The Women in Parenthesis Podcast

In Summer 2020, Amy Ward from Mount Allison University in Canada joined us as a student intern and volunteer podcaster. You can listen to Amy’s fantastic podcasts (complete with original musical compositions!) on the Quartet, introduced by Amy below. Enjoy!



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Series 1

Mary Midgley, ‘Rings and Books’

1.1 Aspects of Isolation

To start off this series, I talk about the pros and cons of isolation with Mary Midgley’s essay ‘Rings and Books’ in mind. Although being alone can be helpful for focusing, being alone too much makes it easier to think about the world only in terms of your own self and ignore the needs and experiences of others.

1.2 Open to Disruption

Continuing on the theme from the last episode, here I expand on how isolation and one-sided thinking shows up in philosophical thought.

1.3 What is Missing in Philosophy? (a conversation)

In this episode, I chat with Ellie Robson about the role of philosophy in everyday life and the topics that are not getting enough attention in the discipline.

1.4 How Do We See Ourselves?: Midgley and Gaia (a conversation)

I’m back with Ellie Robson again, this time to talk about topics she thinks are missing from philosophical discourse. Following Mary Midgley, we take a look at common conceptions of ‘human’ and how we might think of our place in this world a little differently. Instead of imagining ourselves as independent beings, what if we saw ourselves as dependent and embedded in the world?

1.5 How Do We See Ourselves?: Philosopher Edition (a conversation)

I talk with Amber Donovan about the picture we often have for the philosopher – as a thinker, alone – and other ways of doing philosophy that might be more productive.

1.6 Working in a Man’s World (a conversation)

In a discussion with Rebekah Howlett, we chat about a concrete example of why isolated thinking can be harmful towards other groups of people. In particular, we talk about societal expectations of men and women in the workplace and how the system favours particular people over others.

Series 2

Iris Murdoch on Morality

2.1 The Iris Murdoch Complaint

It’s Iris Murdoch time! I introduce Murdoch’s moral philosophy by looking at ethical theories that she disagrees with—in particular, she thinks that morality cannot be understood as single moments of choice. Instead, morality is throughout our lives and involves clear vision of reality.

2.2 What is the Good Person Like?

In Iris Murdoch fashion, we look at the images involved in the idea of the Good Person in Murdoch’s own work, and specifically, Murdoch’s classic story about M and D. Asking this question (what is the good person like?) shifts our focus to a person’s character and the internal work that is involved in morality. Asking what the good person does, encourages us to look more at the actions. A good person is able to act virtuously, but this is as much about their character as about their isolated moments of choice. This episode includes comments from Dr. Cathy Mason.

2.3 The Art of Attention

There are many ways of practicing Iris Murdoch’s moral vision, and the examples she gives involve turning our attention outward and yielding our view to something external. This episode includes comments from Dr. Cathy Mason about the importance of art in morality.

2.4 Unselfing – a conversation

Sasha Lawson-Frost shares her thoughts and experiences of unselfing to continue our exploration of Iris Murdoch’s moral philosophy. Unselfing is a way of turning outwards to the world to be able to engage with reality and act morally.

2.5 Love and Sight – a conversation

In this episode, I’m joined by Dr. Cathy Mason for a conversation about Iris Murdoch’s idea of love. In Murdoch’s philosophy, love is not just a feeling or emotion, but something that helps us to act morally by turning outwardly to see the world as it is.

2.6 Everyday Morality – a conversation

This episode is a conversation with Lesley Jamieson about Iris Murdoch’s moral vision within the context of her contemporaries and how she is set apart by saying that morality is in everyday actions and perception. For Murdoch, making choices is much more complicated than it seems like in a thought experiment with two options. And, Lesley gives us an idea of what the good person might look like in terms of Murdoch’s philosophy.

