Fascinating bit of philosophical history

From Leiter:

From Robert Paul Wolff’s memoirs; he was prompted to act by the naked sex discrimination his first wife, an English professor, confronted:

On September 17, 1969 I sent a letter to eleven senior members of the philosophy profession, asking them to serve as co-signers with me on a motion to be presented to the annual meeting of the Eastern Division of the APA, calling for the establishment of a Standing Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession. Alice Ambrose and Morris Lazerowitz [who were husband and wife] came on board, as did Justus Buchler [whose wife taught philosophy], and Sue Larson and Mary Mothersill, both of Barnard. Maurice Mandelbaum, who along with Lewis White Beck had read my Kant manuscript for Harvard, was sympathetic, but pointed out that as the incoming APA president, if he signed he would be in the position of petitioning himself. A good point. The great Classicist Gregory Vlastos also said yes, as did Ruth Marcus, whom I knew from my Chicago days, when she was at Northwestern. Morty White was supportive, but declined to sign for fear that if the motion passed, he would be expected to serve on the committee, something he said he could not do because of writing obligations. That left Jack Rawls, who declined to sign. In retrospect, this does not surprise me. Although Jack was on his way to becoming the world’s leading expert on justice, he never seemed to be there when action was needed.

2 thoughts on “Fascinating bit of philosophical history

  1. And this may speak volumes about Okin’s insights regarding Rawl’s _Theory of Justice_.

  2. Or maybe, instead of having any significant bearing on his work, that last bit on Rawls simply illustrates a general psychological phenomenon, as defined by construal level theory (noted here by Robin Hanson):

    >> Highly cherished concerns in one’s self-concept may influence judgments and plans regarding distant situations (e.g., distant future, distant others, distant places, unlikely events) but then fail to be enacted when the time and place of implementation approaches. <<

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