30 thoughts on “Aren’t any women philosophers fun to read?

  1. Thank you so much for starting this thread! I saw that site and was worried about exactly the same thing.

  2. When the OP cast his net wider, he included Martha Nussbaum, but to be honest, though I adore _Fragility of Goodness_ I have never found it fun or zesty. To bring students to Nussbaum, I offer “For Love of Country?” instead. Mary Midgley’s work in general is so much more deft and even playful, Claudia Card’s work on evil perversely offers the occasional dark humor, and Sally Haslanger on crop tops is a student-grabbingly good time.

  3. There are:

    Lorraine Code on What can she know?
    Helen Longino on the social nature of good science
    Liza Lloyd on bad evolutionary science and understanding the female orgasm.

    One gets the sad sense that the OP thinks he’s quite justified in picking Nussbaum as the only, or one of the very few, that deserve to be on the list.

  4. Susan Hurley is not so much fun to read, I suspect, but she is a foundational figure in the embodied mind school of thought, by the way.

    Actually, I am going to start to worry that we’re taking part in another of these ‘privileging sessions,” which so easily lead us to leave out really exceptionally good philosophers.

  5. In his defense, the OP wasn’t saying who’s good/deserving of recognition. He was posting his off-the-cuff thoughts as to whose fun in the ways he meant the word ‘fun’ — for students, light touch, zest, etc. That’s why I actually disagree with his mention of Nussbaum’s Fragility o’ Goodness.

  6. Evelyn Fox Keller is always great to read. Specifically? Making Sense of Life: Explaining Biological Development with Models, Metaphors, and Machines; I’d have that instead of the Putnam (much as I like Putnam).

  7. profbigk,

    I’m inclined to think that however he regards the list, being sure Nussbaum is one of the very few rightly on it is problematic.

  8. I’m inclined to think the same, but I’m not sure that’s what he was thinking.

  9. Susan Haack is fun.
    Or maybe I’m weird. These things seem likely to be very idiosyncratic.

  10. You think Haack is fun? You and I are so different. Hey, Lisa Heldke and Maria Lugones! What they do with food metaphors is not only fun, but makes me hungry.

  11. Ideas about what is fun philosophy certainly seems to be fairly idiosyncratic (I mean, I never thought Kripke was fun, but I’m not much of a logic person).
    What bothers me, though, is that Nussbaum is only on the list because the author includes ethics, which seems to imply (intentionally or not) that there aren’t any “fun” female writers in the areas that are left. Less importantly, it claims that you can describe a 600 page book as “written with a light touch,” which I guess shows that I have a different working definition of that phrase. (Ted Cohen’s 90 page books were what immediately popped into my head, as well as “War and the Iliad,” by Weil and Bespaloff, but that would be ethics, I suppose.)

  12. Luce Irigaray is definitely fun to read. Sarah Kofman is fun to read. Arendt is fun to read. Cixous – is she a philosopher – is way more than fun to read. Ronell is super fun to read. Zupancic is fun to read …

  13. I suspect that one way to draw up a list that doesn’t look immediately idiosyncratic is to draw on a recognized canon. The problem with that is that the now typical canon appears to be the product of a multi-factored disadvantaging of women, people of color, etc.

    It ends up giving one a list of fun philosophers that’s all male.

  14. I thought Haack’s excoriation of Rorty’s 1980 APA address was fun reading, though that’s honestly all I’ve read by her beyond a little thing (nothing so technical) she wrote about scientism one or two years ago — you’re not alone, jamiedreier!

  15. I generally like Haslanger’s work (although I’ve only read a few of her metaphysics papers)

  16. Michèle LeDoeuff is absolutely fun. The margins of my Hipparchia’s choice are full of smileys…. but then again, it may be fun because I am a woman reading it… would it be much to a non-feminist man? Probably not!

  17. Apologies for hijacking this post. I was just wondering what happened to the post about rape convictions (it seems to have been taken down). Was there something wrong with the stats?

