Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How to Diversify Philosophy: Two Thoughts and a Plea for More Suggestions

Academic philosophy in the U.S. has diversity problem.

On October 16 I'll be speaking about this at a MAP (Minorities And Philosophy) conference in Princeton. I'd like to toss some thoughts out there and solicit your suggestions.

Most of my previous work on these issues has focused on documenting disproportion. Compared to other academic disciplines in the U.S., philosophy is disproportionately white, male, and Anglophone. Plausibly, but not as well documented, its students are also disproportionately upper- and upper-middle class. Disabled people might also be underrepresented in philosophy compared to other fields (as well as compared to the population as a whole).

For October's talk, I want to discuss remedies. I'd like to suggest a few specific, concrete things that university philosophy instructors can do; and I'd like those specific, concrete things to target the situation in academic philosophy in particular.

Here are my two favorite ideas so far:

(1.) Encourage very-small-group discussion in the middle of class. (This sounds boring, but humor me for a few hundred words, because really it's magic!) Here's how to do it. Pause for 5-10 minutes in the middle of class. Have the students divide into groups of exactly 3 or 4 (not 2, not 5), and have them discuss one particular question from the lecture. To motivate discussion, require them to produce a simple written document, to be graded pass/fail. (For example, have each group produce what they think is the best consideration in favor of position P and the best consideration against position P.) Wander around during these 5-10 minutes, prodding groups that don't seem to be on task. Finally, reconvene and then have groups summarize the conclusions they came to.

I find that this exercise produces a pleasantly loud classroom, and that afterward a much broader range of people are willing to contribute to class discussion. Quiet people have finally got their mouths moving, and they probably found that what they said was respected by the 2-3 people they mentioned it to. This emboldens them to try it on the class as a whole. Also, the instructor can draw out normally quiet people by asking what their group thought. Individual students aren't as personally on the hook, since they can attribute the view to "the group", and they have already rehearsed the answer by talking it over with the group. If all else fails they can read what they've written down. This broadening of the range of people discussing philosophy in the classroom persists for the remainder of the period, often longer.

Here's why I think this exercise improves diversity: Philosophy classroom discussion is normally dominated by people with high academic/cultural capital. In the U.S. this means: rich, white, male, non-disabled, self-confident, parents with high educational attainment, fluent in highbrow English speaking styles. These are the students mostly likely to have the boldness to announce, in the second week of class, in front of their peers and professor, confident opinions about why Kant is wrong, or relativism is really the correct meta-ethical theory, or David Lewis's metaphysics is objectively better than Hilary Putnam's. (For an uncharitable version of the phenomenon, see this penetrating article.) Others need to be drawn into the conversation. Very-small-group discussion, in this above format, is the best way I know how.

(2.) Choose one non-white philosophical tradition to learn enough about so that you truly appreciate the range of positions and arguments in that tradition. (For me this is the ancient Chinese tradition.) This will take some time. But it needn't be unpleasant and you needn't aim to develop sufficient expertise to publish articles addressing that tradition. It's neither important nor achievable to have a global understanding of every tradition, and a superficial sampler approach risks misrepresenting and oversimplifying other traditions. What is important is that you have a moderately deep understanding of at least one other tradition, whose contributions you can discuss, with knowledge and enthusiasm, alongside the contributions of the currently dominant white European-derived tradition.

Interesting philosophy has emerged in every cultural tradition. How could it be otherwise? Philosophical issues are fundamental to one's worldview. In every culture, there will be thoughtful people who have reflected insightfully on such issues. Students know this. If we present the history of philosophy as the history of what white guys have thought about the fundamental issues of the human condition, then students will understandably regard philosophy in their university as an "area studies" program of white-guy thought. Even white students might forgivably be annoyed by this.

My hunch is this sort of cross-cultural engagement conveys a general message that encourages diversity of all sorts -- the message that you do not see philosophical value only in the words of people of high cultural power in your own tradition.

