With eight philosophers in a variety of fields whose work can be classified in full or in part under the rubric “Feminist Philosophy”, Western is one of only 20 philosophy graduate programs in the English-speaking world recognized by the Philosophical Gourmet as having strength in this area.
Gillian Barker: Barker works in philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, and environmental philosophy. Her research examines science as in its cultural and political context, with attention to the implications of cognitive psychology and embodied knowing, and to the interactions between science and values. Much of her work focuses on the implications of our choices of particular conceptual models. She has broad interests in feminist epistemology and feminist approaches to philosophy of science, philosophy of biology and environmental philosophy.
Samantha Brennan: Brennan is currently Chair of the Department of Philosophy at The University of Western Ontario. Brennan’s work within feminist philosophy falls primarily with the area of feminist moral philosophy. Brennan has written about issue of justice and the family. She also has interests in philosophical issues relating to sex and gender. She has presented work in feminist ethics at national and international feminist philosophy conferences. Brennan is the editor of Feminist Moral Philosophy (University of Calgary Press, Canadian Journal of Philosophy supplementary volume 28, June 2003) and co-editor with Anita Superson of a special issue of the journal Hypatia on analytic feminist philosophy, Fall 2005. Brennan is an affiliate member of the Department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research.
Helen Fielding: Fielding’s research and publications are situated within the areas of twentieth-century and contemporary continental philosophy; specifically on issues of embodiment in feminist philosophy drawing upon the phenomenological tradition. She has published feminist essays on Merleau-Ponty, Irigaray, and Heidegger and is currently working on a book project based on this past research. She would be willing to supervise students working on a thesis in contemporary continental philosophy or to be on a committee for students working in another area of feminist philosophy. Fielding holds a joint appointment with the Department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research.
Elisa Hurley: Hurley’s research interests lie at the intersection of value theory and philosophy of mind, and encompass questions in meta-ethics, moral psychology, bioethics, and feminist ethics. Most broadly, her work explores the connections between our distinctively human capacities to experience certain affective psychological states and the fact that we encounter and navigate a world filled with value. She continues to develop the moral psychological and metaethical implications of her view that solutions to several philosophical puzzles about how feelings and conceptual content come together to form a category of mental states called "emotions" turn on distinctive practical contributions emotions make to our substantive understanding of values. In recent bioethical work, Hurley asks whether the contributions of emotions to moral understanding and agency has ethical implications for developments in psychopharmacology. This includes a feminist analysis of the implications of using drugs to blunt the emotional impact of traumatic memories of sexual violence, both for individual moral agency and for our collective responses to violence and the socio-political conditions that support it. Hurley is an affiliate member of the Department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research.
Tracy Isaacs: Isaac’s work in feminist ethics focuses on issues of responsibility. Published articles in this area include, “Cultural Context and Moral Responsibility” (Ethics Vol. 107, No. 4, 1997), “Domestic Violence and Hate Crimes: Two Levels of Responsibility” (Criminal Justice Ethics, Vol. 20, No. 2, 2001), and “Feminism and Agency” (Feminist Moral Philosophy, editor Samantha Brennan, Calgary University Press, 2003). Work-in-progress in this area includes an article on the role of women’s experience in moral theorizing, and a larger project on the way that oppressive social contexts can shape agency and identity. Isaacs can supervise anything in the area of feminist ethics, including theories of oppression, the ethics of care, responsibility and oppression, feminist moral epistemology, feminist moral methodology, and more applied issues such as pornography, prostitution, or abortion. Isaacs holds a joint appointment with the Department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research; she is currently Chair of that department.
Carolyn McLeod: McLeod is currently Graduate Chair in the Department. Her contribution to feminist philosophy falls within the areas of feminist bioethics and feminist moral theory. She is concerned in particular with practical moral dilemmas that arise in the area of reproduction and with the moral concepts needed to understand and resolve these dilemmas. Her current research focuses on conscientious refusals by health care professionals to provide standard services such as abortion services, on the nature of conscience, on fertility preservation in women and on adoption, including transracial adoption. McLeod’s supervisory capacities extend to any issue in reproductive ethics or in bioethics more broadly, and to topics in feminist theory having to do especially with psychological oppression, autonomy, trust, integrity, self-regarding attitudes such as self-trust or self-respect, objectification, race, and gender. McLeod is the author of Self-Trust and Reproductive Autonomy (MIT Press) and editor of Understanding and Protecting Reproductive Autonomy, Special Issue of Bioethics 32(1). She is also former Co-coordinator of FAB (the international network on Feminist Approaches to Bioethics) and is co-founder of FAB’s journal IJFAB (International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics). McLeod is an affiliate member of the Department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research.
Karen Margrethe Nielsen: Nielsen’s research falls within the area of ancient philosophy, with special emphasis on issues in moral philosophy, psychology, and metaphysics. Articles in this area include “The Private Parts of Animals: Aristotle on the Teleology of Sexual Difference” (Phronesis no 4-5 (2008)) and “Dirtying Aristotle’s Hands? The Analysis of Mixed Acts in Nicomachean Ethics III, 1” (Phronesis no 3 (2007)). Nielsen co-organized the workshop “Bridging the Gap between Aristotle’s Science and Ethics” (UWO, March 19-21, 2009). She is interested in feminist approaches to the history of philosophy, as well as social policy. Her Scandinavian background informs her approach to gender issues.
Kathleen Okruhlik: Okruhlik’s area of specialization is history and philosophy of science. A significant part of her teaching and research deals with feminist critiques of science. She is the co-editor of Women and Reason (University of Michigan Press, 1992) and author of the “Feminist Accounts of Science” entry in Companion to the Philosophy of Science (Blackwell, 2000). Two of her better known articles are “Gender Bias in the Biological and Social Sciences “(reprinted in Philosophy of Science. The Central Issues. W.W. Norton, 1998) and “Logical Empiricism, Feminism, and Neurath’s Auxiliary Motive“ (Hypatia 19.1, Winter 2004). Okruhlik is presently senior co-chair of the Philosophy of Science Association’s Women’s Caucus, and she is an affiliate member of the Department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research.