SWIP UK Panel at the Joint Session of the Mind Association and Aristotelian Society

Venue: University of Stirling, 6th-8th July 2012

At the 2012 Joint Session there will be a SWIP UK panel of papers devoted to topics in any area of interest to women in philosophy.

To attend this panel you will need to register as a delegate for the Joint Session.

Titles, Speakers and Abstracts

'A Note on 'Woman''

Dan López de Sa, ICREA and Universitat de Barcelona

What does 'woman' mean? There has been a longstanding debate as to whether 'woman' is a "sex-term" referring to a biological, natural (enough) kind, or a "gender-term" referring to a cultural, (somehow) socially constructed kind. After critically examining these families of accounts, Saul (2012) considers a contextualist proposal, according to which ‘woman’ (in a context) picks out those relevantly similar (according to the standards at work in the context) to most of those possessing all of the biological markers of female sex. In this note, I contrast this to the view that ‘woman’ is a paradigm-based concept, like ‘tree’ or ‘chair’, picking out those that share enough relevant features with the paradigms.

‘Catherine Cockburn on Space as Substance’

Emily Thomas, University of Cambridge

Catherine Trotter Cockburn is an early eighteenth century woman philosopher, best known for her work on Locke. This paper investigates a neglected aspect of Cockburn's metaphysics: her account of the nature of space. Unusually for the period, Cockburn argues that space is a substance (in the deep, metaphysical sense of the term) and that it is independent of matter. By juxtaposing Cockburn's views with those of prominent early modern substantivalists - including Descartes, Henry More and Newton - the novel nature of her system is revealed. This paper explains how space fills an otherwise empty 'chasm' in Cockburn's ontological hierarchy of being, and how she evades a difficult theological pitfall in a very different way to that of her contemporaries.

The Too Many Reasons Problem

Alexandra (Sasha) Vereker, Kings College London

A Humean theory of normative reasons says that normative (i.e. good) reasons depend, in some way, on desires, emotions and similar states. Traditional Humeans think this is so because I only have a normative reason to do something if it promotes my desires. This raises a problem, namely: there are cases when Humeans must say that desires give me good reasons, when in fact they don't (the Too Many Reasons problem). This problem is a serious one, because it shows that Humeans are failing to give an account of normative reasons as we ordinarily understand them. I argue that in order to solve the Too Many Reasons problem, we need to provide a different role for desires and emotions in explanation of normative reasons. The role I propose is that desires are necessary for acquisition of evaluative concepts, and one's evaluations constitute normative reasons.

‘Heideggerean Relations between Self and Other’

Charlotte Knowles, Birkbeck College

It is often argued that Heidegger has nothing to say to feminists, I take issue with this view and hope to show that his fundamental ontology in Being and Time represents an un-mined feminist resource that can enable the development of a ‘self-focussed’ contribution to feminist philosophy which takes seriously discussions of the social world and our relations with Others. I take the characterisation of the relation between self and Other and show that far from eliding the alterity of the Other, such an understanding follows from and depends upon the internal logic of Heidegger’s ontology.  Ultimately suggesting that a Heideggerean framework provides new and insightful ways for thinking about ourselves and our relations with Others.


Roxanna Lynch, PhD Candidate, College of Human and Health Sciences, Swansea University

Jules Holroyd, Department of Philosophy, University of Nottingham

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