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It’s been slow around here, yeah?

On and off, for the last couple of years I’ve been heavily involved in the effort to keep Marygrove College going. I am (or rather, was) one of the senior faculty there and so spent a lot of time in various forms of service to the College, including being a Department Chair, a Division Chair, and most recently a Criterion Team Leader for our last accreditation effort. Didn’t leave a whole lot of time for ol’ RAIL here. Sorry about that.

That brings me to the point of this post. It’s kind of a good news/bad news deal. The bad news? Despite our best efforts, the Board and administration at Marygrove decided to close all of our undergraduate programs and hand pink slips to nearly all of her faculty, regardless of rank or tenure, including yours truly. The good news? I’ve got a whole bunch of time on my hands now! Ergo this post. Of course I’m job hunting, but I’m also (quite happily) back to writing and research, and one consequence of that is that RAIL is back in business.

Wish us luck! And watch this space!

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Pragmatics is underpinned by the idea that language use is a form of social action with real world consequences tied to the specific context of language use. Different theoretical perspectives under a broad conception of pragmatics articulate the notion of social action differently and hence arrive at differing perspectives on the relationships both between language and other forms of social action and between language use and conceptions of context. Nonetheless, as the range of paper topics in any volume of the IPrA journal Pragmatics will attest, the insights provided by pragmatics research into the essential connections between language use, context and social action facilitate detailed understanding of real world contexts, practices and institutions. Simultaneously, analyses of pragmatic aspects of language in real world settings have been shown to inform our theoretical understanding of the relationships between language, meaning, context and social action.

In addition to the special theme, the conference is open to all topics relevant to linguistic pragmatics in its broadest sense as the interdisciplinary (cognitive, social, cultural) science of language use.

The deadline for proposals is 1 June 2016. Individuals wishing to submit must be members of the International Pragmatics Association. Information regarding how to become a member can be found here. For instructions for proposals (which are quite specific), please visit the IrPA2017 website.

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Vacancy for Lecturer/Senior Lecturer/Reader

£34,576 to £55,389 Full Time, Permanent. Closing Date: 27 February 2016

The University of Dundee’s School of Science & Engineering is advertising several permanent posts including one covering the Centre for Argument Technology. We are particularly keen to receive applications from candidates in Computational Linguistics to expand the group’s research in Argument Mining (see argmining2016.arg.tech and arg.tech/am), but welcome applications in all areas of the overlap between argumentation and artificial intelligence. A strong publication profile is essential, and for more senior appointments, so is a track record of funding success.

For further information about the Centre for Argument Technology, please see arg.tech or contact Prof. Chris Reed; for more information about the position, see arg.tech/lecturer.

More information can be found at the ARG-tech website for the opening.

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The Canadian Society for the Study of Rhetoric (CSSR / SCÉR) invites members to submit proposals for papers to be presented at its annual conference, to be held in conjunction with the Canadian Federation of Social Sciences and Humanities’ Congress 2016 (http://congress2016.ca) at the University of Calgary, Calgary, AB., May 31 – June 2, 2016.

The deadline for proposals is 10 January 2016. See the conference website for more information.

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Submission is now open for a special issue of Synthese on epistemic justification.

Epistemic justification is a crucial concept in epistemology, connected to practically all debates within the field. Traditionally it is that which has to be added to true belief in order to yield knowledge, but in recent times the concept has been related to such notions as rational belief change and evidential support, epistemic luck, epistemic virtue and normalcy. The goal of the special issue is to collect new ideas on the subject within different research traditions in analytic epistemology, in particular those which connect the formal and informal approaches.

Papers can be submitted online via the Synthese editorial manager:

https://www.editorialmanager.com/synt/default.aspx

Please make sure to choose “S.I.: Epistemic Justification” as article type.

The deadline for submissions is May 31, 2016.

Eds.: Benjamin Bewersdorf and Jeanne Peijnenburg

Faculty of Philosophy
University of Groningen
The Netherlands

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Stop making fun of philosophy and read some philosophy – The Week.

Yet another story on the benefits of philosophy! 😀

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It seems to me that these reasons are not sufficient to prefer men (or white, straight, wealthy, able-bodied, etc. people) over other people. It’s not sufficient because the sorts of impressions addressed here while quite ubiquitous are of minor relevance to what makes a good …. whatever the issue is. Speakers need more than an authoritative voice, and also a social significance that can be parsed in many different ways. Track records can also be assessed in different ways and being established by track record in any case may also indicate entrenchment in outdated approaches and even burnout or over-exposure. The person who attracts an audience is also not necessarily the person who makes the greatest impression on an audience.

Yet it seems argumentation theory ought to be able to provide a clearer means for dismissing these sorts of appeals.  In a hierarchical society hierarchical social categories such as gender and race are sometimes relevant, but how can we show the (severe) limitation of that relevance?  Is generic status ever sufficient reason to promote or prefer a person?

Feminist Philosophers

In a sexist society where there is a very long tradition of women being excluded from a wide range of desirable public roles, we should expect many of the following things to be said of men and these roles:

People expect a man to be doing X.
People associate manliness with important features of this role. (E.g., a male voice has more authority.)
Men have much more of a proven track record at X.
(Some) men will have much more of an audience than any woman does.

So what do we think of appealing to such beliefs as a reason to favor picking only men for such roles? One response is to label it as the ‘Sexism Wins’ strategy, with the implication that the actions are sexist. What would you suggest? Notice that the strategy is different from the frequently false response to the effect that there just aren’t any…

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