Projection and Desire


LAC Burkhardt




For residence at the Philosophy Department at Harvard University during academic year 2016-2017


Philosophical work on introspective self-knowledge has proceeded without attention to feminist scholarship, even as other areas of philosophy are revolutionized by engagement with feminist work. This project brings the self-knowledge literature into conversation with feminism, challenging fundamental assumptions about self-knowledge from a feminist perspective, and applying work on desire introspection to explain the projection of desires onto another, with a focus on mistakes in overestimating the sexual interest of another. Research in psychology concerning sexual intent judgments seeks to explain observed gender differences in tendencies to make this mistake through appeal to evolutionary advantage, but this difference is better explained through attention to how social power contributes to this tendency in complex ways.