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Lev Marder Colloquium — Do employers know too much or can practices of ignorance protect women at the workplace?

Thursday, April 4, 2019
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Watson Hall
Room: 517
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The Department of Philosophy Colloquium Series is pleased to present

Lev Marder
(Queen's University)

Do employers know too much or can practices of ignorance protect women at the workplace?

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

4:00 pm

Watson Hall, Room 517

Abstract: Canadian government’s expansion of parental leave to fathers and grandparents is supposed to prevent employers from knowing that the woman will take maternity leave and create conditions that discourage her from having children. Under what circumstances can practices of ignorance protect women at the workplace, or “private government” as Elizabeth Anderson calls it, where “arbitrary, unaccountable authority” is the norm? To answer this question, I draw on Anderson’s study of “private government” and the field of epistemology of ignorance. I argue that at undemocratic workplaces, the androcentric oppressive assumption that "personal" matters should not be seen/known drives many workplace policies. I show this by discussing three policies: pay secrecy, non-disclosure agreements, and parental leave policy. Using the above examples, I suggest that enforcement of ignorance aligned with democracy, and specifically with the protection of vulnerable groups, should be considered as a tool that advances democracy, rather than outright dismissed.



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