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This is a tribute for Waheed Hussain, who passed away on January 30th, 2021, by the Members of the Economic Ethics Network, of which some CT-ers are part.

Waheed Hussain was a political philosopher whose work addressed some of the central questions faced by citizens living in contemporary capitalist societies. He thought and wrote about a wide range of topics at the intersection of moral and political philosophy, economics and business ethics, developing insightful work on issues from the ethics of consumption and competition to the nature and justification of the corporation. Across all of the rich and nuanced work that he produced was an underlying concern to address one fundamental question: how best can people live free, autonomous lives, relating on fair terms with their fellow democratic citizens, given the mystifications and constraints generated by a market economy? [click to continue…]

A guest post by Professor Sophie Grace Chappell (Philosophy, Open University)

As an open response to the following blog post by JK Rowling:

J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues

June 11 2020

Dear Ms Rowling,

I am as far as I know the only Professor of Philosophy in the UK who is also transgender. Because my own research is in ethics, because I have in the past been a Governor of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (though I’m not their spokeswoman here), and because obviously I am also personally involved, I have said a few things in public on transgender issues. So I hope I won’t offend you if I chip in with a few thoughts about the current furore over your recent remarks. [click to continue…]

*I have done some edits on September 24th, thanks to some input by Tim Waligore and Brian Carey, whom I thank.

There is no need to point out to the readers of this blog that the debate between gender critical feminists (henceforth GCFs) and the supporters of strong transgender rights* is both as lively and, unfortunately, as toxic as ever.

I have long been sitting on the fence with respect to this issue, for very obvious reasons of self-preservation – apart from organizing a small workshop on the topic last May, whose primary aim was to bring people together hoping that a genuine debate might ensue, rather than taking a stand.

I still have no plan to leave the fence properly (let alone for the fact that I am no expert to say the least!), but let’s say that this post is a timid attempt to take a peek at what happens beyond it, largely by very tentatively making three points which, to my knowledge, do not feature in the debate as it is currently unfolding (although they are actually all fairly long-standing insights both within the feminist literature, and within transgender literature and advocacy). And by the way: I am very happy to be corrected if this is not the case and these points are actually being made in the current debate! So – bracing myself – here we go. [click to continue…]

The REF: A Modest (and very Tentative) Proposal

by Miriam Ronzoni on October 5, 2018

As many readers may already know, UK Universities will undergo their next round of research evaluation in 2021. This is called REF (Research Excellence Framework); has recently been joined by its teaching equivalent, the TEF; and is seen by many UK academics as part of a general managerialist, bureaucratic trend in UK academia which many deplore, and about which other CT members have already written many interest things.

This post is neither about that general trend, nor about the problems or virtues one might identify within the rules of the current REF compared to past versions. It is, instead, about throwing out there a very simple idea on how to engage in some minimal effort, minimum confrontation resistance to the whole thing. [click to continue…]

Ingrid has introduced the Twelve Stars project to you several weeks ago.

Today (indeed: right now!) it is my turn to participate in the project, with a proposal (or rather the proposal to revive the old idea) to elect MEPs on transnational lists. Join me! The proposal is deliberately sketchy and balck and white – here it is (but if you can comment on the debate’s site itself!): [click to continue…]

Why are UK academics striking? A beginner’s guide

by Miriam Ronzoni on March 5, 2018

Ingrid has suggested that I write a short post giving a general overview of the current strike action in UK universities, as many CT readers based outside of the UK might actually not know much about it. I am very happy to do so.

UK-based academics are currently engaging in the most massive industrial action ever undertaken by the sector. After being on strike five days overall over the past two weeks, they are committed to an escalation that will lead them to strike four out of five days this week and to a whole week walk-out next week. If negotiations do not progress sufficiently after this, the promise is to move to an assessment boycott. [click to continue…]

On Being Radical for Non-Ideal Reasons

by Miriam Ronzoni on February 9, 2018

Thank you to Ingrid for introducing me, and to all current members of the Crooked Timber for welcoming me on board. I am a long term fan of the Crooked Timber (since my days as a graduate student, in fact!) and therefore really excited to be joining the team.

I would like to kick off by elaborating on some thoughts that I have only briefly mentioned in a recent piece. The basic idea, in a nutshell, is the following: could it be that we sometimes have reason to be more radical under non-ideal circumstances than under ideal ones?

The reason why this might seem initially puzzling – it definitely is to me – lies in the fact that, by definition, non-ideal theory falls short of ideal theory in important ways. Sure, the suggestion is often made that our obligations of justice under non-ideal circumstances might become more demanding – simply because we might be required to compensate for the non-compliance of other duty bearers (although some people want to resist that thought ). This, however, is a point about the demandingness of our duties, not about how radically our aims should diverge from the status quo. When it comes to what we should be aiming at, rather than how much effort we should put into it, non-ideal theory is usually depicted at giving us targets that are closer to home. We should be more modest, we should not demand too much. We cannot have a truly egalitarian society, but we can maybe try and aim for a more humane one than the one we currently have. We cannot have gender equality, but we can maybe narrow the gap. We cannot put an end to capitalism, but maybe we can tame it just a little bit. The most obvious way in which this approach plays out is in the chase of the political centre by the mainstream left, which has been making social-democratic agendas ever more lukewarm over the last three decades.

However, the relationship between ideal and non-ideal theory does not always have to work that way. [click to continue…]