Samantha Brennan 2017-09-07T13:10:26+00:00

Project Description

RESEARCH AREAS:

  • Moral and Political Philosophy

  • Normative and Applied Ethics

  • Feminist Philosophy

CONTACT:

  • Western University
    Stevenson Hall 4127
    London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5B8

  • (519) 661-2111 x85743

SAMANTHA BRENNAN

Professor;
Department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research, and Philosophy, Western University

Samantha Brennan is a philosopher who works in the area of moral and political philosophy, with a special interest in feminist ethics. Although a philosopher by education and training, Samantha is cross-appointed to the Department of Woman’s Studies and Feminist Research. She is also eligible to supervise doctoral dissertations in Political Science. Her work falls into three main areas: contemporary moral theory, feminist ethics and political philosophy, and theory of justice for families and children. Brennan served as Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Western University, 2002-2007, 2008-2011.

My main research interest is in contemporary normative ethics. My work develops an account of moderate deontology, an account of rights and obligations that is sensitive to the consequences of our actions and to the effects of our actions on the well being of others. Moderate deontology is the view that when something important is in the balance, deontological constraints on action can be permissibly overridden and agents may (must?) do some otherwise impermissible thing as a means of promoting good. Moderate deontology preserves the intuition that there are some things we ought not do even if doing so might bring about a great good. It also avoids the untoward implication of more absolutist varieties of deontology that one can never, no matter how overwhelmingly weighty the good, override a constraint. My early work in moral theory investigates whether there are any general rules regarding the amount and type of good that needs to be at stake before rights or constraints are permissibly overridden. More recently my attention has turned to questions about when we are permitted to privilege our own projects even though a greater good might be achieved if we set them aside, and whether persons can meaningfully have obligations that others are not permitted to enforce. I am interested in the strength of rights and the size of options and in how options and rights relate to one another.

A secondary area of research interest is children’s rights and family justice. Some of my more recent work in this area has to do with tobacco control policy, specifically regarding permissible limits on the autonomy of parents who smoke.

I am also involved in feminist approaches to ethics and political philosophy, including feminist reconfigurations of autonomy and well being. I am interested in feminist and communitarian challenges to rights discourse, and have argued that preserving rights-talk has both principled and pragmatic benefits. More recently I have considered the question of whether feminists should focus attention on moral evils (such as, for example, domestic violence) as opposed to the (micro) inequalities of relatively privileged women (such as pay equity). I contend that while sexist evils warrant priority in our attention, addressing sexist inequalities is sometimes the best way to eliminate evils that flow from or are exacerbated by inequality.

Edited Books:

Samantha Brennan and Robert Stainton, Philosophy and Death, Broadview Press, 2009.

Samantha Brennan, Will Kymlicka, Jacob Levy, Andrew Bailey. Broadview Anthology of Social and Political Theory, Volume 2: The Twentieth Century and Beyond, September 2008.

Samantha Brennan, Will Kymlicka, Jacob Levy, Andrew Bailey. Broadview Anthology of Social and Political Theory, Volume 1: Plato to Nietzsche, January 2008.

Samantha Brennan and Robert Noggle, Taking Responsibility for Children, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, January 2008.

Samantha Brennan, Tracy Isaacs, and Michael Milde, A Question of Values: New Canadian Perspectives in Ethics and Political Philosophy, Value Inquiry Book Series, Rodopi Press, 1997.

Edited Special Issues of Journals:

Anita Superson and Samantha Brennan, Feminist Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition, Special Issue of Hypatia, Indiana University Press, Volume 20, Number 4, Fall 2005.

Samantha Brennan, Feminist Moral Philosophy, University of Calgary Press, Canadian Journal of Philosophy Supplementary Volume 28, June 2003.

Journal Articles:

Moral Gaps and Moderate Deontology,” Philosophical Perspectives, 2009, 23 (1):23-43.

Reflections on Creating a Warmer Environment for Women in the Mathematical Sciences and in Philosophy,” with Robert Corless, Atlantis, Volume 33, Number 2, 2009, pp. 54-61.

Feminist Ethics and Everyday Inequalities,” Hypatia, Special Issue, Oppression and Moral Agency: Essays in Honor of Claudia Card, Number 1, Volume 24 (Winter 2009), pp. 141-159.

Feminist Philosophers Turn Their Thoughts to Death,” International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, Volume 44, Number 1, 2006, pp. 34-37.

