Metaphysics and Epistemology Group (Tuesday - Week 2, HT24)

epistemology reading group

In this talk, I bring precision to a pervasive but under-theorised way in which objectification can occur: through attentional patterns alone. Further, I introduce particularly subtle forms of attention-based objectification, where the attentional pattern’s problems are revealed in its comparative nature. For instance, a person might listen to a woman’s conversational contributions, and so not ignore something meaningful about her, and yet find her figure comparatively more noticeable. Alternatively, a person might not fixate on the bodies of black men, and yet find their bodies comparatively more salient than the bodies of white men. Recognising these particularly elusive forms of objectification requires acknowledging that, in contrast with influential interpretations of objectification, one needn’t be reduced to a body, or to have one’s autonomy denied, to count as being objectified. Moreover, the subtlety of these forms of objectification grants them an insidious immunity from criticism, which results in distinctive harms for the victim.

Metaphysics and Epistemology Group Convenors: Bernhard Salow, Nick Jones and Alex Kaiserman