------------------------------------------------

I offer these as concrete ideas for diversifying philosophy that individual philosophy professors can realistically implement. I'm interested in further thoughts and suggestions!

40 comments:

Ethan said...

These are great suggestions! I've been doing small group discussions on a regular basis for years, and I've seen the effects you mention here.

As a corollary to your second point, I think that once you have some familiarity with a tradition, it's important to make sure that you're teaching that tradition and that it shows up on your syllabi, at least a little bit. I also don't think you need anything like mastery of an entire tradition to teach a little bit. Nobody says, "I can't teach Plato at all because I don't read Greek," but somehow it's okay to refuse to teach Indian or Chinese philosophy because you don't read Sanskrit or Chinese.

As you point out, students come into the classroom for the most part with the idea that philosophy (whatever they think philosophy is) is a global phenomenon. I know I did. As a plucky young 18 year old, I was quite shocked to find that nobody taught Chinese philosophy, which seemed to me then (as well as now) to be part of philosophy. It's largely through later socialization from our discipline that students get the idea that philosophy is Western and largely the domain of a certain kind of person (usually white, straight, male, cisgender, not disabled, upper-middle class, etc.). To counteract this socialization, I think it's important make it apparent to students from their earliest contacts with the study of philosophy in introductory courses that philosophy is something that has happened in many parts of the world and that everyone can do.

Eliyohu Rubinstein said...

Delighted to see this issue being addressed…
Regarding your 2nd idea I’d like to offer a suggestion or rather a development of it.
When including other traditions in discussion, don't (initially) look to find alternative or competing viewpoints, which is a relatively harder thing to do and to appreciate, and for the student/audience to respect.
Perhaps instead when presenting an idea to students from the western tradition, seek to also present a PARALLEL view from another tradition. That is, show how other traditions have tackled the same issues and often drawn similar conclusions.
Pretty quickly the student or audience will realise that we white males, and the standard western tradition, are not uniquely philosophically special. This seems to me the easiest way to get the essential point across.
This then opens people up to exploring other competing and alternative viewpoints. The inherent bias to one's own tradition, and reluctance to seriously consider other (initially strange) viewpoints, can be effectively mitigated by first demonstrating the areas in common, where other traditions AGREE with ours. This we are more ready to pay attention to! Then, having thereby established a different tradition's credentials for serious thought, their competing viewpoints will also be taken seriously.

@ethicsnerd said...

Great post! fwiw, my spouse--working on her phd in education--has taken whole graduate classes on getting typically marginalized and/or under-participating members involved (in lecture formats and in group work). Consulting with someone in your school's education department may yield some very good insights. Or in certain cases, departments may even want to go as far as to require those teaching to participate in similar courses/training...

Christopher Klerkx said...

Suggestion (1) is excellent and would increase philosophical learning for everyone. The phrase "pleasantly loud classroom" is especially refreshing to read. The education reformer John Holt wrote: “‘Who needs the most practice talking in school? Who gets the most?’ Exactly. The children need it, the teacher gets it.” It's hard enough getting secondary teachers to appreciate this point, so I wish you luck with spreading the idea in higher education!

Unknown said...

Can East and the West thought combine to tell them their Being in a philosophy class is a support...
...for the love of Wisdom, now today, in this class, and their first exercise is to sit alone quietly for 1/2 an hour every morning and when we meet in class to report about we find...

Anonymous said...

Suggestion (1) is terrific and in my experience works really well. Suggestion (2) could be really good, but I think needs to be done delicately. Introducing political thought from outside Europe (not all of which is 'Eastern', whatever that is) can sometimes serve to emphasise, rather than remedy, its marginality (E.g. Rawls, Rawls, Rawls, and then what Confucius might have said about justice). I'm also not convinced that it's useful to think of different traditions (often tied to their putative religious origins--imagine if philosophy students in India were taught Rawls as an extension of a certain version of Protestant theology--not outrageous, but definitely reductive). It might be more effective to teach around themes and concepts, and then consider how they've been treated in different societies. What a largely poor post-colonial society considers dignity will be different from dignity's priorities in Europe--but again, not because of Hinduism or Jainism, necessarily.

