Abstracts and Authors: Last names A to C

Authors: Almassi | Anderson | Appavoo | Arnaud (Beaulac) | Ball | Belinga | Bell | Bentley | Berenstain | Berkhout (Harbin, Tekinand, Jaarsma) | Billingsley | Branch-Smith | Brown (Havstad) | Brumble (Brennan, Delehanty, Wyatt) | Calvert | Clough | Clune-Taylor | Code | Copeland | Crasnow | Crowley (Rotschy, Plaisance)


Almassi, BenFeminist Allyship & Situated Knowledge

This paper is a critical inquiry into allyship as a hermeneutical resource in feminist social epistemologies. Allyship and in particular what it means to be a good ally may vary across social contexts. I will consider, for example, coalitions among women of different racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and national identities; queer-straight alliances; men’s roles in gender justice; allyships across different human embodiments and disabilities; and collaboration across different feminist groups. The approach will be deliberately pluralist, resisting a single account of allyship as actually practiced, yet with special attention given to a feature of allyship across many contexts and relevant to situated knowledge: allyship as a simultaneous recognition of difference and commonality. So understood, allies as allies share common purpose, but from different social locations. I propose that attending to allyship in this way can help address a deep issue for feminist standpoint theory, raised by Narayan and others, “regarding the possibility of understanding and political cooperation between oppressed groups and sympathetic members of a dominant group – say, between white people and people of color over issues of race or between men and women over issues of gender.” When knowledge-making practices are socially situated, and when social and epistemic privileges vary inversely (as Wylie identifies the twin theses of standpoint theory), how can we meaningfully understand those differently situated from us? How can those with social privileges adopt standpoint methodologies that ground knowledge-making practices in marginalized social locations they themselves do not occupy? Such social-epistemic challenges can be difficult for practicable feminist standpoint inquiries. Here I seek to describe how the difference-in-commonality distinctive of many feminist allyships can be a resource in navigating these challenges and fostering collaborative understanding across our gender and other social differences.


Anderson, DerekSemantic Externalism and Social Power Dynamics

According to a widely accepted version of semantic externalism developed by Tyler Burge, the meanings of our words, and thus the truth-values of our sentences, are determined in large part by our willingness to defer to other members of our linguistic community. An alarming and underappreciated consequence of Burge’s thesis is that truth itself can be strongly influenced by oppressive power structures within society. Members of disenfranchised groups who are denied authority in a given society are much less likely to be deferred to and much more likely to defer in the use of their words. This gives enfranchised groups a constitutive role in fixing the meanings of their society’s words, which in turn can have drastic effects on social and political proceedings as well as on the characterization and legitimation of scientific and philosophical knowledge.

I argue that these semantic power dynamics can and do negatively affect oppressed groups in the United States, and I argue that we can and should remedy these negative effects by ‘speaking the language of the oppressed’ in both political and scientific settings concerning those groups.

I go on to argue that semantic power dynamics can also have a negative effect within philosophy itself, curtailing ideas that contradict certain received views when those ideas are put forth by disenfranchised members of the philosophical community and when those received views are defended by enfranchised members. This problem calls for a different kind of solution—a sustained effort by the philosophical community to recognize and correct for social power dynamics in the course of pursuing our inquiries.


Appavoo, DonnaRecognizing the Role of Gender and Local Food Systems in Type 2 diabetes: Nutrition Education in Rural SouthWestern Ontario

Food and health systems are interdependent. Historically, however, strategies that focused on the development of these systems evolved in isolation from one another. Non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes have an etiology that is strongly linked to food systems. Type 2 diabetes is taking an ever-increasing toll on health, and health systems globally--and Canada is no exception. An advocacy approach to improve food system characteristics linked to the development of diabetes has been proposed by health professional organizations.

The primary objective of this research is to contribute to the development of a framework for action that offers nutrition educators working in rural areas an approach they can use to foster the adoption of local sustainable food systems. The ultimate objective is to improve the diet, and by extension, the health of those suffering from type 2 diabetes. As part of the research approach, a gendered analysis was employed for the following reasons: First, there is a gendered division of labour around food production, procurement and preparation and health care work. Second, there is a gendered profile of patterns of illness and access to care for people with type 2 diabetes.

The research methodology was comprised of a case study and mixed methods approach. The communities in Southwestern Ontario were selected for inclusion in the case study using criteria based on the Rurality Index of Ontario. Data was collected through extensive literature reviews, 34 semi-structured interviews with health professionals, 24 surveys of people afflicted with type 2 diabetes and researcher ‘in situ’ observations.

The findings provide information about gender roles, community capacity, sense of community, and health professional training that should be considered in the development of policies to promote local food systems.


Arnaud, Sarah and Guillaume Beaulac - Explanations of ASD: A Spectrum of Disorders

Baron-Cohen’s research is unavoidable when it comes to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). His controversial extreme male brain hypothesis (EMBH) has been widely influential. In this framework, ASD is linked to high testosterone levels: a factor explaining why people with autism are usually extreme systemisers and bad empathisers. EMBH is based on the premise that this is a typically male characteristic, a premise supported by Baron-Cohen’s notions of Systemizing Quotient (SQ) and Empathy Quotient (EQ)—where men usually score significantly higher on SQ tests and lower on EQ tests.

This feature of the theory has been under attack notably by Fine (2010). She questions the legitimacy of SQ and EQ tests and highlights methodological flaws in the correlations found between SQ/EQ scores and testosterone levels. Fine’s work fights the neurosexism inherent in Baron-Cohen’s framework and, accordingly, it gives the basis to form realistic considerations about autism. In this paper, we propose another way to question methodological assumptions underlying Baron-Cohen’s EMBH, a proposal in line with Fine’s conclusions.

