On 22nd and 23rd June, I, together with Helen Bradley and Suki Finn, organised a mentoring and networking workshop for graduate and early career women in philosophy, which took place at the University of York. The aim of the workshop was to bring together women in philosophy from a selection of philosophical areas in order to offer support and encouragement, and to develop a thriving community of women in philosophy. The workshop had eight graduate or early career mentees, and seven mentors who are senior women in philosophy.
Jennifer Saul (Sheffield) opened the workshop with her talk ‘Women in Philosophy: How the Profession is Improving’. Jennifer talked about the low number of women in philosophy, and the factors which might be responsible. She also talked about how things have improved for women in the profession, and what can be done to further improve them.
Mary Edwards (Cork) was the first mentee to present her paper, ‘Can We Resurrect the Author without Calling upon Intention?’. Mary offered a new argument for the relevance of the author of a work which circumnavigated the dispute about intentions in the literature. Her claim was that the author’s expressed attitude toward the world she describes contributes to the reader’s experience of that world.
Next up was mentee Anna Ichino (Milan/Nottingham) with her paper ‘False Believers?’. Anna considered the belief status of religious cognitions and argued that in many cases, such cognitions are not actually beliefs, and further, nor do we take them to be beliefs. Instead, the attitudes of most religious (so-called) believers, are better described as imaginings.
Our first post-lunch talk was given by mentee Chris Meyns (UCL). Chris discussed L. A. Paul’s argument that we cannot rationally decide about some major life events, since such events are epistemically transformative. Chris argued that such transformation does not, contra Paul, undermine rational decisions. Rather, we can partition outcomes based on possible future valences, and so determine our preferences, calculate expected utility, and rationally make a decision.
Our final mentee talk of the day came from Naomi Thompson (Hamburg) with her paper ‘Grounding and Metaphysical Explanation’. Naomi pointed out that elucidation of grounding has often gone via a connection to metaphysical explanation. However, the notion of metaphysical explanation is opaque, and under discussed in the literature. Naomi put forward a dilemma, and suggested that ‘the friend of grounding’ must either give up the supposed objectivity and mind-independence of grounding, or find an alternative way out of the dilemma.
Next we had a panel session called ‘Before the Permanent Job’ feature Liz McKinnell (Durham), myself (Birmingham), and Louise Richardson (York). The idea of the panel was to give information and advice about applying for and doing non-permanent jobs in philosophy. Liz spoke about being a Teaching Fellow, I talked about being a Research Fellow on project PERFECT, and Louise talked about being a Junior Research Fellow.
Finally, we had parallel mentoring sessions for the mentees who had given their papers on the first day. The Aesthetics session discussing Mary’s paper was run by mentor Kathleen Stock (Sussex) and sponsored by the British Society of Aesthetics. The Philosophy of Psychology session discussing Anna’s paper was run by mentor Hanna Pickard (Birmingham) and sponsored by project PERFECT. The Decision Theory session discussing Chris’s paper was run by mentor Laurie Paul (UNC Chapel Hill) and sponsored by the British Society for the Philosophy of Science. And the Metaphysics session discussing Naomi’s paper was run by mentor Penelope Mackie (Nottingham) and sponsored by the Mind Association.
We are very grateful to our sponsors for their support. And also to all of the mentors, mentees, careers speakers, and delegates, for making the workshop such a success. Look out for the report of day two of the workshop, on this blog next week.
This is the second of two posts reporting on the Women in Philosophy workshop which was held on the 22nd and 23rd June at the University of York. This post will summarise the talks given on the second day of the workshop, you can read about the talks given on the first in a previous post.
Jules Holroyd (Nottingham) opened the second day with a talk on Applying for Grants. Jules is currently Principle Investigator of the Bias and Blame project, for which she and her team received funding from the Leverhulme Trust. In her talk she gave very helpful information and advice on the grant application process.
Laura Frances Callahan (Oxford) was the first mentee speaker of the day with her paper ‘Evil: Only Sometimes Evidence against God’. Laura discussed a forthcoming paper from Benton, Hawthorne, and Isaacs which claimed that since the absence of evil would be evidence for the existence of God, the presence of evil must be evidence against it. Laura argued that given the way we actually learn about the presence of evil in the world, its existence does not in general disconfirm God’s existence.
Next up was Umrao Sethi (Berkeley) with her paper ‘Objective Appearances and the Argument from Hallucination’. Umrao outlined three theses which have been taken to be jointly incompatible in the literature on philosophy of perception: Item Awareness, Mind-Independence, and the Common Kind Assumption. Philosophical accounts of perception have resisted the incompatibility by rejecting one of the three theses. Umrao took a different route, she suggested a way in which we might accept all three theses by appeal to her notion of constitutively over-determined appearances.
After lunch mentee Natalie Ashton (Edinburgh) presented her paper ‘Feminist Epistemology as Mainstream’. Natalie began by pointing out that feminist epistemologies do not tend to be discussed in mainstream epistemology, she suggested that this may be due to a suspicion that political motivations cloud feminist epistemologies. Natalie argued that such a suspicion is misguided, and that many epistemologists (focusing in this paper on hinge epistemologists), are doing work compatible with feminist epistemologies. She also argued that hinge epistemologies would benefit from bringing feminist epistemologies into the mainstream.
Our final mentee talk was given by Julia Langkau (Konstanz) with her paper ‘Learning from Fiction’. Julia started with the claim that we can gain substantive knowledge from fiction. She argued that through fiction we can gain substantive counterfactual knowledge, in the same way that we gain such knowledge through the use of thought experiments. She focused on the role imagination plays in the gaining of such knowledge, and drew on empirical evidence to suggest that the counterfactual judgements we form when we read fiction are reliable ones.
Our final speaker of the conference was Helen Yetter-Chappell (York), giving a talk on the US Job Market. Helen talked about the different kinds of institutions in the US, she gave advice on the application process, including advice on cover letters and writing samples, and talked about the different kinds of interviews which take place and how to prepare for them.
To close the workshop, we had parallel mentoring sessions for the mentees who had given their papers on the second day. The Philosophy of Religion session discussing Laura’s paper was run by mentor Elizabeth Burns (Heythrop) and sponsored by the Society for Women in Philosophy UK. The Philosophy of Perception session discussing Umrao’s paper was run by mentor Heather Logue (Leeds) and sponsored by the Mind Association. The Feminist Philosophy session discussing Natalie Ashton’s paper was run by mentor Jennifer Saul (Sheffield), and sponsored by the Society for Women in Philosophy UK. And the Aesthetics session discussing Julia’s paper was run by mentor Kathleen Stock (Sussex) and sponsored by the British Society of Aesthetics.
To repeat what I said at the end of the first post: we are very grateful to our sponsors for their support. And also to the mentors, mentees, careers speakers, and delegates, for making the workshop such a success.
(Report also published on Imperfect Cognitions blog on 30th July and 6th August.)