Is Death‟s Badness Gendered?” Symposium on Christine Overall‟s book Aging, Death and Human Longevity: A Philosophical Inquiry, Dialogue, Volume XLV, Number 3, Summer 2006, pp. 559-566,

Moral Lumps,” Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, Volume 9, Number 3, June 2006, pp. 249-263.

Relational Selves and Thresholds for Rights,” Archiv fur Rechts und Sozialphilosophie (ARSP), 2002, Volume 88, Number 1, pp. 74-85.

The Badness of Death, the Wrongness of Killing, and the Moral Importance of Autonomy,” Dialogue, Fall 2001, Volume XL, Number 4, pp. 723-728.

A Survey of Recent Work in Feminist Ethics,” Ethics, July 1999, Volume 109, Number 4, pp. 858-893.

Reconciling Feminist Ethics and Feminist Politics on the Issue of Rights,” The Journal of Social Philosophy, Volume XXX, Number 2, Summer 1999, pp. 260-275.

The Moral Status of Children: Children’s Rights, Parents’ Rights, and Family Justice,” with Robert Noggle. Social Theory and Practise, Spring 1997, Volume 23, Number 1, pp. 1-26.

How is the Strength of a Right Determined?: Assessing the Harm View,” American Philosophical Quarterly, October 1995, (Volume 32, Number 4), pp. 383-392.

Thresholds for Rights,” The Southern Journal of Philosophy, Summer 1995, (Volume 33, Number 2), pp. 143-168.

Paternalism and Rights,” The Canadian Journal of Philosophy, September 1994, (Volume 24, Number 3), pp. 419-440.

Chapters in Books:

Fashion and Sexual Identity, or Why Recognition Matters” Fashion and Philosophy. Edited by Jeanette Kennett and Jessica Wolfendale. Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. (In press)

Feminist Ethics,” The Routledge Companion to Ethics, edited by John Skorupski, Routledge, 2010.

Samantha Brennan and Angela White, “Responsibility and Children‟s Rights: The Case for Restricting Parental Smoking” in Taking Responsibility for Children, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2008.

The Liberal Rights of Feminist Liberalism,” pp. 85-102 in Varieties of Feminist Liberalism, edited by Amy Baehr, Rowman and Littlefield, 2004.

Children’s Choices or Children’s Interests: Which Do their Rights Protect?” Chapter 4, pp. 53-69 in The Moral and Political Status of Children: New Essays, edited by Colin Macleod and David Archard, Oxford University Press, 2002.

Libertarianism, Motivation, and Rights,” pp. 1-16 in Human Rights in Philosophy and Practice, edited by Burton M. Leiser and Tom D. Campbell, Applied Legal Philosophy series, Ashgate Publishing, 2001.

The Future and Value of Rights: Rights versus Responsibilities,” Chapter 17, pp. 153-160, in The Future of Value Inquiry, edited by Matti Hayry and Tuija Takala, Rodopi Press, Value Inquiry Book Series, 2001.

Samantha Brennan and Robert Noggle, “Rawls’s Neglected Childhood: Reflections on the Original Position, Stability, and the Child’s Sense of Justice.”
Originally published as “John Rawls’s Children,” in The Philosopher’s Child: Critical Essays in the Western Tradition, Susan Turner and Gareth Matthews, eds., The University of Rochester Press, 1998, pp. 203-232. Reprinted in The Idea of Political Liberalism: Essays on Rawls, Clark Wolf and Victoria Davion, eds., Rowman and Littlefield, 2000, pp. 46-72.

The Moral Status of Children: Children’s Rights, Parents’ Rights, and Family Justice,” with Robert Noggle. Reprinted in Morals, Marriage, and Parenthood: An Introduction to Family Ethics, Laurence Houlgate, ed., Wadsworth, 1999, pp. 228-236.

Moral Rights and Moral Math: Three Arguments against Aggregation,” in A Question of Values: New Canadian Perspectives in Ethics and Political Philosophy, Samantha Brennan, Tracy Isaacs and Michael Milde (eds.), Rodopi Press, 1997.

PRESENTATIONS

International Conferences:

“Rethinking the Moral Significance of Micro-inequities: The Case of Women in Philosophy,” International Social Philosophy conference, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario July 2010 and the British Society for Women in Philosophy conference, Cardiff, Wales, November 2010.

“How Many Parents Can a Child Have? Philosophical Reflections on the Three Parent Case,” American Political Science Association meeting, Toronto, September 2009.