Assuming that autism is due to a specific shift in the brain caused by prenatal testosterone levels, Baron-Cohen takes for granted that autism is a unified phenomenon with one or more identifiable underlying causes. While there is more or less a consensus about the behavioral manifestations of autism (useful for diagnosis), the genetic, neurological and potentially hormonal causes seem to be as diverse as are the people with autism. It is therefore highly doubtful that ASD could be seen as a natural kind, one we could explain by a given set of causes or even with a single theory. The suggestion would be to rather focus on studying variations within the spectrum. If this were to be right, as we believe it is, then Baron-Cohen’s EMBH would be a non-starter.


Ball, KellyAdolescence, Race, and Sexuality: Implications for Feminist Developmental Psychology

Theories concerning adolescence and sexuality—two of developmental psychology’s primary research interests—form the theoretical terrain against which girlhood has been understood. G. Stanley Hall’s 1904 writing on girlhood, and the American Psychological Association’s 2012 anthology The Sexualization of Girls and Girlhood bookend the persistence of psychological inquiry into what defines girlhood as a developmental stage. Hall remains known for delimiting adolescence as a life stage permeated by sociocultural influences in his volumes Adolescence. Contemporary feminist developmentalists focus much of their research on sexualization as constitutive of female adolescence. In doing so, developmentalist accounts of girlhood—as an amalgamation of sex, gender, and sexuality—maintain an analytical distinction from race, class, ability, and other forms of social difference while emphasizing the role of sexual development.

This paper argues that, in order to produce a feminist account of adolescence as a modern life stage, we ought not singularly turn to theories of sexual development. To accomplish this, I return to Hall’s articulation of adolescence as a racially defined life stage that fundamentally accounts for racial superiority. Informed by the doctrine of recapitulation, Hall understands adolescence as a period during which white people become civilized while people of color, and particularly “Negroes,” remain savage. By glossing Hall’s argument, I trace the racialized inheritances embedded in developmental theories of adolescence. The paper thus questions girls’ sexuality as an object of scientific inquiry. In doing so, my research illustrates how feminist developmentalists often must work in response to theoretical residue such as Hall’s, without attending to (or being aware of) the conceptual history of racialization that contours our assumptions. Following the incisive scholarship of feminist science scholars such as Elizabeth Wilson and feminist developmentalists such as Sheila Greene, this paper challenges the inherited assumptions the drive research on female adolescence and girls’ sexuality.


Belinga, Marie-EvelinaDes philosophes féministes du XVIIe et XVIIIe siècle dans le corpus des cours au CÉGEP

J'ai obtenu un baccalauréat et une maîtrise en philosophie de l'Université de Montréal, et j'ai suivi une formation pédagogique à l'Université de Montréal pour l'enseignement de la philosophie au collégial. J'enseigne la philosophie au CÉGEP depuis 4 ans. J'ai constaté en consultant les différents manuels de philosophie qui sont destinés aux étudiants et étudiantes, que les femmes philosophes sont très rarement sinon jamais présentées à l'intérieur des manuels de philosophie. La thèse que je tente de défendre est la suivante: les philosophes féministes de tradition française comme Marie de Gournay, Gabrielle Suchon, Olympe de Gouges, philosophes féministes du XVIIe et XVIIIe siècle pour ne citer qu'elles, ne font pas partie de la tradition philosophique dominante. De ce fait; elles ne semblent pas être enseignées dans les cours de philosophie au collégial, elles ne semblent pas être adéquatement représentées dans les manuels de philosophie au collégial destinés aux étudiants et étudiantes. Elles sont évincées de l'héritage philosophique transmis au Québec. Je soutiens le point de vue selon lequel , il est évident que par la tribune de l'enseignement de la philosophie au collégial, nous continuons d'encourager des biais implicites et de renforcer des stéréotypes selon lesquels l'activité philosophique est une activité "essentiellement" d'hommes de l'Antiquité à la Modernité. Je pense que ces biais ont une influence sur l'intérêt des femmes à s'engager dans des études supérieures en philosophie. La situation semble également alarmante car plusieurs étudiants et étudiantes du CÉGEP continueront à alimenter ces stéréotypes du fait de l'enseignement traditionnel philosophique reçus au collégial. En tant qu’institution d’éducation, nous avons la responsabilité de nuancer cette interprétation traditionaliste en intégrant des femmes philosophes dans le corpus des cours et des manuels et en présentant la réflexion philosophique et féministe de femmes amoureuses de la sagesse.
J'ai,pour ma part , intégré cette année au corpus de mon cours l'être humain, les trois femmes philosophes précédemment citées . Je pourrai témoigner de mon expérience et de l'expérience de mes étudiants et étudiantes, au cours de ma communication. J'appuierai également mes propos de références "factuelles" concernant les manuels au collégial et la littérature féministe concernant la remise en question d'une tradition philosophique dominante.


Bell, Melina ConstantineSex Essentialism and American Law

American law presumes that all persons are born either female or male, and rests a surprising number of legal entitlements on this presumption. Persons’ legal rights to express their identity at work, to use public accommodations, to get married, and to retain legal parenthood status with respect to their children may all depend on whether they are female or male. Yet we, as individuals, generally have no choice regarding whether we are legally designated female or male, just as people had no choice as to whether they were designated “colored” or “white” under past racial discrimination schemes. Moreover, as recent analysis of brain organization research studies shows, human brains are not hardwired to be male or female. And even though common medical practice is to “normalize” babies who are intersex, the significant number of babies whose sex is determined as a matter of social policy shows that bodies are not biologically determined to be either female or male, either. American law then is not only unjust but also predicated on faulty science and misconceptions arising from unawareness, or disregard, of clandestine medical practices.

