Feminist Philosophers

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A new project: Disabled Philosophers August 15, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — magicalersatz @ 8:20 pm

Jenny Saul and I (Magical Ersatz) are very proud to introduce a new project we’ve been working on: Disabled Philosophers.

The goal of this project is to raise awareness of the existence of disabled philosophers. There are lots of issues that arise from the intersection of disability and philosophy. But we thought a very basic starting point – and hopefully a good way of starting a conversation – was to say “Hey! We’re here. We exist. In greater numbers and greater variety than you might’ve thought.”

Though we’re using a blog format, this isn’t a traditional blog. We won’t have posts on a wide variety of topics, and we won’t host discussion. What we’ll do is create a space where we can learn about disabled philosophers – sometimes who they are (though we welcome anonymous contributions), sometimes a little about their experiences of being a philosopher with a disability, sometimes both.

So if you’re a disabled philosopher, please do get in touch. We’d also love to hear from you if you’re a philosopher who loves someone who’s disabled – your partner, your child, etc. Caregiver and partner experiences are a huge part of understanding disability, and philosophers who are caregivers or partners of disabled people give us an important perspective on the interaction between disability and philosophy. So please do write to us – whether you’re yourself disabled or your daily life is affected by disability because of who you care about.

And if, at this point, you’re wondering why on earth you’d want to tell strangers about your experience of disability, we have some reasons for you. We hope you find them persuasive.

Enjoy the site!

 

35 Responses to “A new project: Disabled Philosophers”

  1. Shelley Tremain Says:

    Would you consider modifying the list of categories on the blog? In my view, if you did so you would be more likely to attract the attention of disabled philosophers who have developed a political analysis of disability. At present, the topics (and comments) seem focused in large part on a medicalized approach to disability insofar as several of them designate types of “disorders”. Myself, I don’t feel inclined to comment on the blog in its present incarnation. I am suggesting the inclusion of topics/categories such as: Accessibility, Discrimination, Technology and Assistive Devices, and so on.

  2. Monkey Says:

    Great! Well done.

  3. annejjacobson Says:

    O good!

  4. Mr Jender Says:

    Out of the gate, it’s already pretty damned awesome.

  5. annejjacobson Says:

    I was so surprised to discover a link problem. I think it was the link from ‘about’ in the piece explaining the blog.

    It’s nice to see an old feature on a new blog!

  6. jennysaul Says:

    Shelley, we will be constantly adding categories. They’ll evolve in response to the posts people put up. Those categories didn’t get included only because they weren’t a part of any of the initial posts, but I’d expect them to get added pretty soon.

    Hmm… actually, the discussions of dictation software are accommodations. Thanks for pointing that out!!

  7. Stoat Says:

    What a great project!

  8. Elizabeth Barnes Says:

    Shelley, I agree that it would be good to have categories like ‘access’, ‘accommodation’, etc. And I of course think it’s very important that we recognize the political dimensions of disability and fight culturally-ingrained ableism. Personally, the Disability Pride movement is something that has meant a lot to me.

    But I think it’s unfair to suggest that the comments (mine and others) on the blog were assuming a medicalized approach to disability just because we mentioned medical aspects of our disabilities. No matter how you slice it, people like Steve and Jenny and myself are going to have medical dimensions to our disabilities. It would be dishonest to ignore that. That we mention these medical aspects – that we acknowledge them – doesn’t mean we’re “medicalizing” our disabilities. It just means we’re talking about them, which involves talking about all aspects of them (including, yes, the medical ones).

    For myself, I’ve never been able to find a political analysis of disability entirely adequate. I want to fight for disability rights, of course, but even in a perfected society my joints would still dislocate, and it would still hurt like hell. And that’s fine – I love my quirky little body just the way it is. I can of course respect differences of opinion here – I know that a lot of people think that social or political analyses of disability are the way to go. But I do take umbrage when it’s suggested that, by acknowledging that there are both personal and medical aspects to my experience of disability, I’ve somehow adopted a “medicalized” conception of myself.

  9. jennysaul Says:

    Let me add: a key reason that I used medical terminology was that I wanted other people with the same or similar conditions to be able to search for those conditions and find people in philosophy who have them.

  10. Ingrid Robeyns Says:

    I think this is a fantastic, moving, project. I hope it will attract a lot of attention and debate.

  11. Zorro Says:

    Nice site. I like the way there’s a section for carergivers too.

  12. Sherri Irvin Says:

    This is great! I look forward to following future posts, and I am grateful to everyone who has posted so far (as well as to Jenny and Magical Ersatz for creating the blog).

