to pursue their interests in women philosophers, and perhaps enable the recovery of Turkish and other European women philosophers who have not yet come into the limelight.

So far the following individuals and institutions have volunteered to be part of the network:

In Turkey:

Alberto L. Siani, Yeditepe, Istanbul

Gül Gültekin, Yeditepe, Istanbul

Hatice Karaman, Yeditepe, Istanbul

Hatice Nur Erkizan, Muğla

Özlem Duva, Dokuz Eylül University İzmir

Sandrine Berges, Bilkent University, Ankara

In Europe:

Alan Coffee, London

Ana Rodrigues, Paderborn

Emily Thomas, Groningen

Eric Schliesser, Amsterdam

Susan James, Birkbeck

Julia Lerius, Paderborn

Lena Halldenius, Lund

Martina Reuter, Jyväskylä

Ruth Hagengruber, Paderborn


In the rest of the world:

Mary Ellen Waithe, Cleveland State University

Founder of the Society Study Women Philosophers

We intend to communicate via a dedicated closed social media group, but in the meantime, please contact me (sandrineberges@gmail.com) or Alberto (alberto.siani@gmail.com) for more details or if you’d like to be part of the network.

Watch this space for more news.

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Review of Mary Wollstonecraft and Feminist Republicanism – Lena Halldenius

Mary Wollstonecraft and Feminist Republicanism

Independence, Rights and the Experience of Unfreedom

The Enlightenment World: 30

Lena Halldenius

192pp: 234x156mm: March 2015
HB 978 1 84893 536 5: £60/$99
eBook: £24 (incl. VAT) £20 (excl. VAT)

This excellent monograph is the first to offer a book-length treatment of Wollstonecraft’s feminist philosophy as belonging to the republican tradition (rather than the liberal one). It builds on the author’s previous work as well as on her collaborations with other scholars who also read Wollstonecraft as a Republican (Coffee, Skinner and Pettit) to make a detailed an convincing case for the central argument, that “the key [to Wollstonecraft’s philosophy], I maintain, is her claim that to live unfreely is to live in an unequal state of dependence under the arbitrary power of others, and that such inequality – in all aspects of life – destroys people: without equality, no liberty; without liberty, no virtue; without virtue, no progress.” 130. 

The idea of liberty as ‘personal independence in a free state’ is put forward and analyzed in chapter 2. Halldenius shows that independence is a social phenomenon, which is only meaningful and valuable within a context in which there is equality amongst citizens. That is, liberty as independence is a relational concept predicated on the idea that all citizens are equal.

Chapter 3 discusses the extent to which Wollstonecraft’s use of rights is not Lockean and to should be read in relation to her account of freedom. Here Halldenius disagrees with previous interpretations, notably Virgina Sapiro’s and Nathalie Taylor’s. This chapter is also the occasion, for Halldenius to address a point that is often made regarding the Vindication of the Rights of Woman, namely that Wollstonecraft doesn’t seem to be talking much about rights at all. But, Halldenius says, this claim relies on a “narrow view of the concept of right to think that mind, virtue, duties and social practices have nothing to do with it.” 34.

Chapter 4, to my mind makes the most important and original contribution in the book, focusing on the centrality of lived experience in Wollstonecraft’s philosophy, and offering insightful philosophical analyses of the novels Mary and Maria. Halldenius justifies this move which some might describe as bold by saying that “the form of the novel is well suited for conveying aspects of living that are largely hidden from view in our everyday dealings with each other, things that we do not fully understand or have no name for but which still condition what we do and how we think about ourselves.” 51.

The chapter comprises a section on each novel followed by one on “husbands and wives, owners and properties, masters and slaves” in which she argues that “[o]ne message from which Wollstonecraft never wavers is that institutionally constituted and sanctioned roles and expectations have a profound effect on people’s self-perception, on social relationships and on agency.” 74.