I argue for a revisionary position. Recognizing that the current legal categories of female and male are largely social constructs, I argue that it is as unjust for the law to enforce the female/male dichotomy concerning sex as it is to enforce the white/colored dichotomy concerning race. I borrow from Anthony Simon Laden’s work on deliberative liberalism to argue that individuals should determine their own personal identities. Likewise the law should be prohibited from forcing people to conform their identities in a way they find distorting to be included politically.


Bentley, VanessaA Century of Searching for Sex/Gender Differences in the Corpus Callosum

The corpus callosum has been studied for sex/gender differences for over a hundred years. Although Bishop and Wahlsten (1997) and Fausto-Sterling (2000) both declared that there were no sex/gender differences in the size and shape of the corpus callosum, the question persists. This is ethically problematic because finding sex/gender differences and assuming they are natural within a gendered power system contributes to the harm experienced by women – and science is complicit in this harm. Following up on the two reviews, I update the story. I find that despite failing for over a hundred years to find sex/gender differences in the corpus callosum, current practice continues to search for them in order to affirm the expectation of a neurological substrate for sex/gender differences without critically examining the assumptions underlying their pursuit.

I find that: 1) There are no consistent findings of sex/gender differences across studies. 2) Standard methodological controls, such as blind measurement and analysis procedures and controlling for multiple comparisons are not followed, allowing for assumptions to influence findings. 3) Participants are not recruited from a diversity of racial and ethnic backgrounds, when there might be differences amongst cultures regarding hemispheric asymmetries. 4) Social experience is not accounted for, even though some research suggests that music and art experience and being literate affects corpus callosum development. This reveals the neuroimagers’ bias for natural, biological explanations over social explanations. 5) Neuroimaging researchers confuse sex and gender terms. 6) The standard parcellation schemes, with their assumed areas of cortical projection, may not map onto actual cortical projections.

Thus, current practice in the neuroimaging of sex/gender differences in the corpus callosum is methodologically and theoretically flawed and contributes to the reduction of sex/gender differences to nature. Using feminist standpoint theory, I suggest modifications to current practice to begin to address these problems.


Berenstain, NoraIntrospection, Rationality, and Resistance to Implicit Bias

Sexual harassment, racist and sexist microaggressions, stereotype threat, implicit bias, and explicit discrimination all play a role in explaining the gender gap and underrepresentation of people of color in philosophy as well as in many of the sciences. But what accounts for the fact that the underrepresentation of women and people of color is worse in philosophy than it in many scientific disciplines? I identify two features of philosophy that are relatively uncommon in the sciences and suggest that they lead to an increased level of skepticism about implicit bias. These are the concept of the idealized Kantian rational self and the methodological reliance on introspection as a way of accessing our own propositional attitudes. I propose that these factors provide an obstacle to achieving a full understanding of the phenomenon of implicit bias and that they lead individuals to underestimate the extent to which their judgments are affected by implicit bias. Further, I investigate the possible applications of Uhlmann and Cohen’s (2007) result in psychology to explaining why philosophers may be more susceptible to implicit bias than others in academia. In particular, the results indicate that those who are primed with a sense of their own objectivity are more likely to rely on gender bias in hiring scenarios. I suggest that philosophy’s reliance on a priori methodology may function as one such primer, thus increasing the effects of gender bias in philosophers’ evaluations of one another.


Berkhout, Suze, Ami Harbin, Serife Tekinand Ada JaarsmaQuestions of Method in/and Feminist Philosophy of Science: Empirical, Material, Existential

Panel Abstract: Many questions regarding the nature of feminist philosophy—what is distinctive about doing philosophy as a feminist and what it means to engage in the philosophical tradition through feminism—find resonance within feminist philosophy of science. Traditional epistemological values associated with scientific practices (objectivity, universality, neutrality) push against foundational aspects of feminist scholarship; ontological presumptions of most contemporary scientific endeavors (positivism, scientific realism) frequently antagonize feminist allegiances to understanding practices as situated, particular, and contingent. With these issues in mind, feminist critiques of science have powerfully articulated the relationship between cultural ideals of masculinity and epistemological ideals of science, through a concerted interrogation of the social and political conditions of knowledge-generating practices (Armstrong 1983; Haraway 1988; Tuana 1989; Keller and Longino eds. 1996). But to what extent have such considerations been applied to methodological questions and choices within feminist philosophy of science itself? This issue is particularly pertinent as the boundaries of contemporary philosophy shift to include a greater engagement with empirical data and knowledge-generating practices.

In this panel, the authors explore questions of method as these relate to philosophy with(in) a feminist lens: examining where feminist ontological and epistemology commitments intersect with methodological considerations in the “doing” of philosophy of science, and where they diverge. Collectively, the panel asks whether, as feminist philosophers, there are limits to the sort of methods that one might employ, and how we ought to engage with certain forms of data—for instance, that which has been generated through the very ideological structures feminist thought seeks to undermine. Through their engagement with epigenetics, psychopathologies, clinical neurosciences, and epidemiology, the authors raise questions of method that simultaneously attend to the place of embodiment, narrative, social imaginary, and critique within feminist philosophy of science, problematizing and extending thinking within this field.

