Laurie Paul has put out a call on Facebook. (After noting that all the existing Proofs that P are from men.) She’s already got Foot, Anscombe, and Korsgaard. Put your additions in comments!

## 24 thoughts on “Proofs that P from Women Philosophers?”

Comments are closed.

Thanks to Laurie for getting the ball rolling on this.

One question I have: Is it really best to have the female philosophers’ proofs-that-p in a segregated “women’s list”? For some reason, that rubs me the wrong way. But perhaps that’s just me.

Proofs that P are proofs that P, and so wouldn’t it be better if the newly created offerings were simply added to the list already there? Otherwise, might there be some subtle implication that the first (male) list was the canonical one, and now we have an addendum for the women?

I’ve seen at least one set of additions to the list already. There seems to be a lack of a central authority to consolidate lists; if someone were to both do that, and include women on the new, consolidated list, that would clearly be a great service for philosophy.

I agree… let all the proofs that P be together!

I’m sure that having them together would be fine too: I think Dave just suggested a special women’s list in order to highlight it.

there are currently three lists of proofs on my website here: the “classic” list compiled by hartry field and others, a follow-up list compiled by henry fitzgerald and daniel nolan, and a list for an NEH institute on consciousness. i told laurie on facebook i’d be happy to put up an all-women list if we got enough good candidates, and that suggestion seemed popular there. if people here would prefer to do things some other way, that’s ok too — i’ll follow the consensus. i don’t think i should tamper with the “classic” list, though, so it would probably mean some sort of further mixed follow-up list. of course others should feel free to put up their own lists.

anyway, first let’s gather some good candidates! current contenders (thanks to laurie, michael thompson, chris bertram, jason turner, rachael briggs):

Foot’s proof that p: But it is interesting that the people of Leningrad were not struck by the thought that not-p during the terrible years of the siege. Therefore, p.

Anscombe’s proof that p: But if someone really thinks, in advance, that it is open to question whether p — I do not want to argue with him; he shows a corrupt mind. Therefore p.

Korsgaard’s proof that p: We are condemned to p. Maybe you think you can avoid p, but it’s no use, for then p. Therefore p.

Thomson’s proof that p: Those who argue about Q presuppose that not-P. But if we were to kidnap a violinist, we could put him in a situation where it would be clear that not-not-P. Therefore, P.

Kamm’s proof that p: It is intuitively obvious that if a trolley is careering down a track toward fourteen innocent babies, and can be either diverted down a ravine, killing twenty innocent and ten guilty passengers, or blown up with a bomb, killing eight innocent and three guilty passengers, then P. But P, being a moral truth, is necessary if true. Therefore P.

there are also a couple of contenders in the existing lists:

Haack’s proof that p (shortened): I cannot offer a PROOF that P at all, because PROOF (as opposed to proof) embodies a linear foundationalist conception of justification that cannot survive the “up, up and away” argument. Nor can I offer a *proof* that P, as I seem to have mislaid my theory of the a priori. Yet a case can be made — in modest, fallibly naturalistic terms — for P. And if the criteria embodied in codationalism are in fact truth-conducive, then this will amount not to a PROOF nor yet a *proof* that P, but simply a proof that P, based on the explanatory integration of P with the rest of my beliefs that are explanatorily integrated with each other, as with a crossword puzzle. Therefore P.

Hurley’s proof that p: Most philosophers think it is a priori that ~p. Therefore p.

further suggestions (or refinements) very welcome.

p.s. forgot to add a link: the three existing lists can be found at http://consc.net/phil-humor.html (and see also http://home.sprynet.com/~owl1/proofs.htm).

Rebecca Kukla

Women are repeatedly told that they should believe ~P. But in fact, everyone makes them believe ~Q, ~R, and ~S. And those beliefs are far more dangerous to their unborn fetuses than believing ~P. Therefore P.

And for the Kukla connoisseur: Proof that ~P is complete; author TBA. Therefore P.

Cartwright’s proof that p: the view that ~p is so deeply entrenched that it does not even have a name. And indeed, ~p is essential to explaining q, r, s, and much besides. But explanation and truth pull in opposite directions, so p.

Edgington’s proof that p: the conditional “if p then ~p” is not true, but if p were false it would be the case that if p then ~p. Therefore, p.

Sally Haslanger: Given the context of assessment, p is true according to (this particular) social milieu. Anyone who rejects p is either deliberately out of sync with the milieu, or just “out of it”. So (sweetie), you *should* believe p. Therefore p.

Ruth Barcan Marcus: If there exists a possible proof of p, then by the Barcan Formula there is an actual proof of p. The Barcan Formula has been added as an axiom schema because it enables an interesting result that would otherwise be impossible.

A first attempt at Martha Nussbaum’s proof that p:

Amartya Sen has always refused to admit that p. But Aristotle and Marx suggest that p is required for truly human flourishing! Therefore p.

Hm, the first line of the Korsgaard proof is… unfortunately worded. Albeit true when read in the unintended way!

But Chisolm’s is even worse, and it’s survived nicely.

Uh, Chisholm’s.

You’d think I’d know better!

yes I’m responsible for that part of the Korsgaard, shame on me.

Haslanger #2: the fact that not-p is constituted by the belief that not-p, which is part of an objectionable ideology. therefore, p.

Linda Zagzebski: In circumstances like ours, an intellectually virtuous person would believe that p. Therefore, P.

Rudder-Baker: If ~p, then we are no more than animals. But when did you ever see an animal successfully formulate the

cogito? Therefore p.Annette Baier:

Those who build theories around the conviction that ~p cannot account for the conditions under which people could be brought up to take ~p seriously; on the contrary, people who embrace ~p are dependent upon the efforts and good will of those who quietly go on presupposing p. Therefore, p.

[off the cuff — happy to have it tweaked]

Ruth Millikan: we believe that p, because of a properly functioning cognitive system that induces belief in p as a result of past interaction of our ancestors with p; therefore p.

Helen Longino: Our belief that p came about as a result of an interaction between people that is mediated by appropriate social processes. Therefore, our subjective belief that p is transformed into the objective. Therefore, p.

The inequality in restroom lines establishes that the old adage “if P then Q” is especially true for women.

Arendt’s proof that p: It is not only the soldiers in death camps who denied p, but also the bureaucrats at their desks and the people in their homes who refused to stand up for p that allowed not-p to flourish. Therefore, p.

Lackey’s Proof that P: In the contemporary literature on testimony it is often argued that ~p. However, ~p is far from obviously true. Consider the following counter example, P-Testifier Testifies Truly:

PTTT: S is a patient suffering from a brain lesion, the affliction of which has resulted in a complete inability to speak untruly. S testifies that p. Therefore, p.

Counter examples such as PTTT show the falsity of ~p.

Penelope Maddy’s proof that P: perhaps the arguments for ~p are valid and have premises that are known a priori. But we should all be second philosophers, trusting only what science tells us. Therefore p.

If quantum mechanics, then p and -p. Therefor p.