“How Many Parents Can a Child Have? Philosophical Reflections on the Three Parent Case,” Justice, Care, and the Family: Philosophical Reflections, June 26-27, 2009, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

“Children‟s Rights and Global Justice,” International Global Ethics conference, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia, June 2008.

“The Intrinsic Goods of Childhood,” Keynote address, Children, Sport, and Physical Activity: Philosophical Dimensions, The University of Western Ontario, May 2007.

“Children‟s Rights and Sexual Justice,” panel participant with Jennifer Epp (UWO) and Shauna Van Praagh (McGill Law) at International Conference on GLBT Rights, held in conjunction with the Outgames, Montreal, July 2006.

“Moral Lumps,” International Society for Utilitarian Studies, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, August 2005.

“Moral Lumps,” British Society for Ethical Theory, University of Leeds, England, June 2005.

“Children‟s Rights: Family Values, Minority Rights and Local Self-Determination vs the Child State Alliance,” Workshop/discussion leader, Birgitta Forum, A Conference about the Future of Swedish Self-Governance, University of Linkoping, held at Vadstena, Sweden, May 21-24, 2005.

“Counting and Screening Embryos: Individuals, Relationships, and the Scope of Harm,” 5th Congress of the International Network on Feminist Approaches to Bioethics at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, November 7-9, 2004

“Feminism, the Badness of Death and the Resiliency of Life‟s Goods,” Human Good – Dignity, equality, and diversity, XIth Symposium of the International Association of Women Philosophers (IAPh) Göteborg, Sweden, June 17-19 2004.

“Children’s Rights and Children’s Choices,” International Meeting of the North American Society for Social Philosophy, University of Waterloo, July 2000.

“The Badness of Death, The Right not to be Killed, and the Moral Importance of Autonomy,” International Society for Utilitarian Studies 2000, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC, March 2000.

“Libertarianism, Motivation, and Rights,” International meeting of the IVR (Internationale Vereinigung für Rechts und Sozialphilosophie, Pace University, New York, June 1999.

“The Future and Value of Rights,” Roundtable on Value Inquiry, World Congress of Philosophy, Boston, August 1998.

“The Moral Significance of Motive and the Moral Significance of Moral Autonomy: Two Kantian Arguments for Libertarianism,” 14th Annual International Social Philosophy Conference, North American Society for Social Philosophy, Kingston, Ontario, July 19, 1997.

Other Conferences:

“Rethinking the Moral Significance of Micro-inequities: The Case of Women in Philosophy,” Canadian Philosophical Association, Equity Panel, Concordia University, Montreal, June 2010.

“How Many Parents Can a Child Have? Philosophical Reflections on the Three Parent Case,” IVR-Canadian Section, Concordia University, Montreal, May 28, 2010.

Panel participant, “Analytical Feminism,” Hypatia 25th anniversary conference, University of Washington, Seattle, October 2009.

“Sexual Identity, Gender Identity, and Fashion,” Hypatia 25th anniversary conference, University of Washington, Seattle, October 2009.

“Children‟s Rights and Sexual Agency,” with Jennifer Epp, Sexual Selves conference, Society for Philosophy of Sex and Love, University of Illinois, May 2009.

“Feminist Ethics and Everyday Inequalities,” Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy October 2008.

“Moderate Deontology and Moral Gaps,” The Kline Colloquium, The University of Missouri at Columbia Philosophy Department, April 2007.

“Towards a Warmer Environment for Women in Philosophy and in Applied Mathematics,” with Robert Corless, Educating Women/Women‟s Education in a Post Secondary Context, Mount Saint Vincent University, February 2007.

“The Common Structure of Thresholds for Rights and Thresholds for Options,” Western Canadian Philosophical Association, Simon Fraser Downtown Campus, Vancouver, BC, October 2006.

“Feminism, Families, and Reproductive Choices,” CPA/CSWIP panel on reproductive autonomy, York University, May 30, 2006.

“John Stuart Mill and „Make Him Beg‟ Feminism,” 1 Day Mill Workshop, May 20, 2006, The University of Western Ontario.

“Against Plug and Play Ethics: Feminists Rethink the Line between the Right and the Good,” Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy, Dalhousie University, September 30-October 2, 2005.

“Feminism, Philosophy and Death,” Keynote address, 3rd Critical Multicultural Counseling Conference, June 27-28, 2005, OISE/UT.

