Call for Papers
SWIP UK Panel at the Joint Session of the Mind Association and Aristotelian Society
Venue: University of Cambridge, 11th-13th July 2014
The 2014 Joint Session hosted a SWIP UK panel of papers.
- Transfeminist Philosophy: An Attempt at Characterisation Stephanie Kapusta, University of Western Ontario
- Whose benefit matters in wrongful exploitation? Mollie Gerver, London School of Economics
- 'Woman' as a politically significant term: A solution to the puzzle, Esa Diaz-Leon, University of Manitoba
- Reasons, Advice and Slut-Shaming, Hallie Liberto, University of Connecticut & Eric Wiland, University of Missouri - St. Louis
For details see the conference webpage.
Jules Holroyd, Department of Philosophy, University of Nottingham
Roxanna Lynch, College of Human and Health Sciences, Swansea University
Feminist philosophy has raised critical awareness of women’s issues and of the oppression of women, as well as of the complexities of gender identity, not just within philosophy, but also beyond. I take it as a premise of the present paper that a specifically transfeminist philosophy could, similarly, increase critical awareness of trans issues and oppression suffered by trans people, as well as of further complexities of gender identity. But how might one characterise a transfeminist philosophy? In this paper I propose a ‘rule of thumb’ characterisation, focussing on what might count as being a transfeminist work of philosophy. First, I distinguish between gender scripting and legitimate processes of gender ascription, and argue that trans people resist, and hence problematize, not only gender scripting (gender-linked expectations) but also processes of gender ascription. Second, I maintain that a philosophical work that is transfeminst seeks to incorporate this general approach, while manifesting solidarity with, and critical responsiveness to, the trans community. This leads to a generalization of these basic features into an initial formulation of what features a work of philosophy should possess in order to be considered transfeminist. Third, I apply this general characterisation to a particular work of philosophy – Charlotte Witt’s The Metaphysics of Gender – to determine whether it is transfeminist in the specified sense.
A necessary condition of exploitation is that one party extracts a benefit from another party. Yet, it is unclear whether one or both of the following conditions are necessary for wrongful exploitation to take place:
1. An exploited party receives less of a benefit than he ought to receive, were the exploiter to fulfil her moral obligations.
2. The exploiter receives a benefit in excess of what she ought to receive, were she to fulfil her moral obligations.
I will first show that an excessive benefit is not a necessary condition for exploitation. I will then show that a deficient benefit compared to the moral baseline (what the exploiter ought to do) is a necessary condition for both exploitation and negligence. Thirdly, I will show that an additional necessary condition for exploitation, and not negligence, is that the benefit for the exploiter moves the moral baseline such that the exploiter now must provide a greater benefit for the exploited and, because of this, the benefit for the exploited is deficient compared to what the exploiter ought to now provide. When this moral baseline moves, the benefit for the exploited is the same, but it is now relatively lower compared to the baseline moral obligation of the exploiter. In other words, what makes exploitation wrong and distinct from other wrongs, including negligence, is the way in which the benefit for one party increases the deficiency in the benefit that an exploitee receives relative to the moral baseline.
What does “woman” mean? According to two competing views, it can be seen as a sex term or as a gender term. Recently, Saul (2012) has put forward a contextualist view, according to which “woman” can have different meanings in different contexts. The main motivation for this view seems to involve moral and political considerations, namely, that this view seems to do justice to the claims of trans women. Unfortunately, Saul argues, on further reflection the contextualist view fails to do justice to those moral and political claims that motivated the view in the first place. In this paper I argue that there is a version of the contextualist view which can indeed capture those moral and political aims, and in addition, I use this case to illustrate an important and more general claim, namely, that moral and political considerations can be relevant to the descriptive project of finding out what certain politically significant terms actually mean.
The expression "slut-shaming" is most commonly used to refer to derogatory comments and behavior aimed at women's sexual experiences, and at their choices that are perceived of as sexual in nature (e.g. how they dress). Such comments and behavior suggest that a woman's sexual behavior is immoral, or that the character of the woman herself is lacking in virtue. Notoriously, slut-shaming promotes a double-standard for men and women's sexual mores.In this paper we are going to explore a different type of slut-shaming. Just as we feel shame about our immoral acts or for our vices, we tend to feel shame when we act imprudently or are perceived as acting imprudently. Hence, one way of slut-shaming is to make a woman feel as if her sexual choices, or how she dresses, are stupid. Consider 3 different pieces of advice:
1) If you sleep with too many boys at school, you'll get a bad reputation. You don't want to get a reputation!
2) If you wear knee-high boots and make-up to your job talk, no one will take you seriously as a philosopher.
3) If you walk home alone after midnight, you might get raped. So, don't walk home alone.
In one sense, these are all good pieces of advice. Depending on the neighborhood or department,1, 2, and 3 warn someone of highly or moderately probable bad consequences of their choices. However, these forms of advice, when they are widespread, also exacerbate, and sometimes even create, bad consequences to the chosen behavior of the advisees. They create a culture in which victims of these sorts of bad (or criminal) forms of behavior are considered stupid. 1, 2, and 3 also fail to take into account the moral reasons advisees might have to resist gendered oppression.
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