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Monday, April 30, 2007

Interview with David Chalmers

From the Sci Phi Show: very cool interview with David Chalmers. Click on 'Outcast #36'.

(HT: Florida Student Philosophy Blog).

Women Harassed, Intimidated, and Silenced Online

Read Majikthise's contribution to the movement recently made to protect the "rights of women to participate fully in all aspects of our society, including specifically online in the world of blogging".

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Second Online Philosophy Conference

The Second Annual Online Philosophy Conference will take place on May 14-May 27, 2007. The format is similar to last year's. Everyone with access to the internet can participate in the discussion online. This year's conference will include video-taped keynote addresses by Ernie Sosa and Jeff McMahan. Other speakers include: Juan Comesaña, Delia Graff Fara, Shaun Nichols, Meredith Williams, Jonathan Dancy, John Martin Fischer, Caspar Hare, Jeff McMahan, Derk Pereboom, and Gillian Russell. Commentators: Tim Black, John Greco, Ted Sider, Eric Schwitzgebel, Kelby Mason, Ram Neta, Duncan Pritchard, Hans-Johann Glock, David Stern, Joseph Raz, Candace Vogler, Randolph Clarke, David Widerker, Peter Graham, Alastair Norcross, Thomas Hurka, Joseph Campbell, Dana Nelkin, JC Beall, and Jonathan McKeown-Green.


Via Majikthise: one father's experience.

Monday, April 23, 2007

APA Report: the Status of Women in Philosophy

Thursday afternoon the APA Committees on the Status of Women and Inclusiveness sponsored a joint session on the central question "Why Are Women Only 21% of Philosophy". The session took place in the grand Crystal Room at the Palmer House. Given the importance of the topic I was surprised to find the room less than half full. Of course, the Crystal Room is rather large, but still. Another peculiarity: there were only 3 men in the audience, and one of them probably wouldn't have gone if I hadn't twisted his arm. One wonders whether male philosophers think female philosophers should solve this problem on their own.

As for the session, Erin McKenna chaired, and Sharon Crasnow, Elizabeth Minnich and Sally Haslanger gave excellent speeches which provoked much discussion. As Abigail Stewart was unable to attend (due to illness), Haslanger read her paper and answered several questions on her behalf.

Crasnow opened the session with a report on the raw numbers. Here are some numbers from her handout:

1) 21% of employed philosophers are women (Kathryn Norlock)

2) 18.5% of philosophy faculty at top 54 programs (Leiter Report) are women (Julie van Camp)

3) 2004 US Department of Education estimates 41% of those employed in the humanities are women.

4) National Digest of Educational Statistics (NCES) reports 39% female at postsecondary degree granting institutions.

5) Philosophy PhDs awarded: 27% (and stuck there for the last ten years or so, with a spike to 33.3% in 2004, 25.1% in 2005).

6) Survey of Degrees Awarded (SED) 2005 figures. History 41%, Astronomy and physics 26%, Economics: 30%, Political Science 39%.

The numbers speak for themselves: there are very few women in philosophy. But what is the explanation? Here are some of the possible factors mentioned by Crasnow and the audience:

A) Differential Treatment: male and female students tend to be treated differently by their (male) professors. For example, female students do not get called on in class as often as males.

B) Vicious Circle: female students lack contact with female professors. As a result, they do not feel inclined to pursue a career in philosophy.

C) Misleading Stats: Universities tend to focus on the number of women enrolled in the humanities as a whole. When the percentage of women enrolled in the humanities approaches 50, administrators tend to ignore the problem remaining in disciplines such as philosophy.

Turning to the second speech, Elizabeth Minnich reminded us that care must be taken when solving the problem of the status of women in philosophy. Even if 50% of employed philosophers were women, the problem of the status of women wouldn't necessarily disappear. For example, the problem wouldn't have been solved if there were 50% women but the 50% felt pressured to behave like men and do male-style philosophy.

Abigail Stewart was next. As she was unable to attend, Haslanger read her paper. The paper addressed the question of what can be learned from other disciplines. Haslanger (Stewart) mentioned that the performance of women tends to be under-estimated and that the performance of men tends to be over-estimated. This form of differential treatment has a lot to do with gender-schemas. Haslanger mentioned that the female schema clashes with the philosophy schema even if it doesn't clash with philosophy sub-schemas such as the ethics schema or the feminist philosophy schema. If a given discipline's schema clashes with the female schema, then the performance of females in the discipline tends to be under-estimated. The performance of women is also under-estimated when there is a lack of critical mass (i.e., less than 30% women in the discipline). The under-estimation accumulates at each level. As a result, there is a lowered career success rate. This, in turn, results in stronger gender schemas and a continued lack of critical mass.

