Constructing Social Hierarchy: A one day workshop

October 12, 2018
Philosophy, University of Melbourne

Room 227 (Cecil Scutt Room)
Old Arts Building

Main speakers:

Monash University
University of Sydney
University of Melbourne
University of Tasmania
University of Melbourne
University of Melbourne


University of Melbourne

Topic areas

Talks at this conference

Add a talk


Constructing Social Hierarchy: a one day workshop

University of Melbourne, October 12, 10:00am – 6:00pm, with dinner to follow

1. 10:00-11:15, Old Arts 227 (Cecil Scutt Room)

Greg Restall (University of Melbourne)

Accommodation, Inference, Generics and Pejoratives

Abstract: In this talk, I aim to give an account of norms governing our uses of generic judgements (like “kangaroos have long tails”, “birds lay eggs”, or “logic talks are boring”), norms governing inference, and the relationship between generics and inference. This connection goes some way to explain why generics exhibit some very strange behaviour: Why is it, for example, that “birds lay eggs” seems true, while “birds are female” seems false, despite the fact that only female birds lay eggs? Given the connection between generics and inference, I’ll go on to consider how inference relates to the process of accommodation, which plays a significant role in how we manage dialogue and conversation. This, in turn, helps shed some light on some different ways expressions can involve pejorative force, and can inform options for how our vocabulary and our concepts can be revised or reformed.

2. 11:30-12:45, Old Arts 227 (Cecil Scutt Room)

Louise Richardson-Self (University of Tasmania)

‘Offensiphobia’ is Beside the Point: On Free Speech, Hate Speech, and Offense

Abstract: In a recent article in The Journal of Ethics, J. Angelo Corlett (2018) offers a critique of what he calls ‘offensiphobia’: the belief that people have a right not to be offended. We argue that offensiphobia doesn't really exist in higher educational institutions (which Corlett takes this to be the main context for his paper). We therefore attempt to amend his points in such a way that they purport to offer some criticisms of existing university policies and practices. However, as we demonstrate, even with these amendments Corlett’s critique will fail, since his argument that hate speech should not be censured is a bad argument. Finally, we wish to demonstrate that the term 'offensiphobia' is not only misleading, but ideological. It conflates hate speech with offense, and in so doing implies that hate speech cannot seriously harm its targets (beyond those forms of speech already unprotected by the First Amendment). This failure of recognition may even constitute a form of willful ignorance.

Lunch break: 12:45 – 1:45

3. 1:45 – 3:00pm Old Arts 227 (Cecil Scutt Room)

Linda Barclay (Monash University)

Constructing social equality

Abstract: It will be argued that everyday modes of interacting with people with cognitive impairment constitute their social inferiority, which renders them highly vulnerable to injustice. In contrast to debates about moral status, the social status of people with cognitive impairments has been largely ignored my moral philosophers. It will be suggested that understanding the connection between social status and various emotional and behavioural dispositions sheds as much light on injustice as does a focus on moral status. 

4. 3:15-4:30 Old Arts 227 (Cecil Scutt Room)

Laura Schroeter and Francois Schroeter (University of Melbourne)

Gender concepts: strict or relaxed?

Abstract: A strict concept is a way of keeping track of a stable and determinate feature of the world in thought and talk. Concepts of individuals are paradigm cases of strict concepts. Whenever you redeploy your concept of Barack Obama, you’re guaranteed to be thinking of the very same person. But not all concepts seem to work this way. Intuitively, your concept of blue might pick out slightly different things on different occasions – a particularly dark shade may count as blue when we’re talking about blueberries, but not if we’re talking about bluebells. And normally we don’t really care about resolving possible borderline cases for being blue, the way we try to resolve questions about which person counts as Barack. We suggest that gender concepts should be construed as relaxed concepts, and we use our account of concept identity to draw some morals about how to adjudicate disputes about who counts as a woman.

5. 4:45 – 6:00pm Research Lounge (Arts West, North Wing, Level 5)

Moira Gatens (University of Sydney)

Re-Imagining Women’s Honour: Respect, Dignity, and Sexuality

Abstract: I put the perhaps surprising argument that honour is at the heart of the sexual relation between men and women. But honour is imagined very differently in different historical periods and cultures. Dominant social imaginaries serve to distribute honour and respect in ways that privilege men in the sexual encounter. Nevertheless, I argue that a revised notion of honour may throw light on why the contractual model of sexual relations is less than apt.


6:00-9:00 Drinks and buffet dinner, Research Lounge, Arts West, North Wing, Level 5. RSVP for catering purposes.

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)




October 12, 2018, 5:00am +10:00

Who is attending?

4 people are attending:

University of Melbourne
University of Reading (PhD)
and 2 more.

See all

Will you attend this event?

Let us know so we can notify you of any change of plan.

RSVPing on PhilEvents is not sufficient to register for this event.