“Is the Canadian Charter a Consequentialist or Moderate Deontological Document?” comments on Wayne Sumner‟s The Hateful and the Obscene, CPA book panel, May 31, 2005.

“Against Plug and Play Ethics: Feminists Rethink the Line between the Right and the Good,” Society for Analytical Feminism panel, American Philosophical Association meeting, Boston, December 28, 2004.

“Moral Lumps,” Atlantic Region Philosophical Association meeting, Dalhousie University, October 15, 2004.

“Welfare, Autonomy, and Moderate Deontology,” at CS-IVR, meeting; University of Manitoba, June 2, 2004.

“Welfare, Autonomy, and Moderate Deontology,” at a 1 day workshop, “Autonomy and Well-Being,” University of Toronto, April 16, 2004.

“From Multiple Embryo Implantation to Single Embryo Implantation: The Moral Significance of Family Structure,” at “Researching Women,” a 1 day conference organized by the Centre for Women‟s Studies and Feminist Research, The University of Western Ontario, March 6, 2004.

“From Multiple Embryo Implantation to Single Embryo Implantation: The Moral Significance of Family Structure,”; contribution to panel on “The Perfect Embryo,” Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy conference, UWO, October 2003.

“The Badness of Death and the Resiliency of Life‟s Goods,” Ontario Philosophical Society, University of Ottawa, November 8, 2003.

“Reflections on the Connections between Trust and Justice,” Visions of Trust and Justice panel, Law Commission of Canada, Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences Federation, Halifax, June 2003.

“The Common Structure of Thresholds for Rights and Thresholds for Options,” Canadian Philosophical Association, Halifax, June 2003.

“Moral Gaps,” Central Division Meeting of the APA, Chicago, April 2002

“Responsibility and Children’s Rights,” Responsibility and Children conference, The University of Western Ontario, February 2002.

“Liberalism, Feminism, and Rights,” Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy Meeting, Guelph, September 23, 2001.

“Feminism, Philosophy, and Death,” Plenary presentation, 19th Annual Conference on Death and Bereavement, King’s College, May 14, 2001.

“Children’s Rights and Children’s Choices,” Atlantic Region Philosophical Association Meeting, University of King’s College, Halifax, Oct. 2000.

“Relational Selves and Thresholds for Rights,” Eastern Division Meeting of the Society for Women in Philosophy, Eastern APA, Boston, Dec. 1999.

“Assessing the Feminist Reconstruction of Rights as Relational,” Feminist Ethics Revisited, Clearwater Beach, Florida, Sept. 1999.

“The Badness of Death and the Right not to be Killed,” 1 day symposium on Death and the Afterlife, UWO/King’s College, February, 1999.

“Feminist Ethics, Women’s Experiences, and the Moral Problem of Abortion,” Canadian Philosophical Association, June 1998. (Paper presented by T. Isaacs, UWO.)

“Relational Rights and Rights for Relations,” Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy conference, Dalhousie University, Halifax, N.S., September 1997.

“The Moral Status of Children: Children’s Rights, Parents’ Rights, and Family Justice,” with Robert Noggle, Canadian Philosophical Association meeting, June 2, 1996.

“What’s Wrong with Rights?: A Response to Some Feminist Criticisms,” American Philosophical Association, Central Division Meeting, Chicago, April, 1996.

“What’s Wrong with Rights?: A Response to Some Feminist Criticisms,” Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy meeting, The Learneds, June 4, 1995.

“Children’s Rights: Towards a Philosophical Framework for Thinking about Adoption, Foster Care and Parenting,”(Paper jointly authored with Robert Noggle) International Society for Legal and Social Philosophy-Canadian section, The Learneds, June 7, 1995.

“Harm and Rights,” Pluralism and Conflict Conference, The University of Western Ontario, January 21, 1995, Human Rights Conference, Baldy Centre for Law and Social Policy, SUNY-Buffalo, February 10, 1995 and Atlantic Philosophical Association meeting, Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland, October 15, 1994.

“Moral Rights and Moral Math: Three Arguments Against Aggregation,” American Philosophical Association Meeting, Pacific Division, San Francisco, March 30, 1995, and Ontario Philosophical Society annual meeting, York University, November 5, 1994.

“Thresholds for Rights,” Canadian Philosophical Association meeting, Ottawa, Ontario, May 30, 1993.

Department Talks:

“The Intrinsic Goods of Childhood,” Philosophy, University of Sydney, May 2008.

“The Intrinsic Goods of Childhood,” Philosophy, University of Christchurch, May 2008.

