Mind, Technology, and Society Talk Series


Peggy DesAutels
Professor of Philosophy, University of Dayton
Time/Date: 3-4:30 p.m. Monday, April 6th, 2015

Location: Chancellor’s Conference Room, KL 232
Title: “Women, Power, and Empirical Philosophy”

Abstract: In this talk, Peggy DesAutels examines recent trends in experimental and empirical philosophy and the ways that women and feminists do and do not fit with these trends. She offers a feminist empirical approach to virtue theory by providing non-idealized moral norms for resisting abuses of power. She avoids conceiving of persons as abstract individuals with assumed social equality. Instead, she focuses on realistic and non-idealized persons who are embedded in social hierarchies that may well include relations of structural domination, exploitation, coercive control, and oppression. She examines the virtues needed to resist abuses of organizational power and interpersonal coercive control and argues that it is especially important for virtuous resisters to familiarize themselves with and expect a full range of harsh retaliatory measures. She draws on research on the psychologies of abusers of power and on recounted experiences tied to resisting power in academic institutions and resisting coercive control in intimate relationships. She concludes that a virtuous resister of those abusing power must be as strategic as possible to preserve her own physical and psychological health while at the same time knowingly risking both in liberatory struggles.

Bio (taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peggy_DesAutels): “Peggy DesAutels…works in moral psychology, feminist philosophy and philosophy of mind and cognitive science. DesAutels received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Washington University of St. Louis in 1995 after earning an M.S. in computer science and an M.A. in philosophy. From 2010-2013, DesAutels served as the chair of the Committee on the Status of Women of the American Philosophical Association; she currently serves as an ex officio member of the committee as the Director of the Site Visit Program.

As chair of the Committee on the Status of Women of the American Philosophical Association, DesAutels was outspoken against the problems facing women philosophers, criticizing the lack of gender parity in philosophy, as well as the prevalence of sexual harassment in academia, the underrepresentation of women philosophers in tenure-track positions, and the number of philosophy conferences with all-male lineups. DesAutels was named Distinguished Woman in Philosophy for 2014 by the Eastern Division of Society for Women in Philosophy.

DesAutels is the editor of several volumes in feminist ethics and moral psychology, including Global Feminist Ethics (with Rebecca Whisnant; Rowman and Littlefield 2007) and Moral Psychology: Feminist Ethics and Social Theory (with Margaret Urban Walker; Rowman and Littlefield 2004). Her edited volume Feminists Doing Ethics (with Joanne Waugh; Rowman and Littlefield 2001) was selected as a Choice outstanding academic title for 2003. DesAutels was also a research leader on a $3 million National Science Foundation (NSF) ADVANCE grant, awarded to a consortium including University of Dayton, aimed at advancing the recruitment and advancement of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.”