  18. It’s complicated, but the link will return soon. Apologies for delay and for crypticness.

  19. Is it possible that women feel they can’t write as “fun” because they have to make up for the perceived lack of professionalism? What is viewed as pithy and humorous in a man’s academic writing might be viewed as unprofessional and non-serious if written by a woman.

  20. It’s funny, B, I was thinking that the one time I really wrote with some verve and pizzazz, I got the most puzzling rejection ever, with the critical comment that I didn’t cite sources (which I cited), that I didn’t support claims (which I supported), etc. All the most impressive women’s works I thought of off the bat were also grimly serious. I’m not sure we get easily published when sassy.

  21. I did get a referee report criticising my paper’s “unnecessarily titillating title”.

    But for fun reads, you simply can’t beat Lisa Lloyd on female orgasm.

  22. Jennifer Lackey is awesome. Aside from being wicked smart, she gives really cool, weird, memorable thought-experiments. Plus, she’s super-clear.

  23. Jennys and BigK, were these blind reviewed papers? If so, this isn’t an explanation for why women in particular have trouble publishing fun papers.

    Personally I doubt the explanandum: it does not seem to me that women’s philosophy papers are less fun than men’s.

    I would mention a few more examples, but now I am starting to have the same worry that Anne expressed in #4. Well, a similar worry anyway.

    (However, Landon, Jennifer Lackey is indeed awesome.)

  24. Jennifer Lackey is so much fun! I also think Miranda Fricker is a lot of fun, but in a different way.

  25. Jennys and BigK, were these blind reviewed papers? If so, this isn’t an explanation for why women in particular have trouble publishing fun papers.

    Actually, Jamie, this is one of those occasions when anonymizing the author doesn’t guarantee lack of bias: Part of the sass and verve with which I wrote the article involved unapologetically referring to women as US and WE! I figured, why the heck not, I’m going to go ahead and be visibly female in this work, let’s let the good times roll! But then, well…It never saw the light of day.

  26. I think Linda Zagzebski is a really interesting writer, though I disagree with her on a lot of stuff. She’s also super-nice, but that’s not really an observation about her writing so much as something I just think everyone should know.

    PS – I found a lot of implausible choices on the original thread at logicmatters.net. It seems like a lot of philosophers being suggested weren’t fun to read at all, but WERE influential or eminent in some way.

  27. can we put in for specific papers? i’m a big fan of Langton and West (1999)–“Scorekeeping in a Pornographic Language Game.” I don’t know if ‘fun’ is the right word, but I definitely loved reading it…super-compelling work.

  28. One of my favourite women philosophers is Iris Murdoch (not so sure how feminist, but in my view women who succed in writing, who put themselves out there are to a great extent feminists). She wrote a lot on love, philosophy and art, ideas that she expresses both in her novels and philosophy writings. Sometimes is hard to define who is fun to read or not, but definitly for me Murdoch is one of them. And somehow, I feel like I prefer her to Nussbaum. Maybe it is just my interest in developing Platonic views (in Murdoch’s case), rather than Aristotelian philosophy, like Nussbaum so often did.

  29. Judith Jarvis Thomson is fantastic — being trapped to a violinist to illustrate the absurdity of forced pregnancy — does it get any better? And what both Thompson and Frances Kamm did with Philippa Foot’s trolley problem borders on downright hilarity — undergraduate philosophers love this stuff for a reason. Well known women engaged in highly entertaining philosophy as far as the eye can see!

  30. If you like philosophy of religion or medieval philosophy, Katherine Rogers is fantastic (http://www.udel.edu/rogers/CV.htm) and then there is Marilyn McCord Adams of course! I also agree with the Linda Zagzebski recommendation. If you like phil physics, Laura Ruetsche is one of the clearest writers around.
    My top pick at the moment would be Elizabeth Anderson. Value in Ethics and Economics and The Imperative of Integration are two of my favorite books.

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