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'ATTENTION & NON-EXPLICIT DISCRIMINATION' WORKSHOP
Time: Aug. 17th & 18th 2023, 9:00-17:00
Place: University of Oslo, Department of Philosophy, Georg Morgenstiernes Hus, Room 652
Organizer: Austin A. Baker (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thursday, 17 August
9:00-10:00: Coffee and introductions
10:00-11:15: Anna Drożdżowicz (Inland Norwegian University of Applied Sciences), "Foreign Accent, in Focus"
11:30-12:45: Alfred Archer (Tilberg University), "Public Statues as Affective Technologies"
14:00-15:15: Austin A. Baker (University of Oslo), "Nonverbal Marginalization"
15:30-16:45: Cal Howland (Rutgers University), "Forced Cooperation as Pragmatic Presumption"
17:30- Optional Dinner at Vippa and Harbour Walk
Friday, 18 August
10:00-11:15: Katherine Puddifoot (Durham University), "How Stereotypes and Policy Can Turn Good Attention Bad"
11:30-12:45: Fintan Mallory (University of Oslo), "Conversation Capture and Erotetic Injustice"
14:00-15:15: Bryce Huebner (Georgetown University), "Contemplative Listening as an Attention-Shaping Practice"
15:30-16:15: Discussion and Reflections
18:00- Conference Dinner at Hakuna Matata
Anna Drożdżowicz, “Foreign Accent, in Focus”
Among various linguistic and social cues, foreign accent is a particularly salient and prominent one. Empirical research suggests that interlocutors rely on a number of adjustments to process and comprehend speech from Lx speakers, foreign accent included, which have possibly beneficial consequences for communication in multilingual settings. Nevertheless, foreign accent has been shown to trigger negative, prejudiced impressions and evaluations of foreign accented speakers. Building on recent work on the ethics of attention, I will discuss three types of morally and epistemically problematic patterns that involve attention to the speaker’s foreign accent.
Alfred Archer, “Public Statues as Affective Technologies”
In what way might public statues wrong people? In recent years, philosophers have drawn on speech act theory to answer this question by arguing that statues constitute harmful or disrespectful forms of speech. My aim in this paper will be add a different theoretical perspective to this discussion. I will argue that while the speech act approach provides a useful starting point for thinking about what is wrong with public statues, we can get a fuller understanding of these harms by drawing on resources from recent work in situated affectivity. I will argue that public statues can be understood as a form of affective technology and that this can both help us understand both the deep affective wrongs caused by racist statues and offer a possible explanation as to why some people are so strongly opposed to their removal.
Austin A. Baker, “Nonverbal Marginalization”
The nonverbal cues that accompany speech (for example, facial expressions, gestures, and eye gaze) can be as communicatively significant as the content of the speech itself. In this talk, I identify what I argue is a very common—but philosophically
unexamined—phenomenon: our tendency to allocate nonverbal cues in ways that are sensitive to conversational participants’ levels of respective social power such that people with more power receive comparatively more positive and affirming nonverbal cues than people with less power. I call this ‘nonverbal marginalization’ and argue that it reflects and reinforces harmful social biases. In sections 1 and 2, I introduce and empirically situate nonverbal marginalization within a broader account of nonverbal communication, showing how implicit and explicit biases are subtly reflected in automatic patterns of nonverbal behavior. In section 3, I demonstrate how nonverbal marginalization reinforces social hierarchies, discussing nonverbal marginalization in relation to imposter syndrome and performance gaps between high and low power social groups. I conclude in section 4 by proposing a new conceptual resource which can be used to identify and address the various ethical, psychological, and epistemic harms of the nonverbal marginalization.
Katherine Puddifoot, “How Stereotypes and Policy Can Turn Good Attention Bad”
Epistemic analyses of stereotyping describe how they lead to misperceptions and misunderstandings of social actors and events. The analyses have tended so far to focus on how people acquire stereotypes and/or how the stereotypes lead to distorted perceptions of the evidence that is available about individuals. In this talk, I focus instead on how the stereotypes can generate misleading evidence by influencing the policy preferences of people who harbour the biases. My case study is stereotypes that relate to people living in poverty. I show how these stereotypes influence policy choices in ways that generate misleading evidence about people living in poverty. I argue that the stereotypes generate the misleading evidence by supporting policies that restrict the agency of the people in poverty. In generating this misleading evidence, the stereotypes place additional constraints on the epistemic agency of everyone, making it harder for anyone, including those who do and those who do not endorse the stereotypes, to gain true beliefs about people living in poverty. Going forward, I conclude, adequate epistemic analyses of stereotyping ought to be more expansive, acknowledging both the way that stereotypes generate misleading evidence by constraining the agency of those stereotyped, and how we can all thereby be epistemically constrained by the stereotypes harboured by others.
Fintan Mallory, “Conversation Capture and Erotetic Injustice”
The power to control the direction of a conversation — which topics are raised, which questions are asked, and which lines of inquiry are followed, is a basic and powerful form of social control. My aim in this talk is to outline some of the ways formal pragmatics can shed light on how this power operates. In doing so, I will outline a category of discursive injustice called ‘erotetic injustice’. Erotetic injustice arises when a conversation participant is systematically excluded from making their interests the topic of conversations (or ‘question-under-discussion’). The talk presents examples of this injustice, identifies the mechanisms by which it operates, and several causal factors giving rise to its occurrence. In the process, it draws connections between the fields of social philosophy, formal pragmatics and critical discourse analysis.
Bryce Huebner, “Contemplative Listening as an Attention-Shaping Practice”
The ‘Satanic Panic’ of the 1980s was a moral panic, fueled by the unchecked imaginations of people who worried about increasing secularism and the collapse of the moral fabric of their society. Their anxieties about art were palpable. But there was never any evidence that listening to metal music, or watching horror films, led people to pursue evil; and from our current point of view, it seems unlikely that mundane engagements with music and films have the power to shape moral experience. But consider the early Norwegian black metal scene, which evoked similar forms of moral anxiety. These musicians were Theistic Satanists or Ethnic Pagans. One of them fantasized about death and committed suicide; one of them was murdered by a fellow musician in the scene; and two of them were found guilty of burning down medieval churches, stockpiling explosives, and committing murder. These activities were localized in the Early Norwegian black metal scene. But over the years, fascists and ethno-nationalists have continued to play an outsized role in black metal—and as a fan of the genre, this makes me anxious. So in this paper, I will do three things. First, I will explore some of the ways that black metal attempts to modulate attention; here, I will focus on the evocation of cold and bleak atmospheres, and the attempt to cultivate more meditative and contemplative forms of listening. Second, I will consider some of the factors that might lead contemplative listening to entrench more exclusionary attentional orientations. Finally, I will propose a strategy for engaging with extreme metal to intentionally shape moral experience, in ways that open pathways toward selflessness, and support the pursuit of individual and collective liberation. Along the way, I will draw on William Seeley’s claim that artworks function as attentional engines, as well as Buddhist discussions of meditating on foulness; and I will engage with early Norwegian black metal, along with forms of extreme music that are more critical and more liberatory.
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