Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Sexual Harassment in Philosophy, Part 2 (guest post by Janice Dowell and David Sobel)

The following is a guest post* by Janice Dowell and David Sobel, professors of philosophy at Syracuse University, with help from several other philosophers. It is the second in a two-part series on sexual harassment in philosophy. Part 1 is here. Like the first installment, this one was also published at PEA Soup. Professors Dowell and Sobel have included some prefatory remarks for this post: Below is the second installment in our two-part series on sexual harassment in academia. In this installment, we discuss proposals for what individual philosophers and departments can do to prevent harassment and support victims. Some of these proposals will likely be controversial. The ongoing discussion of this topic is important; we hope people will carefully consider our proposals and the rationale offered for them. And while proposals for change frequently come with the risk of creating new problems, we hope people keep in mind that the status quo has very serious costs. Before those who disagree publicly express their dissent, I very much hope they will keep two considerations in mind:  (i) Whether the proposals advocated by the signatories to the statement below are warranted depends very much on what’s known about the rates of harassment and retaliation in academia and their impact on victims. Anyone who is unfamiliar with these facts will find it difficult to reasonably assess these proposals. So, we hope that anyone not yet familiar with the empirical data will first [More]

20 Theses Regarding Civility (guest post by Amy Olberding)

Too many (most?) conversations about civility begin because someone did something perceived to be uncivil. Making civility all about what other people do is in fact part of the problem, as civility is then degraded into a cudgel and its proponents into cops. Conversation about civility would be improved if sorting oneself out was the focus. The following is a guest post by Amy Olberding, the President’s Associates Presidential Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oklahoma. It originally appeared at Department of Deviance. (Note: do not use the comments section on this post to call out particular individuals’ you believe have engaged in uncivil behavior. Thank you.) 20 Theses Regarding Civility by Amy Olberding If I could just find the door to the discourse, I’d nail these on it. Dissent does not require incivility. I would have thought this obvious but have now too often heard people voice the assumption that if you’re civil, you’re not dissenting. Civility does not, under any theoretical construction or system of practical application, require that one not dissent. Dissent can be accomplished civilly or uncivilly. Dissent is not inevitably or automatically more powerful, more decisive, or more effective when delivered uncivilly. This is especially so in contexts where incivilities are frequent and commonplace because the emotive force of incivility becomes diluted. Incivility in dissent works in part when it functions to communicate distress, moral [More]

Sexual Harassment in Philosophy (guest post by Janice Dowell and David Sobel)

The following is a guest post* by Janice Dowell and David Sobel, professors of philosophy at Syracuse University. It is also posted at PEA Soup. Sexual Harassment in Philosophy by Janice Dowell and David Sobel Our aim in this short post is to provide a brief summary of the general picture of sexual harassment as it applies to the academic community and to philosophy in particular. In a follow-up post, we will offer a number of proposals for how departments and individuals can act to fight harassment and support victims. Some of those proposals will no doubt seem controversial to some. Understanding why those proposals are warranted will require first understanding the extent and repercussions of harassment. We need to understand that we as philosophers and teachers operate in a world in which sexual harassment is not rare. This recognition should be reflected in our practice, and two points are especially important. First, philosophers are well aware both of the multiple ways in which language communicates information and of the effects of language that extend beyond communication. So, we should be particularly alive to such considerations in the language we use for teaching and discussing philosophy. When we casually and unnecessarily offer examples involving rape, sexual harassment, or false accusations of either, we should be aware of how probable it is that some audience members, readers, or fellow discussants will have been sexually harassed or assaulted and [More]

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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