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Meena Krishnamurthy
I am an Assistant Professor in Philosophy at the University of Manitoba. I work in political philosophy.
Recent Activity
Frederick - I have focused on people's surprise regarding my position at Michigan. This is because people's surprise surprised me. It was slightly surprising that I might be a graduate student at Michigan, but even more surprise was elicited once I clarified that I was not in fact a graduate student. People seemed genuinely surprised that someone like me could be a professor at Michigan (I have not had similar experiences when I have explained, elsewhere, that I was a professor at the University of Manitoba, for example). Again the underlying assumption that women of colour aren't likely to be part of the University of Michigan as professors is what concerns me. Also, I am not asking people to recognize my credentials (they are what they are and they are a continued work in progress). What I ask is that people not assume that I lack credentials.
Frederick - You miss the point. I am not insisting that people "know my credentials immediately". What I am asking is that people don't make assumptions about my lack of credentials simply because of my skin color/race. If people could interact with one another in a truly open manner, without making such assumptions, that would be great.
Frederick, I take it that you are suggesting that race or skin color may not be the only reason for being misidentified. I agree. People wrongly misidentify people all the time for many different reasons. This only goes to the point – we need to find better ways of interacting with people that don’t rely on making such assumptions – especially because in some (not all) cases the assumptions that underlie such interactions are insulting or undermining. Moreover, I also take it that your experience doesn’t generalize across white men. And, this matters to this discussion. After I wrote this post, I received a lot of feedback from women of colour who had experienced similar things. If the tendency to misidentify women of colour as being of less academic status is a common or generalized one, then this suggests that race or skin color is at play in the misidentification. In this case, the underlying assumptions are insulting (i.e., that women of colour aren't likely to be part of the academy as Professors). Also note that you weren't misidentified as a "staff member" - something that is more likely to be connected to race or skin colour. Finally, the point of my post isn’t to examine individual experiences in isolation, it is to examine them cumulatively. My cumulative experience at the conference was as being an outsider. That’s the general point. Thanks for pushing me to say more.
The Hypatia Conference was my first Feminist Philosophy conference. I have some mixed feelings about it. I was only there for the first day of the conference (I had to come home for my daughter’s birthday), and it was the first conference where I was clearly misidentified 5 times. Let... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2015 at Discrimination and Disadvantage
About 15 months ago I suffered from a brain injury, a grade 3 concussion to be precise. Concussions are often referred to as mTBIs – mildly traumatic brain injuries. There was nothing mild about my brain injury. As I wrote elsewhere, for the first 6 months, I was mostly bed... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2015 at Discrimination and Disadvantage
Cross posted at Political Philosop-her. At the old Experimental Philosophy blog, I recently asked for people's thoughts about the prevalence of experimental work in top journals in ethics and political philosophy. More specifically, I was wondering whether there were any papers with experimental content in Philosophy and Public Affairs and... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2013 at Experimental Philosophy
Hi Marcus, Admittedly starting such a group would be difficult. However, I think this blog and perhaps pubilc reason could be a place to ask for a few people working in your area to sign up to be part of a peer mentoring group. You could then email other people once you have one or two people who have already committed. I really think that whatever route you go, you'll need to offer to read other people's work. For the most part, given how busy people are, they won't be motivated to read your work otherwise. Best of luck!
So, here's something that might work. Try to start up a peer mentoring group. I was recently at the mentoring project for pre-tenure women in philosophy where we were placed into small teams of people working in related areas. So far I have found this group to not only be of great moral support but also of great philosophical support. The goal is to set up a date where everyone in the group has to get a paper done. Then you exchange papers and give each other feedback via email or Skype. I am not exactly sure how to initiate this group, but if you could get one going it would be great. I think the main motivator is a sense of solidarity among the group members and the value of reciprocity (each person gets something back for what they give).
Thanks, Eric and Steven. Eric, this is a very helpful clarification. If Paul can be interpreted in the way you suggest, this would certainly make her arguments more plausible from my perspective. However, I am not yet convinced that yours is the right interpretation. I am not sure that it is a textual issue either. The debate really hinges on what Steven has highlighted: the notion of epistemic impoverishment. In response to both Eric and Steven, I suppose I am just not sure what blocks the slide down the slippery slope on Paul's arguments. As Eric notes, the notion of epistemic impoverishment is supposed to do this work, but, as I try to highlight in my original post, I am not entirely convinced that it does this successfully. If my suggestion is right and every experience becomes transformative on Paul's view, then we are in Mary-like situations all the time and, in turn, are epistemically impoverished in the way that she is. And down the slippery slope we go . . . Perhaps Paul just needs to say more about what constitutes a transformative experience and she will be able to explain the difference between having a child and eating chocolate ice cream, on this day, in this mood, etc (an example from my original post). This is an issue that I am very interested in and would be happy to hear more about!