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Cool blog. Admittedly this isn’t my area of specialty, but one could be forgiven for questioning whether a sound social/political “approach” to disability can really be divorced from the biomedical.

  14. ram adrian Says:

    This makes me unbelievably happy. Sometimes, as an undergraduate student, it’s hard to feel like philosophy is nothing more than a discipline for white men who drink sherry. But feminist philosophers always happen to renew my faith in the discipline.

  15. mb Says:

    This is great! Thank you all for sharing; I’m genuinely looking forward to see how this develops.

  16. Whilst I’m really glad the blog is happening, I do think it’s a bit disappointing that Shelley’s concern about the project not appealing to those who work on the philosophy of disability hasn’t been taken more seriously. I’d been hoping there would be more discussion of this here. Surely the project would benefit from an approach that straddles divides between, for example, those who believe that the use of medical terminology is ‘neutral description’ and those who, having studied these areas for a long time, do not. The presumption seems to be being made that critical approaches to disability ‘deny the reality of the body’ because they supposedly refuse to acknowledge the ‘medical problems’ associated with impairment. I think this is a massive (*massive*) oversimplification of some very rigorous work, but that isn’t really the primary concern right here, surely?: that the attachment to ‘common sense’/debates over medicalisation is in this case is being privileged over the inclusion of other disabled philosophers feels quite… well… not quite in the spirit of the thing.

    For e.g., I noted that a number of the descriptions of philosophers’ experiences avoided medical labelling. A conversation about how to categorise this small form of resistance so that it displayed on the front page would probably have been extremely fruitful, and might have helped to make the blog more openly appealing to more people. To reiterate: a great project, and I’m glad it’s happening. With a representative of another group of disabled philosophers, from a different background, being willing to contribute to a conversation about how to make it appealing to that group as well, well, I’d have thought that was an opportunity…

    /back to lurking

  17. Monkey Says:

    Wildly Parenthetical – I was under the impression that the plan was to add more categories as more people wrote in – so the categories will be shaped by the stories submitted. I’m also a bit unclear how the answers given imply what you say they do. Although, I can see that that assumption *is* at work in some discussions of disability.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    I second what Monkey just said. Also, Prof Tremain’s concern wasn’t expressed as the concern that those who work on the philosophy of disability wouldn’t find the project appealing. That would have been a silly thing to say, given that some of the contributors work on the philosophy of disability.

  19. Elizabeth Barnes Says:

    I just wanted to follow up on what Monkey and Anonymous said in response to WildlyParenthetical. I’m not sure whether WP’s comment was partly or directly in response to my previous one. But I want to go ahead and offer some replies in case it was.

    Firstly, I’m somewhat taken aback by the suggestion that Shelley’s criticism has not been taken seriously. I take her criticism very seriously but I, in all seriousness, disagree with it.

    Secondly, I’m not sure to whom – if anyone – you’re attributing the claims that medical descriptions are neutral, or that the social model of disability ‘denies the reality of the body’. That certainly – I hope! – wasn’t implied by anything I said. My claim was not that if you adopt the social model you can’t talk about biomedical stuff related to disability. Rather, my claim was simply that the fact that you talk about biomedical aspects of disability does not license the conclusion that you have thereby ‘medicalized’ your disability or adopted a purely biomedical approach to disability. And I was concerned that Shelley was making charges of medicalization based merely on the fact that some of us who posted discussed some biomedical information.

  20. magicalersatz Says:

    Just one thing I’d like to add. We want to include all sorts of philosophers, from all sorts of backgrounds, with all sorts of perspectives on disability. And I am, to be honest, having a hard time seeing how we’ve done anything that would preclude this. The character of the blog is determined, in large part, by the character of the posts. If some people feel that certain perspectives aren’t being adequately represented, the best way to amend this is to provide the blog with posts that represent – to your own satisfaction – those perspectives. (Either send us posts that you’ve written, if that’s relevant, or talk your friends into sending us something.)

    But the blog itself is unlikely to include extended discussion of the philosophy of disability. It’s not that we don’t think the philosophy of disability is incredibly important. It’s just that it’s not our focus with this project. Perhaps as a result, there will be some things that get left out. But we hope our friends and allies are willing to cut us a little slack, give us the benefit of the doubt, and forgive us when we don’t do things perfectly.

