From Philosophical Training to Professional Blogging: A Conversation with David Roberts (Grist), Andrew Sullivan (The Daily Beast), and Matthew Yglesias (Slate)
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19 thoughts on “Men discuss blogging at the APA”
What constitutes “philosophical training” here?
Sullivan has a PhD in political theory from Harvard (from the Gov’t dept, but a theory dissertation.) Yglesias was a philosophy major at Harvard. I don’t know anything about Roberts so don’t know why he qualifies. I’ve never heard of him before, or of Grist. Are there women “professional” bloggers w/ philosophy back grounds? I’m not sure, partly because I’m not sure who qualifies as a ‘professional’. (It’s the main job of Yglesias and Sullivan, and I suppose Roberts, but I don’t know who, in general, is a “professional”. Maybe Lindsay Beyerstein? She has a MA from Tufts, but I’m not sure if her blog is her job or not.)
This is interesting. The issue of who’s in and who’s out always comes up with philosophy. Let me ask:
I can do long division, advanced algebra, and geometry fairly well. Can I call myself a mathematician? If not, why not?
I’m a mean cook. I throw great dinner parties. Can i call myself a chef? Can I consider Bobby Flay a colleague?
I can balance my checkbook. Can I consider myself an economist?
I know every detail of WWII backwards and forwards. Can i refer to myself as an historian?
In all seriousness, why should things be different with philosophy? Most folks accept and do no argue that economics has a history, methods, movements, and theories that require intense study for their appreciation. I don’t understand why professional philosophy is never given its respect in the same way.
In fairness, we ought to add:
-I have an advanced degree in philosophy and teach in a university philosophy department. Can I call myself a philosopher?
Because this is only a three person panel and the panel members have a very particular qualification, I don’t think this as egregious as some of the past cases here, where they’ll do things like have 10 men talk about ethics or something. I think the point is that these dudes got degrees in philosophy (only a BA in the case of Yglesias, don’t know about the others), but now they get paid to write, so if you’re not having much luck with the teaching thing, maybe this is a viable career option. With Yglesias, you can occasionally see flashes of the analytic method in his posts, so there’s something to the idea that his major helped him as a writer. Another blogger to mention on this score is Will Wilkinson, who dropped out of grad school for philosophy and is now at the Economist.
Sadly, I can’t think of any female bloggers with a similar background off the top of my head. Any suggestions? Most of the female bloggers I can think up have legal training rather than philosophical training, although I suspect for blogging purposes the usable skills acquired are quite similar.
I woner what a ‘professional’ blogger really is. There are e-journals and magazines. Is professional blogging = writing on the internet?
I agree this is not as bad as some conferences, but it is exploring a new phenomenon. And women seem not part of it. So we should ask if the topic is framed in such a way that only men qualify.
In any case, there are a lot of women who could qualify, and some are philosophy profs. More later. It is very late.
Is professional blogging = writing on the internet?
Well, I assume that “professional” = “being paid”, and in this case perhaps even “making a living”. So, I’d think that the people on this blog don’t count, (and even someone like Brian Leiter doesn’t count.) Probably that don’t mean hobbiests who make a tiny bit of money from adds. I’m sure I don’t know all the people who are “professionals”, and it wouldn’t surprise me if some are women with philosophy training, but none other than (possibly) Beyerstein come immediately to mind. (She certainly has philosophy training, but I’m not sure if she’s a “blogging professional” or not.) I’d be glad to learn of others, though.
Gah- the time stamp above doesn’t show that I wrote the above super early in the morning, which is why, I’ll claim, I wrote “Probably that don’t mean” rather than “doesn’t mean”. Sigh. (I’d also guess that, given that the APA generally pays no expenses for people who are taking, that the organizers looked for people who were in the DC area. Yglesias lives there and I suspect Sullivan does, too.)
Too bad they didn’t get Lindsay Beyerstein: http://www.inthesetimes.com/community/profile/4940
Whoops, sorry Matt, didn’t realise you’d already mentioned her.
Thanks for the update on Beyerstein, actually- I hadn’t followed her work recently (not for any reasons dealing w/ her- she’s good, just habit and lack of time) but it’s good to see that she’s doing well, and from the like it certainly looks like she’d fit the criteria. (I used to read her old, amateur blog, and knew she was doing other things, but wasn’t sure what.) She’s worth following, so I’m glad for the link.
I’d think Jean Kazez would count; btw, she sometimes responds to a post here.
Also a blogger for the UK’s daily telegraph:
“Janet Daley was born in America where she began her political life on the Left as an undergraduate at Berkeley. She moved to Britain (and to the Right) in 1965 where she spent nearly twenty years in academic life before becoming a political commentator: all factors that inform her writing on British and American policy and politicians.”
Her years in Academic Life were in philosophy.
They seem not to be looking for philosophers who blog, but big-time bloggers who might possibly have some interest in philosophy. These three each have larger readerships than any philosopher who blogs. Maybe the idea is to curry favor with them on philosophy’s behalf, so that they’ll say nice things about our discipline and publicly defend us. If so, it’s a pretty smart move.
If they were doing the other thing (and really, in any case) Hilary Bok would’ve been a natural choice. Her posts as ‘hilzoy’ on Obsidian Wings were awesome.
Really? Must every panel include a woman? This complaint decreases my sympathy for the cause.
Really. Must every panel include a man. This complaint decreases my sympathy for the cause.
Neil the EW, I do agree with you on Bok.
I think we don’t know about the organizer’s motives. Sullivan seems already reasonably inclined towards philosophy; he or a member of his staff at least sometimes looks at this site; we were linked to recently (the series on fertility).
The title struck me as something of an invitation for philosophers to consider a way of becoming more something like public intellectuals. Since it thus seemed to be exploring a relatively new path for philosophers, I thought it was a shame that it did not include any women at the podium. Entry on a new pathway can be very different for a woman than it is for a man.
Jennifer Dziura might have been a candidate.
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