Another way to introduce philosophy from outside Europe is to change the hypotheticals or fables used to illustrate normative problems. Biblical examples (not at all illuminating for those of us who did not grow up with a Christian background culture) could be replaced with examples from other philosophical/theological works, that conveniently illustrate the fact that many different traditions/places/historical periods have confronted the same challenges (how to be a wise ruler - Kautilya can be taught alongside Machiavelli; the Bhagavad Gita and Greek fables also illustrate the tensions between consequentialist morality and virtues etc). And, even hypotheticals that are not from particular traditions could be more inclusive in terms of gender, ethnicity, sexual identity. It's small, but brings others into a philosophical discussion (and sometimes even classroom) otherwise dominated by a certain group.

I'd also be interested in how professors discuss this issue with their students. Is it something to acknowledge, apologise for etc up front? This is especially the case with philosophers who appear as part of the canon but whose professional conduct or political views are odious.

Brian Leiter said...

Your suggestions are constructive ones, Eric, but I was astonished by your concluding remarks. Do you really think your UCR colleagues like Pierre Keller, Andrews Reath, Maudemarie Clark and others who teach figures and movements in the history of Western philosophy " present the history of philosophy as the history of what white guys have thought about the fundamental issues of the human condition." Presumably what you mean is that in teaching say, 19th-century German philosophy, they teach important philosophers, who happen to be white men (in some sense of "white"). It would then be some ignorant student to conclude that the organizing theme of the course was "what white guys have thought," and it would then be incumbent upon the instructor to correct the student's simiple-minded misunderstanding, don't you agree?

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for the comments, folks! I think I agree with all of them, except that I'm not as sure about sitting quietly for half an hour, and my reaction to Brian's comment is complicated.

Brian, I am sure that my colleagues don't conceptualize it as "white-guy philosophy", much less have any racist intent! Eek. I hope my framing of the post doesn't invite that interpretation. I think it's less clear that the hypothetical student's understanding is simply wrong, though. If we value teaching the European tradition in philosophy, whose most recognized contributors would now be racially classed as white, but we don't similarly value teaching other traditions, then the question is, what justifies that focus? My view is that differences in philosophical quality between the traditions do not justify the extent of the disproportion, and that to some extent the disproportion is rooted in a cultural history that is tangled up with racism in its origins. Even if that were not so, teaching only philosophers who "happen to be white men" raises the question of to what extent women and people of color might have had different perspectives. Students might legitimately wonder whether they are getting a perspective, especially in ethics and political philosophy, that is skewed because the uniformity of the philosophers' race and gender.

Unknown said...

Our West's indignities to Quiet aside...combining all philosophical thought becomes foundational for a Student's developing attitude towards their own thought...

Brian Leiter said...

Eric, unless we had some reason to think the race of the philosophers was explanatory, I can't see why it would even be a topic for discussion. What is it about the race of Marx and Nietzsche, for example, that explains why a course on 19th-century European philosophy should include them?

Callan S. said...

Is the onion article simply a matter of turns and not letting other people have turns at speaking?

How about that he's annoying because the annoyance he is generating while hogging turns at speaking is being mixed up with his philosophical assertions being genuinely challenging and causing irritation as such. No one just says 'look, it's not your turn, be quiet' not because of shyness, but because telling him to just take his turn wouldn't solve the real irritation felt. They might even allow him to hog turns in order to give him rope, to eventually shut down the thing that is genuinely irritating or just shut it down by putting it into the irritation basket.

That's really a problem in a classroom - the louder people get the turns and then the subject moves on. Even if someone hasn't got something to say, being asked and given a moment makes them think of what they might say on their next turn. But I don't know how many students you have in a class - breaking them down into groups of 3 to 4 might make be making it possible to at least have each small group have a turn speaking.