Series 3

Philippa Foot and Trolley Problems

3.1 Tracking the Runaway Train
Although the trolley problem is a well-known meme, not many people know of its origins in philosophy. In this episode, I introduce the doctrine of double effect and discuss why Philippa Foot created the trolley thought experiment in the first place.
*content warning: brief comments on abortion
3.2 Looking for Moral Principles
Continuing on the Foot train, this episode delves more deeply into Philippa Foot’s response to arguments for how the doctrine of double effect should influence our thinking about ethics.
*content warning: brief comments on abortion
3.3 Moral Objectivity – a conversation
Ana Barandalla joins us to talk about Philippa Foot’s book Natural Goodness. In this episode, we discuss Foot’s project in moral philosophy, and what it means to have objectivity in ethics.
3.4 The Form of a Good Person – a conversation
Ana Barandalla is back to discuss Philippa Foot’s book Natural Goodness, and in particular, the idea of having a standard form of life for humans which can serve as an objective standard for moral judgements.
3.5 Defective – a conversation
Continuing in conversation with Ana Barandalla on Natural Goodness, this episode addresses some problems in Philippa Foot’s ethical picture. In particular, we talk about her use of the term ‘defect’.
3.6 Morality Among Us -a conversation
In our final episode about Natural Goodness, I ask Ana Barandalla what she thinks is important to learn from Philippa Foot’s concept of morality.
Series 4

Protesting with Elizabeth Anscombe

4.1 Opposing Calculative Ethics

For our last Quartet member, we turn to Elizabeth Anscombe and the pamphlet she wrote to protest US President Harry Truman’s honorary degree at Oxford University. To stop ourselves from falling into the trap of ‘either/or’ thinking that is often featured in hypothetical moral situations, Anscombe reminds us that some actions are wrong no matter what situation we are in.
*content warning: discussion of murder and some events in WWII

4.2 Opposing Pacifism

This episode explores another moral trap that Elizabeth Anscombe points out in her pamphlet on Truman’s degree. The particular brand of pacifism that she talks about works to get rid of the distinction between killing and murder; Anscombe thinks this is a dangerous move because murder becomes merely a way of killing and loses its sense of prohibition.
*content warning: discussion of murder and some events in WWII

4.3 Taking a Stand – a conversation

In this episode, Dr. Rachael Wiseman offers some context to Elizabeth Anscombe’s pamphlet ‘Truman’s Degree’.
*content warning: discussion of murder and some events in WWII

4.4 Anscombe and Double Effect – a conversation

Dr. Rachael Wiseman and I talk about why Elizabeth Anscombe does not agree with Philippa Foot’s arguments about the doctrine of double effect. For Anscombe, the doctrine of double effect does not say anything about what we should do; it tells us that there are some things we should not do.
*content warning: discussion of murder and some events in WWII, and brief comments on abortion

Series 5

Conversations: The Quartet, Intersections and Comparisons

5.1 A Moral Quartet

Dr. Rachael Wiseman and I have a conversation about how a concern for morality brought our four philosophers – Mary Midgley, Iris Murdoch, Philippa Foot, and Elizabeth Anscombe – together after World War II.

5.2 Female Philosophers – Feminists?

In this episode, I talk with Anne-Marie MacCallion about how our four women are connected to the philosophical projects of feminism.

5.3 Take a Look Outside (on Midgley and Murdoch)

Amber Donovan joins me to discuss connections between Mary Midgley’s and Iris Murdoch’s ideas about how we ought to think of ourselves in the world. Murdoch’s idea of unselfing encourages us to look out at the world and Midgley’s idea of Gaia helps us to see ourselves as part of a greater whole. How can we go about our lives with these two ideas in mind?

5.4 Thought Experiments (on Murdoch and Foot)

In this episode, we hear from two scholars – Jacquelyn Maxwell and Ana Barandalla – about thought experiments in the philosophies of Iris Murdoch and Philippa Foot.

5.5 A School of Their Own

Our four philosophers – Mary Midgley, Iris Murdoch, Philippa Foot, and Elizabeth Anscombe – can be considered as individuals or as a philosophical school. Anne-Marie MacCallion offers some points to consider when we talk about the Quartet as a school of thought.

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