philosophy meta-forum

Challenging the Lemoine Consensus


130 day(s) ago

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


129 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:…) 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."


129 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.

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.


129 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.


129 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."

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.


129 day(s) ago


Indeed. Or they might just be stoopid.


127 day(s) ago

Tina's hit the nail on the head.

Allowed tags: 'p', 'b', 'em', 'blockquote'. URLs are automatically linkified.
posts per page.