philosophy meta-forum

Challenging the Lemoine Consensus

George

194 day(s) ago

Prominent philosophy blogs (e.g. Rightly Considered, Leiter) have promoted Lemoine's work basically uncritically, without comment. And others are not willing to speak up (at least not publicly). Perhaps here at the Meta-forum we can discuss Lemoine's inferences from the data in a critical fashion, something others are clearly too afraid to do. Here is the link for reference:

https://necpluribusimpar.net/women-underrepresented-philosophy-care/

So: are there any ways in which Lemoine's statistical analysis goes wrong? Does he import any pure speculation into it? Are there any ways in which he goes beyond what the data warrant? Does he fail to consider, or fail to give proper weight to, alternative explanations?

Holly

194 day(s) ago

Since sexism is most certainly the cause, and Lemoine's analysis suggests otherwise, it must be wrong. I can know without looking at his argument that it either contains mistaken premises or errors in reasoning.

Enver

194 day(s) ago

Good thread. I don't have much to add, since I think I largely agree with Lemoine. But I'm interested to hear the criticisms people come up with.

Christopher

194 day(s) ago

Since sexism is most certainly the cause, and Lemoine's analysis suggests otherwise, it must be wrong. I can know without looking at his argument that it either contains mistaken premises or errors in reasoning.

Holly

Such a funny, funny parody - but not the sort of serious, critical analysis the meta-forum is here to provide. No one else is willing to publicly get into the weeds and discuss Lemoine's analysis. Let's do that here, because we are not afraid.

Nelson

194 day(s) ago

"One particularly puzzling aspect of academic and public dialogue about implicit prejudice research has been the dearth of attention paid to the finding that men usually do not exhibit implicit sexism, while women do show pro-female implicit attitudes..."

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2973929

Roderick

194 day(s) ago

If there were serious flaws in Lemoine's argument the femphils & co would already have taken it apart. But as was the case with Wallace and the Gendered Conference Campaign, when they lose an argument they typically choose to look away and keep repeating their propaganda. They are bad at philosophy but good at politics.

Herman

194 day(s) ago

If there were serious flaws in Lemoine's argument the femphils & co would already have taken it apart. But as was the case with Wallace and the Gendered Conference Campaign, when they lose an argument they typically choose to look away and keep repeating their propaganda. They are bad at philosophy but good at politics.

Roderick

This is just the kind of uncritical promotion we're getting from the major blogs. At the metaforum we should be willing to take a critical look at Lemoine's work. Who will do this?

Miriam

193 day(s) ago

Wallace would be the best person to do it. But nobody publishes null findings. My guess really is that so far nobody has found important problems with the analysis.

Hilary

192 day(s) ago

Seems pretty clear now that there was nothing wrong with Lemoine's analysis, given the deafening silence here and elsewhere.

Peg

192 day(s) ago

The Ghent Balloon has a post on Facebook:

"There is a lot to be said about this post, some of it already said wisely by Liam Kofi Bright (and the commentators on his fb page). But if you take the (rather confusing) graph and the data-analysis that support it at face value, it basically tells you (unless I am still confused) that *more women* than men leave philosophy relative to the number of women and men initially interested in it. (This is true for all disciplines in the bottom left quadrant.) And, as a discipline, philosophy (a discipline near the curve) does worse on this score than economics (a discipline that is well above the curve) even though philosophy and economics start out with more or less the same reported interest. If we take the pipeline metaphor seriously, than economics keeps women in the pipeline at a better rate than philosophy's leaky one. So, even at face value, this data here do not support an optimistic interpretation of the disciplinary status quo."

I'm not really sure what he's talking about, though. Eyeballing the graph, the proportion of women among freshmen who declared the intention to major in philosophy is 0.31, while the proportion of women among phd recipients is 0.29; so the effect is hardly a major one. And indeed most subjects -- econ being one of the only few exceptions -- are also on the same side of the trend line, so philosophy is in the company of notoriously sexist subjects like anthropology and English (where the % of women phds is ~0.6).

I'm not friends with Liam Kofi Bright, so I don't know what he says in his post. Anyone?

Miriam

192 day(s) ago

^ post this as a comment on the balloon's blog. embarrass him. he deserves it.

Raymond

192 day(s) ago

Liam Kofi Bright's Facebook post on Lemoine's analysis:

"Lots of people discussing this piece giving what we shall call the Philosophy Right explanation for the gender gap in our field. Broadly, the preferred explanation is that the most significant contributory factor to women's under-representation in philosophy is that something occurs (we know not what) prior to the first philosophy class taken and this leads to women being less interested in pursuing philosophy than men. You can check it out to see the arguments and evidences adduced for this, and make your own judgement. My one editorial note qua somebody working on demographics of philosophy: the author consistently compares his position with what he calls `The Official Narrative', which is that ``women are underrepresented in philosophy because sexism is pervasive in the field''. I don't know, of course, who the author hangs out with and what kind of discussions he's been involved in, etc. He also doesn't cite or link anyone giving the Official Narrative. So I don't know who he has in mind as promoting this narrative.