Haslanger also mentioned that traditionally there have been three ways to deal with a schema clash: a) don't ask, don't tell (gays in the military), ignore (philosophy?), force out (philosophy?) Needless to say that none of these ways of dealing with schema clashes are tolerable.

Haslanger concluded the joint session with a paper on the representation of women in top philosophy journals. Some numbers from Haslanger's handout:

2002-2007 % female
Ethics: 19.30%
JPhil: 13.33%
Mind: 6.38%
Nous: 11.62%
Phil Review: 11.11%
PPR: 12.26%
PPA: 13.98%

Articles on feminism or race issues:
Ethics: 2.86% feminist, 2.86% race
JPhil: 0% feminist, 1.77% race
PPA: 5.13% feminist, 3.85% race

Haslanger mentioned that while more studies need to be done, it is evident that women are strongly disadvantaged (at least statistically speaking). Statistically it is much more difficult for a woman to get published in a top journal than it is for a man. The reason? Here are some suggestions from the session:

1) Nearly all of the top journals are edited by men.
2) No or few women are on the editorial boards of top journals.
3) Even journals that claim to do double-blind refereeing tend not to do tripple-blind refereeing. That is, the editors tend to know the identity of the author at some stage in the process.

The session ended with some "anecdata". Haslanger mentioned (among other things) that she had once been told that she ought to stick to history on the grounds that women ought to reproduce the ideas of men (and keep their own to themselves), that she had been told that she ought to get tested to see whether she was in fact a man (given her success), that people would laugh when she told them that she did metaphysics (would anyone ever laugh at a man?), and so on. The audience (including a female undergraduate student) had similar stories to report about the current climate in the philosophy profession.

In conclusion: the joint session made it exceedingly clear that despite efforts made (under the names of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action) to prevent all forms of discrimination against women in academia (and elsewhere), many departments continue to tolerate discriminatory practices in graduate admissions, interviewing, hiring, promotion, article acceptance and invitation.

UPDATE: Richard Zach has a new report on the status of women in philosophical logic.

Philosophers' Carnival # 46

... is here.

Central APA Report

Just got back from the Central Meeting in Chicago. Yet another intense APA meeting with too many late-night events. There were very many super-excellent sessions, including: Josh Brown, Jennifer Nagel and Jason Stanley's session on practical interests and belief formation; Cumming, Groenendijk, Stokhof, Gillies, and Gauker's session on dynamic logic; Weinberg, Kvanvig, Riggs and Greco's session on the value of knowledge; and the joint session sponsored by the APA Committees on the Status of Women and Inclusiveness, featuring McKenna, Crasnow, Minnich, Haslanger and Stewart (impersonated by Haslanger). My own "Jerry Springer" session on donkey sentences was very enjoyable. Separate posts on the status of women in philosophy and donkey sentences will follow.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Central APA

I am off to the Central Meeting of the APA in Chicago. My paper for the meeting is available here.


PHINEWS volume 10, April 2007 (edited by Vincent Hendricks, Pelle Guldborg Hansen, Stig Andur Pedersen and Dov Gabbay) is now available.

UPDATE: I fixed the link. Thanks for your patience.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sea Battle Semantics: New Draft

My Sea Battle Semantics paper is now nearly finished. I have replied to the main objections raised at the Pacific and hope to be able to send the final version of the paper to the nice editors at the Philosophical Quarterly (who were kind enough to give me an extension) shortly. If any of you has any further concerns, please don't hesitate to email me.

A Linguist with Erdös Number 2

It is rare to find a philosopher or linguist with an Erdös Number less than 3. Here is a rare instance. As Geoffrey K. Pullum reports, the mathematical and computational linguist Andras Kornai has Erdös number 2. Truly amazing.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Vincent Hendricks Wins Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2006

Vincent Hendricks' book Mainstream and Formal Epistemology, Cambridge, 2006, just won the Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2006. Hendricks is Professor of Formal Philosophy at Roskilde University in Copenhagen, Editor-in-Chief for Synthese and Synthese Library, Editor of Trends in Logic (Studia Logica Library), and Director of PHILOG and Editor-in-chief of PHINEWS.

From the original announcement:

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries is the premier source for reviews of academic books, electronic media, and Internet resources of interest to those in higher education.

Every year Choice publishes a list of Outstanding Academic Titles that were reviewed during the previous calendar year. This prestigious list reflects the best in scholarly titles reviewed by Choice and brings with it the extraordinary recognition of the academic library community.

