Happiness in philosophy

There’s been a bit of conversation around the philosophy blogosphere about the state of jobs in the profession. Some of the most recent chatter, linked to by Leiter here and here, is about whether young philosophers today have a sense of “entitlement” in their expectations.

Among the claims made:
To be happy as a professor, you don’t need to teach in buildings that win architectural awards. You don’t need a two-course-a-semester load to publish (I published during my first years in Birmingham, despite teaching nine or 10 courses a year). You don’t need your university to give you a dedicated blog site or IT personnel to support your home computer. You need a tenure-track job, and then you need to work hard at the three things we are expected to do: teach students who want to learn, publish about things you care about, and be a good academic citizen through service to your institution and field. That’s the deal. If it doesn’t sound good enough, then maybe you should try bartending in San Francisco. And when you do, lots of adjuncts will apply for your job.

And, contrasting:
When, as a grad student I and some others were grousing about the poor adjunct pay at a local state college, another household name who overheard the conversation asked us why we even took a job with such poor wages. Why not simply refuse? He couldn’t grasp that we needed to pay the rent and eat, and didn’t have a 6 figure salary like he did. I remember staring at him in stunned silence. If you spend several years around folks with quarter million dollar salaries, minimal teaching duties, palatial offices, and brilliant undergrads, you start to think that your first job, if not that grand, ought to be better than teaching 8 courses a year to unprepared slackers at some underfunded State U. in fly-over country.

Here’s where I’m thinking the tie-in to feminist concerns may be: what are the expectations of female philosophers (and other minorities, blacks, LGBT persons, etc) and what are the expectations of male philosophers? How do they compare and what gets labeled “entitlement”? Other thoughts to explore may be the role of generational perspective in assessing “entitlement” (as a thirty-something teaching Gen Y students, I bemoan the same problem), misconceptions about philosophy as a career, etc.

Further, how much is happiness a function of our ability to thrive despite not having our ideal environment? And how much do social injustices, or even the lack of local culture, matter?

I’d like to encourage feminist conversation both here and at Leiter’s blog, although I’ll leave cross-posting at reader discretion. (Remember that this is a thread about jobs in philosophy and not Brian Leiter’s interpretation of jobs in philosophy.)

CFP Phil Religion – Where are the women?

I thought the story was that women didn’t do hard theoretical stuff; instead, we studied softer stuff, like philosophy of religion.  And now a call for  papers makes me wonder:  Where are the women?? 

In June 2009 there will be two philosophy of religion conferences in Europe: one in Leuven, Belgium and the other in Birmingham, UK. Convenient direct flights are available in summer between Brussels and Birmingham.

Conference 1: Formal Methods in the Epistemology of Religion (KU Leuven, Belgium; 10-12 June 2009)

Organised by Dr. Victoria Harrison (University of Glasgow) and Dr. Jake Chandler (Centre for Logic and Analytical Philosophy, University of Leuven). Funded by a generous grant from Professor Igor Douven of the Odysseus Formal Epistemology Project.

Keynote speakers: Branden Fitelson (UC Berkeley); Alan Hajek (ANU); Lydia McGrew; Tim McGrew (Western Michigan); Graham Oppy (Monash); Richard Swinburne (Oxford); Michael Tooley (Colorado).

Call for papers: Authors are invited to submit a 400-600 word abstract for a paper of 30-40 minutes reading time. The abstracts are to be submitted by e-mail, as an attachment in a common format (preferably pdf, doc or rtf). The submission deadline is Monday 16th of February 2009, with decisions expected to be reached by Monday 30th of March 2009. Please send abstracts and requests for further information to jacob.chandler@hiw.kuleuven.be and cc. to v.harrison@philosophy.arts.gla.ac.uk.

Further details regarding the event will be posted in due course on the conference website.
Conference 2: The Concept of God and the Cognitive Science of Religion (University of Birmingham, UK; 14-16 June 2009)

Organised by Dr. Yujin Nagasawa (University of Birmingham) and sponsored by the Cognition, Religion and Theology Project at the University of Oxford, funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

Keynote speakers: Graham Oppy (Monash), David Efird (York), Richard Swinburne (Oxford), Klaas J. Kraay (Ryerson), Robin Le Poidevin (Leeds), David Leech (Oxford), Graham Wood (Tasmania), T. J. Mawson (Oxford)

Call for papers: We invite papers on the conference theme suitable for 20-minute presentations. Please send the title and an abstract of no more than 500 words to: Y.Nagasawa@bham.ac.uk. The submission deadline is Monday 16 February 2009 (prospective presenters will be notified by early March). Papers should address implications of recent empirical research for traditional issues in the philosophy of religion and philosophical theology, such as the nature and existence of God, the coherence of and consistency between divine attributes, anthropomorphism, and the cogency of theistic doctrines. Selected papers will be considered for publication in an anthology.

For more information, please visit the conference website.

Pink pressure: Not a problem

lp has sent in a really puzzling article.

The main argument seems to be:

Girls are heavily pressured into all things pink and fluffy, which you might think is restricting their options.
Moreover, there’s nothing hard-wired about the pink preference: it really is the result of societal pressures.
But not to worry: everything important is hard-wired, so environment can only make a negligible difference.
So the pink pressure can’t have any significant effects.

The last premise would seem to be a bit strong. It would also seem to require a bit more support than the article gives (a few anecdotes about girls who wear pink but also like mud, and so on).