“Feminist Ethics and Everyday Inequalities,” Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Australian National University, February 2008.

“Feminist Ethics and Rethinking the Bright Line between the Right and the Good,” Philosophy, Faculty of the Humanities, Australian National University, March 2008.

“Feminist Ethics and Everyday Inequalities,” Philosophy, Macquarrie University, February 2008.

“Moral Gaps,” Philosophy, RSSS, Australian National University, February 2008.

“The Intrinsic Goods of Childhood,” Social and Political Theory, Australian National University, October 2007.

“Children‟s Rights and Sexual Agency,” Philosophy, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba, October 2006.

“Welfare, Autonomy, and Moderate Deontology,” Department of Philosophy, Florida State University, March 31, 2006.

“Welfare, Autonomy, and Moderate Deontology,” Department of Philosophy, Simon Fraser University, February 24, 2006.

“Changing Conceptions of Children‟s Rights,” Paediatric Interest Group, Schulich School of Medicine, UWO, January 5, 2006.

“Feminist Philosophy, the Badness of Death, and the Resiliency of Life‟s Goods,” St. Mary‟s University, April 1, 2005.

“Moral Lumps,” Department of Philosophy, York University, December 15, 2004.

“Do Children Have a Right to a Smoke Free Home?” Bioethics Research Group Brown Bag series, UWO, September 17, 2004.

“Feminist Ethics and the Value of Life‟s Goods,” Department of Philosophy, University of Windsor, March 31, 2004.

“All in the Family: Feminism, Gender, and Justice in the Home,” The Circle at Brescia, Brescia College, March 29, 2004.

“Welfare, Autonomy, and Moderate Deontology,” Department of Philosophy, Wilfrid Laurier University, January 16, 2004.

“The Common Structure of Thresholds for Rights and Thresholds for Options,” Department of Philosophy, Dalhousie University, March 10, 2003.

“Moderate Deontology and Moral Gaps,” Ethics Research Group, University of Calgary, November 28, 2002 and “The Common Structure of Thresholds for Rights and Thresholds for Options,” Department of Philosophy, University of Calgary, November 29, 2002.

“Feminism, Philosophy, and Death: The Resiliency of Life’s Goods and the Badness of Death,” Gender and Society workshop, The University of Western Ontario, October 29, 2002.

“The Structure of Moderate Deontology,” Department of Philosophy, The University of Guelph, October 18, 2002.

“Varieties of Liberal Egalitarianism,” Department of Philosophy, The University of Waterloo, May 31, 2002.

“A Liberal Egalitarian Response to John Kekes,” panel discussion with John Kekes and Susan Dimock on the subject of Kekes’ manuscript in progress The Illusions of Egalitarianism, Department of Philosophy, The University of Waterloo, May 3, 2002.

“Moral Gaps,” Department of Philosophy, Dalhousie University, March 16, 2001.

“Moral Gaps,” Department of Philosophy, Concordia University, Feb. 9, 2001.

“Moral Gaps,” Department of Philosophy, Queen’s University, Feb. 8, 2001.

“Children’s Rights and Children’s Choices,” University of Manitoba Applied Ethics Centre, Jan. 19, 2001.

“Moral Gaps,” Department of Philosophy, University of Manitoba, Jan. 19, 2001.

“Relational Selves and Thresholds for Rights,” Philosophy Department Colloquium, Dalhousie University, March 10, 2000.

“Relational Selves and Thresholds for Rights,” Philosophy Department Colloquium, York University, Jan. 14, 2000.

“The Relationality of Rights,” Colloquium talk, SUNY-Buffalo, April 22, 1999.

“Children’s Rights: Towards a Philosophical Framework for Thinking about Adoption, Foster Care and Parenting,”(Paper jointly authored with Robert Noggle), University of Waterloo Philosophy Department Colloquium, June 30,1995.

“Paternalism and Rights,” The University of Western Ontario Philosophy Department Colloquium, March 25, 1994,and Dalhousie University Philosophy Department Colloquium , June 25, 1993.

Public Lectures:

“Do Children Have a Right to a Smoke Free Home?” St. Mary’s University Public Philosophy lecture, March 31, 2005.

“All in the Family: Feminism, Gender, and Justice in the Home, London Public Library department lecture series (“Thinking Philosophically about Feminism”) October 29, 2003.

“Assessing the Rights Revolution,” London Public Library, Philosophy department lecture series, May, 2002.