Thursday, August 30, 2018

Rebecca Kukla on Diversifying Philosophy

I'm on a mission to help diversify philosophy journals. The journals that are seen as elite in philosophy (but not only them) tend to draw on a somewhat narrow range of authors, addressing a somewhat narrow range of topics, using a somewhat narrow range of tools. It's not as bad as it could be, and not as bad (I think) as it once was, but there is a long way to go.

Philosophy is the broadest of all disciplines, with at least a bird's-eye view of everything important. For all X, there's a philosophy of X. I like to think that my discipline could become the broadest-minded too, welcoming of all methods and viewpoints and cultural backgrounds.

Alarmingly, elite Anglophone philosophy journals are even more demographically narrow than the famously demographically narrow philosophy departments of the large Anglophone countries. For example, only about 13% of authors in elite Anglophone journals are women, and less than 1% are Black, and only 3% of citations are to books or articles originally written in a language other than English.

At the Pacific Division meeting of the American Philosophical Association last spring, Nicole Hassoun, Sherri Conklin, and I organized a session on Diversity in Philosophy Journals, in which over 20 journal editors participated, as well as seven experts on the demographics of philosophy, and a large, engaged audience. Following up on that session, we recruited five of those journal editors to write guest posts for the Blog of the APA, concerning their experiences with trying to improve the diversity of their journals.

After a brief introductory piece last week by Nicole Hassoun, Subrena Smith, and me, the first editor's post is finally up, and it's terrific! Rebecca Kukla describes the editorial policies she has used to substantially expand the diversity of contributors and viewpoints in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal. As always, Kukla is vivid, practical, and bold.

I hope that you will read her post now!

Still to come over the next four weeks: Stephen Hetherington from the Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Lucy O'Brien from Mind, Purushottama Bilimoria from Sophia, and Sven Ove Hansson from Theoria.

[image from the Blog of the APA]


Anonymous said...

I am all for new perspectives and concepts but we need to have a common language (and for better or worse that is English). I am only fluent in one tongue and do not have time to become sufficiently fluent in other languages to parse complex philosophical arguments. I have enough trouble making sense of some people's arguments in English (tho yours, Eric, are usually quite perspicuous). Someone will need to translate from other philosophical traditions either by introduction of new words or well chosen borrowing from other languages. Citations will need to link to (sufficiently accurate) translations of papers from other cultures or else it will not help make the case. -- Stuart.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

I agree, Stuart! One model I like is where there are lots of people who do more than one thing and can talk with each other. For example, I can do Anglophone philosophy of psychology and classical Chinese philosophy (and a few other things), so I can help bridge conversations between the two (for example, connecting ancient Chinese moral psychology with current research in moral psychology). I know very little about the Indian tradition or work in many other traditions, but I can talk with some of the people who do know those things, due to our overlapping skills and interests. No one person can master everything!