  21. stoat Says:

    A couple of comments have violated the be nice rule (in particular, in terms of attributing bad motivations, insulting the people being engaged with, and failing to be charitable). Revised comments that adhere to the be nice rule may of course be re-sent.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    I am not sure quite how to deal with a situation that has arisen on the blog for disabled philosophers. As one expresses one’s fears and problems, one may well describe them in terms of features other people actually have. I’m not thinking of Steve Yablo’s reference to weaving around drunkenly. Rather, I was taken aback by someone’s lamenting having experiences now that one wouldn’t expect until one was 80.

    I’m very near 70, and have the amazing good fortune of finding it the most successfully creative period of my life. There’s a well known syndrome of older people hitting a height of creativity. It is a deep joy. I think I have always had a quite quirky mind, and wrote some fairly original stuff when I was a young grad student, but I wasn’t capable of the self-knowledge to build on it. And that long ago life for a woman in philosophy could be hellish. Among other things, young women were so unimportant that a mentor might just take ownership of one’s work. (I suppose this still goes on; shame, shame on those who do it.)

    I would hate for the young woman to feel bad about what she said. At what is probably her age, I thought I’d start smoking again at 65 since life would be effectively over, and that would be one of the few pleasures left.

  23. Monkey Says:

    Anonymous #22, I’m not sure what the problem is here. Why is there something wrong with (i) knowing that as one ages, one will have to face a number of uncomfortable health problems, and (ii) lamenting those health problems if they arrive earlier?

    Complaining that one has developed a health problem usually undergone by older people doesn’t automatically mean that one is saying anything derogatory about those older people, or doubting that a person of that older age may have be enjoying themselves, having a much better time in some respects (such as the one you mention), and so forth.

    Bad knees run in my family. I was resigned to developing those bad knees around the age of fifty (as my mother, grandmother, and apparently great grandmother did). They’ve come early, so I have less years of bad-knee-free time than I expected. I can complain about this without implying anything negative about folk of my mother’s age, or thinking that they might as well give up, etc. So it seems to me.

  24. Xena Says:

    Oh, I like this idea. But beyond addressing problems and unfairness, I’d love to see some posts about the strengths demonstrated by the differently abled. Like the young British man with ASD who flies over big cities like New York and London and draws the entire skyline from memory, or my friend Pearl who volunteered at my daycare centre when I was 4. She couldn’t see, but had extraordinary musical gifts.

    My son has ASD. He’s had a few special interests over the years, one of which looked like it may be his savant. But I don’t like to be pushy. He’s such a wonderful boy. Do any of you have any suggestions as to how to develop his gifts?

  25. Anonymous Says:

    Monkey, I didn’t want to be blunt about it, but I think that’s an ageist remark that she’s made. It is part of a harmful stereotype that 80 year olds can’t remember their cat’s name.

    The idea that at 80 you really are mentally over the hill is actually a dangerous stereotype, since such beliefs can make a huge difference in how 80 year olds are treated in all sorts of contexts, including medical.

    I do not want to endorse the huge concern with abelist metaphors that can go on here, but it is a serious shock to see that a fairly dire mental disability is described as a typical affliction of what is one’s own age group, or nearly so. A lot of 80 year olds rock. Goodness knows how many there are giving papers at APA meetings, but given my undergrad profs are all about that age or older, I do know quite a few are still going very strong.

  26. magicalersatz Says:

    Hi Anonymous,

    First of all, I’m very sorry if any offense was caused – even inadvertently – by posts on the blog. But I was interpreting Anonymous Grad Student’s claim as something weaker than what you’ve suggested. I didn’t take them to be saying that all 80 year olds have memory loss and word-finding difficulties. Rather, I thought what was meant was something more like this: (i) it’s not uncommon for people in their 80s to deal with memory loss and word-finding difficulties; (ii) given (i), you wouldn’t be surprised if, at 80, you yourself encountered such difficulties; (iii) similar problems are significantly less common in young adults; (iv) given (iii), you would be surprised if you yourself encountered such difficulties as a young adult.

    I think a lot of disabled people experience feelings of alienation and otherness – and sometimes a sense of unfairness at this otherness. I took AGS to be trying to express this kind of sentiment. It wouldn’t raise eyebrows if her set of mental difficulties were present in an 80-year-old. That’s not to say that all, or even most, 80-year-olds experience anything like these difficulties. It’s just that they’re not uncommon. But they are very uncommon among young adults, and their presence does raise eyebrows. AGS’s experience of being a young adult isn’t what others expect, and likely not what AGS expected. AGS may well have no peers that experience similar difficulties. And that can be really hard.

