13 thoughts on “Colin McGinn and Women in Philosophy, in the NYT

  1. Is it NYT style not to refer to people with doctorate’s as “Dr. [so-and-so]”? I noticed that they consistently used “Mr.” and “Ms.” for McGinn and Thomasson.

  2. I think McGinn might only have a BPhil, so Mr. would be correct there. But that still doesn’t explain using Ms. for Thomasson.

  3. Or Saul either. That leaped out at me too. Still, all-in, a really good article I though.

  4. If I were a very cynical person, I might wonder whether it was so that the contrast between Prof and Mr was avoided.

  5. Seems like the “Dr” is optional at the request of the person, though in this case our colleagues might not have been asked, or they declined: http://afterdeadline.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/faqs-on-style/

    “Who’s a Dr.?

    Our continued use of courtesy titles — increasingly rare in the news media — prompts many questions. Rules on the use of “Dr.” in particular can lead to confusion, for readers and unfortunately sometimes for our writers. Here’s our stylebook entry:

    Dr. should be used in all references for physicians and dentists whose practice is their primary current occupation, or who work in a closely related field, like medical writing, research or pharmaceutical manufacturing: Dr. Alex E. Baranek; Dr. Baranek; the doctor. (Those who practice only incidentally, or not at all, should be called Mr., Ms., Miss or Mrs.)

    Anyone else with an earned doctorate, like a Ph.D. degree, may request the title, but only if it is germane to the holder’s primary current occupation (academic, for example, or laboratory research). For a Ph.D., the title should appear only in second and later references. The holder of a Ph.D. or equivalent degree may also choose not to use the title.

    Do not use the title for someone whose doctorate is honorary.”

  6. It is customary in journalism to use “Mr.” and “Ms.” rather than “Dr.” or “Professor,” at least here in the US.

  7. I read the NYT article on the Miami professor who resigned recently. The article talked about the challenges faced by women in philosophy, and what a cluck the professor was. I wanted to share my story. As an undergrad In the 1970s, I had a philosophy professor (Peter Lyman) who was brilliant and a feminist. He strongly encouraged the women in his classes, I had the benefit of his wisdom and support. When he left because his wife had an academic opportunity in another state I was assigned a new advisor. When I told my new advisor that I was considering a career in academic philosophy he chuckled, and told me that I wouldn’t make it, he advised that I get a teaching certificate and teach social studies in high school. I was so discouraged that I went to law school instead. I have had a long and successful career as a lawyer, and provide a little philosophy to both pro bono and paying clients each and every day. However, it makes me profoundly sad to learn that women are still eschewed from the important work of understanding the human condition. We only have to look at the amazing contributions of Hannah Arendt ( thank you Dr. Lyman) to know that we need more feminists, both men and women, to make philosophy relevant to a modern world. I hope that young women will press on with careers in philosophy, despite the challenges. We need you and your insights on the human condition.

  8. The article seems mixed, to me, as well as oddly timed. Why is the New York Times covering this now? (I have no complaints that they cover it.)

    I am more irked to see a photo of McGinn. Having been harassed by my dissertation adviser at a university with the opposite response Univ. of Miami had (in the same state, though), I realize and understand why the victim wouldn’t show her face or even use her name (which is indication there is far more work to be done).

    (My own “story” is here: http://evergreeninstitute.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/well-i-didnt-expect-this/)

    I would not use my partner to speak out, and would be thoroughly annoyed if my partner was speaking out on my behalf without my permission. Ideally, this woman should be given a voice via an attorney.

    No. Ideally, she should be able to speak freely and not have to be known as “the woman who was harassed” or “the victim.”

    At least she gets to continue with her career with support from many philosophers. This is a start. Filing a complaint is drawing a line in the sand, and the victim can very quickly become a pariah in not only the philosophy department, but the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

    I wish her the very best.

  9. At least the piece wasn’t written in the style of the more typical McGinn troll. You can tell this by the fact that the title isn’t ‘Innocent Professor Forced to Leave Job After Being Seduced by Scheming Succubus!’.

  10. Contrawhit: Thanks for posting a link to your story. I really think that posting stories like these can, and will, change the field of academic philosophy in profound ways.

    In many ways, philosophy is a small world and can be changed with concerted efforts like this one. For whatever it’s worth, after reading your story it only took me about 3-4 minutes to figure out the identity of your attacker. In the event that I’m ever in the position of recommending to a undergrad student grad programs in philosophy, the information will certainly be in the back of my mind.

Comments are closed.