Berkhout, SuzeFeminist Scholarship, Methodology, and Studying Science

Textual rereading is never enough, even if one defines the text as the world. Reading, no matter how active, is not a powerful enough trope; we do not swerve decisively enough. The trick is to make metaphor and materiality implode in the culturally specific apparatuses of bodily production. (Haraway, 1994)

When Helen Longino asked, in 1987, “can there be a feminist science?” her discussion contributed to the generation of an important body of literature in feminist philosophy. Longino offered an account of “bottom-line” values that were informed by feminist commitments, but in fact free of explicit feminist content; these values would function to enhance the epistemic integrity of knowledge production and unambiguously call for scientific practices to be sites of power redistribution (Longino 1987; Wylie 2012, 547). To think about “doing science as a feminist” is to focus on process rather than product. But how does Longino’s’ question apply to feminist philosophy of science itself? This paper explores the question of what it means to do philosophy of science as a feminist, by asking whether Longino’s discussion of community values and commitments similarly applies to philosophy of science. Drawing a parallel argument from Longino’s work, I argue that if feminist philosophy of science is meant to push against “establishment” philosophy of science and its attendant intellectual allegiances (Longino 1987, 61), the political considerations that serve as constraints on reasoning may not leave methodological choices entirely open. I then turn to issues of method within the works of Anne Marie Mol and Donna Haraway, in order to critically engage with Longino’s analysis and with the boundaries of feminist philosophy of science. As the panel’s opening paper, the central questions establish a general frame through which the subsequent papers interrogate, extend, and play with issues of method with(in) feminist philosophy of science. Examining my own research practices, this paper additionally serves as a kind of call to action—a call to science-in-action, for feminist philosophers.

Harbin, AmiMethodological Individualism and Posttraumatic Growth

A relatively new field of qualitative research in psychology draws attention to the phenomenon of individuals’ experiencing personal growth after very difficult life events. A team of scientists and psychologists at University of North Carolina at Charlotte has developed a research program into ‘posttraumatic growth’ using the term to describe how, after devastating or otherwise difficult experiences like house fires, grief, or assault, individuals can come to feel that they have gained purpose, understanding, or a clearer vision of what matters to them. In the panel’s second paper, I critically evaluate the methodological strategies of this scientific and clinical research, from the perspective of feminist relational theory.

Any research into the ways complex experiences can generate positive effects faces the challenge of interpreting what agents say about their own lives. For one thing, researchers need to critically analyze how individuals come to understand their own experiences as ‘growth’. Agents’ narratives for interpreting their own experiences after traumatic events are at least partially constrained by what they have gathered from others’ narratives. Likewise, agents’ interpretations of what parts of their posttraumatic experience count as growth are shaped by how others have described the positive effects of their own experiences, as well as by how others suggest I interpret my own. Designing methodologies for determining whether or how individual grow following traumatic life events is complicated insofar as individuals experience and interpret traumatic recovery relationally. Yet, investigating the methodological strategies of the scientific and clinical research into posttraumatic growth reveals a lack of attention to these complexities, and a persistent individualism at work in the understanding of traumatized persons. In this paper, I outline the methodological limitations of the research into posttraumatic growth thus far, and suggest how a critical feminist methodology would approach the testimony of the individuals differently.

Tekin, SerifeBringing the Self back in Psychopathology: What Can Scientific Psychiatry Learn from Feminist Philosophy of Science?

Self, the subject of mental disorder, has been absent from the scientific frameworks that investigate psychopathology, since the publication of the DSM-III (1980), primarily because the concept of self was considered to be too abstract, or not readily measurable, to allow for scientific research. Although DSM categories afford generalizations and predictions, they leave out key aspects of mental disorders pertaining to subjectivity because they present symptomclusters, void of personal identity, cognitive architecture, and socio-cultural context. The asymmetry between the experience of mental distress and its taxonomy results with DSM’s failure to spearhead reliable scientific research and effective clinical practice (Parnas & Sass 2003; Kendler 1990; Sadler 2005; NAME REMOVED in press).

While there have been recent attempts to bring the self back into the scientific study of psychopathology, especially in clinical neuroscience (e.g., Nelson et al 2011; Qin & Northoff 2011), these have not been successful in drawing reliable generalizations about mental disorder etiology. This failure is the outcome of what I shall call the problem of wandering terminology, i.e., the incongruence of the definitions of the self, operationalized in research contexts. Specifically concepts such as “self,” “self-experience,” “self-concepts” interchangeably in these works, even though we know from literature in philosophy and cognitive science that these concepts individuate different phenomena.

In the panel’s third paper, I bring feminist philosophy and feminist philosophy of science to bear on the problem of wandering phenomenology and examine how the concept of self can be operationalized in psychiatric research. First I evaluate how feminist philosophy can illuminate our understanding of the self that is the subject of psychopathology. Subsequently, I explore how feminist philosophy of science can help scientific psychiatry in its efforts to develop effective methodologies to investigate psychopathology.

Jaarsma, AdaFeminist Existentialism in a Post-Genomic World

According to anthropologist Margaret Lock, we live in a “post-genomic age of uncertainty.” Referring in part to the Human Genome Project’s failure to meet many of its own deliverables, Lock is pointing to the anxiety that results from the scientific realization that there is no regulating genetic script by which we reliably inherit traits or trajectories. The need to expand our definition of genetics to include the contingencies of environment and behavior means that we need to situate human life in relation to highly dynamic temporalities. As evolutionary biologists like Susan Oyama and Marion Lamb explain, this shift from genetics to epigenetics raises methodological challenges for scientists. In this final panel contribution, I examine these challenges in light of feminist philosophy, looking especially at their existential implications.

