McDowell Conferences & Fellows Philosophy & Social Policy

The William Fraser McDowell Professorship was established in 1937 on the basis of a gift to the Department of Philosophy and Religion from the estate of Bishop William Fraser McDowell. The three previous incumbents were Professor Aubert Bain Potorf, Professor Harold A. Durfee, and Professor Jeffrey Reiman. The present incumbent, Professor Ellen Feder, has among her responsibilities the organization of the McDowell Conference and the appointment of McDowell Fellows.

Inaugural McDowell Fellow (Spring 2019)

Dr. Ellen Feder and the entire department welcome Dr. Anika Simpson

Anika Simpson, PhD, is a Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at American University. She also serves as the Director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. Prior to her visiting appointment, Dr. Simpson was Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Morgan State University. She also served as the coordinator MSU’s Women’s and Gender Studies program and was co-chair of the LGBTQA Advisory Council. She currently sits on the Board of Directors for the National LGBTQ Task Force and serves as a Commissioner for Washington, DC’s Office of Human Rights.  

24th Annual McDowell Conference Black Feminism and Marriage Abolition

The patriarchal facets of the marital institution have been well established within the philosophical canon. One can sympathize with longstanding calls to reform, if not abolish, the institution in the hopes of ameliorating gender harm. In this paper, I will establish that marriage is not simply an institution that is oppressive to women, writ large. I will argue that marriage is an enduring project of settler colonialism that serves to advance anti-black racism. I also aim to illustrate how the marital institution provides a critical organizing lens to further African-American philosophical inquiry that centers queer black feminism.

Past Conferences

2017 Philosophy of Children

2016 We Have To Do Something About Mental Illness…but it won’t stop mass shootings

2013 Philosophy and Climate Change

2012 Philosophy and the Family

2011 Philosophy and Criminal Justice

2010 The Place of Religion in Public Life

2009 Philosophy, Politics and Film

2008 Philosophy and the Emotions

2006 Rights of and Duties to Children

2005 Ethics and Genetics

2004 Philosophy and Tolerance

2003 Philosophy for the 21st Century

2002 The Philosophical Implications of September 11th

2001 Philosophy and Democracy

1999 Philosophy and Race

1998 Philosophy and Human Rights

1997 Philosophy and Feminism

1996 The Morality of Welfare for the Poor

1995 Philosophy, Ethics and the Environment

1994 Philosophy and Moral Education

1992 Philosophy, Health Care and Euthanasia

1991 Philosophy, Morality and War

1990 Philosophy, Drugs and the Law

1989 Abortion, Morality, and the Law