Chapter 5 discusses the claims – among others – that Wollstonecraft sees nature as the source of moral knowledge in the two novels and that she believes that respect for mankind is principle of action. In that chapter Halldenius makes a genuine effort to pick out what is distinctive about Wollstonecraft’s moral theory, and to draw a more general picture from there – as opposed to trying to understand her as belonging to one particular school of thought. This is an interesting approach – one that deserves to be taken more often, as it suggests that Wollstonecraft, rather than patching her moral argument together from what influences she picked up here and there, well and truly developed her own system. And Halldenius is quite firm on this: saying that Wollstonecraft was ‘unsystematic’ is not only inaccurate, but also belittling, as it can often be taken to mean, in context, that as a thinker she was slapdash and inconsistent.

In Chapter 6 Halldenius tackles the relationship between Wollstonecraft’s thought and the revolution and the ideals of the enlightenment. She considers the inevitability of violent uprisings and the short-term inevitability of their failure, drawing a contrast between the philosophers of the French revolution who looked at the long term but were not above sacrificing present generations, to the politicians who thought only of the interest at hand.

Wollstonecraft, she argues, puts these observations together with the legacy of the Enlightenment’s conception of society as a vehicle for improvement and presents gradual change as both radical and transformative, involving educating the poor and reforming civic and economic life.

Hopefully this book marks the beginning of a new sort of Wollstonecraft scholarship, one which is happy to take her seriously as a moral and political thinker, and not just as an interesting anomaly, whose timely rants against the oppression of women and the poor made her fashionable for a short while. Halldenius shows that Wollstonecraft has much to offer as a moral and political philosopher, provided we read her in the right context (i.e. a republican rather than a liberal one) and provided, especially, that we take her seriously as a thinker, not assuming that her ideas are borrowed and unconnected, but seeing how the arguments run across her works, both her philosophical discussions and her literary treatments of women’s ‘lived experience’.

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More on the new Master’s Program on Women in the History of Philosophy and Science at Yeditetepe


Students who spend up to nine months at the respective partner institution will be offered an opportunity to acquire the Erasmus Certificate in the History of Women Philosophers/History of Philosophy.

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Society for Modern Philosophy: Reflections on Canon

Originally posted on The Mod Squad:

This past spring at the Pacific division meeting of the American Philosophical Association, the Society for Modern Philosophy hosted a panel about the Modern Canon featuring Lisa Shapiro and Justin E. H. Smith.  Despite the panel occurring at dinner time on the final evening of the program, it was well attended, and led to some lively discussion during the Q&A.  I am pleased to share the following documents with anyone who wasn’t able to attend the session.*

Lisa Shapiro: What is a Philosophical Canon

Justin Smith: The ‘Two Libraries Problem’: Poetry, ‘Fancy’, and the Philosophical Canon

The session and subsequent discussion were extremely interesting, and I hope that future SMP panels continue to be as fascinating and thought-provoking.  Joining the society is free, and means receiving a handful of e-mails from me over the course of the year, as well as giving you the opportunity to help plan society events or projects.

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More on reclaiming the role of women in the canon

Originally posted on Feminist Philosophers:

From the Atlantic:

In his first work, published in 1747, Immanuel Kant cites the ideas of another philosopher: a scholar of Newton, religion, science, and mathematics. The philosopher, whose work had been translated into several languages, is Émilie Du Châtelet.

Yet despite her powerhouse accomplishments—and the shout-out from no less a luminary than Kant—her work won’t be found in the 1,000-plus pages of the new edition of The Norton Introduction to Philosophy. In the anthology, which claims to trace 2,400 years of philosophy, the first female philosopher doesn’t appear until the section on writing from the mid-20th century. Or in any of the other leading anthologies used in university classrooms, scholars say.

Also absent are these 17th-century English thinkers: Margaret Cavendish, a prolific writer and natural philosopher; Anne Conway, who discusses the philosophy of Descartes, Hobbes, and Spinoza in The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy

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