But my own anecdotal experience working within circles where people are thinking, writing, and publishing about the demographics of philosophy, is that the Official Narrative is not what people believe therein. Indeed people do believe: (i) that there is sexism in philosophy, that (ii) this is a bad thing which policy should be implemented to resolve, and that (iii) this is or may be a contributing factor in women's under-representation in philosophy. But (i) and (iii) are all consistent with, and on some reading explicitly endorsed by, what the author says here, and they only really seem to be demurring on (ii) somewhat. (Even then, as I have stated here maybe they would agree.) The stronger `because' claim (which I take it is meant to be assigning sexism primary or maybe even sole causal force in bringing about under-representation) is not something I have heard put forward. Given that I think (i)-(iii) are widely agreed upon and important in their own right (see: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/ergo/12405314.0002.003…) I hope the controversial blog post below does not cause us to loose sight of this by having us focus our attention on stronger, more contentious, propositions."

Aloysius

191 day(s) ago

According to this garbage, the problem seems to be that analytic philosophy departments are hostile to feminist philosophy. As if that's what gets anyone interested in philosophy in the first place.

http://alcoff.com/articles/call-climate-change-women-philosophy

Some gems:

"We have a political challenge here that needs to be approached politically.

What this means is that women need to think politically about how to survive in the profession. They must gain allies, even partial allies, forego their illusions about the absolute rationality and meritocracy of the discipline, give up trying to win over recalcitrant members of the old guard, and instead work on building power bases.

We should give up on trying to convince either the methodological center or the right-wing of the discipline.

We should recognize that administrators are sometimes our most reliable allies: deans and provosts often know more about sexual harassment litigation, and, with some notable exceptions at Harvard, they may well be more socially egalitarian than our colleagues."

Typical SJW tactic. Ge some powerful third party to club your enemy to death.

"One possible reason that feminist philosophy is rejected by so many in an a priori fashion is that it threatens to make philosophy accountable for its sexism. We thus need to make these connections manifest, and defend feminist philosophy as a valid enterprise, even while we fight for a climate in which women can do whatever form of philosophy they want."

????

"But the principal issue that comes out in sharp relief from the blog “What is it like to be a woman in philosophy?” is not about harassment or come-on’s but the thousand daily cuts that collectively dissuade women from staying in: the aggressive and peremptory dismissals in seminar, the a priori rejections and derision of feminist philosophy, the ignoring, the assumptions that affirmative action is the only reason someone has been accepted, the nasty notes put in mailboxes and under one’s door, such as the note that just said “whore “ in large letters."

" I remember vividly a brilliant young female philosophy student who was very shaken up by a come-on from her (much older) main professor, asking me, “was that what all his compliments about my exams and papers were really about?” She later ‘chose’ not to pursue philosophy."

Grow a pair. . . . This part sounds like the official narrative to me.

Susan

191 day(s) ago

Is the response to Lemoine, then, that no one has seriously suggested that sexism is a major explanatory factor for philosophy's gender imbalance? Wasn't that part of the argument in the Colorado site visit team's report?

Isn't sexism eliminable from the Lemoine discussion anyway? The important point is that almost all the action determining the attractiveness of the philosophy major to women seems to come before people even arrive at a university.

Tina

191 day(s) ago

Bright is engaging in what's popularly called gaslighting: for years and years we are told that the primary cause of women's under-representation in the field is pervasive and on-going sexism and discrimination in philosophy departments, and now, after Lemoine takes the arguments for that idea to task, Bright comes along to tell us that it's crazy to focus on it because he's never heard anyone advocate such a strong causal claim. If Bright doesn't think that anyone has advocated the strong causal claim, then perhaps he should read, for example, what Sally Haslanger has published on the subject in Hypatia:

"My point here is that I don’t think we need to scratch our heads and wonder what on earth is going on that keeps women out of philosophy. In my experience it is very hard to find a place in philosophy that isn’t actively hostile towards women and minorities, or at least assumes that a successful philosopher should look and act like a (traditional, white) man. . . . Women, I believe, want a good working environment with mutual respect. And philosophy, mostly, doesn’t offer that." https://philpapers.org/rec/HASCTI

If you read the rest of Haslanger's piece, you'll see that she uses the kinds of evidence that Lemoine criticizes in his post: personal anecdotes, ideas about unconscious bias, stereotype threat research, etc. Here we have a prominent feminist philosopher in the main feminist philosophy journal arguing for the exact claim that Bright said he's never seen anyone advocate. If that's not enough to make it the Official Narrative, note that Haslanger delivered the paper at the 2007 Central APA's meeting of the APA Committee on the Status of Women. If there is a Platonic Form of the Official Narrative, this might be it. So when Bright says that all this is "not something I have heard put forward," that's because he's either uninformed or dishonest.

Aloysius

191 day(s) ago

Tina

Indeed. Or they might just be stoopid.

Christine

189 day(s) ago

Tina's hit the nail on the head.


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