I’m detaching the author’s name from a piece that’s been around on email a bit. I think the view is worth discussing and I hope you do too.
Haslanger’s article mentions the view that there’s something very masculine about the abstract, formal nature of philosophy that a lot of women don’t like. I think this view may be being misdescribed; that is, when people say that’s something they don’t like about philosophy, I think it may actually be something related but different. Studies in other disciplines – such as the study of the poor lot of women in computer science at Carnegie Mellon (which was subsequently vastly improved) – suggest that a lot of women are not particularly interested in highly narrowly focused problems. In fact, a number of women, other work suggests, are strongly attracted to interdisciplinary work. Much of philosophy is large and grand, but journals and conferences in philosophy do contain a lot of work that is, e.g., F’s criticism of A’s rejection of B’s third formulation of the problem for C’s revision of the D’s attempted refutation of E’s theory.
Haslanger also notes that men in philosophy are very often poorly socialized … and that philosophy departments are socially very difficult. I expect everyone … is aware of hypothesized connections between being very narrowly focused, being socially pretty disconnected and being male (as Baron-Cohen has made much of). So it’s possible that this is more what is behind a supposed dislike of the abstract and formalized.
I don’t want to endorse Baron-Cohen’s work, which we’ve criticized here and elsewhere, but perhaps part of the idea above is that analytic philosophy can too often turn grand questions into trivial disputes.
On thinking about this, I’m wondering whether the following is relevant: a lot of philosophy of perception is concernedwith the truth-maker for “S sees that P.” More and more, cognitive computational neuroscience is looking at questions about vision such as: how does vision work to enable a creature to move successful through its environment? I’m not sure the first pursuit tells us that much about vision. It’s philosophy of perception, but it is really about something more like the logic of perceptual statements and the ontology of vision (e.g., physicalism, reductionism, etc). But the points are essentially general and scarcely at all about vision itself.