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The Philosophy Major Sees Increase in Numbers and Diversity (guest post)

“In the midst of this general sharp decline of the humanities, philosophy’s admittedly small and partial recovery stands out.” So writes Eric Schwitzgebel, professor of philosophy at University of California, Riverside, in the following guest post about the number and types of students majoring in philosophy. The post originally appeared at his site, The Splintered Mind. The Philosophy Major Is Back on the Rise in the U.S., with Increasing Gender and Ethnic Diversity by Eric Schwitzgebel In 2017, I reported three demographic trends in the philosophy major in the U.S. First, philosophy Bachelor’s degrees awarded had declined sharply since 2010, from 9297 in 2009-2010 (0.58% of all graduates) to 7507 in 2015-2016 (0.39% of all graduates). History, English, and foreign languages saw similar precipitous declines. (However, in broader context, the early 2010s were relatively good years for the philosophy and history majors, so the declines represented a return to rates of the early 2000s.) Second, women had been earning about 30-34% of Philosophy Bachelor’s degrees for at least the past 30 years — a strikingly steady flat line. Third, the ethnic diversity of philosophy graduates was slowly increasing, especially among Latinx students. Time for an update, and it is moderately good news! 1. The number of philosophy Bachelor’s degrees awarded is rising again … though the numbers are still substantially below 2010 levels, and as a [More]

Philosophical Intuitions and Demographic Differences

Philosophers are disagreeing over what lessons should be learned from the growing body of work on the interplay between demographics and philosophical intuitions. In a recent article in Epistemology & Philosophy of Science, Joshua Knobe (Yale) argues that philosophical intuitions are “robust across demographic differences”: Work in experimental philosophy is often concerned with intuitions about seemingly abstruse issues, such as the nature of the true self or whether the universe is governed by deterministic laws. There was every reason to expect that such intuitions would differ radically between demographic groups. Yet actual research on the topic has yielded a surprising result. Again and again, studies find that effects observed within one demographic group can also be found in a variety of others. He acknowledges that some differences of philosophical intuitions have been shown across different demographic groups, but then goes over some of the studies to show “the shocking degree to which demographic factors do not impact people’s philosophical intuitions.” Edouard Machery (Pittsburgh) and Stephen Stich (Rutgers), who are co-principal investigators (with H. Clark Barrett of UCLA) of the Geography of Philosophy Project, have written a reply to Professor Knobe. They argue, among other things, that his conclusion is based on a selective sample of the existing literature, and that a look at more studies shows that the main lesson of them [More]

Graduate Students on Diversity and Inclusivity in Philosophy (guest post by Carolyn Dicey Jennings)

The following is a guest post* by Carolyn Dicey Jennings, associate professor of philosophy and cognitive science at University of California, Merced, and creator of Academic Placement Data and Analysis (APDA). Graduate Students on Diversity and Inclusivity in Philosophy by Carolyn Dicey Jennings Many philosophers recognize that the field has a “gender problem,” and maybe even a “race problem,” but I have come to believe that it has a diversity problem. This is because I helped lead a survey that revealed problems for women, those who identify as non-binary, racial and ethnic minorities, those from a low socioeconomic background, those with military or veteran status, LGBTQ philosophers, and those with disabilities. Graduate students from these backgrounds are underrepresented, find themselves less comfortable in philosophy, find philosophy less welcoming, are less likely to recommend their graduate program, are less satisfied with the research preparation, teaching preparation, and financial support of their graduate program, and are less interested in an academic career. This is a problem not only for reasons of equity and inclusion in philosophy, but also because diversity improves collective performance—philosophy is worse off as an academic discipline so long as it has this diversity problem. Fortunately, the participants in our survey provided some insight on how we might move forward, especially favoring increased representation from these groups among faculty [More]

Graduate Students on Diversity and Inclusivity in Philosophy (guest post by Carolyn Dicey-Jennings)

The following is a guest post* by Carolyn Dicey Jennings, associate professor of philosophy and cognitive science at University of California, Merced, and creator of Academic Placement Data and Analysis (APDA). Graduate Students on Diversity and Inclusivity in Philosophy by Carolyn Dicey-Jennings Many philosophers recognize that the field has a “gender problem,” and maybe even a “race problem,” but I have come to believe that it has a diversity problem. This is because I helped lead a survey that revealed problems for women, those who identify as non-binary, racial and ethnic minorities, those from a low socioeconomic background, those with military or veteran status, LGBTQ philosophers, and those with disabilities. Graduate students from these backgrounds are underrepresented, find themselves less comfortable in philosophy, find philosophy less welcoming, are less likely to recommend their graduate program, are less satisfied with the research preparation, teaching preparation, and financial support of their graduate program, and are less interested in an academic career. This is a problem not only for reasons of equity and inclusion in philosophy, but also because diversity improves collective performance—philosophy is worse off as an academic discipline so long as it has this diversity problem. Fortunately, the participants in our survey provided some insight on how we might move forward, especially favoring increased representation from these groups among faculty [More]

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