Even saying nothing on a turn is kind of saying something.

Pilot Guy said...

I tend to agree with Brian L. - but if I said this in my faculty I would be pilloried

And maybe that is an interesting question as well.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for the continuing comments, folks!

Brian: I find a lot to disagree with in that brief comment! First, I don't see why race shouldn't be a topic of discussion even if it isn't explanatory of... what, their views? Second, it seems to me clearly to be explanatory of their success in at least the sense that their race in their social milieu was part of what enabled their success (would a black Nietzsche have had such early academic success?), and it's reasonable to wonder to what extent this feature of their social situation might have influenced their views. Third, part of the question is why 19th-century European philosophy should be as disproportionately represented in our teaching as it is; so it's a little off target, I think, to set the question up as though the entering point is what we should teach in a 19th-century European philosophy course.

Callan: Yes, it seems to me that the article mixes together the two factors you mention. Saying nothing does seem to be a way of saying something (but usually not very *much* something).

Pilot Guy: Although I disagree with Brian and you, I oppose the pillory.

Brian Leiter said...

1. You are the one who made race an issue! Why? Why not emphasize that they all had facial hair? There must be something explanatorily salient about the race of Marx and Nietzsche that is important. What is it?

2. Is it your practice when teaching philosophers to explain their "success" before teaching them? Of course, most white, Germanic philosophers in the 19th-century are not read today. So their race doesn't seem to be very explanatory. So what is its relevance?

3. 19th-century European philosophy is not "disproportionately represented in our teaching." In fact, it is hugely neglected, outside of places like UC Riverside and a few other departments. So once again, there's no real explanatory payoff to your race obsession.

4. Given that your support of this race-based nonsense--and that's what it is--is contributing to a professional atmosphere in which pillory is a worry for folks like "Pilot Guy," you should think carefully about your encouragement of this nonsense.

Christopher Klerkx said...

Responding to Brian's points:

1. Facial hair has not been a basis for systematic oppression. Race has been, so it is an issue.

2. Sometimes an explanation is only explanatory with respect to a contrast class. Race does not explain Nietzsche's success over other white philosophers, but it might explain his success over Eric's hypothetical black Nietzsche.

3. Again, what is the contrast class? In contrast with Indian philosophy, 19th-century European philosophy seems disproportionately represented.

4. If we speak out on the issue of race, we risk igniting passion in others that leads to unjustified pillory. If we stay silent, we risk perpetuating the marginalization of certain groups. Which concern strikes us as more urgent is telling.

Dr_M said...

Is the claim something like this: whiteness alone does not cause one to have good philosophical ideas (that is, does not "explain" one's ideas)? And is the conclusion that the whiteness of the philosophical canon is therefore not worthy of critical attention?

Race is an issue because of the sociohistorical context in which all of us are educated and teach, not because Eric (or Pilot Guy's department) made it an issue. That same context is why we don't get concerned about facial hair, but might get concerned about wealth or gender. These are factors that make it easier for some to get access to social, economic, and political resources, and so to have their voices heard. This in turn makes it easier for a rich, white, male to make it into the canon.

So no, race is not explanatory by itself, but that doesn't mean it is not a significant causal factor. And if that is the case, if it is much, much easier to make it into the canon if you enjoy privileged access to social goods, then it might be worthwhile to ask whether people who did not enjoy such privilege had really good ideas. We should ask that, in fact, if we what we care about is good ideas.

And I take it we may interpret "pillory" as something like "shame"? There's no escaping shame and censure. They are means of enforcing social norms, simply the flip side of having values in the first place. If we like Enlightenment values, it is critical (in both senses of the word) to draw attention to the norms that people are being pilloried over. However, the shaming in and of itself is not sufficient reason to reject the norms. So we need only ask here, "do we want to support a norm of inclusion and censure those who do not?", rather than simply "is someone being pilloried?"

Callan S. said...