There are profound resonances between epigenetic research and the existential insights of feminist philosophers like Simone de Beauvoir and Hannah Arendt. For example, the indeterminacy of development and the entanglement of biology with sociocultural environments, two themes that characterize post-genomic science, can be read as essentially existential concerns with the ambiguity of embodiment. Moreover, the very definitions of “life” and “the human” are rendered unstable by the evolutionary biology of epigenetics. By identifying and elaborating the existential significance of epigenetic research, I make the case for the contemporary relevance of Beauvoir’s ethics of ambiguity and Arendt’s embodied account of judgement. In turn, I draw out the ramifications of epigenetics for ongoing feminist debates about life, embodiment, and the boundaries of the human.


Billingsley, AmyTechnology and Narratives of Continuity in Trans Experiences

In Changing Sex, Bernice Hausman argues that the medical technologies trans people access in order to physically transition are often ignored in accounts of trans experience. While Hausman ultimately dismisses trans experiences when she emphasizes this use of technology, I will show that bringing back an emphasis on trans technology can be beneficial in the context of continuity metaphors and narratives. Many accounts from both trans and cis people frame transition as a narrative of fundamental change in which the pre-transition subject and the post-transition subject are effectively distinct, separable persons. In this article, I will argue that the metaphor of fundamental change is phenomenologically untenable and covers over the actuality of trans lives and the pain and oppression related to transition. First, I will show that the metaphor of fundamental change appears in a variety of cis and trans cultural productions, including media, autobiographies, and accounts by family and partners of trans people. Next, I will argue that the fundamental change metaphor can be motivated by oppositional sexism, ignorance, dissonant experiences, or the denial of pain. Finally, referring to Merleau-Ponty and Mark Johnson, I will show that the fundamental change metaphor both contradicts lived experience and creates a narrative that covers over the actuality of trans lives and the oppression targeted against them. Emphasizing continuity will require an acknowledgment of the technology that trans people access, but this can be used to highlight the pain and oppression that trans people often experience rather than rendering trans experiences as inauthentic or derived. Furthermore, by emphasizing continuity, we must situate technology in the context of a larger stream of life that cannot be reduced to specific engagements with technology.


Branch-Smith, TeresaChoose your Character: Video-Games & Gender

The dramatic rise of video games to be the most profitable entertainment platform has led educators to create many educational video-games; however, there has been comparatively little work done on the learning potential embedded in entertainment games. Video-games, while having an extremely diverse audience, are generally targeted specifically to a younger crowd that consume games in extremely high amounts. This same early teenage demographic are also responsible for the noted decrease in enrolment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses that occurs before the beginning of high school. Although there exists a stereotype that gaming enthusiasts are almost exclusively young males who play with more intensity than females, or for longer durations then girls, there is little evidence to support this supposition. Therefore, there is an opportunity here to see an example of what non-formal scientific content youth (and females in particular) are exposed to at a formative time in their educational careers. The literature has revolved around both what players learn from video games as well as elements of game design that promote learning. However, in this instance, feminist epistemology will be used to examine gendered gaming and illuminate some stereotype threats and implicit biases, found throughout the discourse. It will explore the role of female gammers in the sphere of entertainment video-games in terms of economic contributions, play patterns and long-term effects on STEM careers. A case-study on the video-game series Mass Effect by Bioware will be used as an example.


Brown, Matthew Jand Joyce HavstadScience-Based Policy as Interdisciplinary Inquiry

We are in desperate need of new models of science-policy interaction, especially models for science-based policy. The most popular existing models are clear failures, including both the linear model of science advising and that of evidence-based policy. No other major alternatives have caught on, and each of these alternatives is at best a partial correction to the major approaches. In this paper, we develop a new model for science-based policy, building on resources from pragmatist epistemology, feminist philosophy of science, and studies of interdisciplinarity. One major feature of this new model is that it rejects the untenable dichotomy between the scientific process and the policy process, in favor of a view where both science and policy-making are regarded as species of the larger process of problem-solving social inquiry. Pragmatist and feminist theories of inquiry teach us that inquiry is contextual, value-laden, fallible, and tentative; taking these lessons seriously suggests major changes to the status quo for science-policy interaction. For example, treating policy as a form of feminist-pragmatist inquiry makes clearer the role of evidence, as well as the need to regard policy implementation as experimental and tentative—to seek ways to monitor its consequences and to make revisions when necessary. Also, recognizing the contextual nature of science renders attempts to create scientific evidence that can "plug and play" in any policy implausible (contra the assumptions of evidence-based policy models). Finally, on the presumption that science and policy-making are parallel processes of inquiry, the right model for science-based policy is to treat it as a form of interdisciplinary research. This allows us to learn from the growing body of research on interdisciplinarity, drawing lessons for the development of a better model of science-based policy.


Brumble, Kimberly, Samantha Brennan, Megan Delehanty and Nicole WyattSelf, Self-Image, and the Selfie

Panel Abstract: "Selfie,” defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website" was also the OED's word on the year in 2013. While the “selfie” has been widely derided in the media as an act of “supreme narcissism” and disparagingly associated with youth culture, the members of this panel have each taken a different perspective on wider social implications and import of the rise of selfies and self-culture. Each participant engages a current in selfie-culture which uses the selfie to subvert the tropes usually associated with it, with particular attention to the way that the selfie, which is usually gendered female, may be a vehicle for the empowerment of women and marginalized peoples.

