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Citizenship Speaker Series
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Sally Haslanger
"Ideology, Cultural Logics, and Sites of Resistance"
Friday, February 22, 2019, 03:30pm - 05:00pm
University Hall 347
Columbus, Ohio 43201

Sally Haslanger

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Sally Haslanger is a professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has published on topics in metaphysics, epistemology and feminist theory, with a recent emphasis on accounts of the social construction of race and gender. In metaphysics, her work has focused on theories of substance, especially on the problem of persistence through change and on Aristotle's view that substances are composites of matter and form. Her work in feminist theory takes up issues in feminist epistemology and metaphysics, with a special interest in the distinction between natural and social kinds.

She has co-edited Adoption Matters: Philosophical and Feminist Essays (Cornell University Press, 2005) with Charlotte Witt; Theorizing Feminisms (Oxford University Press, 2005) with Elizabeth Hackett; and Persistence (MIT Press, 2006) with Roxanne Marie Kurtz. She regularly teaches courses cross-listed with Women's Studies. Before coming to MIT, she taught at the University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and University of California-Irvine.


In order to address pressing issues of social justice, we need to better understand the social domain. There has been much work on how we might design just laws and institutions and distribute the products of our labor fairly. However, this is not enough, for coordination in social practices depends on there being social meanings that we rely on for communication and signaling. The social meanings are part of a system of power relations: Unjust practices rely on social meanings - an ideology - that are internalized as habits of mind that distort, obscure, and occlude important facts and result in a failure to recognize the interests of subordinated groups. I argue that to ignore the ways in which cognition is socially shaped and filtered is to allow ideology to do its work unnoticed and unimpeded. Moreover, ideology critique cannot simply challenge belief, but must involve challenges to those practices through which we ourselves become the vehicles and embodiments of ideology.


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