Michigan MAP is a chapter of MAP International, a graduate student-run organization aimed at addressing structural injustices in academic philosophy and removing barriers that impede participation in philosophy for marginalized groups. Our chapter is dedicated to expanding the range of topics and methodologies represented in analytic philosophy. We also work to bring a focus on equity and justice to philosophical teaching. To these ends, we host talks, reading groups, and workshops throughout the year. You can find this and past years’ events below.
Anyone interested in learning more about Michigan MAP can reach out to the organizers, Gabrielle Kerbel, Josh Petersen, and Margot Witte. More information and resources from the American Philosophical Association about diversity and inclusion can be found here.
Academic Year 21-22 Events are Coming Soon!
Academic Year 18-19
October 10, 2018: Inclusive Teaching Workshop
February 25, 2019: MAP-RGFP Elli Neufeld (USC) "An Essentialist Theory of the Meaning of Slurs"
In this paper, I develop an essentialist model of the semantics of slurs. I defend the view that slurs are a species of kind terms: slur concepts encode mini-theories which represent an essence-like element that is causally connected to a set of negatively-valenced stereotypical features of a social group. The truth-conditional contribution of slur nouns can then be captured by the following schema: For a given slur S of a social group G and a person P, S is true of P iff P bears the ‘essence’ of G – whatever this essence is – which is causally responsible for stereotypical negative features associated with G and predicted of P. Since there is no essence that is causally responsible for stereotypical negative features of a social group, slurs have null-extension, and consequently, many sentences containing them are either meaningless or false. After giving a detailed outline of my theory, I show that it receives strong linguistic support. In particular, it can account for a wide range of linguistic cases that are regarded as challenging, central data for any theory of slurs. Finally, I show that my theory also receives convergent support from cognitive psychology and psycholinguistics.
March 18, 2019: Myisha Cherry (UC Riverside) "On Conversations"
If conversations are a way for our social, linguistic species to express and explain, correct and collaborate, make sense of things and make things happen, then why are they--particularly the personal and political ones--so difficult to have? In this talk, I examine this question and others like it such as: Why does, "I need to talk to you" frighten us? Why are some topics more difficult to discuss than others? What should we aim for in conversations? Through a journey in moral philosophy, political theory, and epistemology I suggest that our answers to these questions may have less to do with the topic and more to do with us. I offer some strategies for how to be the kind of person that people would want to have a conversation with.
ImPIEster Syndrome Workshop
A discussion of imposter syndrome and how it affects graduate students over pie.
Academic Year 17-18
November 30, 2017: Sonya Özbey
November 10, 2017: MAP Syllabus Diversity Workshop
A short, informal workshop on diversifying syllabi/course content/etc. Our own Meena Krishnamurthy lead the discussion. The idea behind this event was to pool some of our collective resources on non-canonical course content, and share suggestions and techniques.
October 27, 2017: Pre-read workshop with Elena Ruíz (MSU) "On the Politics of Coalition"
This event was hosted by the Race, Gender, and Feminist Philosophy Reading Group, and co-sponsored by MAP.
In the wake of continued structural asymmetries between women of color and white feminisms, this essay revisits intersectional tensions in Catharine MacKinnon’s Toward a Feminist Theory of the State while exploring productive spaces of coalition. To explore such spaces, we reframe Toward a Feminist Theory of the State in terms of its epistemological project and highlight possible synchronicities with liberational features in women-of-color feminisms. This is done, in part, through an analysis of the philosophical role “method” plays in MacKinnon’s argument, and by reframing her critique of juridical neutrality and objectivity as epistemic harms. In the second section, we sketch out a provisional coalitional theory of liberation that builds on MacKinnon’s feminist epistemological insights and aligns them with decolonizing projects in women-of-color feminisms, suggesting new directions and conceptual revisions that are on the way to coalition.