The list is quite selective: it contains approximately ten percent of some 7,000 works reviewed in Choice each year. Choice editors base their selections on the reviewer's evaluation of the work, the editor's knowledge of the field, and the reviewer's record. In awarding Outstanding Academic Titles, the editors apply several criteria to reviewed titles: (1) overall excellence in presentation and scholarship, (2) importance relative to other literature in the field, (3), distinction as a first treatment of a given subject in book or electronic form, (4) originality or uniqueness of treatment, (5) value to undergraduate students, and (6) importance in building undergraduate library collections.

Choice Review:

Hendricks (Roskilde Univ., Denmark) identifies several central epistemological concerns and teases out various theoretical solutions. He begins with mainstream epistemologies, works through various formal epistemologies, and ends with an outline for a new research program called "plethoric epistemology," which combines insights of both mainstream and formal researchers. The aim of the work is twofold: to introduce mainstream and formal epistemologists to one another, and to give theoretical unity to a fractured discipline. It succeeds admirably on both fronts, and brings a fresh perspective to every topic it touches. This important work should spark conversation between traditional theorists and their more formally minded colleagues, and inform each of what the other has been up to. It should also bring unity and renewed purpose to the fragmented field of contemporary epistemology. This book is mandatory reading for epistemologists of all stripes, particularly those seeking a crash course in formal epistemology (and those just wondering what "formal epistemology" is). Its importance cannot be overemphasized. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty/researchers.

Synthese Deadline Approaching (Salerno)

This is a reminder about the May 1 deadline for paper submission for the special issue of Synthese, "Knowability and Beyond", which aims to cover modal epistemic issues relevant to knowability, broadly construed. The issue will contain invited papers by Jonathan Kvanvig, Gabriel Sandu and Neil Tennant, but will also provide the opportunity for other authors to make original contributions. Submissions will be double-blind reviewed. If you have something but aren't sure whether it would be appropriate for consideration, email me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Impossible Thoughts

As some of you already know, Joe Salerno and I are writing a monograph on impossible thoughts. A book page has now been created. It is available here.

UPDATE: abstracts for most of the chapters are now up.

The Pacific APA

I am back from the Pacific APA, and I am getting ready to go to the Central Meeting on Tuesday (a real linguist -- Jessica Rett -- is actually commenting on my paper, so that should be fun). The Pacific was better than ever. Of course, it would have been great to have Jason Stanley take control of the meeting and the partying but I think we did alright on our own. Since the last post I went to Kent Bach's Context and Content session. The speakers were John MacFarlane, Zoltan Szabo, and Peter Lasersohn (actually I missed his talk due to a terrible eye allergy but fortunately I had heard him give the talk elsewhere). All excellent papers. Later that day I went to Michael Devitt's Author-Meets-Critics session. Michael and his critics' (Elisabeth Camp, Mark Crimmins, and Jim Higginbotham) inputs made for an entertaining afternoon. The day and night ended with a party (or two), and we left early the next morning in a condition not worth writing about.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Brief update from the APA

We are having a blast. My talk on sea battle semantics earlier today went well (the paper is available on my webpage). Peter Ludlow offered nice comments, and the questions from the audience were very helpful. When I get back, I will revise the paper and send the final version to the Philosophical Quarterly, who accepted the paper. Other highlights: there are so many. So I can only mention a few. David Chalmers' talk was quite a hit. It was on terminological disputes, translucent sentences and bedrock concepts. Berhard nickel's talk on generics was great. He talked about plural predication and scope ambiguities in generic statements. This is a topic I am very interested in. In fact, I have written several papers on it. So, Bernhard and I had fun afterwards talking about generics. The Kvanvig/Pritchard/Riggs/Greco session on the value of knowledge was really good. Kvanvig even responded (positively) to a criticism I made of his view in an earlier paper. Another big hit: J.C. Beall, Graham Priest, Octavia Buano, and Hartry Field on paraconsistent and paracomplete logics. I think Hartry managed to convince me that I should be a classical glut theorist -- to solve the Liar paradox. He is a classical gap theorist, but he still managed to convince me. Matt McGrath and Jeremy (the famous couple!) had a fun session on subject-sensitive invariantism (or to be more precise, their special variant of it). There were lots of other fun sessions, including sessions I had to miss because they either overlapped with my own or with other can't-miss sessions. Other than that, I can only say that there are lots of fun bars in San Francisco (Terry Horgan's and L.A. Paul's current and my former student Adam Arico got us thrown out of one of them -- Terry was thrilled to hear about it!) More bars tonight!!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Pacific APA

I am off to the Pacific Meeting of the APA in San Francisco. My paper for the meeting is available here.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Philosophers' Carnival # 45

... is here.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

John Greco on Philosophy Talk

John Greco was discussing skepticism live at KALW 91.7 FM on Sunday March 25 on Philosophy Talk. The show is available here.