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Philosophers and Petitions

Numbers generate a pressure to believe that isn’t grounded in explanatory force, because having more and more adherents to a view doesn’t give rise to better and better accounts of why the view is correct… Philosophers ought to be especially sensitive to introducing this element of belief imposition into our culture. As a philosopher, I want my influence to be philosophical, which is to say, I want to bring people to believe only what they, by their own lights, can see to be justified; I don’t want them to believe something because (I am one of the) many people who think it. That’s Agnes Callard (Chicago), writing in The New York Times, on why “petitions, regardless of their content, compromise core values of intellectual inquiry” and why their use “constitutes a kind of philosophical malpractice.” Her central focus is on petitions and open letters directed at academics. I get what she’s saying. In regard to an academic petition from a couple of years ago, I urged that “in conducting our academic work we should try as much as possible to rely on the exchange of evidence and arguments, not (directly) on the numbers of people who agree with us, or the strength of their agreement” and cautioned against activities that push us towards “a version of academia in which, in the contest of ideas, when expertise bumps up against popularity, the latter is more likely to win.” In her column, Callard writes: We’d never [More]

Recognizing Gender Critical Feminism as Anti-Trans Activism (guest post)

“Our main point is that readers need to understand that the central problem is not how to uplift the message of ‘gender-critical’ voices, but how to understand them as activists, and how to manage content that is disrespectful, fear-mongering, and misleading, while avoiding harm to the scholarly community.” The following is a guest post* by three philosophers who wish to remain anonymous (though their identity is known to me). Recognizing Gender Critical Feminism as Anti-Trans Activism by three anonymous philosophers A recent letter published at Inside Higher Education argues that we should not censure writings by so-called “gender-critical” philosophers. We agree with the authors of the letter that philosophy should be “a discipline in which sensitive and controversial issues are investigated with patience, care and insight.” But “gender-critical” writings, which the letter defends, do not advance us toward this ideal. The current crop of trans-exclusionary “gender-critical” philosophers is first and foremost an activist movement. Their writings and behavior are best understood as aimed at achieving their activist ends, such as preventing trans women from using facilities designated for women, or making it more difficult for trans women to be legally recognized as women. Like other activists, they will denigrate or vilify their opponents, make use of dogwhistles, appeal to people’s baser emotions to increase support for their cause, and ignore [More]

APA Is Surveying Philosophers on Priorities and Services

The American Philosophical Association (APA) is conducting a survey to determine which issues confronting professional philosophers it should prioritize, and which of its services and programs professional philosophers find valuable.  The survey is part of  a “strategic planning process to help guide the association over the next few years” and is “designed to gather insights from philosophers across the discipline, regardless of rank, employment, or APA membership status.” According to an email from the APA, “the survey will not attach your name to your responses, and all of the data will be reported in aggregate. As an incentive, after completing the survey, you will have the opportunity to enter a drawing for free APA membership for one year.” You can take the survey here. The post APA Is Surveying Philosophers on Priorities and Services appeared first on Daily [More]

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Dr. Robert McKim
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  • Professor of Religion and Professor of Philosophy
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Dr. Alvin Plantinga
  • on Where the Conflict Really Lies
  • Emeritus Professor of Philosophy (UND)
  • Focuses on Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Religion
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Dr. Peter Boghossian
  • on faith as a cognitive sickness
  • Teaches Philosophy at Portland State University (Oregon)
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