    I think AGS can express all these feelings without committing to the claim that all people in their 80s have mental difficulties, or are mentally “over the hill” – sentiments which would, indeed, be ageist.

  27. annejjacobson Says:

    I want to step in here on the issue of decline in the elderly. There really are two questions raised in the discussion: the facts about the mental abilities of those aging to 80 and past, and what was said by AGS.

    The facts:, Magicalersatz, I should say that I think your explanation might provide less comfort than one might think.

    AGS was talking about “brain fog” and you are talking about word finding difficulties; the claim might be that they are not uncommon. Is that really true?

    Here’s what recent research is suggesting; from a long review in the NY Times.** Notice that they distinguish between mastery of language and verbal comprehension, the second of which appears to vary in elderly men and women. Even here, the decline in comprehension appears during the 80s, not by 80. AND men don’t get it. (Sh*t!)

    For women, the most enduring mental skill is inductive reasoning, assessing the information in a timetable, for instance. As women reached their late 80’s, it had dropped just over one-eighth from its height in middle age.

    One of the drastic declines for women proved to be in verbal comprehension, understanding what one reads; while that ability dropped relatively little into the 70’s, it plummeted by about one-quarter during the 80’s. For men, verbal understanding declined only slightly in those years.

    Another study of normal memory loss, this one by Dr. Richard Mohs, a psychologist at Mount Sinai Medical School who is the acting director of a research consortium on normal memory loss and aging sponsored by the Charles A. Dana Foundation, has found that different kinds of memory differ in their vulnerability to aging. “Crystalized” memory, vocabulary or other knowledge accumulated over the years “holds up very well into old age,” Dr. Mohs said. These abilities include knowing what words mean, using language and answering questions.

    So inductive reasoning and knowledge of language remain almost entirely in tact; verbal comprehension declines in women, but not men. The elderly are not fogged up.

    What did AGS really say? Well, that seems a petty question now, compared to whether it is not uncommon for an 80 year old to have episodes of brain fog and be unable to do the thinking involved in philosophy. Also, I don’t think one should be offended by what AGS said; there’s a deeply embedded picture of aging, it is only now being opposed by research, and I don’t think we should hold one person responsible for simply repeating it. Still, giving in the mild obsessiveness that helps so many of us in the profession, here’s the relevant quote:

    “Another symptom is “fibrofog”: FMS can turn your brain to mush. You can have moments that you never thought you would have until you were 80, like forgetting your cat’s name, or forgetting what you are talking about in mid-sentence. Since the work of philosophy is more or less *thinking*, it can be downright terrifying to have episodes of brain fog.”

    Just what is said is tricky. I think she or he is saying “I never thought I’d get brain fog until I was 80.” I think the informal implication at least is that she thought she would have them at 80. But I’ve gotten this by comparing sentences and asking what they say in conversational episodes.
    “I never thought I’d be this committed until I had a child”
    “I never thought I’d feel this free until I was through with grad school”
    “I never thought I’d feel this sick until I had ingested some poison.”

    If these all say “I never thought P until (temporally) Q” they do say at least informally that P is not true and that “I” did expect it to be true at Q. I’m not sure how one could prove I’m right or wrong in this interpretation.

    ** Looking at the source, I realize it is actually not all that recent:
    Mental Decline in Aging Need Not Be Inevitable
    By DANIEL GOLEMAN
    Published: April 26, 1994

  28. annejjacobson Says:

    Whew! More recent work makes the elderly look even better:
    Sept, 2010: http://www.virginia.edu/uvatoday/newsRelease.php?id=12946

    The finding was reported in the journal Neuropsychology.

    Longitudinal tests measure reasoning, spatial visualization, episodic memory, perceptual speed and vocabulary. These cognitive skills, required for everyday life at any age, are our ability to make rapid comparisons, remember unrelated information and detect relationships between objects, people and events. They are measures of abstract reasoning, brain speed and puzzle-solving.

    Study participants are asked to solve various puzzles, remember words and details from stories, and identify patterns in an assortment of letters and symbols.

    Many of the participants in Salthouse’s study were tested several times during the course of years, allowing researchers to detect subtle declines in cognitive ability.

    But the practice effects were found to occur at all ages, a byproduct of repeat testing.

    One of the unique features of Salthouse’s project in U.Va.’s Cognitive Aging Laboratory is that many of the participants return to the laboratory for repeated assessments after intervals of one to seven years. They range in age from 16 to 98.

    “It’s important to point out that the trends we see are trends of averages, and that there is a lot of variation around those averages from person to person,” Salthouse said. “Most people function at a highly effective level throughout their lives, even into old age.”

