Meet-a-Member: Vanessa Bentley

photo 7-21-15

Editor’s note: Dr. Vanessa Bentley successfully defending on September 4, 2015. Congrats, Dr. Bentley!

Vanessa Bentley (formerly Gorley) is a doctoral candidate at the University of Cincinnati. While in the doctoral program in Philosophy, she also completed a master’s in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her research interests are in philosophy of science, philosophy of neuroscience, feminist epistemology, and neuroethics. Her interest in neuroethics has focused on neuroimaging research on sex/gender differences. Using two case studies in the neuroimaging of sex/gender differences, she has identified the many ways that the assumption of sex essentialism affects research and functions to limit scientific progress. Sex essentialism is the view that men and women are essentially different due to their sex. In addition to limiting scientific progress, research in the tradition of sex essentialism has been used to argue against women’s equal participation in society.

Vanessa will be defending her dissertation, “Building a Feminist Philosophy of Cognitive Neuroscience,” in the fall. Her dissertation addresses the concern that feminist philosophy of science has not made much of an impact on scientific practice. She argues that feminist philosophy of science must connect to the specifics of a discipline of science in order to make it more relevant and useful to scientists. In order to identify the specific practices in cognitive neuroimaging, she constructs two case studies in the neuroimaging of sex/gender differences. Once the standard practices, theories, assumptions, and analyses of sex/gender differences neuroimaging research are identified, she applies a feminist analysis, resulting in a feminist philosophy of cognitive neuroscience with specific recommendations for scientific practice. She believes that a practice-oriented approach will help bridge the gap between feminist theorists and practitioners of science. By presenting feminist philosophy of science tailored to a specific discipline of science, cognitive neuroscience, she hopes to make it more useful and relevant to practicing scientists.

Vanessa has presented portions of her research at the International Neuroethics Society annual conference, Society for the Philosophy of Science in Practice biennial conference, International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology biennial conference, the Association for Feminist Epistemologies, Methodologies, Metaphysics, and Science Studies biennial conference, and the Cognitive Neuroscience Society annual conference, among others.

She has taught a variety of courses, such as: Science, Philosophy, and Society; Philosophy and Women; Moral and Political Ideas; and a course she developed and proposed, Violence, Sex, and Immorality: Video Games and Philosophy, which addresses video game violence and aggression, identity, morality in video games, and feminist issues in video gaming.

Before attending the University of Cincinnati, Vanessa was a research assistant at the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University. Vanessa has been affiliated with the NEW Leaders since 2012 and manages the NEW Leaders Twitter account (@NEWomenLeaders).

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