I will be giving a talk entitled “Can philosophy be separated from the philosopher?” at the SoCal Minorities and Philosophy (MAP) Workshop on April 27th. Discussions will range from pedagogy to ethical considerations. Please come show your support.

Saturday April 27, 2019. 10am-5pm

UCLA, Philosophy Department, Dodd Hall, Common Room 399

Program downloadable here: 2019 SoCal MAP

I will be competing in the Pole Sport Organization regionals on Saturday April 13th at the Los Angeles Theater Center. My category is Level 3, Senior, Dramatic. Tickets are $35 for section 1, and my category will start performing at 9:15am. Come out to support local aerialists, and be entertained by people doing amazing things twenty feet off the ground to cool music.

PSO Pacific Regionals

 

I hope to some day live in a world where there isn’t an International Women’s Day. A world where being a woman is not itself an exclusively special category that necessitates a day to reflect on because it is a type that is victimized in the most horribly gruesome ways. Some day, women won’t suffer for being women. They will simply just be human.

Until then, I would like to share with you some information about feminism and philosophy from Cornell’s Feminist Summer Reading Group. There are amazing people out there doing amazing things, and giving voice to the rest of us that struggle to make ours heard. Thank you.

www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09515089.2017.1363881

link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11098-017-0919-0

onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/hypa.12351/abstract

beingawomaninphilosophy.wordpress.com

www.philosophy.rutgers.edu/graduate/climate/529-climate-of-women-implicit-bias

​bpa.ac.uk/resources/women-in-philosophy/good-practice

​opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/02/women-in-philosophy-do-the-math/

https://blog.apaonline.org/?s=women+in+philosophy

Much has already been said about zombies, and the relevance to the current ethos of our era. The collection of essays entitled Zombies and Sexuality (2014) edited by Shaka McGlotten and Steve Jones contain analyses from necrophilia to queer studies, and subjectivity to sex work. There has also been scholarship done in racial studies, political science, immigration, and even religion. But thus far, little has been said about the commentary zombies signify in terms of moral responsibility. I don’t mean moral choice generally, a lot has been said about that too. Protagonists in zombie narratives often face difficult choices, and the audience is asked to reflect on what choice they would have made in that situation. Would I kill an infected loved one to ensure my own survival and that of our species?

The kind of moral responsibility I’m talking about is associative, the kind that makes you culpable for the choices you didn’t make. If I know people are starving to death on the other side of the world and I don’t send aid, am I committing a moral wrong? I didn’t directly participate in their deaths, but intuitively it seems that neither do I come away with a clean slate. Peter Singer addresses this issue in his essay “ Famine, Affluence, and Morality” (1972). We typically think of morality in terms of what we ought to do, and not what we ought not not to do. Especially with regard to charity and the global community. Societies value giving in forms of philanthropy, but don’t usually condemn those that don’t. Reasons are typically one of distance and numbers, but this shouldn’t be the case according to Singer and he uses the example of saving a child drowning. Just because there may be other people around doesn’t lessen his moral obligation to save the child, and regardless of whether he is ten feet away or ten miles away he ought to save the child. Neither lessens his moral duty. Yet the wider American society rebels against this type of moral paradigm because it makes us more culpable. If I buy a $10 latte instead of donating that money to organizations that help refugees in the Sudan, then I’m in the wrong. Choosing not to help is not a morally neutral choice, it is the wrong choice. In a rich, capitalist society where privilege is often seen as an entitlement, pointing to the good not done and casting blame tends to ruffle feathers.

Globalization has increased the range of culpability. Before the industrial revolution propelled the world into an era of colonization, the types of evil I could do and the amount of wrong I could commit were limited. I could kill my partner, refuse to help a neighbor, and buy shoddy goods from a traveling vendor that might have been stolen. Furthermore, the amount of good I can do was limited. By the time I heard about an event occurring on the other side of the world, the window of time for aid may have passed. With limited means of travel and communication, my ability to help was likewise limited. But now, I can buy a cell phone with a silicone chip mined with child labor and engage in morally questionable behavior without leaving my home. Or I could read about a disaster across the ocean and instead of wiring money to an aid group, I can buy a third car on Ebay. That is a wide net to cast and it is daunting. How can I possibly know what kinds of good I’m not doing, and how can I make the best choice when faced with so many?

Perhaps zombies represent our anxiety regarding moral responsibility, and the refusal to acknowledge our culpability in withholding good action. Resident Evil (2002) has capitalistic overtones with the villain Umbrella Corp. whose greed rooted in consumerism destroys the earth. Did my economic choices gave authority and power to this machine that lead to the apocalypse? It’s interesting that in World War Z (2013) the weak and diseased are spared by zombies. In a manner, they are already victims neglected too by their human counterparts. In every zombie film, no matter how far away the infection starts, it spreads and races closer to our protagonists. Maybe zombies reflect our indifference and indecision coming back to haunt us. No matter when the outbreak occurs, eventually the virus will spread and find me where ever I’m hiding.

Bibliography

McGlotten, Shaka and Steve Jones, eds. Zombies and Sexuality: Essays on Desire and the Living Dead. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2014.

Singer, Peter. “Famine, Affluence, and Morality.” Philosophy & Public Affairs 1.3 (Spring 1972): 229-243.

Oh Eve! Fair mother!
I wish you would have stayed looking at your reflection in the river.
When the angel took you to Adam, you should have listened to your instinct.
“less fair, less winning, less amiably soft” were your first thoughts.[1]
Your own reflection answered better with “sympathy and love”.[2]
What has man given you, and us, but broken bones and shattered hearts?
You say Adam with his gentle hand seized yours to claim when you attempted to leave,[3]
and thus you yielded with your “meek surrender” and “submissive charms” to the “wisdom” of his hands.[4]
What gentleness could be had with such capture?
Mother of all mothers, if only you could have backed up your “no” with strength.
If only we could do that now.


[1] Lines 478-479, Paradise Lost by John Milton
[2] Line 465, Paradise Lost by John Milton
[3] Lines 480-489, Paradise Lost by John Milton
[4] Lines 494, 498, 491, Paradise Lost by John Milton

Excerpt from Persephone Unleashed

The UCLA philosophy Feminist Theory Reading Group is meeting on Thursday February 21st from 6pm-8pm at Dodd Hall Common Room 399. We will be discussing “Divine Women” by Luce Irigaray. We will also be handling administrative issues and electing positions on our committee. Everyone across disciplines, fields, and identities is welcome.