For people with disabilities, selfies represent rising trends in empowerment and the reduction of stigma that New Media afford (and with diverse applications and effects). Viewed through the lens of speech act theory, selfies can take on explicitly feminist messages, asserting a wide variety of messages depending on content and context. For people with restrictive eating disorders selfies may represent a form of objective evidence beneficial to recovery and not otherwise available. For women facing the invisibility of midlife brought about by the very “youth culture” thought to be responsible for the rise of the selfie, the selfie may represent a viable option to insist on being seen via social media. In each of these cases we explore empowering possibilities of social media and digital photography as avenues which enrich the lives of the creators of selfies.

Bumble, KimberlyThis is what Disability Looks Like: self-representation, New Media, and the humanization of disability

Disabilities have been traditionally represented through images and descriptions, such as medical stills and diagnostic manuals, which rarely reflected any control on the part of the people depicted. The results were often anonymous and dehumanizing. Recently, there have been strides in humanizing the depictions of disabilities as part of the larger campaigns to decrease stigma faced by disabled people. In recognition of the fact that disabilities are attributes which manifest in human subjects, more representations of disabilities are being made by disabled people featuring disabled people speaking about their own experiences and disabilities.

These self-directed and produced representations are in turn beneficial not only in medicine, but also in educational, social, and work environments and for diversity sensitivity training. Since the humanization of representations of people with disabilities is an important part of decreasing stigma, it stands to reason that self-representation is a powerful tool for disability awareness and acceptance. Many universities now hold “disability awareness” events including panels featuring disabled discussants giving faces to disabilities and describing their own experiences of disability. Likewise, social media in general, and the advent of the “selfie” in particular, add promising mediums for disabled people to direct their representations. For people with visible disabilities, photographic selfrepresentations allow for the depiction of disability in the context of an individual's particular lived experience and identity. For those with invisible disabilities, self-representation allows for increased avenues for creatively and personally contextualizing and revealing their disabilities as inalienable (and hidden) parts of their identities. The results are diverse and often poignant.

Wyatt, NicoleWhat do we say with a Selfie?

Erin Gloria Ryan, writing for Jezebel, claims that “Selfies aren't empowering; they're a high tech reflection of the fucked up way society teaches women that their most important quality is their physical attractiveness.” On her account, to post a selfie is to ask a question, and the question is always “Do you think I am pretty?”. Selfies, she argues, are a call for help. It is of course true that at least some posters of photographic self-portraits aim to ask this question —the well publicized existence of “Am I pretty or ugly?” videos by teenaged girls on YouTube speaks to this. But is this the only communicative content that a selfie can have? Is the “feminist selfie” possible, or do all postings of selfies inevitably ask for the viewer to validate the poster's physical attractiveness?

Rebecca Kukla has suggested that women's speech acts frequently turn out to have a performative force both different and weaker than they would have if expressed by a man. It could be argued, in support of Ryan's claim, that selfies are like that. Perhaps whatever the poster means to communicate by the selfie—whether she intends to assert I am pretty, or I am proud, or I am intelligent, or I am happy, or this is a great hat, or even nothing at all—the result is still that she asks the question, Am I pretty?

While the risk of performative misfire for selfies is indeed present, I claim that is not in fact inevitable. I argue that the posting of deliberate and explicitly feminist selfies, as in the 365feministselfie project, can not only avoid performative misfire but reduce the risk of it more generally. Furthermore, selfies represent an opportunity for women to take control of how they are portrayed and to occupy public space.

Delehanty, MeganWhat do I really look like? The evidential reliability of selfies in AN

One of the perplexing features of restrictive eating disorders is the inability of sufferers to accurately perceive their body. Body image disturbances are partially attitudinal (reflecting dissatisfaction with body shape and size), but are also believed to be perceptual. Investigations involving body size estimation tasks (e.g. having subjects draw what they think the outline of their body looks like) as well as action-related tasks (e.g. assessing when a subject turns sideways to go through doorways of varying widths) indicate that these perceptual disturbances are pervasive. Correcting the overestimation of body size is important for treatment, but even for individuals who are not interested in or actively receiving treatment for their eating disorder, there is often both a recognition that the subject’s own perception of her body shape and size is incorrect together with a strong desire to know what her body really looks like. How can the evidence provided by various forms of body checking (via mirrors, measuring, feeling for bones, etc.), combined with other haptic perceptions, be reconciled with the conflicting reports of others? In this paper, I will examine the difficulty of doing so, with a particular focus on the use of selfies as a way to try to obtain “objective” evidence. There are numerous factors that make the acquisition of reliable evidence particularly challenging in this sort of case, some of which have parallels in the assessment of scientific evidence, but others which are unique to cases where the observer is known to be unreliable, descriptive terms (such as “thin”, “emaciated”, “skinny”, “slender”) have no consistent referent, and the disinterested status of reporters difficult or impossible to establish.

Brennan, Samantha – "Look at Me!” Fighting invisibility: A defence of the midlife “selfie”

Women of my mother’s generation often have very few pictures of themselves. They might have owned personal cameras but they usually played the role of the photographer, documenting both significant life events and everyday activities, of their families. In midlife many women experience the phenomena of becoming invisible. Valued primarily for their looks, in societies that prize youth, older women seem to recede into the background. Judging by my Facebook newsfeed those days are over. While much of the media angst and anxiety about “selfies” concerns young women, usually teenagers, this paper looks at the other end of the spectrum, at the phenomena of the midlife selfie and the middle aged woman’s quest to be seen.


