Infuriating editorial of the day

If your blood pressure is feeling up for it, you might want to read Andrew Irvine’s latest tirade against university hiring policies. Called “The real discrimination at universities is against men,” it’s available here. Clearly some comments/letters to the editor are warranted. Irvine, a full professor in philosophy at the University of British Columbia, is also the author of “Jack and Jill and Employment Equity,” Dialogue, vol. 35 (1996), no. 2, 255-291, available here.

taking Nietzsche very seriously?

 Brian Leiter writes:

This is very odd, and, one hopes, it is simply the product of just bad writing:  NEH summer stipends may not be used for “projects that seek to promote a particular political, philosophical, religious, or ideological point of view.”  Won’t this prevent most philosophers from applying, unless they’re writing a survey piece?  One assumes that, given the list, by “philosophical” they mean something closer to “political” and “ideological,” and not someone proposing to defend four-dimensionalism or compatibilism or epistemic internalism …

I thought BL must be right until I remembered a comment on one of our recent posts.  SeanH quoted Leiter quoting Nietzsche:

“[Philosophers] all pose as if they had discovered and reached their real opinions through the self-development of a cold, pure, divinely unconcerned dialectic…; while at bottom it is an assumption, a hunch, indeed, a kind of ‘intuition’…that they defend with reasons they have sought after the fact. They are all advocates [Advoktaen] who resent that name, and for the most part even wily spokesmen for their prejudice which they baptize ‘truths’–and very far from having the courge of the conscience that admits this, precisely this, to itself…”

Is, then, all philosophy ideology?  Or at least as practiced today?  Is the NEH just taking Nietzsche very seriously?

(Since the net is infamous for failure in communication, perhaps I should note this post is something of a joke.  But not entirely.  For example, Cartesian assumptions about what isolated philosophical reflection can discover seem still alive and well.  I myself regard much of philosophy of mind as the product of woefully unexamined  dogma, though the details of this are not necessarily germaine.  Do readers have other examples of the ideology present in today’s philosophy?  Maybe with a little more detail than I have given so far?)

Academic Boycott of Middlesex

There is now a call for an academic boycott of Middlesex, with the full support of the philosophy department. Spread the word far and wide, especially to non-philosophers. And commit to the boycott here.

The text is as follows:

We the undersigned therefore commit ourselves to an academic boycott of Middlesex University until it shows evidence of full reinstatement and continued support for its philosophy program.

Prior to such reinstatement, we will refuse to act as external examiners or to deliver talks at the school. We will encourage colleagues to reject job offers at Middlesex. We will refuse to visit campus for any reason other than to protest the decision to close the philosophy program. We will, in short, cease to engage with Middlesex as a legitimate academic institution.

A mother’s life and a church’s moral failure?

Of course the RC Church thinks only a bishop can make some judgments, but perhaps we should judge this bishop.

Here’s what happened:

Sister Margaret was a senior administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. A 27-year-old mother of four arrived late last year, in her third month of pregnancy. According to local news reports and accounts from the hospital and some of its staff members, the mother suffered from a serious complication called pulmonary hypertension. That created a high probability that the strain of continuing pregnancy would kill her.

“In this tragic case, the treatment necessary to save the mother’s life required the termination of an 11-week pregnancy,” the hospital said in a statement. “This decision was made after consultation with the patient, her family, her physicians, and in consultation with the Ethics Committee.”

Sister Margaret was a member of that committee…the bishop of Phoenix, Thomas Olmstead, ruled that Sister Margaret was “automatically excommunicated” because she assented to an abortion.

“The mother’s life cannot be preferred over the child’s,” the bishop’s communication office elaborated in a statement.

The bishop doesn’t seem to have characterized the decision correctly.  There are two options:  (a) do nothing and it is highly  likely the mother and fetus both die, and four children are left motherless or (b) perform an abortion and the 11 week old fetus dies.

Nicholas Kristoff, the NY Times columnist writing about the report, calls for a public outcry to retify this injustice.  What do you think?

Feminist Philosophers Emeritae

It’s a sign of the successes of feminist philosophy that there is now a significant and growing number of retired feminist philosophers. (And with current economic conditions, more may be retiring early.) Kate Lindeman is urging that we pay some attention to this group, and she’s quite right to do so. While some may be happy to leave their philosophical work behind, others are eager to remain engaged. So we should think about ways to help with this. Kate suggests that we need to:

1. Overcome the PERCEPTION that emerita/ae are no longer part of

2.Provide some vehicles to facilitate integration [practical
things like those we did re: women with children]

3. Offer vehicles for emeritae – especially those not living in
academic oriented communities.

And she has some suggestions for how we could go about doing this:

1. APA and even SWIP, for the most part, have been for ‘currently employed or at least employable’ academic philosophers. We should try to change this.

2. Encourage younger scholars and emeritae to co-author or co-edit, an excellent opportunity for both.

3. Invite emeritae to give papers.

4. Make conferences, etc more accessible to older philosophers who may be constrained by both health and income– web-based events and video links may help here.

5. Publicise that emeritae are welcome– e.g. in the group eligible for travel grants/bursaries.

6. Create a list of emeritae who are interested in speaking at conferences, guest-lecturing, etc.

7. Create a SWIP Emeritae?

8. Do a conference or volume on the issue.

What else can we do? Please brainstorm in the comments! (Thanks to Sally Haslanger and Ann Garry as well as Kate Lindeman.)