“Gender and Philosophical Intuition”

Leiter has opened a discussion on the Stich-Buchwalter paper that we discussed here.  It will be interesting to see the reactions, and perhaps to participate in the discussion.

Since the discussion here, John Protevi told me about another very interesting discussion on this new blog.  (The author has commented here.)

21 thoughts on ““Gender and Philosophical Intuition”

  1. jj, that I have ‘commented here’ is an understatement (although technically true, of course). You may as well say that I am a huge fan of the Feminist Philosophers! Credit when credit is due, and most of my thinking about gender issues has been very influenced by you guys.

  2. Kathryn, do you have any idea of why that is? Margaret Atherton has made some great points; it would be interesting to see if any of the men has picked up on what she’s said.

  3. I don’t really know jj. And I definitely do not want to say that this is necessarily reflective of the situation as a whole (particularly because of some of the good and thoughtful responses from men) but I had a conversation about this with a male who seemed sort of defensive about the notion that the way philosophy is taught might be a problematic contributing factor. I wonder if female philosophers are just less interested (or at least interested enough to comment on Leiters blog) because they are less surprised. Or, if we accept the paper’s theory, it may be that Leiter’s blog itself suffers from the same gender disparity.

  4. I couldn’t say why most of the comments at Leiter are from men (I was one of the first people to respond at Leiter’s blog). If I had to take a wild guess, it would be something about how X-Phi seems to be a particularly male-dominated area of philosophy, in addition to the fact that the article doesn’t really address any of the central institutional bias issues.

    I am interested in the experience of resistance to the idea that instructional methods could be part of the cause. I wonder if that experience is more widely shared. I certainly know people who would be very resistant to the idea that the way they are teaching drives non-white males from the philosophy profession.

  5. A reader of this blog commented on the few women participating in Leiter’s discussion, with the result that the new blog has been featured on Brian Leiter’s blog.

  6. I was very happy that on the Leiter Blog Anne finally responded with some information in answer to my question about the significance of the sample sizes in the B&S study. I suppose that quantitative issues are unappealing to the guys posting there.

  7. Out of the blue, I wanted to ask feministphilosopher.wordpress.com and the community in general, the disparity in women is philosophy across the board, yet I wonder if the gender representation of women is slightly better off in Continental philosophy? Anecdotally, this seems true, but then again, I attended talks that pertain to feminist concerns where my anecdotal evidence may be highly skewed. I ask this because as someone in this area of philosophy, I think the methods of analytic philosophy as a whole fall short of thematizing elements of feminist experience differently (as well as failing to capture our lived-experience)

  8. This is a minor point, but, in reference to the Starmans and Friedman Gettier case (3.1), was anyone else irked by the replacement of the watch and the book with a wedding ring and a fork when they switched to a female protagonist?!

  9. ChrisG- yes I was too.

    I’m wondering if anyone who knows a bit more about statistics could answer a question. I’m wondering, questions about whether or not the results outlined in the paper are statistically significant to show gender differences totally aside, if supposing they do show gender differences in intuition, are those difference significant enough to assume they’re not a product of stereotype threat or self-objectification? (I’m not certain if self-objectification is the standard term for what I’m thinking of, but I’m thinking of the how being self-conscious of one’s- and more predominately women’s- appearance in certain contexts interferes with the ability to perform intellectually demanding tasks). My first intuition (ha!) from looking at the numbers was no, but I’m not very well versed in this.

  10. Kathryn, I think the role of stereotype could be important. Your second concern seems to me related and important. Would you care to try to ask these on Leiter’s blog? The topic of stereotypes has arises.

  11. Kathryn –

    I’m not positive that I understand your question (early morning, no caffeine yet), but since the data don’t record the presence/absence of stereotype threat, statistical methods won’t help us identify how much it might have influenced any of these results.

    It’s not obvious to me that stereotype threat could explain much in many of these cases anyways. And more importantly, isn’t stereotype threat used to explain why individuals do *better or worse* at something under different circumstances? If that’s so, we’d need to claim that some of these intuitions are correct and others are incorrect. I’m heavily disinclined to do that.

  12. Dan, the underlying reason why stereotype threat can lead one to do worse on tests might apply in other contexts. If a steretype is invoked on a survey, it could skew one’s answers by increasing cognitive load.

  13. Dan, regarding the first part of your question– I was thinking that if the average difference between genders were significant enough, then it would be very unlikely that the difference could solely be the result of factors other than actual differences in intuition.

    With respect to the second part- jj’s comment is exactly what I was thinking. Further, I’m not inclined to say that some intuitions are correct others incorrect either, but if those participating *think* there might be a correct/better answer, it seems likely the same process would be at work. I think a stereotype could be invoked though, merely if e.g., the test were administered by males, one knew it was about philosophy, etc. If female participants were at all extraordinarily concerned about a. getting the “wrong” answer, or b. confirming a stereotype, we may not be getting their actual *intuitions.*

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