  29. magicalersatz Says:

    Hi Anne,

    Sorry if I muddied the water by bringing in word-finding difficulties. It’s just that “fibro fog” is – as far as I’m aware, anyway – a somewhat poorly understood phenomenon, the experience of which can vary greatly from person to person. The specific examples AGS mentions seem to be associated with memory loss and word-finding difficulties (the latter, at least, is how I was reading the “cat’s name” example – but perhaps that’s a mistake). So I focused on those particular manifestations rather than a general notion of being “fogged up”. (It’s also worth noting that those with word-finding difficulties and relatively minor memory loss often report feeling “fogged up”, “stupid”, etc even though their cognitive capacity is undiminished in almost all areas.)

    I guess a clarification is needed: saying “x is not uncommon among the Fs” doesn’t (especially in the context of a discussion of medical conditions) entail “a high percentage of the Fs are x”. So again, I’m *really* not suggesting in any way that most elderly people have memory loss and word-finding difficulties. But as far as I know, it’s true that these conditions aren’t uncommon among the elderly. For example:

    http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/jocn.2009.21321

    http://www.annals.org/content/148/6/427.short

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1532-5415.2007.01040.x/abstract

    And there are many conditions which are themselves not uncommon among the elderly which can sometimes cause memory loss and word-finding difficulties – e.g., stroke, primary progressive aphasia, vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s.

    I think we owe it to AGS to construe what they said – or perhaps what they *meant* – as charitably as we can. That’s all I was trying to do with my comment above. I think there’s a sensible interpretation of what AGS said that both voices AGS’s frustration and doesn’t assume anything false or ageist about the elderly.

  30. annejjacobson Says:

    Magicalersatz, I’m not sure what “not uncommon” means, but a brief check of several dictionaries takes “common” to mean frequent.

    Though I didn’t completely check out the articles, I do think there are problems with them. The first gives a sample size that I know many who do fMRI would say is just way too small. One problem with fMRI is that it is very expensive, so researchers use small sample sizes and journals accept them, but many of the best in the field think the research is close to useless. My group would use a small sample size for a pilot study, but not, I hope, for a journal article. One of the huge problems with our location of equipment, Baylor College of Medicine’s, mismanagement and near bankruptcy is that they targeted their star fMRI researcher as just way, way too expensive, I understand. He certainly insisted that anyone associated with him use large sample sizes. He also requires accompanying behavior studies with large numbers.

    The abstract also seem to acknowledge but not explore possible compensatory mechanisms.

    I think the second article is the one with an erratum that says they have to adjust the figures downwards, but I couldn’t see what they ended up with.

    I’m not sure I looked at the third.

    It’s certainly the case that the elderly are more likely to die, for example, and so it seems likely that some of these causes will have to do with cognitive declines, either causing or being caused by them. But does this mean that one should expect brain fog at 80? If someone who looks around 80 is in a store, should the clerk be thinking it is not unllikely that they are a bit confused or that they may be unable to say what they want?

    I’d bet that, among other things, that puts 80 years olds under a stereotype threat a lot of the time. I remember Philippa Foot telling me that when she went to a meeting and was not recognized, she was treated as a little old dear who probably didn’t belong there. By 55, I realized some young men at conferences looked at me with a “what’s this dim woman want.” It is horrible to function in such circumstances.

    So I’d like to encourage people in the belief that it is not uncommon for the elderly to be just as clever as the young, with an added depth of knowledge that may make their expression less facile, but even more worth listening to.

  31. magicalersatz Says:

    It’s being common that P is compatible with it’s being common that not-P. To take an apt example, there have been lots of news reports in recent years about heart disease being common in women in their 60s. It seems true to say that heart disease is common among women in their 60s. But the majority of women in their 60s do not have heart disease. The absence of heart disease among women in their 60s is also common. For any given woman in her 60s, you don’t expect that she has heart disease (but you wouldn’t be surprised to find out that she does – in contrast to a woman in her teens or 20s).

    I think it’s *fairly* uncontroversial that word-finding difficulties and memory loss are common in the elderly (just as stroke, heart disease, etc are common). That doesn’t mean their absence is uncommon. That doesn’t mean one should expect, of any given 80-year-old, that that person is affected by memory loss or word-finding difficulties. But it does mean that an 80-year-old with memory loss or word-finding difficulties is unsurprising, perhaps in contrast to a 20-year-old with similar difficulties (that’s just a point about overall prevalence for the respective populations).