Calvert, ScoutAnxious Naturecultures: Biosociality in Personal Genomics and Donor Sibling Registries

This paper examines the production of family, self, sameness, and difference in two communities organized around the pursuit of genetic knowledges: users of direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests, and families created through the use of donor gametes who connect through groups like the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR). In the post-genomic era, genetic knowledge has a new imperative and power in public discourse. Recreational geneticists, including genetic genealogists, users of DTC medical tests like 23andMe, and the Quantified Self Movement, along with DSR participants, navigate, reproduce, and improvise genetics discourses about disease, inheritance, ancestry, family, and race. Both communities rally behind the cause of the “right” to genetic knowledge: in the case of DSR families, that right is the right of a child to genetic knowledge in the person of the donor. In the case of users of personal genomics tests, it’s the right to the results of genetic tests without interference through government regulation or prescription by a physician. These projects deploy the authority of science to settle matters of human origins and tell us who ‘really are.’ The stakes for indigenous communities, race medicine, and non-lineal family groups are high, as these genetic determinisms calcify and privilege problematic definitions of family, self, tribe, population, and race. This paper will offer responses from feminist science studies to begin unraveling these naturecultures and to engage the biosociality of these communities of practice.


Clough, SharynInvestigating the Sciences of Sex

With the exception of The Case of the Female Orgasm (Lloyd 2005), feminist and other philosophers of science have had little to say about the sciences of sexual desire. This is not helped by the fact that so much of the science of sexual desire has been badly done, poorly operationalized, inappropriately reductive, and misconceived. Indeed what little attention philosophers of science have given to the science of sexual desire is focused appropriately enough on methodological missteps in psychiatry, evolutionary psychology, behavioral genetics, endocrinology, and neurophysiology, though typically as applied to human behavior more generally, with claims about sexuality cited merely as examples of a larger problem. While we are interested in methodological problems with the sciences of sexual desire, including the pathologizing focus on homosexuality, we are also interested in what would count as methodologically sound, compelling, and insightful scientific investigations of sexual desire. Answering this question requires that we examine, among other things, the popular resistance to the very idea of a science of sexual desire. Why when trying better to understand why we desire what and who we want, do so many of us resist the naturalistically-inclined approaches that can now be found within disciplines as otherwise diverse as philosophy, psychology, sociology, anthropology, biology, and genetics? Why do we often feel threatened when we discover that some of the variation of interest can be explained by naturalistically-inclined approaches? We propose that the answers to these questions are related to our collective and common failures to understand what it means for human sexual desire to be a natural, that is, a proper object of scientific investigation, and what it means for scientific investigation to be practice of humans with (sexual) desires. The science of sexual desire is a battleground state, it need not be.


Clune-Taylor, Catherine"Most children with Sue’s condition tend to follow along with that gender”: Problematizing the use of statistical probabilities in assigning sex to infants with disorders of sex development (DSDs)

Both the revised treatment model for intersex conditions or disorders of sex development (DSDs) introduced by the American and European pediatric endocrine associations in 2006, and the clinical treatment model and handbook for parents produced by the former Intersex Society of North America (now the Accord Alliance) that same year advocate the use of statistical probabilities in assigning sex to infants with disorders of sex development. Specifically, they recommend basing sex assignment on the frequency of particular gender identities in adolescents or adults with specific diagnoses (for example, 63% of individuals age 12 and older with 5α-reductase-2 deficiency and 46 XY chromosomes identify as male (Cohen-Kettenis, 2005)). In this presentation, I want to raise three distinct problems with this practice. First, this practice assumes that gender identity is either biologically determined or so closely correlated with biology that an individual’s diagnosis is a good (or even adequate) predictor of future gender identity. Second, this practice is problematically transphobic, predicting future gender identity on the basis of relative frequencies and then prescribing bodily intervention on the basis of this prediction to ensure that future an individual’s future gender identity is cisgendered. Finally, drawing on Mary Beth Mader’s work in her 2011 book Sleights of Reason: Norm, Bisexuality and Development I argue that this practice engages in a problematic sleight of reason by assuming that such relative frequencies can be reapplied or distributed to each individual in any given group and thus are useful as the basis of any particular sex assignment.


Code, LorraineThe Tyranny of Certainty

This paper examines how an elusive yet coercive imperative of achieved certainty as a sine qua non marker of valid policy and action-informing knowledge, especially in ecological-environmental epistemology and ethics, truncates scientific inquiry in itself and in its public reception. This veneration of certainty blocks recognition of the power and value of engaging the “situatedness” of knowledges, in Donna Haraway’s sense. To illustrate such skepticism-promoting appeals, I examine US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s insistence on uncertainty as an excusing factor in his refusal to acknowledge evidence of “climate change” as crucial for public environmental policy. This view contrasts with Joni Seager’s caution about “the miasma of uncertainty” that surrounds environmental issues especially, if not exclusively, as they affect women. The issues are epistemological and ethical, with ethically reprehensible inaction “justified” in cautionary appeals to uncertainty. Invoking a “lack of certainty” as Romney does is unacceptably paternalistic in its implication that he will protect people from insufficiently “proven” measures that interfere unacceptably with their lives.

Juxtaposing Haraway’s epistemological analysis with Donald Brown’s ethical analyses of Romney’s position is conceptually-politically instructive, for acknowledging that knowledge is always somewhere, and limited, highlights the fundamental epistemological flaw - the cultivated, strategic ignorance - on which Romney’s epistemic rhetoric relies. Appealing to a quasi-generic lack of certainty in science he constructs his policies on putatively ethical assertions that it would be unjust to act without certainty. Yet Seager convincingly maintains: “Scientific uncertainty serves as a refuge for scoundrels of all kinds”. The “refuge” provides an excuse for failing to act on an epistemically responsible “precautionary principle” which invokes obligations to prevent environmental harm, and/or harm to human health, before it occurs. Such is the obligation Brown assigns to Romney, and Seager to threats to human/female health.