Seems an argumentation that relies on treating a problem as not only not happening, but doesn't even exist - then treating the compensatory steering against that problem as the only problem there is. "You fighting against something is the only problem there is, bro!" sort of stuff, but asking the interlocutor to explain why they fight as if it's against nothing at all.

It'd be valid if birds of a feather didn't flock together.

Brian Leiter said...

I fear, as often happens, that the thread of the discussion has been lost. The question was why in the world anyone would think to describe or conceptualize a course on 19th-century German philosophy as a course about "what white guys thought." This is mindless and idiotic: it explains nothing.

That Indian or Chinese philosophy should be taught more may be true but is not relevant. That people are oppressed on the basis of race is true but not relevant. What we haven't gotten is an explanation for why race is a relevant way of categorizing a course in 19th-century German philosophy.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

I more or less agree with Christopher, Dr M, and Callan, though I prefer to discourage shaming people for their views, except in extreme cases (e.g. neo-Nazis).

Here's an analogy, Brian, that might be helpful. Suppose we have a department of the history of music. Almost all of the courses focus on European music from Bach to the 19th century -- the famous big name composers (all white and male, Beethoven, Haydn, etc) -- and then into the U.S. in the 20th century orchestral composers like Copland and (orchestral parts of) Gershwin. Music from other continents is rarely discussed, although maybe a class on "Asian music" is taught. Jazz and folk music are rarely discussed, though perhaps the influence on Gershwin is seen as important.

A student who takes music history in such a department might reasonably think, "This is the history of white guy music. Where's the music from Asia and Africa and South America? Why aren't the great black jazz musicians taken seriously?"

Bach and Beethoven are great, yes! We definitely want classes on them and on their tradition in our hypothetical department. There would be room to argue that maybe that musical tradition deserves more attention than any other. But the disproportion is odd, and on the face of it would seem to be rooted in some historically racist aspects of the academy, even if individual professors who love and teach Beethoven are individually not at all racist, appreciate him for his amazing greatness regardless of his race, and don't conceptualize what they are doing as "white guy music".

So I think something like that might be part of what's going on.

Not coincidentially, this isn't totally hypothetical. If memory serves me, the only discipline in the humanities, arts, and social sciences that is more white and male than Philosophy, by NSF PhD statistics, is Music Theory and Composition. Though this is totally speculative, I wonder if part of the explanation might be that those departments tend to mostly focus on the musical tradition I mentioned, while other traditions are downplayed or put into departments or programs of Ethnomusicology.

Brian Leiter said...

Eric, you shouldn't be agreeing with non-sequiturs! None of the preceding answers the challenge: "What we haven't gotten is an explanation for why race is a relevant way of categorizing a course in 19th-century German philosophy."

I am not a musicologist, but it also strikes me that whiteness is not the pertinent way of characterizing the musical traditions in Europe that run from Bach through the 19th-century greats (not sure what to say about the 20th-century Americans). There's a lot to be said about the sociology and political economy of the classical music tradition, but I'm not sure race looms large. But maybe a musicologist can offer a plausible explanation.

Unknown said...

Even so the integration of this killing field is digestible food for the Socratic way in life, and should be attached as a note to Eric's presentation...
...for students, ideas, contrasts, comparisons cannot stand alone for long, they diversify one's understanding...like pillorism is best observed as necessary pillars in ethical structures...

Christopher Klerkx said...

As Eric's analogy illustrates, our issue concerns the totality of course offerings in U.S. philosophy departments, so this focus on a particular course like 19th-century German philosophy seems like a red herring.

Brian Leiter said...

You are welcome to change the topic, of course, but if you review the question I posed to Eric initially, you will see there is no red herring. I infer you agree that, in fact, there is no sense in characterizing the teaching of 19th-century philosophy at UC Riverside as "what white guys thought."

Christopher Klerkx said...

Brian, your inference is correct. I called it a red herring because Eric's original post mentions students regarding "philosophy in their university as an 'area studies' program of white-guy thought" and not students characterizing a particular course that way. Far from changing the topic, I am trying to restore the original focus of discussion.

