MA, PhD Princeton; BA Rochester
Jenny just recently (August 2019) moved to Waterloo after 24 years at the University of Sheffield, where she retains honorary status. Her primary interests are in Philosophy of Language, Feminism, Philosophy of Race, and Philosophy of Psychology. In recent years, much of her work has been on deception and racism in political speech, a topic which has kept her extremely busy recently. At the moment, she is completing a book entitled Saying The Quiet Part Loud: How Dogwhistles and Figleaves Facilitate Blatant Racism and Falsehood. It explores certain commonalties in the mechanisms that have allowed politicians to get away with much more obvious falsehood and racism than previously thought possible.
Jenny's most recent book was Lying, Misleading and What is Said: An Exploration in Philosophy of Language and in Ethics (Oxford University Press 2012). It argued that considering the distinction between lying and misleading-- which seems to many an ethically significant one-- can help to shed new light on methodological disputes in philosophy of language over notions like what is said, semantic content, implicature, and the semantic/pragmatic distinction more generally. She also argues that careful attention to the way that communication works can shed new light on the ethical issues. (And she considers some fascinating real-world cases, feeding her lifelong obsession with political scandals but also branching out into such excellent topics as the Jesuit Doctrine of Mental Reservation.)
Jenny was Director of the (2011-2013) Leverhulme-funded Implicit Bias and Philosophy Project. She has published two co-edited volumes on implicit bias with Michael Brownstein, and she continues to lecture widely on this topic to a range of audiences. She is especially interested in helping institutions find methods to combat implicit biases, and she frequently advises on this topic. Her view is that structural and institutional solutions are the most effective means of doing this, and she works with the institutions at which she speaks to improve their policies and procedures.
With Helen Beebee, she published a report for the British Philosophical Association and SWIP UK entitled "Women in Philosophy in the UK: A Report". This report presents the first ever study of the gender imbalance in UK philosophy and provides a list of recommendations to combat it. Also with Helen Beebee, she authored guidelines for good practice on gender issues in philosophy-- these can be found at the BPA website, as the BPA/SWIP Good Practice Scheme. Jenny also runs What is Like to be a Woman in Philosophy and founded the Feminist Philosophers blog.
Jenny enjoys working with governmental organisations. She recently completed an 18 month project with the UK Cabinet Office, helping them to improve the diversity of the UK government's security workforce. This collaboration with colleagues from Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Sheffield conducted original empirical research and advised on ways to improve recruitment and retention of a more diverse workforce. Jenny is currently advising the UK Statistics Authority, as they work on developing a framework for understanding and classifying misleading uses of statistics
Jenny is now Waterloo Chair in Social and Political Philosophy of Language at the University of Waterloo. She is currently Chair of the Analysis Committee. From 2009-2019, she was Director of the Society for Women UK, and in 2019-2020 she was President of the Mind Association. In 2011, she received the Distinguished Woman Philosopher Award from the Society for Women in Philosophy in Washington, DC. Yet her proudest accomplishment remains having been a consultant on a zombie movie script.
There's a recent interview with Jenny here, which gives an overview of what she's been up to lately.