Academic Year 16-17
June 2, 2017: Pre-read paper workshop on Esa Díaz-León’s (Barcelona) “Sexual Orientations: The Desire View”
April 17, 2017: 1st Minorities and Philosophy Graduate Panel
Sara Aronowitz The Science of History in Islamic Modernism
Elise Woodard The Gender Gap in Philosophy and Diversifying Syllabi
Cat Saint-Croix Evidential Disparity and Epistemic Norms
April 11, 2017: Harun Küçük (University of Pennsylvania) presented “Frontispiece of the Ledge of Fools - The Radical Potential of Non-Radical Texts in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire”
Abstract: The separation of science and religion is a common trope in early modern scientific texts. What we do not know is how this argument fared in non-Christian settings. In this talk, I will be offering a historical exegesis of the Sunni-Ottoman version of the separation argument from 1732, when a Sunni-Shia war was still raging and a bloody revolt in Istanbul had just been quelled. Ibrahim Müteferrika (1674?-1745), a Socinian radical who had converted to Islam and was serving the Ottoman Sultan as printer and geographer, used three texts with almost no radical potential to level a powerful attack against the Ottoman Empire’s over-Sunnitized culture. He was calling for a complete separation of science from matters of faith, a sentiment that he shared with some of his Ottoman contemporaries. Müteferrika called the Baghdadi scholar Nazmizade, “If there were a ledger of fools, he would be its frontispiece” (serdefter-i agbiya). In the early eighteenth century, Nazmizade had written a Sunni history of Baghdad that omitted the efflorescence of Graeco-Arabic philosophy, and had also prepared a Turkish translation of al-Suyuti’s work on prophetic astronomy, which proposed a flat earth theory. In the same work, Müteferrika also invited Sunni scholiasts to abandon the “false” views of Ptolemy. The venue for Müteferrika’s attacks was his “Printer’s Preface” to a fresh edition of Katip Çelebi’s Cosmorama, a revered seventeenth-century Ottoman geographical masterpiece. While making his case for separating science from the Sunni faith, Müteferrika invoked one of the most underutilized passages in the Incoherence of the Philosophers, where Ghazali advocated that the pious should abstain from foolishly contesting the claims of philosophy. Müteferrika also drew heavily on Edmond Pourchot’s Foundations of Philosophy, a heavily censored Cartesian textbook that was the product of the Catholic (Counter)Reformation
March 6, 2017: Eva Kittay (Stony Brook) gave a talk entitled “On the Moral Significance of Being Human."
Abstract: When trying to establish the special moral importance that we give to human beings, philosophers generally find the concept of species membership an insufficient ground for justifying that status. They instead insist on locating morally significant intrinsic properties of human beings to serve as the basis for moral status. Often they drop the term “human” and prefer a normative concept such as “person.” They either insist that a purely natural concept does not have normative content, or they accept the view that species membership as a criterion for is special moral status is morally arbitrary in the same way that racism, sexism, or heterosexism are. A numbers of philosophers (James Rachaels, Peter Singer, Jeff McMahan, among others) point out that the morally relevant attributes are not possessed by all human beings, and may well be possessed by nonhuman animals.
These views either explicitly or implicitly write certain human beings out of consideration for that special status and render them unequal to other humans with the morally relevant attributes. While some philosophers find this result acceptable, I do not. I dispute the view that we must find the morally relevant attributes in humans to justify their special moral status, and argue instead for the moral relevance of species membership (on relational grounds); while, at the same time, granting that nonhuman animals can have morally relevant traits that ought to guide our treatment of them.
February 22, 2017: Muhammad Ali Khalidi (York University) presented a close reading of Al Ghazali’s “Deliverance from Error”
October-December, 2016: Public Philosophy Reading Group on Frantz Fanon’s “The Wretched of the Earth”
MAP hosted 3 meetings, at the University Library, between October and December of 2016. They were open to the public and to the university community.
Academic Year 15-16
March 14, 2016: D. A. Masolo (U Louisville) gave a talk entitled “Shabaan Nyerere and the Republic: Proposals for a New Political Community”
September 30, 2015 - Myisha Cherry (UIC) gave a talk entitled “The Curious Case of Black Rage and the Forgiving Heart”
Abstract: Many people are outraged over the deaths of black men and women at the hands of the police and others who perceive them as a threat because of their blackness. But is there a place for forgiveness in our rage? Are the two mutually exclusive? In this talk, I argue that the standard and expanded accounts of forgiveness are a burden to those who are oppressed. I argue for an ‘Outraged Forgiveness’ that focuses on justice. Outraged Forgiveness also allows the oppressed to extend compassion, express self-respect, and more importantly keep their rage.
Academic Year 14-15
April 8, 2015 - Derrick Darby (UMichigan) gave a talk entitled "Long Live Hip Hop! The Good, the Bad and the Vulgar": What's Wrong With Racial & Other Social Injustices?"
Abstract: Rappers people love to hate tell tales of gangstas, thugs, pimps, and use the N-word with reckless abandon. They make critics wish for the death of hip hop. But rappers do more than just rhyme over beats. They think and reason too. Professor Derrick Darby argues that we can’t let rap music die no matter how vulgar, violent, misogynistic, homophobic, or irreverent. Why? Because rap challenges us to confront a lingering legacy of racial slavery and racial segregation in America—the denigration of black humanity. Professor Darby, a Queensbridge housing project native turned philosopher, reveals that rap critics on the right and left are complicit in sustaining this legacy when they overlook a basic truth: rappers are persons too. Taking this truth seriously requires a more charitable attitude toward hip hop, which is a crucial first step toward serious normative engagement with rappers as artists.