Teaching Marx and Nietzsche in a course on 19th-century German philosophy is not evidence of Eurocentric bias. But would you agree that Eurocentric bias is a plausible explanation for the absence of, say, Indian or Chinese philosophy from a philosophy department's course offerings?

Brian Leiter said...

My question was attempting to test Eric's assertion about white-guy thought. The paucity of Indian and Chinese philosophy in Anglophone philosophy departments is not evidence of an Eurocentric bias: to think that you'd have to know very little about how the field came to its current shape, and what is actually taught and not taught. For one thing, most of European philosophy is ignored in Anglopohone departments.

But I am glad we are agreed that it is, indeed, mindless to describe the teaching of figures like Marx and Nietzsche as a case of teaching white-guy thought. Certainly Mao, Castro, and Sisulu didn't think of Marx as "white-guy thought." Nor did Mishima and Borges so regard Nietzsche.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

I feel we've lost the thread a bit. We might have to just disagree about whether my hypothetical undergrad's phrase is mindless vs a crude way of capturing something important. The central issue in my mind is to what extent philosophy courses should expand beyond the current canon, especially toward non-European traditions, and what the causes and effects are of its current focus.

Brian Leiter said...

"The central issue in my mind is to what extent philosophy courses should expand beyond the current canon, especially toward non-European traditions, and what the causes and effects are of its current focus." Those are legitimate topics and questions, but they don't require you to encourage the mindless dismissal of serious and important parts of philosophy as "what white guys thought." I hope you will continue to explore the legitimate questions without doing that.

Callan S. said...

What would be an example of teaching 'white guy' thought, Brian?

Or would you say it's impossible?

I'm guessing some here think that it's far from impossible - some notions about this may seem mindless or idiotic simply for being an impossible thing to you.

Nellie W. said...

Hi Eric, great ideas. Here is a suggestion for further research (for those with time and resources). I don't think there could be a single set of solutions given how different student populations are. My guess is that this is mostly a problem of base rate and class. For example, my hunch is that philosophy has much less of a diversity problem on campuses with more diversity. On my campus, for instance, approximately 34% of the philosophy majors/minors identify as white and 23% identify as white males. We have decent numbers and this holds pretty steady year after year. (The remainder of the students mostly identify as latino/latina, southeast asian, mixed race, other asian, african-american, or native american -- in that order.) This composition reflects the composition of our campus. This is despite the fact that we only teach the western tradition (not that we shouldn't do otherwise!). What we *don't* have as much in our classrooms, regardless of racial identity, is a problem of a great range of academic/cultural capital. Everybody's about on the same page and they all really like philosophy. So, how to diversify philosophy at an elite institution is going to be a different problem (and maybe the one people care more about?) with different solutions than what is the case in philosophy departments that are already quite diverse.
The further research question that would be interesting is this: How are philosophy departments doing in universities that are composed of significant minority populations? A comparison with comparably sized but less diverse schools would be telling. That is, my (weak, unfounded) hunch is that it would tell us that the diversity problem is not that mainstream philosophy and teaching methods don't speak to a diverse population, but that the problem has more to do with (implicit!) elitism and classism at the universities that tend to populate the PhD programs and, ultimately, the profession.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Brian, you have convinced me that that was a needlessly provocative way of expressing the idea, for the purposes of this post.

Callan, one possibility would be an explicitly racist context, if that's how the phrase is heard.

Nellie, interesting thought about elite institutions. I can believe that the dynamics are quite different there. Empirical evidence from Georgia State and elsewhere suggests that much of the decline in gender, at least, is between intro and declaring or completing the major, in which case it's not just an elite institution issue. I'm not as sure about comparative race/ethnicity data on introductory philosophy enrollment vs completing the major. NCES data suggest that across a wide range of institutions, philosophy is somewhat more white (28% non-white vs. 34% for all majors), but that's not a huge difference, and I'm not sure how it compares with introductory course enrollments.