Copeland, SamanthaThe Value of Valuing Ignorance

In the past twenty years, there has been an increasing shift of focus in psychological and neuroscientific research away from the exclusive study of pathology and toward the conceptualization and quantification of “positive mental health,” a state of mind presumed to contribute to human flourishing and contrasted with simply the absence of diagnosable mental illness. Three overlapping trajectories are identifiable within this trend: “positive psychology”; “contemplative neuroscience”; and “consciousness studies.” All three increasingly employ the use of neuroimaging technologies to identify and locate positive subjective experiences reported by research subjects. Researchers within all three trajectories also advocate the use of their data in implementing social programs in education, government, and industry, claiming benefits for society as a whole beyond just individual flourishing. Prominent researchers in “positive psychology” explicitly draw conceptualizations of individual and social values from Western philosophical traditions that either equated human virtues with men alone or assigned different sets of virtues to women and to men. “Contemplative neuroscience” as it has developed in laboratories in the U.S. and Canada has been influenced overwhelmingly by the Dalai Lama and most often involves the study of meditation practices specific to Buddhism, a tradition sometimes gender-neutral in philosophy but often institutionalized in forms that reflect sex-based social hierarchies. “Consciousness studies” as a whole is more likely to focus on the limitations of the human biological sensorium in perceiving the world and on altered states of consciousness; some narratives explicitly discuss gender by criticizing cultural emphases on masculine ways of knowing and celebrating a recognition of the “feminine divine.” This paper will explore how gendered philosophical, psychological, and neuroscientific narratives have influenced the three trajectories of positive mental health research and what role gendered ideals consequently continue to play in conceptualizing and quantifying individual and social flourishing.


Crasnow, SharonFeminist Science Studies: Reasoning from Cases

Feminist philosophers of science and science studies scholars often use case studies when analyzing the role of sex and gender in knowledge production. However the use of cases can be problematic. For example, Sarah Richardson (2010) expresses a concern that when cases are used to reveal bias the approach is consistent with the problematic view that science is value-free. Consequently, she claims that they are limited in their usefulness. Another concern is if feminist scholars choose cases because they illustrate particular views about the role values play in science, their projects may be subject to confirmation bias and so again of limited use.

I argue that these concerns stem from a misunderstanding of how we reason from cases. Hasok Chang (2012) describes cases as concrete instances of abstract ideas rather than as specific instances of the general. Such an analysis avoids the charge of confirmation bias, since the reasoning is not inductive. Instead, reasoning from cases requires working back and forth between the abstract ideas and the case, refining our understanding of both through what Chang calls “epistemic iteration.” For Chang, the process is guided by two criteria: cogency and applicability. Abstract ideas are shown to be cogent through further abstract considerations and philosophical argument. Their applicability is judged by the extent to which we are able to export lessons from these cases to other arenas.

Using this analysis, I examine several feminist case studies (e.g., Anderson 2004, Lloyd 2006, Clough 2012). I argue that using cases to show bias does not require adhering to the ideal of value-free science. I also argue that reasoning from cases can employ the epistemic tools of feminist empiricism, feminist standpoint theory, and perhaps other feminist approaches without requiring an allegiance to any one of them.


Crowley, Stephen, Liela Rotschy and Kathryn PlaisanceA Feminist Approach to Facilitating Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Re-evaluating the Toolbox Project

Panel Abstract: Many of the complex social problems we face today require expertise from a variety of disciplines, which has resulted in recent calls for more interdisciplinary collaboration amongst researchers. When it is done well, this type of type of collaboration is often in line with feminist concerns, in that it recognizes the need for a diversity of perspectives in creating new knowledge (Longino 1990). However, even when individuals are willing and eager to collaborate with others, they often face a number of barriers to successful interdisciplinary communication. A number of facilitative approaches have been developed to enhance interdisciplinary communication, among them the Toolbox Project, which has been developed to aid researchers in identifying conceptual barriers to communication. This is done by using philosophical concepts and methods to help researchers recognize and articulate their disciplinary worldviews, so that they are able to anticipate problems and reconcile their differences before engaging in collaborative work. The Toolbox Project has been successful in achieving these aims. However, it’s main focus thus far has been on the epistemic barriers to collaboration, overlooking the role that interpersonal factors and group dynamics play in successful collaboration. This session seeks to reexamine the Toolbox Project in light of feminist concerns, specifically drawing on theoretical and empirical work in feminist epistemology and science studies in order to highlight and address dynamics related to one’s social location. In this panel, we present the Toolbox Project, discuss its recent successes, and then consider ways in which we might create a “more complete Toolbox” by applying feminist approaches to its construction and facilitation. As a result, we aim to facilitate interdisciplinary communication in a way that attends to a more comprehensive set of barriers and to ensure that the diversity that is represented is also put to use.

Crowley, StephanPhilosophical Facilitation of Interdisciplinary Research

Rotschy, LielaRelational Communication in Toolbox Dialogues

Plaisance, KathrynTaking a Feminist Approach to the Toolbox Project

Science and Technology in Society Teaching Group

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Feminism and Science Research Group

In the Feminism and Science Research Group we conduct research that is unified by attention to justice and the social nature of scientific, technological and medical research. We are interested in research policy, practice, education and implementation. Details