    If we have to interpret AGS as saying “We should all expect to have memory loss and word-finding difficulty at age 80″, then what AGS says is problematic. But I don’t think that interpretation of AGS’s remarks is forced on us at all. Compare:

    “You wouldn’t expect a plot twist until the end of the movie”
    “You wouldn’t expect the hero to die until the end”

    Such claims don’t imply that, respectively, you actively do expect a plot twist at the end, or you actively do expect the hero to die at the end. It’s just that mid-plot twists or heroes that die at the halfway point are much less common – much more unexpected – than their end-stage counterparts (the last-minute twist, the hero’s end-scene death). So insofar as you expect them, you don’t expect them until the end. But that doesn’t mean that you expect them simplicter.

    So I don’t think that what AGS says about expectation forces us to interpret them as having said that you actively expect the relevant difficulties at 80. It’s just that insofar as you expect them, you have a much lower credence of their showing up in your 20s.

  32. annejjacobson Says:

    Magicalersatz, i wonder if there’s a language difference here. I hear the heart disease case as wrongly saying it is common if it is also the case that not having the disease is common.

    I also hear the claim about i didn’t think i’d would feel this until…as different from your interesting expect cases. But i’m not sure.

  33. magicalersatz Says:

    Hmmm. That’s an interesting discrepancy in how we’re hearing “common” and “uncommon” (and could mean we’ve just been talking past each other!)

    Some examples of the usage of “common” that I was assuming:

    -“Rheumatoid arthritis is a common rheumatic disease, affecting approximately 1.3 million people in the United States, according to current census data.” (from medicinenet.com)

    -“Eczematous diseases are very common with an estimated prevalence of more than 10% in the general population.” (from eczema.dermis.net)

    -“Depression is very common and affects as many as 1 in 8 people in their teen years.” (from kidshealth.org)

    -The usage of “common side effect” to refer to side-effects that occur in between 5-10% of those taking a given medication.

    These all sound like ordinary uses of “common” to me (especially “common” as it’s used in medical/health contexts). And they all sound true. But they certainly don’t license the claims that, e.g., it’s uncommon not to have rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, or depression, or uncommon to take a drug without side effects.

    “Until” seems like its usage varies (and in plenty of cases I can here different interpretations of a single usage as being equally good). I was hoping my examples show that “not x until t” doesn’t automatically imply “at t, x”. Which I was thinking means there’s at least some leeway with how we should interpret the “until” claim made by AGS. That was my thought, anyway!

  34. annejjacobson Says:

    I’m not sure about all of these:

    1. a common side effect may mean something that is common among the side effects. E.g., Among the side effects that occur, it occurs a lot. Say, 90% of times there’s a side effect, it is this one or it is one of these.
    2. “Rheumatoid arthritis is a common rheumatic disease” might mean that among the rheumatic diseases, it is frequent; that is, 80% of the cases of rheumatic diseases, it is this one. [Some doctors now claim that there is no such thing as rheumatism, but there is rheumatoid arthritis.]
    I couldn’t find your quote about eczema, but I did find:
    “Eczema, which is also called atopic dermatitis, is a very common skin problem. It may start in infancy, later in childhood, or in adulthood. Once it gets underway, it tends not to go quickly away.” I think this says that among skin problems, eczema is very common. I don’t think it says that it is common to have eczema. Similarlly for depression; among problems, it is one of the frequent, though it is not frequent in the population.
    So I think I am reading them differently.
    My latest guess on “I didn’t think I’d feel P until Q” is that there’s a conversational requirement that one try to cite something that would explain P, and in particular a cause of P. That would make the implication I thought there was apply to a sub-class of the until statements, maybe including ones in which one does something like predict when a feeling would come. But it is complicated by the negative and the subjunctives. .

  35. magicalersatz Says:

    Hmmm. I think (1) can’t be the correct – or better, the only correct – interpretation of “common side effect” because usages like the following seem to be fine:

    – “There are no common side effects for Claritin Liqui-Gels” (from drugs.com) – The article then goes on to discuss rare side effects

    As for (2) (and likewise for the eczema case), if that were the right interpretation it would make the following two claims on a par:

    – “CA2 albinism is the most common form of albinism”
    – “CA2 albinism is a common form of albinism”

    The former is true, but I can’t hear it as licensing the latter, which to my ears sounds obviously bad – albinism is incredibly rare (at least in humans), so even its most common form is still very uncommon.

    Wow – could this be the furthest a FP thread has ever wandered from the original topic? :-)


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