Thank you, Eric, for the interesting challenge! There seem to be two ways of interpreting Paul. One is to see her as arguing that the standard model of rationality cannot explain the rationality of having a child (and, in turn, that we need another model of rationality). The other way is to see her as arguing that we cannot make rational decisions to have a child, in general. I think her paper waffles between the two interpretations. Though, by the end of the paper, she seems to favour the first interpretation (your favoured one). I agree, if we interpret her as arguing along the lines of the first interpretation, then perhaps the reductio isn't as solid. But still, I wonder if you misunderstand the upshot of my claim. The claim was that everyday experiences necessarily become transformative, if we accept Paul’s argument. However, I doubt that most of us believe that our everyday experiences (seeing red, in this light, on this day, and in this mood is, etc.) are transformative in the way that seems to follow from Paul’s argument. If this is right, then her argument seems flawed. (Nelson seems to get the upshot of my argument right, if I understand him correctly!) It is a slippery slope. I suppose you just disagree with this claim? You’re willing to accept that even everyday experiences are transformative in the way that having a child is, on Paul’s view. I must admit that I find this position a bit strange and I am not sure that Paul wants her arguments to go that way.
Hi Sally, thanks for pushing back. I should have given some clear examples of what I have in mind. Outside of work you're already familiar with (such as Okin and Cudd), I was mainly thinking of work in international justice. For example, Thomas Pogge's work emphasizes the role that international political structures play in the causation of global poverty. People who work in global justice and health also talk about the social causes of global health injustice. One piece of work that comes to mind, outside of Pogge's work in this area, is Sridhar Venkatapuram's "Global Justice and the Social Determinants of Health" in Ethics and International Affairs. I myself am doing some work on exploitation. I argue that exploitation can be understood as taking wrongful advantage of other's vulnerabilities. It seems to me that many of the vulnerabilities that lead to exploitation are the result of structural injustices. But may be that's just me!
Toggle Commented Jul 13, 2013 on Featured Philosopher: Sally Haslanger at PEA Soup
Sally, thank you very much for the thoughtful response. Again, though, I find myself surprised by your answer. This is largely because political philosophy is usually criticized for not being steeped enough in the way things really are (we are accused of failing to put enough stalk in what people actually do, say, and think) and of focusing too much on the way that things ought to be. This is the critique of political philosophy as being too focused on ideal theory. This is now changing with a new focus on non-ideal theory. So, while I am very much in agreement with you about what is important to focus on, I am not as sure as you that contemporary political philosophy doesn't deal with much of what you are concerned with. This seems true also in relation to what you describe as "structural" concerns. If I understand correctly, you are interested in how structural features can create, shape, and structure our choices. Much of the recent focus in political philosophy on "structural injustice" addresses exactly these issues. Again, I agree that yours are really important concerns, but I think that there are good resources in political philosophy. So, I want to take up your request and to really push you again to explain what you see as being distinctive about your approach to the "social". I find this discussion extremely intriguing and exciting. It brings to light some good grounds for a much closer relationship between people like yourself doing feminist theory, m&e, etc. and people like myself doing political philosophy. Thanks again for the great discussion!
Toggle Commented Jul 12, 2013 on Featured Philosopher: Sally Haslanger at PEA Soup
Hi Sally, Thank you for the very interesting post. I too know little about your recent work but also couldn’t help myself from jumping into the discussion. I would like to build on Julia’s comment. I too am unsure about what “social” means on your view. As a political philosopher, I was struck by your claim that political philosophy isn’t “social” in the sense that you are concerned with in your work. I am not entirely sure I agree with this claim, but perhaps I am misunderstanding your view of what “social” means. While it is true that much of contemporary political philosophy is concerned with the sorts of relations that ought to take place between individual citizens, there are some areas that focus on the relations among and between groups of citizens or, what could be called, political societies. At least two areas come to mind. First, work that is communitarian in orientation seems to be very focused on exactly the sorts of issues that you have in mind. Communitarians, for example, try to identify the sorts of ideals and norms that ought to govern political communities. They try to give an account of how members of a political society ought to live together and of how they ought to organize themselves collectively. They are also concerned with the question of how to create the right sorts of political communities. Second, work in the area of global justice tries to give an account of how international political societies (think of Rawls’s Law of Peoples) ought to organize themselves collectively, about what the right sort of global political community might be, and of the norms and ideals that ought to govern the relations between rich societies and poor societies (think also of Pogge and Singer’s work). Julia’s claims about international climate are also relevant here too, since a growing body of work in global justice is trying to answer these sorts of questions in relation to climate change (i.e., what norms should govern rich and poor societies’ interactions around carbon emissions). So, I am interested to hear more about how your notion of “social” is meant to capture or take into account something new and different. Thanks again.
Toggle Commented Jul 11, 2013 on Featured Philosopher: Sally Haslanger at PEA Soup
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Feb 1, 2012