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d15/tables/dt15_322.30.asp?current=yes

Callan S. said...

Surely there's a difference between what is provocative and what is a reference to some kind of fact in regard to human behavior? Something can be both things at once, but surely the fact of it (or even just the speculated fact of it) shouldn't be discarded simply because of the provocatory part, Eric?

And is it even provocative if someones response is 'Could anyone ever really want to just focus on a particular type of race and/or particular geolocations??'. At the very least surely an honest start is to treat both sides as speculating - that Brian is only speculating that no one would focus on race or geolocation and you are speculating that they could. An instant shoot down by anyone is to shoot down speculation.

I'm just a internet random person, but I'm a bit disappointed, TBH.

Nellie W. said...

I meant to also add that I don't think attracting women and attracting people of color require the same strategies. And, again, different strategies would be called for in different institutions. My primary point was about people of color, and whether institutions that primarily serve students of color have difficulty attracting students to philosophy. If the answer is 'no' then that might bear on strategies for attracting students of color in other places as well.

Unknown said...

One of the favorable outcomes for a social minority, after completing a diversified study of philosophy, should be, that minority or majority no longer applies to them...They would have themselves, alone, to contend with, for rest of their lives...
..."In the love of wisdom and the pursuit of truth...

Anonymous said...

If Brian was a black woman, other things equal, he wouldn't be where he is professionally. That makes race relevant.

If Nietzsche was Chinese, other things equal, he wouldn't be studied in most academic philosophy departments. That likewise makes race relevant.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Callan: Complicated question, and I think a diversity of answers. As I was writing that part of the post, I was imagining an agreeing reader and not clearly enough imagining a disagreeing reader, and now I think I might write it with a little more nuance.

Nellie: That seems right. I think there's some synergy between strategies for attracting/welcoming women and for attracting/welcoming students of color in philosophy, but certainly the strategies also come apart.

Unknown: I'm not sure about that! Group membership can legitimately be an important part of people's lives, including recognition that one's group is a majority or minority of one's larger society.

Anon: I'd rather not speculate about individual living people, but I'm generally in agreement with your thought here.

Unknown said...

That alone is a acquired personal responsibility, from philosophical studies, affirming or denying recognition's...
...place always matter, but like, 'when in Rome...'...

Callan S. said...

I'm going to grumble and say that if the other guy wont treat their own position as a speculation, there's not much you can do about that disagreement except to tell them to treat it as a speculation (and in turn you'll treat your position as a speculation, for the sake of discussion). Can't carry it alone. Done grumbling!

Brian Leiter said...

Eric, I'm surprised you let the anonymous insulting remark through. It's not only insulting, it's absurd, at least for anyone who actually knows how the job market works. If my work and teaching had been of the same qualify, but my race or gender different, I would have been hired at Chicago or some other elite law school at the start of my career, rather than having to work my way up the "food chain" (as we call it in law schools).

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Brian, I tend not to filter the comments much. I'd rather not filter at all, except that I did have one serious problem a while back. I think it's empirically unclear what sort of advantage or disadvantage women and/or people of color have in the Assistant Professor job market phase. I do think, however, that the empirical evidence suggests that in the "along-the-way" phases, women and people of color drop out of philosophy at higher rates than white men, and that this is likely due in part to biased perceptions of intelligence or potential. (I understand that we might disagree about this.) That's how I was interpreting the commenter's remark. However, I do think it's unhelpful, and possibly construable as insulting, to speculate about particular individuals (as well as epistemically quite a bit more dubious), so I do wish that commenter hadn't done so.

Brian Leiter said...

Eric, I was referring to the law teaching job market, where my tenure home has always resided. The anonymous comment was clearly insulting. You should moderate more, so that your blog comments are as nice as you are! We had a robust discussion of the substance, and it was constructive. As so often happens, the anonymous intervention is worthless.